To Kinect or Move or Wii or Not? That Is the Motion-Sensing Question

[Editor’s Note: With this post, our newest blogger Wayne Rowe joins the team here at The Bonus View. Wayne will be contributing some coverage of gaming and other topics. Please give him a warm welcome. –JZ]

Microsoft recently announced a new ‘Star Wars’-themed Xbox 360 Kinect bundle at Comic-Con to coincide with a Kinect-enabled ‘Star Wars’ game that will be released soon. I must admit that the console looks pretty slick, despite my misgivings toward Kinect and the ‘Star Wars’ game itself. Regardless, I shared the link around to some of my gaming pals, and the headline question above was soon in debate. My friends are fairly evenly split into two camps. Either:

1) Lame. I didn’t buy a Wii and I’m not buying any of those. If I wanted to jump around, I’d go outside.

Or:

2) Looks really cool and technologically advanced, but I’m unsure about the actual games.

I think that I find myself right in the middle of those two camps. I didn’t buy a PlayStation Move or a Wii, and have no interest in those or the new WiiU iPad thingamabob that’s coming soon. However, I do think that the idea of ‘Minority Report‘-style air gestures might be a neat way to interface with a videogame console/entertainment hub ala Xbox Kinect. Is this a more organic interaction than using a controller? Does it truly bring you into the action? I’m not sure.

Truth be told, I nearly bought a Kinect for the ‘Fighters Uncaged’ game and, to a lesser degree, Harmonix’s ‘Dance Central’ (for my wife, of course). How cool would it be to give that baddie a real live knee strike or an actual punch to the face? I’d jump around for that! The ‘Fighters Uncaged’ game got miserable reviews. Joystiq‘s reviewer went so far as to say that he’d “rather eat a rain-soaked box of poison buttholes” than play it again. Ok, gotcha.

Well, what about ‘Dance Central’? You love ‘Rock Band’, don’t you? Sure, I’m an RB geek, but I’m not so much an R&B geek. Apparently, that’s what Harmonix thinks will make you get up and dance. Call me a grumpy old fart, but I don’t dig Soulja Boy or Rihanna.

So what does that leave me with? As far as I can tell, mostly with a lot of games where you have to gesture or jump around wildly to “play.” This seems to me like the next generation of button-mashing games, which I also don’t dig.

What would get me excited? How about some groovy multi-player, multi-gesture puzzle games? How about a fighting game that works? How about some popular games with specific portions that are Kinect-enabled? For example, the next time you need to strangle someone in ‘Call of Duty’, you’d get to choose to wiggle those two thumb sticks or stand up and choke a bitch! Is that too much to ask for?

What would get you excited about picking up a Kinect?

8 comments

  1. Sweyn

    Honestly, I hate R&B and I’m not a big fan of dancing either unless extremely intoxicated in a club. But Dance Central just grabs you. Once you have a go, you won’t want to stop.

    That aside, Kinect Sports is a LOT of fun. It can be easily dismissed as “just another sports game collection”, but it is easily the best of its class — FULL of content, and little charming touches like the soundtrack bursting into “We are the champions” when you score a goal, for example, or controlling the crowd’s chants by clapping and doing a Mexican wave.

    That aside here is Child of Eden, smaller indie games like Leedmess and Fruit Ninja coming up and integration in the likes of Halo and Mass Effect.

    Kinect is full of shovelware like any other motion platform, but I think it has enough solid titles to make it worth a purchase and, most importantly, it has a bright future. Microsoft are putting everything into Kinect development and it has fantastic third party support — something the Wii and Move have never had.

    • Wayne Rowe
      Author

      Thanks for the thoughts Sweyn! I did dig a bit of the old DDR and was sad to have to toss the pads when I got my first PS3. Hmmm…. I may have to give this Dance Central a shot.

  2. Vinnie

    I bought a Wii back when it came out. While I lived in my frat house during college it was great for party games with a bunch of people and had a lot of promise, but once I moved out the fact that I didn’t have a bunch of people living with me to jump in, the lack of good games and the whole motion-control luster started to wear on me and now it mostly just collects dust until the random occasion my wife and i decide to play Mario Kart.

    I picked up a PS Move about 6 months ago and I like the responsiveness of the controls more than the Wii. Playing sports champions feels much more engaging than Wii Sports. Also I hear the use of the Move with games like Killzone 3 is great (especially with the sharpshooter attachment) but I have yet to try it out due to the sour taste the Wii left in my mouth with fps games. The better controls, the more-interesting content, future HD ports of (the few) good 3rd party Wii games (such as No More Heroes, House of the Dead: Overkill and Goldeneye), and the fact that the system isn’t fully dedicated to motion controls is what sold me on it. I can still play AAA titles like L.A. Noire and Portal 2 without being forced to use tacked-on motion controls.

