Each of the Big Three have put on display their hot new peripherals that explore the 3D space. Microsoft has unveiled the Kinect and its games to the public, while Sony has waved their Move wand. Nintendo has revealed the 3DS, as a way of showing you don’t need glasses to enjoy 3D imagery.
How do they stack up? We will examine each device at a time.
What is it? Kinect is Microsoft’s hyped new controller-less controller. It works by using dual cameras and an advanced processor that can not only detect body movement, but can even tell persons apart, and can determine the sex of the player. The idea probably came after the Xbox Live Vision camera more or less failed as a gaming device. The Kinect goes beyond, with voice and face recognition.
Does it work? When E3 ‘09 debuted the device, along with the infamous “Milo”, people were, to say the least, skeptical, even charging Microsoft with fraud. A year later, and with an inordinate number of fixes, Kinect works, and how. One of the concerns and obstacles for the system has been lag, and for the most part, it has been removed. At worst, there is a noticeable quarter-second of lag, usually in advanced games. Overall, the affect has been nothing short of amazing.
Will it sell? While Microsoft has proved that the technology works as advertised, there are more obstacles looming for the device. The first, and foremost, problem is whether the public will be interested in Kinect. A controller-less system is a hard sell – then again, so was the Wii’s motion control. Microsoft is aiming squarely at the casual gamer with this machine, which brings us to the second obstacle: price. Rumors have been buzzing around about the price of the system. $80? $150? $190? Microsoft cagily did not price Kinect at the conference, perhaps holding back to see the reception before pricing it. Microsoft should be aiming for market saturation, though, and make it under $100. There are rumors of a standalone Kinect that does not require the Xbox 360, too. The game that could drive sales of Kinect is Harmonix’s Dance Central, a shockingly fun dancing game in which the gamer has to make sequential dance moves to songs by performers such as Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper.
What is it? Move is Sony’s answer to the Wii remote, and, like Microsoft, a response to flagging sales of the Eye Toy. Basically, what the Move does is use the Eye Toy to track the movements of the Wand’s glowing orb, which allows it to follow the ball in true 3D space.
Does it work? Yes, and better than the Wiimote, since it doesn’t rely on fickle motion sensors, but the Eye Toy analyzing the movement of the glowing orb in space.
Will it sell? Probably not. There are a number of problems with marketing the Move, and one of them is the fact that while it works better than the Wiimote, there’s virtually no difference from the Wiimote. Worse, a single control plus Eye Toy will cost “under $100″. That’s all well and good, but most of the better Move games will require purchasing another controller, such as boxing and some of the “sports resort” style games like the bow and arrow. And that doesn’t account for the PlayStation 3 being about as casual unfriendly as it gets for the non-gamer. Sony has paradoxically tried to make the Move appeal to the “hardcore” by shoehorning the control into Gran Turismo 5 and SOCOM 4.
What is it? It’s exactly what the name implies – it’s a Nintendo DS with 3D capability. The kicker is that there are no glasses needed, using Sharp’s technology.
Does it work? Mostly. The player must stare at the screen and exactly the same angle, and 3D video is unconvincing. 3D graphics, however, are strong, seeing Link, groups of Pikmin and the cast of Super Mario Bros. produces a nifty 3D effect. The game has a slider to increase or decrease 3D depth, since the device will be 100% DS compatible. It also allows the viewer to see how images are changed in 3D.
Will it sell? Like hotcakes. Unlike Nintendo’s Virtual Boy and glasses-based 3D, this device is very easy on the eyes. The idea of playing DS games in 3D without the need for glasses is too sumptuous to pass up for average gamers, and Nintendo handheld fans are like Apple fans -they will buy the device on the first day of release. The 3DS will be massive; make your preorders now, because there will be shortages.
Let us know what you think.
Jonah Falcon is a blogger for TMRzoo and GameStooge.com and covers all gaming consoles and platforms including Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP and computer games designed for Mac OS, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Jonah provides his readers with reviews, previews and up to date gaming industry news and rumors.