Now you might be wondering why I call myself a casual gamer. If you weren’t, well I’m going to talk about it anyway. Now I was pretty off and on with videogames when I was growing up. It wasn’t until I was twelve that I got a console that I used consistently. That console was the Nintendo Wii. If I’m being honest, I don’t remember why I wanted one. All I know is that twelve years have gone by since then and they have transformed me into the casual gamer I am today. Due to having used it for a long time it is no longer with me. However, I will remember the time we spent together fondly. Well, most of it at least. Actually, let me take this opportunity to reflect on motion controls in general. Let’s start off with a personal favorite.
Now the interesting thing about my exposure to the Super Mario Galaxy series was that I ended up starting with the second installment first. I was in Video Game club in high school, yes that was an actual club, and for one of our first games we played the first few levels of the game. I immediately went to get it a few days later because I wanted to finish what I started. Now, if I being honest, I remember certain areas of the game to be such a hassle when I first played the game. Why? Well, it should be obvious since it is given away in the title. I mean, no one is ever good at motion controls when they start off even if the controls manage to read your movements properly. However, the motion controls in Super Mario Galaxy 2 and its predecessor are pretty straightforward for the most part as you can make it through most of the game without precise motion controls. The only motion control that is essential for game advancement is waving the remote which works really well due to its simplicity. The only parts of the game that were annoying were when the controls required more precision. ESPECIALLY, when they added an arbitrary time limit. In case it wasn’t clear there, having to use precise controls was not a point in the Wii’s favor. But surely they wouldn’t try to make a game using precise controls as a mechanic right? RIGHT?
Okay, so this is the part where I say before I go into a little mini rant that I have not finished this game at time of writing. There may come a day where I eventually beat it, but that will be for another time. Right now, we are going to have a nice long discussion about The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword. Now, in theory being able to swing your remote as a sword sounds really cool. At first, I was totally on board. Then I got to the first dungeon. I didn’t realize how much I could hate fighting enemies until I started fighting those spider enemies. Even worse was how precise movement needed to be to even finish off certain enemies. That would have been bad enough, if it wasn’t for the fact that the remote constantly kept going out of sync. Now the game has other things that bug me which I won’t get into here. I am trying to keep the amount of random tangents to a minimum this time. The point is that motion controls are more of a detriment to the experience than an enhancement. Having precision control be a puzzle element is something that I will never for the life of me understand. Now, before I go and say motion controls are completely useless I do want to talk about one more game briefly.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was the third installment of the wonderful Metroid Prime series of games. It would later be bundled in the collection called the Metroid Prime Trilogy where you could play all three game from the series. The previous two games having been on the GameCube were refitted to work with the same motion control setup as the third installment. Now, I never had the chance to play the first two on the GameCube so I don’t have any idea what the difference in control was between the two versions. Since it used the famous GameCube controller then it was probably fine but just know I will not be comparing the two styles. What I will say is that the motion controls work pretty well in all three games in the collection and never do I feel as though it is in the way of gameplay. Not only that, but I feel like being able to aim using the remote is very engaging and feels as though it is actually contributing to gameplay and making the most of the motion controls the system has to offer. Granted there were a couple of times I had some trouble, but that was mainly due to my terrible reflexes.
Now you are probably wondering why I decided to talk about this. Well the main reason is virtual reality, or VR for short. Now, I have used VR a couple of times in a couple of different settings and I feel that it is pretty cool technology. I want to ask this question though: Is motion controls the way forward for VR? Sure it is cool to walk up to a virtual object and pick it up, but will motion controls ever really be able to accurately read our movements? Not to mention that we all have had that moment where we were so immersed until we accidentally walked into a wall. I really feel that motion controls are a lot better for certain types of games, but it is not universally applicable to each genre. If we’re being honest we have all seen that in most adaptations of similar technology to media, we see these people in pods or machines not moving around. Instead the technology is usually synced up to their brains for real-time movement. Whether or not you think that is a good idea, I just want to make it clear that virtual reality is only immersive for as long as we can fool ourselves. Motion controls may help as a gimmick for now, but it should only really be seen as a stopgap measure. I don’t know how VR will end, but I do know as we all do that this is not its final form. I also believe that motion controls will probably not stick with VR until the end. I don’t really have any proof for this. Well, except for the Kinect. Now THAT was a choice.