    I looked into the Kinect before purchasing the Move, and while I liked the potential of the Kinect, there didn’t seem to be *any* content for it. After the launch of the system and launch titles, game announcements and releases seemed to drop off the face of the earth. With E3 this year, Microsoft announced a lot of potential winners for the platform (Halo, Mass Effect, etc) but I would like to see those in action before I would consider buying it. The only game that interested me was Child of Eden but I didn’t want to buy a $150 attachment for one game (I don’t need a second Wii collecting dust). The other turnoff of the Kinect for me was the amount of space needed to use it. I live in a small house so I would need to rearrange the furniture to enjoy it, which would be a hassle.

    • Wayne Rowe
      Author

      Vinnie, I hear you about the party aspect of this whole deal as well as the (seemingly) high cost for an attachment. Do you think Killzone 3 or other games might feel too much like Time Crisis? Or would that be a good thing?

  3. Eponymous

    Welcome Wayne!

    What would get me excited about the Kinect? If I could watch a movie and pretend to wash dishes while an actual peripheral in the kitchen took care of that for me… Hey, you asked!

    But seriously, the Kinect just looks like another gimmick. I liken it to the whole Uncanny Valley conversation. For gaming controls, there’s a point at which the handheld controller doesn’t give you a lifelike experience, but the stand-up and gesture method lacks in having your body actually think it’s doing anything other than “not sitting”. You get stuck in this place where your on-screen character is getting blown up or knocked around, yet it’s not happening to you. And until we have full virtual reality, you just can’t experience the game “in motion” the way the developers intend.

    I may or may not get the Kinect at some point. Surely Microsoft will eventually decide that Kinect is the ONLY option (don’t I/T companies steer us where they want eventually?).

    • Wayne Rowe
      Author

      HA! I’d pay the $150 if it would do my dishes! Thanks for the welcome Eponymous! So true how tech companies steer us where they want us, MS and Apple both. ….but how will full virtual reality (other then a holodeck) differ from flailing about in your living room? Do we really want to play Halo/Killzone holding a rifle in our hands for the same amount of time we usually play whilst sitting?

  4. Great Post! I think the Kinect is a major leap in the possible evolution of gaming. Pretty much what we always dreamed about when we were 10 years old. It’s just the technology isn’t quite up to the “Minority Report” status yet. It has to start out mediocre before it gets better. Microsoft just needs time to refine the motion tracking/game response ratio. There is one game that got pretty good reviews, “Child of Eden”. I saw a (real time) video demonstration of someone using the Kinect while playing it, and I have to admit, it looks pretty groovy! The Star Wars Kinect game was the one game I heard about a while back, and would ultimitely be the one to sell me on Kinect. Well after seeing Microsoft’s E3 demo, I have pretty much decided that the Kinect, overall, probably won’t be for me. When they refine the tech, and I can “choke a bitch out”, they may have my money. On another note, I have seen tons of videos on Joystiq.com, Youtube.com, etc., where people have been doing Kinect “hacking”. Using the tech for other purposes besides gaming. Such as using it to 3-D map streets for use with Google Earth. Apparently the applications are endless. I read one post (sorry, I forgot the source) about how the same tech will one day be used to help doctors perform surgery through a computer/robotic arm process. Who knows, but even if Kinect isn’t worth it now, maybe later it will totally kick ass!

  5. I doubt there is anything that could get me interested in the Kinect. I too bought the Wii when it came out, and find myself using it mostly to play Gamecube and SNES / NES / Gennesis games. Mario Kart is ocassionally fun to fire up if I have some friends over, and Rampage is fun for a while, but it just gets old. I would love to get back into Twilight Princess, but am kinda wishing I picked up the Gamecube version. The thought of giving myself a heart attack (I do not have the best of health – and that has nothing to do with being out of shape as well) to fend off a few enemies has not been compellign enough to fire it back up.

    Truth be told, if it wasn’t for the Homebrew and the Wii Store, I would just sell the Wii.

    My PS3 is used mainly as a media hub for the bedroom – a Blu-Ray player, Netflix streaming device, and a media extender for my PC, so I can look at my pictures and listen to my music in the bedroom. I ocassionally fire up Katamari or Final Fantasy on it.

    My XBox 360 hasn’t been turned on in months, except for an ocassional game of Katamari (but I beat it, and am mostly on the PS3 version now). Its too hot to game right now (I live in Texas, daily temperatures over 100 degrees every single day, and I only have mediocore A/C), so the thought of even regular gaming in this heat is not at all tempting, much less motion gaming. When it cools off, I may finally finish Fable 1 and start on Fable 2. I mainly play Tales of Vesparia and Eternal Sonatra on the XBox.

    The most gaming I have done lately has been on the PC, with the release of Duke Nukem and Alice. Most of my time goes into Alice – it is exactly the type of game I like, plus it includes a copy of the original game, with support for widescreen displays. Duke Nukem seems to have a mouse focus problem – after I die, the mouse no longer works, and I have to exit the game and restart from my last save point, which has made the game extremely tedious to play.

    So point is, I do really little gaming anymore, and the concept of motion gaming, especially with my health, means that I have no drive whatsoever to pick up a Move or Kinect.

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