A full year ago we poked fun at Microsoft’s “Natal” demonstrations, saying they were reactionary gasps attempting to collect some of that casual Nintendo cash. This year, both Microsoft and Sony spent a sickening amount of time trying to convince us how revolutionary and unprecedented both of their motion-waggle efforts are, in what appeared to be two companies caught in a (hands free!) dick waving contest they didn’t realize they had already lost… four years ago. Move especially, as no matter how you slice it, it looks just like a Wii Remote with a glowing ball, and that’s exactly how the public will perceive it.
Runner up: Kinect
If you must argue its virtues, Kinect at least has no wands to wave and offers other social experiences outside of stiff, uninteresting tech demos. Dance Central was cool too, but it’s not system-selling cool, and the other stuff on display wasn’t cutting it either.
What’s that, Sony? No Harry Potter license? But you’ve made a Harry Potter game anyway and called it Sorcery? Isn’t that going to look a bit awkward when it finally appears? Oh, no matter. No one’s going to notice it. In fact it probably won’t even get released. Because it’s a content-deprived, one-trick pony design with the sole purpose of saying ‘Hey, look, you can move a character and use motion control. This Move thing isn’t a load of casual old toss after all’. But we can’t hear it very well over the sound of it being crap.
Runner-up: The Fight: Lights Out
And here’s a game trying to say ‘Look, gritty men in prisons with sweat and stuff. This isn’t just Wii Sports Boxing, you know’ But it is. With gritty men in prisons with sweat and stuff.
It was meant to be there. Not officially, but in our minds. And after Nintendo showed off their gorgeous new handheld, the stage was set for Sony to trump it with a portable PS3 or suchlike. But precisely nothing happened – just a new advertising campaign for the existing PSP. Maybe, just maybe, Sony realized their new machine is already obsolete compared to Nintendo's and pulled it from the show at the last minute. Is that why Kevin Butler had such a long spot? Hmmm…
Runner-up: Half-Life 3
We saw Portal 2, but nothing else whatsoever from Valve. We will get HL3 one day… right, Gabe?
As much as we've made fun of the Nintendo Wii over the past few years, we really don't hate motion controls - a future filled with Holodecks has to start somewhere. What frustrates and disappoints us is how motion controls have been used in games thus far: mostly, as a gimmicky tool for silly party compilations and crappy first person shooters. But it didn't have to be that way...
Which is why, against our better judgment, we were honestly pretty excited about Project Natal, now known as Microsoft Kinect. Maybe a more hardcore console would take a more hardcore approach to motion-sensitivity. Even as we stood for two hours in Los Angeles's Galen Theater, adorned in glowing white space robes and surrounded by "whimsical" circus performers, we held out hope.
Above: Somewhere during hour two
But then the show / demo actually began. You've no doubt heard about the ridiculous set design, the pretentious narration and the armies of actors paid to pretend like Kinect just transformed their lives forever. That's a single, badly planned night. What truly offended was the lineup of Kinect games revealed, each more casual and Wii-wannabe than the last: bowling, rafting, jumping, tiger tickling, running in place and a whole lot of meaningless arm waving (including meaningless lightsaber-swinging).
This didn't look like the future of gaming, but an obvious and kind of desperate attempt to catch up to Nintendo's past. When we're praying for titles like Dance Central, Your Shape and Milo & Kate to save the new system, you know something's wrong.
Runner up: Sitting through Your Shape demo twice
Seeing Your Shape: Fitness Evolved onstage at the Microsoft press conference was one of the slowest, dullest moments in a presser filled with slow, dull moments. Sitting through that presentation again, repeated almost word-for-word, at the Ubisoft presser later that same day? Excruciating.
Final page: Every game that won the prized GamesRadar Orange Ribbon!