Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What to make of the Kinect and Move?

With the holiday shopping period mere months away, its a good time to take a look at what each platform holder (Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft) has to offer.

Holding onto 3 years of solid success, Nintendo's Wii has become a known quantity for many, but with a major game announcement blowout at this year's E3 show, Nintendo's greasing its gears for its hardcore audience with a new Metroid, a new Zelda, a new Kirby, a new Donkey Kong, and even more with their 3DS lineup.

But the uninitiated shouldn't be afraid of these games. If you own a Wii, and you've been checking out that Nintendo Channel, you should know that Nintendo's always about wanting to bring in the widest crowd possible, and with the newly released Metroid: Other M, they're doing just that. Marketed in Japan as "A Famicom (NES) game made with the newest hardware," its clear that Nintendo's message is that this isn't just a nostalgia trip, but a message saying "Hey, we want to make this as simple and intuitive as possible, with the least amount of buttons."

Next up is Sony's Playstation Move, releasing September 19th in the US. Its been commonly referred to being essentially an "HD Wii remote," but without hands-on time, its difficult to gauge the controller's fidelity, though reports suggest that it feels much better than the Wii, and perhaps even delivering on Wii's initial promise. The launch lineup, which can be found here, is at least impressive, with a number of family games and games aimed at the "hardcore." With several revised game updates, including Heavy Rain: Move Edition, and a hard-patched Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition, its hard for an existing PS3 owner to say no. But what about those of us on the peripherary? The PS3 Move Bundle being recently announced as having had a harddrive upgrade to 320GBs doesn't hurt at all, especially when considering the added value over buying a PS3 and the Move bundle separately. If you're looking to give your family the full advantage of owning an HDTV and having motion controls with augmented reality elements at the same time, its not a bad choice to go with.

Finally, Microsoft's Kinect has been making its rounds around the malls of America, drawing crowds for what appears to really be the next big thing. While its been outed by critics for the reduced capabilities of the device that had been opted out in favor for lower pricing, it goes without a doubt that there are still some really great things that are waiting to come from the software-development side of things for Kinect, including, but not limited to Dance Central, developed by Harmonix, best known for starting the Guitar Hero brand, and making Rockband, and Milo and Kate, Peter Molyneux and Lionhead's newest venture outside of their steadfast franchise Fable. Due for a November 4th launch, anecdotal reports suggest that the sensation of playing Kinect is akin to playing the Wii for the first time. Currently, there's a hardware bundle available for preorder that includes a 4GB 360 (which has a matte finish instead of a glossy one) and a Kinect camera, but its also worth noting a leak from a few weeks ago about a potential bundle that will include the "proprietary" 250GB hard drive. Pricing is unknown at this moment.

Having read all of that, you're probably asking "Hey Ellis, what in the world am I support to pick? They all seem like such expensive propositions." Well, try asking yourself a few questions:
  • Did I play with a Wii before, and did I enjoy the time I had?
  • Am I looking forward to the nostalgic game sequels that are coming out in the next few months on the Wii?
  • Do I want to watch Blu-ray movies with my family on our brand new HDTV and appease my or my children's desire for motion controls?
  • Did I try a Kinect/Move demonstration at a mall recently, and did I think "I need this in my life"?
  • Do I live in a bachelor pad?
  • Do I want to play first-person-shooter games and/or incredibly random indie downloadable games?
  • Can I afford extra controllers?
The Kinect camera, to me, sounds like a really brilliant idea, and Dance Central is its killer app, but I see myself holding off on buying it unless I was the type of person who always had friends over for Rockband and Singstar parties. If you have kids, even better.

The way I look at Playstation Move, on the other hand, is that Sony's pushing very strongly for a balanced lineup of both family-oriented Wii-like games with added augmented reality elements like Eyepet, Start the Party, and Singstar +Dance, alongside games designed for the hardcore crowd, like The Fight, SOCOM 4, and Killzone 3. The pricing for the controllers (and particularly the neutered motion-less Navigational Ctntroller), however, just feels out of hand. The fact that some games require two move controllers for the full experience doesn't help any either.

That's not to say, however, that the Wii doesn't have its own lineup of family-oriented games, as titles like Wii Party is heading its way to the US on October 3rd, alongside the sequel to Just Dance 2, Rockband 3, and so on.

What you choose is up to you, but be sure to choose based on what appeals to you the most, especially if you're a first-time buyer:
  • Are you looking to get the most out of your HDTV?
  • Are you looking to play competitive games online?
  • Are you looking to have a nostalgia trip this holiday?
  • Are you looking to be at the bleeding edge of newness?
Whatever you choose, just remember to shop responsibly. :)

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