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Motion Controller

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DTOID Extra: LEAP's motion-control makes Kinect look dumb


Jul 18
// Max Scoville
The LEAP is essentially a precision Kinect that senses various types of gestures in a 3D space, and can be used for a whole ton of stuff besides Fruit Ninja and dance games. The video on the LEAP's website makes it look...

I am officially done with the Kinect

Jun 20 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
First, I need to address my earlier hyperbolic statements. When I went hands-on with Steel Battalion just prior to GDC a few months back, the setup of the room was the most ideal environment one could have to play any Kinect game. Brightly lit, lots of room, and optimal spacing between the Kinect and player. When I played it there, Heavy Armor was functioning just fine for me. So you can hopefully understand where I was coming from when I made what is now an obviously outlandish statement. I downloaded the Steel Battalion demo last night to see how the game would do in my living room. It was barely five minutes into the demo before I rage-quit after getting stuck in a loop where I was entering and exiting the cockpit view. I was sitting as instructed, with my hands and controller in my lap, yet the Kinect was just unable to process that I wasn't moving my arms at all. It was then a realization dawned over me. I've been making excuses with every Kinect game up until this point. Every time a motion or voice command failed with any game, I would shrug it off until I got whatever I was trying to make happen. Why have I been so forgiving all this time? We would cry bloody murder if we had to press a button on our controller or keyboard multiple times to get an action working. Imagine trying to shoot a weapon in something like Call of Duty, where your gun would only fire on every third or fourth pull of the trigger. That would be unacceptable, and yet nearly two years since the launch of the device "Kinect forgiveness" is applied to every Kinect game released. I'm done making excuses, as it's become grossly obvious to me that the device doesn't work, and I doubt it will ever be fixed in its current form. We've all just been test subjects, feeding the device data that will shape the next iteration of the Kinect. The rumors regarding the next Xbox console have been increasing since the start of the year, and this supposed leaked document detailing Microsoft's future vision proposes the Kinect 2 with higher accuracy, improved voice recognition, four-player support, and a dedicated hardware processor. Wait, some of that sounds familiar, doesn't it? [embed]229792:44134[/embed] Oh yeah. All this and more was promised when the Kinect was known as Project Natal. Instead, what we got was a shadow of what was shown. As for the voice recognition, the whole feature is about as useful to me as it is to say "Xbox, open disc tray." I think the main problem with Kinect is that seemingly no one in the industry is pushing the hardware at all when developing for it, with most attempts feeling like half-assed cash-ins. It's rather telling when a first party published title doesn't even try, as was the case with Kinect Joy Ride. I say most. Like I said earlier, the Dance Central series is done rather well, and titles such as Twisted Pixel's The Gunstringer and Grasshopper's Diabolical Pitch have been fun, but they seem to be fun in spite of the Kinect features rather than because of them. The best Kinect-enabled games that really take advantage of the device seem to only be the ones directed at children, with Double Fine's Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster, and Kinectimals being some shining examples. If anything, kids are the perfect target for the Kinect, as they're hyper little monsters that won't be fazed from having to repeatedly wave their arms or scream at their TV trying to make something happen. The Kinect was designed for gaming, but the areas where it actually excels have nothing to do with games. Hacks of all sorts have been designed for the Kinect, from acting as a virtual dressing room, making autonomous flying robots, helping doctors in the operating room, to so much more. There's a serious problem when the hacks and mods do so much more with the Kinect than the games do. I'm mad because Microsoft has been shoving the Kinect in everyone's faces since 2010 as if we need it, like Xbox 360 owners can't live without it. It is not an enjoyable experience at all having to repeat the swipe of your hand or voice command to do something as simple as navigate the poor layout of the Xbox 360 Dashboard, especially when it's far easier to do anything with the controller itself. None of the motion controller experiences are flawless, but between the big three, the Kinect is the worst offender of them all. I can't help but feel all this is moot at this point. Microsoft has laughed all the way to the bank, selling 18 million Kinects worldwide as of January 2012. Perhaps my grievances with the Kinect are too little, too late. Still, there's this odd sense of peace knowing that I'm done with the Kinect this generation.
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I owe everyone an apology. This past March, I stated that "Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor validates owning a Kinect." As it turns out, I was so, so wrong. We went as far as having the Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor review pass th...

