I remember when the Wii came out. Wii Sports was the best game. I’m about as definitive of “hardcore gamer” as you can get (not in the misogynist way, but in the “I play 100 hour games and mod things and engage in spirited debates about games as art” way), and I thought Wii Sports was fucking fantastic. I can swing the remote and hit the ball! The future is here! It’s like we’re on the holodeck!
After a couple months, though, I’m pretty sure everyone but non-gamers visiting gamers’ houses and 65 year olds who think Pac Man is the future decided that Wii Sports was shit, what else does Nintendo have.
And that’s where we are with Microsoft and Kinect. It’s like trying to sell a kid on sitting on Santa’s lap a week and a half after Christmas.
Additionally, while we gamers loved Wii Sports, if Kinect Sports isn’t free (and it might not be), a game about running like a doofus is a hard sell. Sure, we took to Wii Sports, but Wii Sports was a relatively low effort activity that was novel. Kinect Sports is a high effort activity, comparatively, which excludes a portion of people (gamers who don’t like activity, and people who already go to the gym and don’t need a video game to emulate running). Additionally, it’s not novel. If I’m paying money for something, I expect a novel experience. And…Kinect Sports doesn’t look very *new*. It looks like Wii Sports, but a little more active.
But that’s not all! Microsoft had more games in its parade of wonder, and, truly, this proved one thing: games cannot be serious without some sort of controller.
How did it prove this? Let’s take a look. Our “hardcore” games were a kart racer using an invisible wheel (wow, I loved the Wii Wheel! I am one of those French guys who use it to kick my ass online all the time!), a car porn game where you…looked at cars, or raced with your car accelerating automatically, and an on rails Star Wars game.
Let’s stop for a moment here. Let’s stop. The Wii gets shit, and can’t move games, because all it has are on rails shooters and shitty cash-ins. None of these three hardcore games are anything more than that. On rails shooters, and on rails racers.
When the Wii came out, I said that the thing that would redeem it would be a 1:1 lightsaber game, but…not like this. Not like this. Besides that, Star Wars (a working title, I imagine, since it needs a shit subtitle) is probably the worst looking game since the early Gamecube. How is this revolutionary? For that matter, how is Kinect Fit revolutionary? Why would a lonely housewife buy a new console and a new peripheral and a new game for something she has right now?
Who does this appeal to, is my question? Who is this targeting? Casual gamers are casual: they don’t need two systems. Hardcore gamers have been pretty universally negative about it (I highly recommend this video, even if it’s just people talking, because it is honestly Jim Sterling’s finest hour. Like, never before have game journalists talking been so hilarious, or had more fucks than The Big Lebowski). The target, therefore, is the tech nut, the guy who buys an iPad because it’s cool and futuristic.
I will, at this point, take a moment, before closing, to be positive. Adventure Studio looked like the game they should have led with. It’s a game that Natal can do well, and while it looks like an EyeToy game, it looks like a good one. As a pack-in, I’d play it. Additionally, while the moments of the conference were among the most awkward, Harmonix’s Dance Central, while not a game I would *ever* play (I resemble the really awkward white guy, except with a few additional pounds and bad feet), looks like it’s a pretty solid game, and someone might buy it.
But, I don’t know who would buy it. Any of it. And that’s the problem.