Monday, January 2, 2012

The closing argument of the motion control debate

Ever since the Wiimote was unveiled back in 2005 gamers have vigorously argued over the idea of motion control. On one side there has been those who claim motion controls add nothing to the experience other than unnecessary waggle, pointing to its unsatisfying implementation in the majority if Wii games. In the other corner you have fond gamers who argue that motion control has the possibility of greatly improving the gaming experience, pointing at most Nintendo first party games as well as some of the better designed third party games to justify their claim.

With the release of Skyward Sword the motion crowd has been handed their most impressive showcase yet. Here we have one of Nintendo’s most iconic and hard core oriented series integrating motion control in to every part of the gameplay. And it works!

The most impressive part is definitely the combat, using the increased sensitivity of the Wii Motion Plus the Zelda team has brought a whole new level of strategy the swordplay. Link’s enemies will attempt to block his attacks in such a way that the precise manner in which the Wiimote is swung now matters. This makes the combat much more interesting and complex without ever becoming annoying or the controls feeling unresponsive.

The firing of projectiles, be it using the slingshot or the bow is made much more precise and quick by simply aiming the Wiimote at the screen. This is nothing new, it was already a part of Twilight Princess but it remains one of the most satisfying implementations of motion control.

On top of these absolutely game changing additions, motion control is sprinkled all over the game design allowing the player to more directly interact with the environment. One of my favorites involves Link rolling a bomb in a bowling ball like manner, this could have been done with a button press, but it would never have felt as satisfying.

Taken together the various implementations of motion control have so significantly improved the traditional Zelda gameplay that it offers the perfect example of motion control done right. Proving that motion control really has the ability to greatly contribute to the gaming experience.