Crispy Gamer

Why Motion Controls Are Useless


Now that we have had some time to fully digest Microsoft and Sony’s “future of fun” motion controllers (Project Natal and Move, respectively) I thought it would be a good time to dissect them a little before we get a larger picture of them at E3.  As I stated in an earlier blog post, I am not a fan of motion controls; never have been, and from what I’ve seen from these two new controllers, I wont be any time soon.  

     It’s not as if I didn’t give motion controls a chance.  I initially played Twilight Princess on the GameCube, but ultimately felt empty after hearing that the true, full experience could only be had with the Wii.  I fired up TP on a borrowed Wii, and plunged headfirst into a world of adventure, where my skillful hands would guide Link to victory by means of impeccable motion control.  
     Having to swing the Wiimote for every sword slash was quite possibly the dumbest idea in the history of the Zelda franchise.  I don’t know about you, but within 20 minutes, my hands and wrists cramped up and went all carpal tunnel on me; rendering myself unable to play.  As much a problem as that was for me, I’ll admit that it isn’t the norm.  However, what plagued the game for everyone were unresponsive controls.  
     Sword swings would often come either half a second after the motion was made, or not at all.  In the heat of playing, unwanted buttons would accidently be pressed.  At the end of the day, all the “action” in the game had devolved into spazzing flicking motions, and that does not fill me with a sense of adventure, nor does it make me feel as though I had control over the character.  If anything, motion controls took away control from the player.
     Microsoft and Sony tended to agree a few years back (Sony’s Jack Tretton even went so far to refer to the Wii as a “lollipop” to the PS3’s “surf and turf”).  But when the Wii started to literally print money, Microsoft and Sony realized they would need to enter the world of motion controls in order to compete.  The results are Natal and Move, and like the Wiimote, are completely useless for gaming.


Project Natal seems to have the most issues.  It doesn’t take a genius to notice that the floor in the video is marked to show where the player has to stand to be recognized, and that it is quite a distance away from the TV.  This concerns me, as it appears that you will need a moderately large living space to play in, something that many gamers do not have.  Assuming, however, that you do have ample distance between you and the screen, you still need to have a completely clear, obstacle free area that will allow you full range of motion.  

     It’s not hard to picture other complications.  Let’s say that you are on the final boss of a tough game, and just as you are about to deliver the final blow, someone (mom, roommate, etc.) passes behind the couch on the way to the kitchen.  Does Natal either
A: Continue as normal
B: Register second person as input and screw up your action, getting your ass fried
     These are questions that haven’t been answered yet.  And how does it respond to multiple players?  Can it even get input from multiple players?


Sony’s Move has its own issues.  Using a design that completely rips off the Wiimote right down to a nunchuk add-on, the Move allegedly provides controls so precise that you could play StarCraft with it.  However, just one look from this video fills me with doubt.  The man playing the brawling game suffers from the same problem that Twilight Princess had; executed motions do not match up with in game actions.  Punches come a second after the motion was executed, or sometimes not at all (especially noticeable on a spinning attack, where the demo-ist spun around with an elbow, but the in game character remained motionless).  It's almost as if the controller would only work if it felt like it.  This is simply unacceptable.  In order to play a game (hell, in order to just not get frustrated) you need responsive controls. 

     And on a side note, notice how he plays with two Moves, not a Move and nunchuk.  Get ready to shell out a lot of cash.
     In the rush to make a quick buck, Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony have all forgotten what gamers really want, which is great games; playable games.  Not a bone in my body desires to flail my arms around like an idiot, or have a glorified laser pointer guide my troops.  When making a controller, the only thing that should be considered is how well it allows the user to play the game.  A good controller is like a good referee, when it’s doing a good job, no one notices it.  In that sense, the mere concept of creating content based on a controller dooms that content and controller to failure.
     Let me tell you this; just because they claim the Move can control StarCraft, do you really think any serious player is going to ditch their mouse and keyboard?
     No.  And that goes for all other motion controllers.