Digital Life: Sony Moves in on the Wii's territory
Everybody is convinced Nintendo invented motion-control gaming when it released the Wii in 2006. But a full two years or more earlier, Sony's game gurus were demonstrating similarly rich possibilities based on its EyeToy camera.
Alas for Sony, the company failed to realise its full potential, leaving the gate wide open for Nintendo to steal a march and make gazillions.
Fast-forward to 2010 and Sony and Microsoft have become hasty converts to motion-control and Wii-style gaming. Tomorrow, PlayStation beats Xbox to market with the release of its wand for PS3 called Move. While Microsoft pursues a controller-less technique, Sony has chosen to pair its camera technology with a motion-sensitive device that resembles a microphone.
The combination proves incredibly accurate, doing everything the Wii controller can -- only better. It tracks the movement of the wand with uncanny precision, whether it's acting as a sword, a gun, a pointer or a gesture-based controller.
Sony has effectively cloned the Wii's best function, only now it actually works as originally promised.
No more outrageous cheating by waggling in vague circles, no more frustration as the controller fails to interpret your swipes, thrusts and waves.
On the downside, the buttons on the Move are undersized and poorly placed. More troublingly, the software available for tomorrow's launch exhibits a lack of innovation to the extent that many titles are just copies of existing Wii games.
Sports Champions: The pick of the early crop, this six-event package has cribbed its shtick from Wii Sports but the archery and sword-fighting, and so on, feel like a good introduction to Move's pinpoint accuracy.
Start The Party: Masses of mini-games worked well for Wario on the Wii but STP lacks the same likeable lunacy for its bite-sized chunks of gameplay. Bonus points for superimposing objects on to the Move controller, though.
Kung Fu Rider: Novel concept (downhill races on office chairs) meets awkward controls that show that Move can't always replace a traditional joystick adequately.
EyePet Move: Repackaged version of enjoyable PS3 animal sim using augmented reality to beam a cat-monkey pet into your living-room.
Controls less fussy than before but not quite perfect.
If you're one of the few who already owns a PS Eye camera, Move costs just €40, a bargain, with bags of future potential beyond Wii clones.
But most people will require at least the Move bundle (camera plus wand) for €60, though it doesn't include the optional €30 navigation controller.
If you want the full monty for two players, you're looking at €160 -- more than Microsoft's Kinect controller, out in November, for €150.