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Kinect

While the Wii has failed to wow hardcore gamers, it's managed to thrill a lot of new gamers. It's a solid idea and it bears some iteration to see what else motion controls can give us. This seems to be what Microsoft is thinking with the Kinect gizmo. (Well, they're actually thinking they want a cut of those sweet Wii sales, but the result is the same.)

But you don't have to look that far to see the fatal flaw with Kinect. It will be right on the box: One hundred and fifty US dollars. Their marketing campaign keeps trying to tell you that you are the controller, but let's be adults here. The controller is the piece of hardware that will now sit on top of your Xbox, which is probably on top of a bunch of other stuff, which might be on top of your TV. (I've got three consoles in my setup here, and the last thing I want to add is another doohickey that can't be stacked with other stuff.) It's true that the controller is one of the key selling points of the Wii, but the other selling point is its low price tag. $150 for a controller is ludicrous considering the market they're courting, and Kinect is going to be a joke unless they can fix that. For $50 more you could just buy a Wii, and the Wii comes with some free games. Unlike Kinect.

Also, everyone has noticed that Wiimote stick-waggling is sort of the catch-all generic action for lots of Wii games. Judging from the Kinect previews, hopping will be the new stick-waggling.

PlayStation Move

After several years self-defensive posturing from PS3 fans about how hardcore and powerful their system is, we've got Sackboy, ModNation Racers, Joe Danger, and a Wiimote with a ping-pong ball on the end. After defending their platform as the choice for real men, Sony has showed up to the party dressed in drag.

Like Kinect, the trailers seem short on actual demonstrations of the product in action and long on absurd fantastic scenes of what it will feel like to use the thing.

And like the Kinect, they have bowling.

Motion Controls in General

I know that lots of people like to dismiss the Wii motion controls as a "dumb gimmick", but our entire hobby was built one dumb gimmick at a time. Twenty years ago we didn't have force feedback, pressure-sensitive buttons, or thumbsticks. Some new ideas change the way we play games, and some new ideas are the Nintendo Powerglove. You can't try new things without making mistakes. Expensive, hilarious, humiliating mistakes. But both Sony and Microsoft are looking less like they're innovating and more like they're jumping on Nintendo's bandwagon. Four years late.

We can only hope these two aren't planning on repeating Nintendo's mistake of shoehorning their motion controls into games where they don't belong and turning out a heap of shovelware. I'm all for innovation, but part of innovation is learning from the mistakes of the past.

Shamus Young is the guy behind Twenty Sided, DM of the Rings, and Stolen Pixels, Shamus Plays, and Spoiler Warning. He's really busy.

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