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Rumor: Wii U controller trades its nubs for sticks


May 19
// Jonathan Holmes
E3 is just a few weeks away. Everything that is going to be at the show already exists somewhere, right at this very moment. It's just a matter of time before wee see it all.  It looks like one surprise of the show may h...
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DNA sync completed with Assassin's Creed: Kinect


Apr 01
// Ian Bonds
It was bound to happen. We're finally seeing the full capabilities of the Kinect motion sensor, and it looks like they've announced the ultimate in immersive gaming. Assassin's Creed: Kinect puts gamers back in the shoes of Ezio in what looks to be a motion-controlled remake of Revelations. Check out the trailer. Obviously, another joke trailer. But wow, well done!
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Freddie W reveals an 'inconvenient truth' to himself


Mar 25
// Ian Bonds
Freddie Wong has once again captured the current video game culture and applied it to one of his regular videos on YouTube. This time, Freddie is a time traveler who jumps back in time to let his younger self know about how awesome gaming could have been. Oh, and Cheetos.
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Study: Wii doesn't make fat kids not fat


Feb 27
// Liam Fisher
Nintendo's Wii and the motion control trend that followed gave seemed like the game industry's answer to inactive youth. As games have grown in popularity, kids have spent less and less time outside and, logically, "active" g...
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Get your tilt on in Need for Speed/DiRT 3 on PC


Feb 15
// Liam Fisher
This one took me a little bit to wrap my head around. Flypad, available on iTunes, allows you to control PC racing games like Need For Speed: The Run and DiRT 3 with touchscreen and tilt controls by downloading the iOS ...
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Five games we could really Kinect with


Jan 16
// Conrad Zimmerman
Kinect, as it stands right now, is a "pretty cool" thing. As a supplement to the general operation of an Xbox 360, it's hard for me to imagine living without it now that it's in my home. As an accessory designed for the purpo...
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Office Chat: Faith in Valve, Zelda's motion-based future


Dec 14
// Conrad Zimmerman
We have another delightful edition of Office Chat for you today. Join Jim Sterling, Jordan Devore and I as we consider a world where all Zelda is motion-controlled. We also contemplate what Valve fans might do for confirmation of Half-Life 3 and what starts as an innocent question about Jim's sunglasses takes a turn for the sordid.
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Skyward Sword controls: The future of the Zelda franchise


Dec 12
// Fraser Brown
There was a time when The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword might have been a button only affair, with nary a motion control in sight. But Legend of Zelda producer, Eiji Aonuma, explained to Official Nintendo Magazine that he co...
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PS Move ships 9 million, only 1 million in half a year


Nov 25
// Jim Sterling
Sony's boasted that the PlayStation Move shipped six million units since launch, although once again it declined to give any actual sales figures. Considering only a million units were shipped in the past six months, however,...

