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njsykora avatar 12:14 PM on 05.02.2008  (server time)
Control Freaks: #4 - Gametrak

While I've been trying to keep it retro for this series, there's one recent innovation in the control world that deserves recognition. Demoed at the Gamestars Live event in November 2003, released in October 2004 and finally killed in 2006 it was the perfect example of right product, wrong time. Welcome to Control Freaks.

Episode 4 - The Gametrak

The 1st generation Gametrak, later models used a bulkier unit and a more solid button.

The Gametrak worked using those gloves you see. By using those coupled with the wires they were attatched to the unit could detect where your hands were, this enabled it to provide motion control before we even thought about what Nintendo were doing. It also ended up working quite well by going with the games that would make the most of the technology. Given that there were only 3 games for the device its really something that never quite reached its full potential in its short life, the games that came out were actually quite good though. Where developers In2Games went wrong was in releasing those shite RealPlay games, but before that their mistake was in charging 80 for the Gametrak. No matter how good the games were and no matter how well the control worked no-one was going to pay 80 for this thing.

The Games

The first game released and bundled with the system at launch was Darkwind, a first person fighting game that was a very fun game to play entirely due to the Gametrak's abilities. Punch with the left, punching with the right and blocking enemy attacks in the time honoured sense of just putting your fist in the way. Darkwind was an excellent game severely restricted by the price of its hardware. I have actually never been able to find a copy of this so if you have a PAL copy I would actually be very interested.

Darkwind, possibly the best first person fighter ever made.

Second out of the traps was Real World Golf, a golf game that in the current tradition of golf games came bundled with a little club. Aside from that however it was and still is one of the best recreations of golf I think currently exists and for me it will remain that way until someone finally works out how to make a decent Wii Golf game. A sequel was released alongside the 2nd generation Gametrak as Real World Golf 2006 and actually made it to #3 in the UK game chart.

Real World Golf, still the best motion controlled golf game.

The Gametrak launched at the wrong price and failed to gather support as it slowly inched towards the grave. A new version entitled Gametrak Freedom is rumoured to be in development but with the Wii currently eating all the motion control pie I think its impossible for a device like that to be successful now. At the time however it had the potential to be great, but middling reviews and a high price point kept the Gametrak from any kind of success. There is an upside though, the device can now be found quite easily for quite cheap so if you have a PS2 I highly recommend hitting up ebay and getting one. As a 6th generation peripheral it was derided but it did its job well and if it had been successful could've stopped this generation developing the way it has. In my mind that makes it unique among batshit insane devices, it also makes it a worthy Control Freak.


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