By Matthew Scott Hunter
Raising the bar
New generation of consoles is set to debut
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if that’s so, then Nintendo should be blushing throughout this console generation. At this year’s E3 (the world’s biggest video game showcase), Sony and Microsoft unveiled details for their own “unique” versions of motion control. But no matter what their own takes are on the control scheme, the truth is that they’re struggling to catch up to the new standard set by Nintendo’s (best-selling) Wii.
If Nintendo is the current leader in inspiring the latest innovations in interactive entertainment, then director James Cameron is the runner-up. The success of “Avatar” has made 3D into another consumer technology necessity, and the video game industry is clearly committing itself to both motion control and 3D. Typically, a new generation of consoles is introduced every five years, but here we are — five years after the launch of the Xbox 360 — with no new consoles on the horizon. Instead, we’re getting new peripherals that will be extending the lifespans of our current hardware well into the foreseeable future. I had the opportunity to spend some time playing with these cool new toys, so here are my immediate impressions:
Release date: Nov. 4
Price: $149.99 (according to GameStop pre-order listings)
Previously known as Project Natal and the “controller-free gaming experience,” Kinect interprets your body’s movements in 3D space as game inputs. Hands-on (or, technically, hands-off) experience was fun, but a bit glitchy. While I played a Whack-a-Mole type mini-game in “Game Party in Motion,” the Kinect sensor got confused a few times, requiring a reset. I competed with a fellow journalist, who demonstrated that — when your hands and feet are the controls — the new version of button mashing resembles a kind of seizure. Only time will tell if the gesture interface can be more precise.
Release date: Sept. 19
Price: $99.99 (starter kit bundle, including software)
The tagline for PlayStation Move is “This Changes Everything.” It may change things for PS3 owners, but anyone who owns a Wii will find Move’s two motion-sensitive controllers very familiar. In fact, Nintendo’s demonstration of the new “Zelda” game, utilizing Wii MotionPlus, was uncannily similar to Sony’s “Sorcery” gameplay, albeit with better graphics. Sony also made evident their commitment to 3D with a stunning preview of “Killzone 3.” But, in order to enjoy that feature, you’ll require a pricey 3D TV and equally pricey 3D glasses. For every player.
Release date: Before March 2011
Already equipped with motion controls, the Wii offered no announcements of fancy new peripherals. But, knowing their motion controls would no longer be unique, Nintendo baited gamers with nostalgia, revealing new titles for their large stable of exclusive video game icons, including Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Kirby and Kid Icarus. More importantly, they revealed the heir to their handheld empire: the Nintendo 3DS. Easily the star of the show, the 3DS has an amazing, glasses-free 3D screen. The 3D effect dulls the visuals somewhat, but with graphical power far superior to the current DS, the visuals are pretty incredible to begin with.