Skyward Sword should've given us control of its controls

Nov 21 // Jonathan Holmes
First off, it's not a double standard to criticize Skyward Sword for having mandatory motion controls but leave games like Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Donkey Kong Country Returns out of that argument. Those two games utilize motion controls as minor parts of the experience, employed to perform actions that are not at the heart of their designs. In Skyward Sword, just about everything besides character movement and sub-screen activation are done with motion controls. They are a constant part of the Skyward Sword experience. That said, I wouldn't say that Skyward Sword is game that is about motion controls. It's not like Dance Dance Revolution, Wii Fit, or Wii Sports Resort. All three of those games work like a high-tech mirror -- the player does not take on the role of another character. They play as themselves, and the game reflects back how effective (or ineffective) their physical actions are at achieving the game's particular goals. These are games about focusing on your body, not about leaving your body and being transported somewhere else. The Zelda series (Skyward Sword included) is about doing the opposite thing. It's about leaving your room, leaving your body behind, and entering the world of Hyrule through Link as your avatar. For some, motion controls are definitely going to get in the way of that process. Some find that motion controls make them constantly aware of their bodies in a way that button controls do not. Button and stick controls have become second nature for most "diehard" gamers. For them, button and stick controls work as the most direct and non-intrusive connection between our world and the game world. Just as they don't have to think about moving each muscle in their body when going for a walk, they don't even have to think about what button to press on the controller when playing a game. For these players, the standard controller truly is an extension of themselves. That's why they hate motion controls so much. Where standard button controls are something their muscle memory has fully embraced, motion controls are still a relatively new and awkward thing to adjust to. Even though many of the motions in Skyward Sword only require a flick of the wrist (or the elbow at the very most), the game's controls are still likely to distract and annoy them. For "casual" gamers, the roles are reversed. Button controls are typically strange and disorienting to them. Twelve buttons, two analog sticks, and a D-pad are just as intimidating to them as being presented with the controls for a 747 and asked to "just fly it a round a bit." Constantly looking down at the controller to figure out which button to press takes them right out of the game, and the frustration of not being able to just "get the game to do what they want" can be enough to turn them off  to gaming for good. Motion controls have been such a revelation to these gamers, allowing them to play games by using actions and motions that are already second nature to them in real life and destroying the barriers that once existed between them and the game world.  [embed]216198:41829[/embed] This brings us to Skyward Sword, a game that seems to try to have it both ways but isn't quite willing to go the extra mile to get there. According to certain reviews, the game's motions controls have clearly taken at least one person out of the game. Now, as the video from TheBitBlock above clearly demonstrates, to fault the game's controls for your inability to play it properly is an inaccurate assessment. That would be like giving a bad review to a perfectly good basketball because, every time you try to get it in the hoop, it bounces off the backboard. Good reviewers would know when it's their fault, not the game's, for their inability to enjoy it. That's often not true of reviews of motion-controlled games. A lot of reviewers fail to understand that if a motion-controlled game works some of the time, then that means that it would work all the time if they were playing it properly. I could go on about that topic, but I'll save it for another time. In addition to being able to differentiate between personal flaws and a game's flaws, it's also their job to speak from their heart as well as their head. Though I felt like Skyward Sword was a perfect 10, I thought that the game was too potentially alienating to be considered flawless from a design perspective. To get a 10/10, the game has to give all players everything they could possible want or expect out of a title. The forced motion controls are just enough to keep Skyward Sword from getting there. It would be one thing if it were impossible to adapt the game for standard controls, but that's definitely not the case. Anyone who has played the Ape Escape series will tell you how the second analog stick can work to control swords, remote-controlled vehicles, and other Zelda-like items. It would be different, though not unheard of, for a game to have both classic and motion controls; the practice is becoming more and more common as gaming moves forward. Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition, Monster Hunter Tri, No More Heroes 2, Conduit 2, Punch-Out!!, Mario Kart Wii, GoldenEye 007, and many others on the Wii give us that option. The same can be said of No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise and Dead Space: Extraction on the PS3. Even Twilight Princess gave you the option to play with standard or motion controls. Nintendo may have required players to buy a separate game for that option, but it was still possible. Players who aren't interested in the prospect of a motion-controlled Zelda have every right to feel disappointed that Skyward Sword doesn't allow us to play it the way they want. It seems even stranger that Nintendo would make this call when you consider that the Wii U is potentially less than a year from launch. The upcoming console's main input device is basically a Wii classic controller with a touch screen. Wouldn't it have been great to have the option to play Skyward Sword on that controller, on your own private screen without the shackles of motion controls, while the rest of the family uses the TV for other purposes? Maybe Nintendo built in the option to play the game that way, or maybe the company will release a Wii U edition later on. Either way, it's strange that the company is moving towards making dual-analog controls and motion controls part of the core experience with the Wii U on that end, while completely abandoning the idea with Skyward Sword on the Wii. The fact that the Wii U exists says that Nintendo understands how much players appreciate being provided with control of how they experience their games. The same goes for the 3DS and its ability to turn off the 3D effect. If Nintendo ever makes a 3DS game that forces you to play with the 3D on, you can be sure that it will alienate some people. So far, that hasn't been an issue. As excited as Nintendo may be about 3D, it still seems to understand that, if 3D is as great as it hopes, it won't need to force us to accept it. We will gravitate to it naturally if it truly enhances the experience. I bet the same thing would have happened if Skyward Sword's motion controls had been optional. If that's the route Nintendo had taken, I think it's likely that many players who were initially turned off by the idea of playing a fully motion controlled Zelda would have picked up the game. Maybe they would have started off with the Classic Controller then tried out the motion controls over time. Over even more time, they may have come to find that the motion controls are so responsive and exhilarating that they do even more to make them feel connected to Link and the game world than button and stick controls could. Maybe Nintendo was right. Maybe motion controls really are better than button controls for the Zelda experience.  One thing's for sure: there are a lot of people who will never be convinced if they feel like the idea of motion controls is being forced on them. If you want to get someone to willingly try something new, the last thing you should ever do is make that person feel forced. I find that's especially true with gamers. By nature, we're the ones who want to be in control. When developers and publishers try to take that control away from us, it usually leads to bad things. Let's hope Nintendo keeps that in mind with their next Zelda title and that Skyward Sword doesn't miss finding its full audience in the meantime.
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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was released today, and the game is already buzzing with controversy. Specifically, some reviewers and players are insisting that the game's motion controls are fantastic while others a...

PlayStation Move, why aren't you moving?

