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Motion Emotions

Now that the Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony have laid out their respective new directions, expanding on what rumors stated leading up to E3, and subsequently defining the facts presented afterwards, it seems like an adequate time to properly react to the consumer onslaught.

Microsoft’s Natal sports a fancy new name in “Kinect”, eerily surfacing repressed memories of a name that will forever haunt me with plastic pieces, giant ferris wheels, and never having the right connectors.Childhood trauma aside, Kinect is an accurate name for the product it represents. The label of Kinect presents a light, fun feeling for a product, as opposed to the soulless cyborg of a motion-capture device represented by “Natal”. Alongside the new name and price tag, ($150 is the current pricing), is the fluffy lineup of proposed games to be presented at launch, including titles such as Kinect Sports, Kinectimals, and Kinect Adventures, as well as games featuring third-party support such as Sonic Free Riders from Sega, and Dance Masters from DDR giant Konami.

Being a person that plays video games, this addition to the Xbox 360 doesn’t interest me; however this product is not at all meant for a consumer such as myself. I’ll still be buying games for my 360 to play on the superior online system, enjoy my achievement points, and enjoying exclusive titles, such as Halo: Reach, dropping this fall. While I remain, hook line and sinker, for the gaming juggernaut, these advancements are made for a wider audience that would not normally consider an Xbox 360 as a viable option. These targets, such as families, younger children, and an older generation, can now see value in something that was meant primarily for people such as myself, being headshotting, teabagging, trash talking, rage quitting, productive members of society. On a console whose biggest family appeal includes, but isn’t limited to, the music genre, Viva Pinata, and the lego series, this adds a level of exclusivity and playability to the other generous features of the Xbox 360, as well as being a console that will be prepared to be as mature as the audience it seeks to entertain, no matter what level that may be.

Sony is seeking an alternative route, in the form of it’s fancy new motion baton, the Playstation Move. Where Microsoft seeks to expand its audience in the form of the younger, more family friendly and attuned, Sony is marketing its move controller with an impressive lineup of existing and upcoming games not unlike those of its current library. With current games such as Heavy Rain, Little Big Planet, and Pain being outfitted for Move support, other games on the release schedule come as cavalry to back up the new project with anticipated sequels to current games, such as Killzone 3 and SOCOM 4. In comparison to Microsoft and Kinect, sporting three sports game packs and five fitness games, and an ambiguous promise of support for games such as Fable 3, woven by magnanimous wordsmith Peter Molyneux.

The Playstation Move seems to not be expanding the borders of the system with new appeal for a younger audience or any new consumer, but further trying to grasp at the core gamer base that seems to have eluded the system for so long. The Move will be a supplement for current players, as opposed to a hook for new audiences. How well the new hardware works with new, and old, software will certainly be the deciding factor as to whether or not this is the “killer app” the Playstation needs to progress itself in the current console cycle. Not to mention the new Playstation Plus service, looking to advance the online gaming capabilities of the system.  The inclusion of these advancements will certainly advance the marketing campaign of “It Only Does Everything”, prospectively advancing the notion of being a console without flaw, that features equivalent features of its main competition.

Which leaves Nintendo, who seems to have traded seats with Microsoft and Sony, retroactively adding features that the other two consoles have featured since launch, such as a working online system and a decent launch of first party exclusive titles. Only fitting that the company should be tackling these issues, as it decidedly researched, learned, and put to effect a working motion controller since launch.

While the main hardware focus was the 3DS, a system which looks to simultaneously cement Nintendo’s dominance over the handheld market, and put a further nail in the coffin of the newest PSP models, developments for the Wii included a plethora of new exciting and exclusive Nintendo titles, including Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, a new Donkey Kong Country, the first revisiting of the series since 1996, Metroid: Other M gameplay footage, a new installment for Kirby, a revisiting of the classic Goldeneye series, and a plethora of other announcements on the horizon, such as a new character designed by the legend, Miyamoto himself. A quick history lesson, the last time Nintendo created a new character, it resulted in Pikmin. Look in your hearts and realize the future is bright.

At surface level, it seems like all three companies are accounting for what they’ve lacked thus far. Microsoft and a family friendly environment, Playstation and a novelty hook for its core audience, as well as a solution to the areas of weaker representation, and Nintendo releasing a large chunk of its game schedule for fans, young and old, who have been looking for new adventures with their favorite old characters. Optimistically, this will only advance the gaming community and propel us into a new Rennaissance of innovation, entertainment, and competition, as all three companies vie for our attentions and wallets equally, forcing one another to create new and exciting products instead of resting on their laurels and counting money, but only time will tell.