Few people will have the confidence to walk in to a shop and purchase a phallic shaped piece of plastic and a webcam for the purpose of personal pleasure.
If you can put the embarrassment of that aside then you’ll be a proud owner of the latest gadget for the Playstation 3. It’s called the Playstation Move and is Sony’s dip in to the world of movement detecting video games.
Using the already released PS Eye camera and a Wii-like motion controller with a magical glowing ball on top, it combines the new way of playing games with the power of the PS3.
Sony’s system might not be as exciting as the full body sensing Kinect, but compared to that and the Wii it’s certainly the most precise. It’s got the accuracy of the Wii MotionPlus controller, but with perfect pointing and depth detection, and works without any technical issues.
Navigating the PS3’s menu with small flicks and tilts of the controller is a great demonstration of how the system works naturally and perfectly, but what about the games? Sadly, after playing the trial versions of the launch lineup, it seems that the software is a different story.
There’s the inevitable “Sports Champion” minigame collection. However, in the demo version you get to try a slightly floaty, but acceptable, match of table tennis and something called disc golf. Apparently it’s actually a sport, but let’s be honest now. It’s not. Come on now. It’ll have been invented by someone who quite liked frisbee, but couldn’t play any real sports.
In more lively options, there’s the appropriately titled “Start the Party!”. It’s a collection of “EyeToy” style challenges where you can see yourself onscreen as your Playstation Move controller transform in to a bat, sword, or hammer as you squish bugs, slice fruit, and play whack-a-mole respectively.
The individual tasks are decent, but the game allows for turn taking, so four people can play with one controller and this means that you can have great fun taking all pictures of each person and recording a little catchphrase.
Sadly the photos aren’t always a good idea, as demonstrated by “TV Superstars”. The game is designed for those who believe that appearing on “Britain’s Next Top Model” is an achievement equal to winning a Nobel Prize.
The idea is to live out your reality TV dreams as you can take to the catwalk or get flung from a slingshot. But it really is the stuff of a nightmare. Every character is a hideous merge of digital and reality that’ll forever be engraved in your memory like an evil clown toy, but instead of laughing it screams “you’re a trendsetter, baby!”
The problem with these games isn’t really the Playstation Move itself, rather a lack of interesting ideas behind the titles. It’s not that they’re boring motion games – they’re just boring games altogether.
Move functionality is being added in to a few games that are already out like “EyePet” and “Heavy Rain”, but not always brilliantly. It means the simple task of drinking a carton of orange juice is turned in to an impossible puzzle, like doing a Rubik’s cube when blindfolded and with no hands.
Although this may sound like everything released so far is uninspiring, there are a few glistening gems that highlight the true potential and creativity that’s possible thanks to the PS Move.
Most of these live on the Playstation Store, the console’s digital download service where you get smaller nuggets of bite-sized creativity.
The first of these is “echocrome ii”, a unique puzzle game where you use the Move controller as a torch to create shadows on the wall behind a floating maze. By moving around, the shadows change and move in to place, creating a path for a silhouetted person to walk along.
It might sound daunting, but is really simple when you’re playing. Moving your hand to change the angle and shadow feels natural and although you could play it with a conventional controller it really benefits from the precision controls.
Another downloadable highlight is “Tumble”, which is like a futuristic looking tower building game. Taking turns with another player, you get a collection of different shaped blocks to stack up and get as high as you can without the whole thing toppling over.
As you put each piece in place you rotate your hand to get the awkward shapes at the right angle and you really appreciate just how dead-on the tracking is. It feels so simple, but you can (and have to) move it round in any way possible to get it in to place.
The Playstation Move is weird because it feels like a contradiction. The technology works really well, the controller feels great in your hand and when done well, particularly when involving pointing, the games do improve — but the majority of those in store now are just a disappointment.
Hopefully we’ll start to see more titles like “echochrome ii” and “Tumble” as developers have more time to get to grips with what really works. There’s a lot of fun to be had with the Playstation Move, but as titles like “TV Superstars” show, it’s not always for the intended reasons.Tweet