Nov 16 // Jim Sterling
With the PlayStation Move's being out for over a year, the grace period where Sony could get away with shallow waggle-based minigames and glorified tech demos ought to have expired. However, this week I was sent a tote bag of PS Move review copies by Sony, and looking inside I found ... waggle-based minigames and glorified tech demos. Medieval Moves: Deadmund's Quest is one such game. It's an on-rails shooter/slasher that could have been legitimately brilliant had the developers not played it so damn safe. While its sword combat is decent and the bow-and-arrow controls surprisingly good, these ideas are barely developed from the launch title Sports Champions. What could have been a third-person action-adventure, one along the lines of, say, The Legend of Zelda, is just another on-rails demonstration of ideas in an industry that's become swollen with such things. The lack of bravery exhibited in the game is so obvious that it punches you in the face.  Carnival Island was also in the bag, and I think the game's name says it all. It's yet another collection of vague funfair minigames, the kind that have been on the Wii since at least 2007. You can throw balls! You can steer things! You can throw other kinds of balls! How innovative, how amazing, how exactly like so many other fucking games we've seen on rival systems! Rounding out the package was EyePet & Friends, a sequel to a PlayStation Eye game that was interminably vapid, and LittleBigPlanet 2: Special Edition, a re-release of a game that arrived earlier this year and includes a bunch of Move-focused DLC. That is Sony's big holiday lineup this year -- another tech demo, a collection of carnival minigames, a sequel to a game nobody loved, and a repackaged special edition. Forgive me if I'm being hard to please, but it's hardly a handjob from Debra Messing. Over the course of the year, the PlayStation Move's primary use was as an optional control method in games not designed with it predominantly in mind. Killzone 3, Resistance 3, and inFAMOUS 2 all had options for the Move, but they tended to change the way each game was played. In the case of first-person shooters, the garish new targeting reticule made aiming ridiculously easy and had a detrimental effect on the multiplayer, especially for those who didn't find the Move comfortable in an FPS and instead found themselves slaughtered by those who were having their hands held by a giant yellow circle that glowed bright red on the tiniest of targets. Without these optional control schemes, however, players would have had ZERO use for the Navigation Controller, the analog-stick secondary peripheral that Sony had the nerve to sell separately for $39.99 and then did nothing with. The Navigation Controller could have made for some genuinely exciting "real" games that used motion as an enhancement, but I'm willing to bet that its status as a separately purchased add-on is what has stopped games like Deadmund's Quest from being anything other than an on-rails affair. I doubt developers want to further shrink their potential audience by requiring another controller that gamers aren't guaranteed to have. Unfortunately, this becomes a vicious circle. No games want to use the Navigation Controller because so few gamers own one, but so few gamers own one because no games want to use the Navigation Controller. As with so many PlayStation-flavored problems, it's Sony's job to lead the way and work hard on producing enthralling games that exploit this forgotten peripheral. However, as with so many PlayStation-flavored problems, Sony won't fucking bother.  The only PlayStation Move game that's ever looked worth a shit is Sorcery, and unsurprisingly, it's a game that we've seen bugger-all from since the Move first launched. In December, Sony is due to finally unveil a hands-on version of the game, and I am expecting good things. Even if it is good, however, it's a year too late and it's just one game. Right now, the Move is putting out games that exist only to make Move owners feel like they weren't ripped off in 2010, and that's not a good position for any consumer product to be in. A year removed from launch, the Move should be producing awesome new experiences, not desperately struggling to still validate its existence. More importantly, a product more technologically advanced than the Wii, on a superior console, should not be pathetically retreading Nintendo's footsteps and regurgitating the kind of experiences that we've already been playing for years. The PlayStation Move could be a leader, but it's straggling as a follower. Sure, its controls may be a little more precise than those on the Wii, but that means jack shit when you're just reproducing the same kind of content. We don't need that. We don't need tech demos anymore, and we don't need proofs-of-concept. If you've been unable to prove your concept in over a year, then what the fuck were you doing for the past twelve months? The time when cute little demonstrations of ideas were acceptable has long since passed. It's high time that the Move got the kind of experiences that it is capable of. Otherwise, all you have is a shitty little Wii knock-off that's destined to be forgotten. Apparently, Sony's okay with that.
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The PlayStation Move came to North America on September 17, 2010. In that time, I think I've used the peripheral maybe six times. This is said as a person whose job it is to own and use one of these things. When the controlle...

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Mega64: Rise of Nightmares is all you ever need


Sep 07
// Tony Ponce
Yesterday, we showed you a new ad for Sega's Kinect horror game Rise of Nightmares. That video... was for plebeians. Here's the one you want to watch, complete with a Look Who's Talking Too twist ending. Mega64: RISE OF NIGHTMARES Commercial [YouTube]
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New Rise of Nightmares trailer looks more familiar


Sep 06
// Conrad Zimmerman
SEGA has had an interesting run of ads for its Kinect-based horror title, Rise of Nightmares. But this latest trailer for the game should be easily recognizable to everyone as the typical, "people are having fun playing...
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Freddie Wong's PS3 really DOES do everything!


