The idea behind motion controlled games is a pretty cool one... in theory. Slash to use a sword. Point to use a gun. Turn a wheel to drive a car. But after 3 years of the Wii's motion controlled games, and the PS3s motion enhanced Sixaxis controls, it is hard to find an instance where most of us wouldn't just prefer to have a regular controller without any sort of real, physical movement necessary.
There are a lot of places where blame can be placed when it comes to answering the question of why motion controls are so popular yet have such a negative connotation from gamers. Is it a problem with us as gamers? It could be a problem with how we like to play... my slouched sitting style doesn't exactly make most Wii games easy to use. The TV is also at an awkward angle from where my recliner is at in my room, and the bed is further away from the screen. So I can either stand or sit in a chair in the middle of my room. Neither are as comfy or as appealing as a bed or recliner. And how many gamers really get into games like the people in commercials? I've played a lot of Wii party games with friends, and we've never been as excited as them. Not even drunk. So maybe part of the problem is with us as gamers...
But could it also be a problem with the control system itself? The fairly obvious answer is "duh!" Even Nintendo is looking to answer that problem with the Motion Plus
attachment, meant to give a more 1:1 control than whatever the hell the Wii currently can give us. It's an attempt to better the technology, but after 3 years of games that the Motion Plus
can't fix/help at all, and with maybe
another 3 years left on the market, it might be too little, too late. Even more discouraging is that early feedback from EA
has said that they had to limit the technology because it was responding to movements they didn't want or intend to be commands. This makes me wonder if the Wiimote isn't inherently flawed technology. Microsoft and Sony are supposedly looking at using their camera technology with new controllers to do a more accurate motion control system which would track full body movements. These technologies are a backwards form of the Wiimote, so they should be better at tracking motions which the Wiimote has sucked at. But from the looks of things
, most gamers don't really care anymore.
Maybe part of the problem lies with the developers/games themselves. Most people would say they at least played a big part in the lackluster motion controls we know and have come to groan at. Jumping in deBlob
was just stupid. Eventually, after hours of popping the Wiimote up in the air for a jump, I finally quit playing cause it wouldn't let me remap the jump to an actual button. How about the stupid wheel for racing games!? They absolutely suck. I tried to use the Wii-Wheel for Mario Kart Wii
but I can always beat my times by just using the regular controls, so why go through the frustration and humiliation of turning a wheel that isn't connected to jackshit? And sure, there are games that just plain use the controls badly... but when even first-party games seem like a gimmick rather than a good use of the technology, and their controls are the best out there, I think we need to take a step back and look at whether this is a "revolution" we really want to be a part of.
And maybe that's just what is happening within the gaming community. Wii sales have dropped pretty dramatically this year, their library of games can't sell as well as those on the "next-gen" (HD capable) systems, and the Wii's tie-ratio
seems to be slowing down, whereas the other systems keep climbing. So what does this mean for Nintendo's revolution? From the looks of the market, it means that the Wii fad has saturated the market with plenty of systems in peoples homes, but that they aren't picking up the games that are put out there for it.
Part of that problem, though, could just be with the sort of games which the Wii is aimed at actually getting out on the market. Of the top 20 Wii games on metacritic
, six of them are Nintendo titles (mario, ssbb, metroid, tetris), four of them are music games (guitar hero, rockband), one that is arguably better on PC (world of goo), and two of them are games originally made for the last gen's systems (okami, re4). That leaves 7 games that aren't Nintendo titles, casual games on other systems, or haven't been ported to the Wii. Not very impressive... especially when you compare those games sales to the others on the top 20.
But that isn't stopping the competition from trying to pick up the casual market which the Wii has managed to capture, and which its games has seemingly fumbled. Microsoft is putting Lips
up against Sony's legacy of Singstar
games (which, along with Guitar Hero, could have arguably sparked this latest casual fad in gaming). You're In The Movies!
is an attempt to create a party game around the camera rather than a controller. Trivia games like Buzz
for Sony and Scene It!
for Microsoft have used simpler controllers as a way of getting non-gamers to play. A lot of the artsy games for the PS3 take advantage of the camera, Sixaxis controls, or both. And even the huge FPS title Killzone 2
jumped on the Sixaxis bandwagon for some of their games controls.
I guess the real question is what consumers plan on spending their money on this year
. E3 will most likely have Sony and Microsoft debuting new, motion controlled, casually aimed titles and hardware. Nintendo will continue down that path (and it will probably go over just as well as it did last year
). And casual consumers will keep buying a handful of games per year, while the rest of us, whose support keeps the industry alive, have to sort through all the BS just to find a few good games among the overwhelming tidal wave of shovelware.
Wait a second. I have this creepy feeling of deja vu... Could something like this have possibly happened before