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High Horse: Stop asking for a 1:1 Star Wars lightsaber game

High Horse is a rotating opinion column in which GamesRadar editors and guest writers are invited to express their personal thoughts on games, the people who play them and the industry at large.

Yeah, I was there with you. Everyone was. We saw the Wii remote, we saw Zelda, we saw trailers for Red Steel, and our mind all went to the same place: Star Wars. “Finally,” we whispered in one collective breath, “they’ll finally make the lightsaber game we’ve always wanted.”

But they didn’t. And we complained. Zelda’s motion controls amounted to waggle, Red Steel sucked, and the Star Wars games on the Wii never gave full 1:1 control of the lightsaber. “WHYYYY!!!111” we posted on forums, “WHY DON’T THEY JUST MAKE THE LIGHTSABER GAME? IT’S SO OBVIOUS! WHY ARE THEY STUPID?!” These sentiments filled every comment thread on every review. We all got together and huffed and puffed, acting like we knew better than all of the game developers in the world. They, for whatever reason, refused to make the 1:1 lightsaber game we wanted.

But guess what: they were right, and we were wrong. Wrong, and sort of naive. 1:1 sword controls sound great as a premise, but in practice they’re actually completely impossible. Even if we ignore the input lag, there are a number of really obvious reasons why that 1:1 lightsaber game you wouldn’t shut the hell up about wouldn’t have worked this generation – and might not ever actually be possible.

Let’s break down exactly what we want from a 1:1 lightsaber game, so we can see why it’s absolutely stupid. First, let’s take the most common scenario: fighting Stormtroopers (or droids or whatever). In your mind, you see yourself cleaving apart dozens of enemies as you run through the stage with your trusty saber in hand. Vwiiiiiing. Vwiiiiiing. Clash clash clash!

That’s your fantasy. It’s cool; it’s mine, too.

But in reality, you’d cleave apart like seven, and then start tweeting about how much your arm hurts. Remember when the Wii first came out and people complained about “Wii elbow”? Remember when you played Boom Blox and your arm hurt for a week? Remember when Red Steel 2 actually gave you fairly good controls but you had to stop playing every 30 minutes because you felt like your arm was going to fall off?

That’s because swinging your arm around a lot exerts a lot of energy, and you’d get sore pretty quickly if you did it for more than a few minutes at a time. Most reviewers who played Deadmund’s Quest, Sony’s recently-released Move-enabled sword-fighting game, praised the 1:1 sword fighting for being the best in its class, but complained about the fact that they had to swing so hard to attack enemies. Deadmund’s Quest  took its swordplay seriously – if you swung too slowly, the game would gently ask you to swing harder. Problem is, that’s the only way to make it work; it’s just something you have to do. You’re not going to cut things apart by swinging slowly. You need to swing hard, you need to hack, you need to slash, and that gets painful fast.

But wait! What about lightsaber battles with other Sith and Jedi! That’s where the fun is, right?

No, that would be even worse. First of all, you’re not a freaking swordsman. You’re (most likely) not a kendo master, and your parents (probably) never let you sign up for fencing. You may imagine yourself standing in your living room, having an epic lightsaber battle like the ones in the films, but it would likely look more like a caveman trying to bash another caveman with a club.

Oh, and there’s no feedback, either. Lightsaber battles are one percent hitting, 50 percent missing the enemy, and 49 percent clashing sabers. You’d have no saber to clash with. You’d just keep swinging, thus completely and utterly negating the point of the 1:1 battle to begin with. Unless rumble suddenly takes a generational leap forward and is so powerful that it honestly feels like you’re hitting something, you’d just swing your arm around like you’re playing Wii Music.

Maybe in the next generation, someone will develop a videogame controller that makes this possible. Maybe the Kinect 2, the Move+, or the Wii-U will suddenly change motion controls forever. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll have the lightsaber game you want before you die. But as of now, your best bet is going to the store and getting a few of the plastic lightsabers and having battles with your friends – which, to be honest, is actually a ton of fun, and likely better than anything you’ll see from a game within the next decade.

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39 comments

  • talleyXIV - December 28, 2011 2:36 p.m.

    This article is some of the lamest bull shit I have ever read. Most of the paragraphs sound like a grown man whining, well they are a grown man whining. Your arm gets tired? Hollander I have seen your picture and if I remember correctly, you are not a 300 pound man who legitimately has a point when saying his arm gets tired playing Wii Sports Resort. So do some push ups and maybe these games won't tire you out so much. It is completely possible, the main problem is that the game would be complete and utter crap. Unless made like Zelda. You can shoot your gun use your light saber and fly a space ship with motion controls. However chopping up endless amounts of droids just sounds terrible. And nobody wants that except for I guess everyone at GamesRadar according to this quote, "we whispered in one collective breath, “they’ll finally make the lightsaber game we’ve always wanted.”" Man it makes me giggle just reading that sentence. So that is just my opinion, this article is silly and all of this is possible. Skyward Sword has officially proved it. And if your arm gets too tired, you better get a new hobby, lose the weight, and stop whining about it.
  • Ravenbom - December 26, 2011 10:16 a.m.

    Even though there wouldn't be force-feedback, you wouldn't want anyways. That would feel like swinging your fist into a wall if it were true force-feedback. Having a close to 1:1 game would only work if it were the right game. Red Steel 2 got it pretty close to right because it mixed shooting with sword fighting. I think that's the trick, give us a Knights of the Old Republic where you're talking to people for and hour then a little shooting and saber combat for the bosses. Add a couple puzzles like Zelda and it could work. Also, even without force-feedback, you would want to pull your hand back to counter a blocked blow or to strike again. None of the people that want 1:1 are swordsmen, but people who play racing games aren't race car drivers no matter how good a sim they're playing they're still fundamentally playing a game.
  • talleyXIV - December 25, 2011 10:32 p.m.