Sep 04
// Tony Ponce
Freddie Wong, special effects guru and maestro of magic and sunshine, has modified his PS3 to enable real 3D gaming. Equipped with a PlayStation Move inserted in a Sharp Shooter controller shell, Freddie takes to the streets...
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New Destructoid Episode: Jimmy Fallon Steals All Our News


Jun 17
// Max Scoville
Move it, football-head. It's Friday, so today's episode of The Destructoid Show was carefree and whimsical. Here's the rundown: Jimmy Fallon, that guy who was in Taxi with Queen Latifah, sometimes covers video game news on h...
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Razer Hydra motion controller shipping in June for $140


Apr 21
// Jordan Devore
I hope you didn't forget about the Razer Hydra. It's a motion-control device for PC, which might seem a little unusual at first, but the market is certainly there for this type of controller. Razer and Sixense have announced ...
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Conquer your food in new Kinect Sports Calorie Challenge


Apr 19
// Conrad Zimmerman
There's new downloadable content available for Kinect Sports on Xbox Live Marketplace. The Calorie Challenge DLC puts you up against food items in events. Yes, your dreams of having a rivalry with a dude in a pizza cost...
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Guerrilla: Motion control will be in most FPS games


Feb 08
// Jim Sterling
Killzone 3 is among the first 360/PS3 shooters to embrace motion control, with full PlayStation Move support. Developer Guerrilla believes this is but one step toward a waggle-scented future, with motion control destined to b...
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The Last Story has 'no shake controls', other details


Jan 15
// Jonathan Holmes
According to a new info dump, the highly anticipated Wii exclusive The Last Story will not use "shake controls". It's also been made clear that the game will not be coming to other consoles because Nintendo worked so closely...
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PrimeSense plans to put motion control into everything


Jan 13
// Conrad Zimmerman
The Israeli company PrimeSense, who built the technology in Microsoft's Kinect motion control system, is now looking put their tech into everything they can. PrimeSense president Aviad Maizels said that the company wants to, ...
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Sony patents show radically different Move controller


Dec 06
// Conrad Zimmerman
Sony's Move motion control system is not too far removed from that of the Wii, when it comes right down to it. Yes, detecting the wand's position in three dimensions is a huge improvement over Nintendo's effort but the device...
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Hacked Kinect used to play Super Mario Bros. 1


Nov 28
// Jonathan Holmes
Here's yet another video of someone using Kinect to do something awesome. Using a PC and some custom-written code, this young man is playing Super Mario Bros. 1 with Microsoft's new un-controller. The controls look a little ...
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Kinect manual confirms you need 6 to 8 feet minimum


Oct 06
// Conrad Zimmerman
VG247 has uploaded photos of the entire Microsoft Kinect manual today and there's some information inside which may affect many users' buying decision. Most significantly is the confirmation that you will require a minimum of...
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PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour has a long name


Sep 26
// Matthew Razak
(In honor of the upcoming Rally to Restore Sanity/March to Keep Fear Alive I shall deliver all the news this weekend twice: First the sane way, and then the fear way. It's the weekend, I get to do stuff like this (I h...
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Namco announces Body and Brain Connection for Kinect


Sep 16
// Colette Bennett
We got word of a new Kinect title aimed at powering up your noggin from Namco last week, with the famous Dr. Ryuta Kawashima on board, who is behind Nintendo's famous Brain Training series. Today, Namco spilled the rest of th...
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PAX 10: Long and Holmes Vs. Kung Fu Live!


Sep 09
// Jonathan Holmes
Child of Eden, the one Kinect game that I really wanted to play at PAX 10, was a no show this year. To make up for that, fate tossed Kung Fu Live! my way, and I loved it. It's basically old-school Mortal Kombat but with bett...

