The Weekend Gamer
Thoughts on gaming culture, living among non-gamers, and growing up in the nintendo generation

Where Do We Stand With Motion Controlled Gameplay?

I’ve been noticing something lately–Nintendo’s hottest games aren’t emphasizing motion control.

Take Mario Galaxy, a game that was praised for it’s “judicious” use of motion control. Aside from your spin attack (which could easily be mapped to a button), there isn’t anything that couldn’t be done with a wavebird. In fact, the game garners success in large part because it recaptures the gameplay of the original Mario 64. 

1up’s review of the game states the point beautifully by saying that the motion control sections of the game “are quarantined entirely within stand-alone stages and never intrude on the basic run-and-jump action.”  Translation:  We were concerned that motion control might intrude upon our beloved classic Mario gameplay, but fortunately the developers quarantined it to small sections of the game.

Or how about Super Smash Bros. Brawl, a game that many prefer to play without a wiimote altogether. Nintendo even lists wavebird or classic controller play as a feature of the game.  The game doesn’t even have motion functionality.  This same caveat is being applied to Mario Kart Wii–gamers who prefer are going to be able to play the game sans wiimote.  And now the news that Nintendo is readying an official Gamecube-esque remote for the Wii.  What’s going on here?

The unspoken implication from all this is that motion control is best when relegated to the sidelines or not used at all.  My question is–why does it seem like the most popular Nintendo titles are skewing towards more traditonal controls?  Shouldn’t we be seeing Nintendo revolutionizing the gameplay of their core games ala Wiisports instead of returning to old (albeit tried and true) control schemes?  Why even offer the traditional play if you’re trying to push motion control? 

It simply seems like we’re not getting all that we were promised, and if Nintendo can’t find a way to make motion control a game changing experience in their top teir titles, why should we expect that 3rd party developers will try to innovate in this space? 

So is motion control the future or a fad of this generation?  Almost a year and half on from the launch of the Wii, Wiisports remains the only truly innovative title from a gameplay perspective.  I love Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bros., but not because of their motion control functionality.  Maybe this isn’t all it was cracked up to be.



5 Responses to “Where Do We Stand With Motion Controlled Gameplay?”

  1. My opinion on it is, i think when the Wii first came out that everyone was extactic because of how they previewed at e3 and everywhere else, and because it is still scarce in the USA, people still want to play, Now i love my Wii dont get me wrong but i think that this is more of a fad then it is going to be intergrated i think sony has the right idea with motion sensing as it you have to shake your controller to get monsters off or you have to steer a missle with the sixaxis controller, The Wii however there has only been one game where i enjoyed using the motion control and that is wii sports (the game that came with the system) every other game that i have touched with it has been way way way to sensitive and my sensitivity is on really low… and 3rd party vendors are retarded when it comes to making a good Wii game as it is i think there has only been one or 2 that have done really good with it, resident evil 4 and no more heros, but it all goes back to resident evil 4 kicked ass on the gamecube as well… so this really wasnt that big of a step up for nintendo they could of put hd on this machine but no… honestly give it 2-3 more years and this thing will die out… but nintendo will always be on top of the game no matter what they will think of some clever way to bounce back or get some crazy jap programmers who know what there doing and create a truely amazing game with the motion control

  2. i agree with your perspective and enjoyed your article. Most if not all of the Nintendo successes would have done just as well had it been without the “motion control.” (zelda, mario kart, mario galaxy, smash bros….etc) In fact, had the games been done on another “next gen” console, they could have been even bigger and better graphics, who knows? But i see the point of the motion controls being to accommodate the “casual” gamers. It’s just it seems like it’s peaked with the wii sports.

  3. Motion control wasn’t meant to appeal to gamers. Nintendo’s hope was bring in people who would have never bought a consul had they not seen the gee-thats-nifty Wiisports demos. The plan worked. Every Wii is sold before it is made. I

    Motion control won’t go away though. To non-gamers gaming has become very non-intuitive. To people who haven’t played since their NES broke, learning 6 or more buttons, and even the concept of combos seems like an awful lot of work for something that is supposed to be play.

    People who game as a lifestyle will want more precise control ie, more buttons and sticks and more ways to use them. People who game for 10 minutes here and there want a zero time learning curve on control. The titles will reflect these demographics: challenging games for gamers, goofy time wasters for noobs.

  4. I think the way nintendo seems to be going at the moment works really well; in that you can choose what type of controls you wish to use. This way you can keep all types of gamer happy.

    One thing you didn’t mention is that Mario Kart’s use of the wii wheel works great – I haven’t even thought about trying the normal controls as it works so well. Super Mario Galaxy’s motion sensing sections were really well done I thought too.

    Of course the older generation games are not necessarily going to work with motion sensing, as they weren’t orginally designed with that in mind. For instance, Nintendo could have made Super Mario Galaxy fully motion sense enabled however what value would it have added? Arguably not much and it would just piss off the hard-core Mario crowd. Nintendo realise that just because you have motion sense capibilities doesn’t mean you *have* to use them or they are used where it makes sense to do so.

    I think the thing to take into account is that it gives developers choices. Whether they use the old control or the new one doesn’t really matter – its that they now have a choice.

    New titles have the obvious advantage that they can be desiged with motion sensing in mind however some old titles can be given innovative new control schemes where it makes sense (not just for the sake of it). Look at some of the games motion sense titles that work well on the Wii:

    – Tiger Woods 08 is an obvious one for a better game using motion sensing
    – Res Evil: Ubrella Chronicles, Ghost Squadron and a whole raft of rail shooters that work out of the box
    – Zack & Wiki; now adventure games can make a come back!
    – I just bought Pro Evo Soccer 08; thats a great change on the tried-and-tested control scheme
    – Haven’t tried it yet but Wii Fit looks like a load of fun

    Possibly a more interesting topic might be that motion sensing really only adds value in a more casual game environment.

  5. Nice article! I agree with mostly. I’ve found that the parts of games that do use the motion sensing capabilities are either really fun or really annoying. (Especially rolling Mario around on that darn ball. I wait until I have like 30 lives and then try those kind of things in MG.)

    However, in the more casual games it really has brought a sense of fun for the games. Perhaps it’s because I can finally get my Wife to play a game at all that I’m ready to take anything that will get her in. However, I’ve found the most fun I’ve had with my Wii has been playing the casual games that use the functionality.

    Surprised that no one mentioned Wario Smooth Moves. I only played it the once at your house, but I thought it was a hoot! I think they did a great job with the functionality in that game. I’m also really excited to see how the Wii Fit comes into play.

    All-in-all. I think it is going to stick around. Just because of how successful the Wii has been.

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