The truth be told, I used to dread playing motion controlled games. Sure, I would occasionally sit down with my kids and play a little Wii Ski or Super Mario Galaxy, but – to me – it didn’t really feel like gaming. I’ve always thought the Wii’s controls feel like a novelty. It seems that pointing a Wiimote at the screen has all the accuracy of a campaign ad the week before election day. But after just a few days with the Playstation Move, I am a bonafide convert. Despite all my previous ideas and conceptions about motion controls, I now know – motion gaming can be a heck of a lot of fun.
I have to admit, I went into this experience without much enthusiasm. Initially, I thought I’d spend an hour with the Move system, then turn it over to my kids and get their feedback. But by the end of the week, I was hogging the game and they were begging me for a turn. Simply put, I haven’t had this much fun with games in a very long time.
The Playstation Move can be purchased as a complete system or added on to any Playstation 3. The initial setup of the system is very easy. The Move consists of three elements: the handheld controller, which is a cylinder about the size of a Wiimote, plus a color-changing sphere on its business end, a Playstation Eye camera that tracks the controller’s movement, and a game. (There will be about 30 Move-compatible games out by this holiday season.) Including unpacking the boxes and installing the software, we were up and running in about 15 minutes.
I ran the Move through its paces with four games that were specifically designed for use with motion controls:
* The Playstation Move Bundle ships with a game called Sports Champions, which has six activities: bocce, table tennis, archery, volleyball, gladiator duel and disc golf. I decided disc golf would be my inaugural game because I used to play a lot in college. Surprisingly, the Move controller’s positional and rotational tracking made for a very realistic experience. I could lower or raise the disc for a better shot at the basket and twisting my wrist allowed me to hook a shot around a tree in the middle of the fairway. The archery game, while not as much fun, showcases the Move’s flexibility. With two controllers, one hand holds the bow, while the other draws an arrow from the quiver and draws back the bowstring. The game can also be played with just one controller.
* The Shoot is the Move’s take on the first person shooter. Your job is to shoot at various bad guys cut-outs and targets on the set of various movies, while avoiding “live” starlets. A somewhat annoying director shouts out encouragement and suggestions the whole time. It’s like Nintendo’s Hogan’s Alley, all grown up. Still, the Move controller allowed for lots of quick, pinpoint shots.
* Start The Party is a collection of mini-games and party fun for up to four players. The game utilizes the Playstation Eye camera to include images of you in your living room. Beautifully animated cartoon borders are added and the glowing ball on the end of the controller is replaced with various animated attachments for the different games (like an oversized mallet for the whack-a-mole game). Games are fast-paced, fun and make for a very giggle-worthy family gaming experience.
* Also available on the PSP, Eyepet allows players to care for a virtual pet. Eyepet also uses the Playstation Eye camera and is smart enough to detect input from both the Move controller and the movement of on-screen hands and fingers. I don’t understand the virtual pet games – I never have – but my girls absolutely loved this game, they were literally hopping with excitement as their pet hatched and they got to play with it. But my greatest thrill was watching them play because I got to watch their ear-to-ear grins, broadcast up on the screen.
If these games are indicative of what to expect from motion control gaming, I’m in. While I still feel like traditional analog-sticks-and-buttons controllers will be the first choice when playing most games, Sony’s Move has made huge strides toward tightening controls and enhancing the motion experience. Because the Move’s controls are more precise than motion controls of the past, it makes them less of a novelty and more of a legitimate interaction.
Reflecting on the past week with the Playstation Move, I’m more than a little surprised, given my earlier resistance to motion control games. Yet, when I think about playing games this past week, I know that I’ve spent more time with the Move games than I have playing anything else. (And Rock Band 3 came out this past week!)
Now, as a borderline XBox fanboy, I’m eager to find out how the Kinect measures up.
Disclosure: Sony sent GeekDad the Move setup and games for review purposes.