Hands-on: John Daly ProStroke Golf

Sep 01 // Ben Perlee
John Daly's Prostroke Golf (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC)Developer: Gusto GamesPublisher: O-GamesTo be released: October 5, 2010 John Daly's Prostroke Golf is the technical sequel to the Prostroke golf series last seen on the PS2, PSP and Xbox. The addition of John Daly is important, as other than Tiger Woods, he's one of the most well known golfers in history, with a unique play style and a perchance for drama. Serious, the man has been married four times, dealt with alcoholism, weight problems, and a whole lot more, and is widely considered the comeback king of golf. Between his outrageous personality and his crazy line of wild Loudmouth golf clothing, Daly has his mark well and true on the game. While Daly himself is playable on the 16 original courses (with some based upon British courses), players will also be making their own character. Nothing particularly remarkable about this, but it's a nice addition that you can even dress your character up in crazy Loudmouth branded clothing that look like quilts. Seriously. Expect DLC of clothing and character options, surely. As far as basic gameplay goes, players will be using the Move controller to indicate and line up their shots on the course. There is a smallish checkerboard grid that both indicates the angle of the course, as well as indicates the general area the ball will go if hit straight on. Moving this grid about is easy, although it is a little sensitive. Most players initially tug the trigger and swing about the course, when a gentle pull and slow motions get the job done. While motion control is important for lining up your shots, the actual swing gameplay is much more important. Players will enter a first person perspective looking down at the ball. From there, they can step closer or farther from the ball to put on some top or back spin, twist their wrist to open or close their shot, as well as practice how they want to hit the ball. Pull the trigger, and then the game measures how far back you pull back your swing, how vertical your club is, and how fast you rip through. Depending on how you hit the ball, your angle, how close or far you are standing, and a whole lot more the ball can go anywhere. However, it was pretty clear how to clean up your shot, and before long, we were pulling off courses at par. For anyone who needs a little assistance, there is a training mode in which John Daly himself will guide players through technique. Apparently the first time he played the game, he did an amazing job on the courses, so the technique in the game is strongly based upon real world skills. Right now, it does take a little getting used to the controls. The Move controller has a lot more buttons than the Wiimote, so it is easy to accidentally press the wrong button, or when you need to calibrate the device (a surprisingly common occurrence) you would press the wrong button. Thankfully, fifteen minutes of play made this a non-issue, and I was in control of everything no problem. Coming away from the motion control, I was pretty impressed. Unlike the Wii experience, it really did feel much more accurate and realistic. While the character models and general graphics are not the most impressive, the gameplay feels solid and functional. It doesn't feel like the game ruins shots that should have been perfect, and there is a lot of flexibility to modify how you want the ball to go. Plainly, it just feels nice. That's a good thing for a golf game. In addition, if motion control isn't your jam, John Daly Prostroke Golf will be coming to the Xbox 360, as well as the PC. However, if you've got the PS3, this would certainly be the version to get.
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When motion control first came out with the Wii, one of the most relaxing activities to take part in was the golf game that came with Wii Sports. It wasn't exactly accurate, and it didn't always work right all the time, but i...

