Move: Bridging the casual/hardcore divide

There seems to be a vocal minority on gaming forums and comments threads that sees motion controls as the enemy of gaming. That standing up and waving your arms about is no way to have fun, and that the widening of the gaming market means we won’t see any ‘traditional’, ‘hardcore’ games any more.

Apart from the fact that it’s utter nonsense, I’ve no idea why motion controls and core-focused gaming should be considered mutually exclusive. Yet it’s the way they’re most commonly perceived, or so it seems. Having spent the best part of an hour just now trying to beat an opponent on Sony’s Sports Champions – and that’s not through any faults of the controls themselves – I can honestly say that motion controls, executed properly, can make for as substantial a challenge as any ‘hardcore’ game.

PlayStation Move is a remarkably responsive and precise controller, with the PlayStation Eye camera able to track its position in 3D space, allowing for near-as-dammit 1:1 controls. You do need to be careful not to step out of the range of the camera, and you do need to ensure you’re a certain distance away from the telly to make the most of it, but otherwise any mistakes are your own fault; there are no glitches nor any noticeable drifting, as with Wii MotionPlus.

Which means if you’re facing a decent opponent in table tennis, say, you need to apply topspin, sidespin and backspin, reach into the court to get shots which land close to the net or lean backwards to return strokes hit to the back of the table. You can simply hold the controller in position and you’ll execute a block return, the ball simply hitting your bat and bouncing over the other side (assuming you’ve judged the shot correctly, of course). It’s a remarkable showcase for the peripheral, but more importantly, it shows exactly how motion controls can be used to make games simultaneously more intuitive yet more challenging. If your bat’s at the wrong angle, you’ll hit the ball into the net or off the side of the table. Fail to counter strong spin or time your shot poorly and you’ll spoon a return over the net, giving your opponent ample time to smash. On the lower difficulties, your rivals make more mistakes; on Gold level and above, they’ll spend more time punishing yours.

This does make the rewards all the greater when you do overcome an opponent, and it’s all thanks to the brilliantly-executed controls. So motion controls aren’t just for casuals, then? Well, that shouldn’t come as a shock to Wii owners who’ve played the likes of Mario Galaxy 2 and Trauma Team, who are no doubt aware that motion and pointer-based controls, implemented well, can genuinely enhance a game. They’re just as perfect a fit for core games as for those titles aimed at a wider audience. Let’s not automatically assume they’re a poor substitute for more traditional controls.

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2 comments

  1. Thank you! Glad someone’s talking sense. Motion control isn’t the enemy at all. In fact, I’m pretty excited by some of the possibilities—more so by Move than Kinect, in most cases.

    I say anything that helps to bridge the divide between “casual” and “core” games is a good thing. (Also, the sooner people realise Farmville et al are crap, the better, too.) I’m looking forward to seeing the potential applications of Move and Kinect in the future.

  2. I loved Kinect at E3, but Move’s really won me over this past week. The potential is enormous, and I’m surprised how much of an improvement it is on MotionPlus. It has its foibles (you need to watch where you’re standing more than for Wii) but that’s only really going to be an issue for the more energetic games.


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