Masochists, now is your time
Whether intentional or not, there are motion control schemes that seem to exist solely to inflict discomfort and misery upon gamers. Some are worth the pain, while others are reserved for a masochistic breed of gamer. Flail along as we count down some of the worst offenders...
Rise of Nightmares
Everything about Rise of Nightmares was a tedious, exhausting grind. Steering the hero Josh required a mix of awkward shoulder pivots and unresponsive foot gestures, while most of his attacks boiled down to slashing the air in vein attempts to murder waves of undercooked foes. On paper, Rise of Nightmare's control schemes sounded like a perfect fit for the Kinect. In practice, hit-or-miss controls and laggy reaction times left us with the chilling realization that we were our own worst enemy.
Sound like fun? Try tossing imaginary balls at a wall for more than an hour and let us know how long you last. Laced with repetitive encounters and detection issues, Diabolical Pitch started strong, but quickly wore out its welcome and our throwing arms well before the seventh inning stretch.
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor
Despite its noble intentions, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor was a beast to learn, and a nightmare to play. Granted, the Xbox 360 controller could still be used to direct the Virtual Tank (VT) and fire its weapons, but key actions such as tossing grenades, giving orders, and operating the VT's umpteen internal controls were mapped to very specific player movements. Surviving more than a minute meant acting out exact Kinect gestures, with the slightest twitch or wrong movement leading to death on the field. Like the Steel Battalion game before it, Heavy Armor demanded flawless execution; something few (including the Kinect) were trained to handle.
Fighters Uncaged's heart was in the right place. The game intended to give players the feeling of full-body control in a video game fighter, but wound up tripping over itself at every opportunity. In lieu of a digital Fight Club, players were treated to a barely functional gesture-based fighting game that often failed to recognize our most basic of moves, but excelled at pummeling us with endless waves of AI idiots. If there was some redeeming value to be had, it was reserved for players with the fortitude and endurance to stick it out for the final fight.
In short: There's no reason to play Blackwater. Maybe as a dare. Maybe as penance for a horrible crime. But not as entertainment. The game did a disservice to the Kinect and dealt blow after blow to the dedicated soldiers who were patient (and/or bored) enough to enlist with it for longer than the first mission. To you, brave soldiers, we salute. But we also have to ask...was it worth it?
The game wasn't broken, but it wasn't for the weak of heart either. Only those with nerves of steel and the patience of a saint survived long enough to save the day. To Sony's credit, however, Lair has since been retrofitted with normal analog controls. Unfortunately, the scars left by critics were too much to save Factor 5's experimental dragon sim from being regarded as a cautionary tale for motion controls.
Going by Conan's demo video alone, the game looks doable. However, this is Tetris, and the action has a habit of ramping up to superhuman speeds. We can only imagine that playing Kinetris on the higher levels would make us look like window washers on crack. Still, despite the inevitable muscle cramps, we're still strangely attracted to this hack.
Kung Fu: High Impact
Negatives aside, Kung Fu: High Impact dangles just enough carrots to keep you sweating. It's actually fun being injected into a silly martial arts brawler, and there's something awesome about using household items to beat down the forces of evil. We may look silly doing it, and we might need a nap after playing it, but damned if this Kung Fu isn't a little Kung...fun?
Super Monkey Ball: Step & Roll
To be fair, Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll gave players the choice of teetering through the game on the Nintendo Wii board, or playing the game with a controller. It wasn't a bad game by any stretch, but choosing to hack it out with the former control scheme was a task reserved for true ballers.
Baby and Me Wii
Baby and Me isn't physically challenging to play. It does, however, open the door for psychological damage. For better or worse, Baby and Me never made it to the states, but it can be ordered online. Our advice? Make sure they ship it in an unmarked paper bag.
Super Mario Bros. Wii (multiplayer)
The problem is New Super Mario Bros. Wii's multiplayer assumes four players can get along civilly in the same gamespace. In reality, the freedom to crash into allies and fling them around invariably brings out the jerkwad in anyone who joins the party. It's a scientific fact* that 99.96% of all New Super Mario Bros. Wii multiplayer sessions end in curse-filled waggle fests and/or fist fights. And then, it's also possible we've just been playing with the wrong people.
*not an actual scientific fact.
Misery loves company
Aching for more? Gesture over to our list of the Top 7 games that physically hurt to play, go retro with our look at 5 failed attempts at motion controls and 3D gaming, or just have some Fun with Kinect screens!