First living room impressions: PlayStation Move

Sep 01 // Nick Chester
Warning! Warning! Warning! Get used to this image -- it's the screen you'll see immediately upon booting up any game that utilizes PlayStation Move. Remember, knocking over a lamp and then smacking a dude in the face is bad. Setting up the controllers As I had only been handed Move controllers already set up for demonstration purposes, I was particularly curious to find out what the setup process would be like in my home. As it turns out, it’s an absolute breeze. It’s a three-step affair to get your controllers paired with the console, and you’re probably already familiar with it -- you simply connect the device to the PS3 console using a USB cable, and then press the “PS” button on the controller. The device is instantly paired with the system (by default, the first Move controller you connect is “Controller 7”), and then you’re free to remove the cable. Because Move requires the use of a PlayStation Eye camera, you’ll want to plug that in if you haven’t already. It plugs right into a USB port on the PlayStation 3; you’d have to be dense to not be able to figure this out. Of course, there’s an odd little issue I have here, and it’s that all of the PS3’s USB ports are located on the front of the console. This means you’ll have to wrap the wire around to the front, leaving an unsightly cord always visible. Given that the slim PS3 was introduced last year (likely well after Sony’s internal R&D had finalized how Move would ultimately work), it’s mind-boggling that there isn’t a single USB port on the back of the console. A bit nit-picky? For sure, but considering how stylish Sony’s products tend to be, it’s likely most gamers will want to keep these cords hidden.Once the controllers are linked to the console and the PS Eye camera is connected, you’re ready to start playing games and navigating the XrossMediaBar. The latter is actually surprisingly intuitive, and one of the “features” of Move I surprised myself by liking so much. To navigate menus, you simply pull and hold the T button (the trigger on the underside of the wand), and slightly move your wrist side to side or up and down. On paper, it doesn’t sound noteworthy, but it actually feels really great to use; I'm finding that I prefer this style of navigation over using an analog stick. You'll find that many games utilize this style of navigation for menus, too. The calibration danceMost software that supports Move will recognize your controller setup, and won’t let you proceed if the game requires the motion controller or the camera and they aren’t detected. You will have to calibrate the controller, and the oddest thing is that how you do this is slightly different for every game. Most titles begin by having you point the bulb on the Move controller directly at the PS Eye while holding down the “Move” button (it’s a squiggly line you’ll become familiar with in time) on the face of the controller. The bulb cycles through colors before settling on one and completing the calibration. But beyond this, many games require other types of calibration, or handle this setup differently. Sports Champions (Sony’s flagship answer to Wii Sports that you can purchase bundled with a Move controller) is of note. Before playing any of the games (and each and every time you begin one), you'll have to hold the controller in three places -- at your side, at your shoulder, and near where a belt buckle would sit -- and then press the Move button. The first time I had to do this, I let out a sigh of exasperation. Was I really expected to do this every single time? The answer, I found, was yes. But after a few games, it became second nature; I’ve mastered the "Sports Champions Calibration Dance," and you will, too. It should be noted that my mastery of the skill may only come in handy with Sports Champions -- that's the only game I played that required this. While it’s not a major concern, I do hope that how the controller is calibrated becomes standardized. Some games ask you to point at the Eye and hold the Move button; others ask you to pull the T trigger. Others, like Sports Champions, wanted me to hold both at once. Another even wanted me to press and hold select, which sits on the side of the controller. The issue isn’t so much that it’s difficult to do any of these things (admittedly, getting to that select button was a bit tricky); it’s that I found myself second-guessing what I was supposed to be doing each time. Just when I got comfortable pressing the Move button to calibrate, I was asked to pull the trigger. Fortunately, it’s likely that as more and more software is designed, developers will settle on a standard. How do the controllers feel?No sense in pretending otherwise -- it’s easiest to compare to the Move and Navigation controllers to the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. It’s an easy point of reference, as most of you have some experience with Nintendo’s controller, the success of which is likely why Move exists. It's a wand, it's a remote, it's... thing with a bulb on it To that end, the Move controller itself is slightly longer than the Wii Remote, mostly because of that big rubbery ball that sits on top of it. But unlike the Wii Remote -- which appears to be designed to mimic the look and feel of a television remote control -- Sony has gone with what I feel is a sleeker, more elegant design. The black controller has curves; it's bigger at the top and bottom, thinner in the middle. In your hand, this actually does feel better than holding a Wii Remote; it provides a better, more comfortable grip. For a person with average-sized hands, the forefinger and the thumb will sit perfectly on the trigger and Move buttons, respectively. Considering all of the games I played mostly required only those buttons, that’s exactly where you’ll want them. The other buttons, however, don’t fare so well. The iconic square, triangle, X, and circle buttons that surround the Move button feel a bit too small. And because they’re not placed in the classic diamond shape I’ve become accustomed to, when I did need to push them -- infrequently, mind you -- I had to look down before making my choice. With time, it’s likely I’ll become more confident in my choices, but it should be mentioned that it’s hardly an issue, as the buttons aren’t often used. The start and select buttons on the controller are probably its biggest issue. They’re off on the sides of the device, just above the set of buttons on the controller’s face. They’re also flush with the plastic housing, which means you can’t really feel them with your thumb when trying to push them. It also requires a bit of a stretch with your finger -- holding it right-handed, it’s nearly impossible to get to the select button (on the left side of the controller) without some serious finger gymnastics (and vice versa for lefties). Fortunately, it seems most developers realized this, as most games will allow you to select menus and such using the Move and trigger buttons. Pausing games, however, can be a bit tricky... "See you later, Navigator!" The Navigation controller features a single analog stick, as well as a D-pad, two triggers, and two face buttons, circle and X. It’s not curved like the Wii Nunchuk, and therefore didn’t feel quite as comfortable in my hand. The lack of curvature isn’t a deal breaker; the controller still feels nice in your palm, and the buttons that count (the two triggers on the back) sit in the right places. It has to