    At this point they probably could do it. They are just lazy. I have been playing Skyward Sword and the controls are pretty amazing, insert character, light saber, and Star Wars background, and voila you have your game.
  • Fraught - December 24, 2011 8:37 a.m.

    It'd be amazing if they somehow figured how to create a kind of invisible wall for a controller in the real world, so that when you hit a lightsaber, your controller couldn't move past some point in space. I can't imagine how, but hey, caveman would have their minds literally blown to pieces seeing what we have. It might happen in the future. And when it does, it'll be marvellous. Not to mention that when we get to virtual reality and games'll start to be shown to you only in your brain, then they can manipulate your brain to create the effect of hitting something physically.
  • AuthorityFigure - December 23, 2011 11:11 p.m.

    I don't see why you'd have to swing your arms fast - your wrist could do the work much more econmonically and qquicker as well.
  • MrSuitMan - December 23, 2011 8:24 p.m.

    Man I love these High Horse pieces. Keep it up guys!
  • Lurkero - December 23, 2011 5:21 p.m.

    You cannot have one to one if there is a need for feedback. Lightsaber battles are only cool if you clash with another lightsaber. That's not happening with a videogame, not with today's technology anyways.
  • Sinosaur - December 23, 2011 7:45 a.m.

    Wow, I just realized you could get like 6 of those plastic lightsabers from the toy store for what a full lightsaber game would cost. Well, if you're fine with not having the lights in them and making the sounds yourself, but I know full well that I pretended brooms were lightsabers and if you haven't mastered making lightsaber sounds with your mouth yet, you clearly don't know what's important in life.
  • badgraphix1 - December 23, 2011 12:51 p.m.

    I've seen toy lightsabers that have the lights AND make the sounds.
  • Sinosaur - December 24, 2011 12:31 p.m.

    Yeah, but those cost like 30 bucks, you can get the ones that just extend for only about 8 or 9 dollars. If I can get enough lightsabers for all of my friends to join me in epic lightsaber battles for less, and the only downside is that we can't do them in the dark and have to make our own noises... well, I think that's probably a better deal.
  • Rdtorbett - December 29, 2011 5:52 a.m.

    wiffle ball bats work great too
  • Sinosaur - December 29, 2011 9:24 a.m.

    I'm pretty sure I can make an imaginary lightsaber out of any sort of long tube. I remember wrapping paper tubes being pretty effective until you utterly destroyed them by using too much force (physical, not The)
  • shawksta - December 23, 2011 7:30 a.m.

    Guys, you act like you never read a High Horse Article before. Touche Hollander, thats some strong points, I personally think Skyward Sword and Deadmunds quest is the closest to what we always wanted, with Skyward Sword being the best in core game terms.
  • talleyXIV - December 25, 2011 10:34 p.m.

    Absolutely correct sir. Skyward Sword is really great. The motion controls are actually quite good, and they aren't overwhelming, by pretty much only being used for combat and little things they made a great balance.
  • Manguy17 - December 23, 2011 7:25 a.m.

    tired arms...? you games jarnalists clearly dont visit porn enough, seriously though, I dont do any exercise aimed at arms and ive played mario olympics for hours getting gold medals in sprinting for al characters, and i wasnt just wrist waggling. also, lightsbres cutthrough anything other than light sabres, it doesnt need force because it burns through stuff so you dont need to swing fast. no collision? didnt stop zelda, the first boss who grabs your weapon works similar to how a saber clash would work. for all the minor collision the game could just make your saber deflect and somewhat slide off. They wouldnt need to constantly clash like the films, the fun of having a light saber would be enough for people to overlooking the fights functioning slightly differently to the films.
  • pin316 - December 26, 2011 9:10 p.m.

    You're totally missing the point as to what would mkae this a legitimate game... Yes, lightsabres burn through stuff so you wouldn't technically need to move your arms fast to cut through things, but that's kind of irrelevant...if the AI of the guy you're fighting isn't challenging enough to make you have to move fast in order to be able to fight them, then what's the point of playing the game. Same sort of thing about your point on deflection rather than blocking - yes, they coiuld code it in to work that way, but that would lead to a simple set of fixed movements that you can then learn to exploit in order to win. The only way that a 1:1 lightsabre game would have any kind of legitimacy would be if the actual sword-fighting aspects were challenging anough to make winning feel worthwhile...and that is why you will never be able to make a legitimate 1:1 lightsabre game. The vast majority of gamers cannot sword-fight with any degree of skill that would be able to compete with a genuinely challening AI system worthy of such a game. Any lightsabre game designed for gamers rather than sword experts, could only ever end up as the sort of game that provides enjoyment n the challenge for the first hour or so until you work out that inevitable sequence of "if I just do this move here, followed by that move there, then finish off with that movement - the AI can't keep up with me"...at which point you have nothing more than something which might occasionally provide mild amusement when you're a bit drunk and don't actually care about a legitimate challenge...in other words, a cheap party game
  • talleyXIV - December 28, 2011 2:25 p.m.

    I like this comment. You got everything correct and make valid points. Games journalists are whiners and need to jack off more.
  • RedOutlive10 - December 23, 2011 6:34 a.m.

    Don't care about motion controls, just give us a sequel to the Jedi Knight series.

Showing 1-20 of 39 comments

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