be mentioned that not all games require you to use the Navigation controller; the bulk of the games I tested only required one Move controller to play. You also don’t need to buy one if you already have a DualShock 3, which you can hold and use in its place. The pricey $29.99 controller is, however, way easier to use and grip than holding a DualShock with a single hand. Whether that comfort is worth thirty dollars to you will become clear after you try to play few hours of Heavy Rain (which is being updated for Move support) with a DualShock in one hand.OMG! Is it better than the Wii!?!?This is the big question for many gamers: how does it compare to the Wii’s motion controls? Because, let’s face it, the Move plus a Navigation controller looks a hell of a like the Remote and Nunchuk configuration. But is it “better”? The answer to that comes down to two things -- the technology and the software. It works, it works well, and it does some fancy tricksThe first -- the technology -- is easy to answer. Without question, Sony’s Move is head and shoulders above what Nintendo is currently offering, including Wii MotionPlus, in terms of both functionality and accuracy. If you want the details, the Move Wikipedia entry gets down and dirty with what’s inside this thing; I won’t bother boring you with that. But here’s what you should know -- it works, and it works well. When calibrated properly (which is a snap, as mentioned above), the one-to-one motion really works as advertised. Move can also detect slight wrist motions, including minor twists. In addition, Move can detect motion in 3D space, which means it will be able to tell how close you are to the screen. This comes in handy in games like Tumble, where you’re required to reach in (or pull out) to gently place blocks on a platform. While most of the Move software suggests you stand anywhere between six to eight feet from the PS Eye, I found that I had no problems if I stood or sat even closer. Move also seems to work just as well with lights on or lights off, probably because of the blindingly bright (and admittedly distracting) bulb.Pairing Move with Eye also allows for some pretty cool augmented reality scenarios. These play out particularly well in games like EyePet and the multiplayer-centric Start the Party. By sitting in front of the camera and holding the Move controller, the game will map an object onto the on-screen Move controller. Seeing yourself on television holding a sword or a paintbrush is both surreal and, embarrassingly, a bit exhilarating. What it can ultimately add to the gaming experience remains to be seem. EyePet, which has an adorably furry virtual creature prancing around on your living room's carpet, is an interesting example. Whether these kinds of experiences can be extended beyond casual games for something meatier, only time will tell. Some of how well Move worked came down to the software. I had few problems with games like Tumble, and even Sports Champions (across all sports) functioned as advertised. Kung Fu Rider, however, didn’t seem quite as accurate. In this quirky game, players race down a hill on an office chair (and later, other ridiculous items with wheels) by pointing the Move controller at the screen. A quick shake will give you some speed, and tilting the remote left and right will steer you. Flicking the controller up to jump seemed to be the issue; oftentimes the on-screen character would hop at the slightest upward movement, including the aforementioned shaking to get speed. In a game that required split-second accuracy, I found this to be a bit frustrating. It's all about the gamesThe software question is a difficult one to answer. Sony had only provided me with about ten titles, most of which will be available at launch. They ranged from the quirky (the aforementioned Kung Fu Rider) to the expected (Sports Champions, Ubisoft’s Racquet Sports) to the novel (EyePet). I also spent a good amount of time with existing games like EA Sports’ Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 and Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain, both of which are being patched and updated to work with Move. Of the handful of games I played, none of them were “bad,” per se. It helped that the Move controller, in almost all instances, simply worked like you'd expect. With a few exceptions, there’s not much I’ve played so far that makes it stand apart from many of Nintendo’s third-party offerings. That is to say, there weren’t many games that took the motion controls in truly original directions. Start the Party, for instance, is a collection of typical motion-controlled party games, albeit with some neat fancy augmented-reality stuff. Tiger Woods 11 also works nicely with the updated Move support, but didn’t feel drastically different from EA’s Tiger Woods offering on the Wii that uses MotionPlus. That’s not to say there isn’t stuff here that doesn’t show promise and potential for innovation. Sports Champions does some very cool stuff using two Move controllers, like giving you one-to-one controls of both a sword and a shield in the game’s “Gladiator” mode. And Tumble, while also being an amazingly fun single and multiplayer block-stacking game, does an amazing job of showing off how well the Move tech works when moving in a 3D space. It should also go without saying that all of the games I played simply looked better from a technical standpoint than anything on the Wii. There’s no arguing that Sony’s console trumps Nintendo’s in the visual department, with all of the games running in crisp, sharp high definition. While for many, this high-definition visual bump won’t matter, it definitely could be an advantage for folks frustrated with the Wii’s visual fidelity (or lack thereof). The bottom line is that it’s too early to tell what the library of games that will support Move will ultimately look like. For a launch, Sony has a solid (but not mind-blowing) lineup of games, with a number of big-name third-parties throwing support behind the controller. For those looking for “hardcore” experiences the Wii may be lacking, Move updates for Resident Evil 5 and Heavy Rain may give us a glimpse at a motion-controlled future. But topping the current Wii library -- with its massive back catalog, hefty third-party support, and high-quality first-party titles -- is a colossal summit that Sony is going to have a hell of a time climbing. Bottom line Out of the gate, Sony is pairing its powerhouse console with some of the most impressive motion-control technology the market has seen. It's got a decent lineup of software that ranges from casual-centric titles to impressive tech demos, along with some updates to already established games, so it should appeal to a wide audience. It's clear that Sony -- with this outstanding technology -- has the bones to be a fighter that can hold its own in the motion-control space. Whether it has the brains is mostly up to developers; whether it has the stamina is up to consumers. PlayStation Move is hits North American retail shelves on September 19. Closer to release, we'll have a full launch guide, along with a more detailed look at the games that will be available.
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When Sony announced that it would be releasing a motion controller for the PlayStation 3, no one was shocked. The success of the Wii had virtually guaranteed that Nintendo's competitors would start scrambling to enter the mot...


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