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Monday, October 16, 2006

Innovative Gaming of Today and Tomorrow

At one point of time, you must have at least touched one innovative game or gaming hardware that may have surprised you. In this special article, Powerplay evaluates some of the innovations to find out whether they are for the better or for the worse.


The Wii-mote for the upcoming Nintendo Wii console is a far cry from the big fat controller of the Nintendo GameCube. The Wii-mote sets itself apart of other game controllers because instead of the conventional design that we have come to expect every time a new controller comes out, it sports a shape of a remote control. Not only that, the Wii-mote takes it a step further by including motion-sensitivity to promote more interactivity in games. For example, while playing a game of tennis, all you need is to swipe the Wii-mote for you to hit the ball, doing away with the numerous buttons and sticks on conventional controllers. This type of interaction give games a whole new level of realism, as well as being able to appeal to newbies, who may be shying away from the complex games of today that usually requires you to read the manual and memorize complicated sequences of button presses before you can get down to play. The Wii-mote is definitely an innovation for the better.

PS3 controller

The PS3 controller resembles the Wii-mote by the fact that it also has motion-sensitivity, but only to a lesser extent. You are still required to press the buttons when it comes to traditional combat in an RPG or in any other type of gameplay, but the PS3 controller offers a little more variety. Controlling a plane in a flight simulation game or a flight action game is no longer restricted to just analog sticks and … … more analog sticks. To turn the plane, simply tilt the controller and there you go! This particular feature will be utilized in the PS3 game, Warhawk. There may be a possibility that this feature may also be used to break the necks of enemies in Metal Gear Solid 4: Gun of the Patriots, but the decision is not yet finalized. All in all, the PS3 controller possesses a similar aim as the Wii-mote and that is to promote interactivity in games.

DS/DS Lite Touch-screen

The DS is the first handheld by a well-known company to include a touch-screen, and the DS Lite, its successor, continues to include that feature. Many creative games have been made for the DS that would otherwise be impossible without a touch-screen. In other words, the touch-screen has opened up many new possibilities for game developers, who want to create games for the DS. There have been ample examples to drive this point home, from Brain Age to Cooking Mama to the knife combats in Resident Evil Deadly Silence. Gameplay of this kind keeps the players really involved in the game and it truly engages them. Arcade favorite Point Blank has also made its way to the DS because of the presence of a touch-screen. The stylus becomes your gun in the game and it does a good job, if not perfect, of replicating the experience on a handheld.

DS/DS Lite Microphone

The microphone situated below the screen of the original DS has been relocated to the hinge on the redesigned DS Lite. It is not a feature that is as prominent as the touch-screen, but nevertheless, credit must be given to the DS designers for including it as well. Few games have ever used the microphone, but if it is used, it ups the excitement factor of the game. One example can be seen in Resident Evil Deadly Silence, where you blow into the microphone to revive a person. It allows you to feel as if you are that person in the game – very innovative gameplay. While the microphone plays an important role in this game, it is sometimes given the role of pure enjoyment like in Mario Kart DS. It is not necessary for you to blow into the microphone to inflate the balloons in the balloon battles, but try blowing into the microphone and you will realize it works just as well. It contributes more fun to the game.

Games with Innovative Controls

Recent DS games like StarFox Command and Mario Hoops 3-on-3 have signaled a change from the use of traditional controls schemes (A, B, X and Y buttons, D-pad) in previous games. Instead, the touch-screen takes up most of the responsibilities. In fact, it is an integral part of the gameplay. In StarFox Command, players make ‘drawings’ on the touch-screen to control the plane. Then, in Mario Hoops 3-on-3, the game practically relies on touch-screen controls for movements. You block, you snatch the ball from your opponents, and almost every other movement requires you to draw ‘directions’ on the touch-screen. Yes, this is innovation – a very obvious sign of it, but is it really for the better? The touch-screen – everyone should be informed – may not cooperate at times, which results in frustration. What I mean is that the touch-screen may not always be responsive to your ‘drawings’. Either it does not recognize your swipes on the screen or it fails to react quickly enough. I have played the puzzles in MechAssualt: Phantom War and when (sometimes) I tried to hit the symbols and pull them into the boxes, the touch-screen refuses to register my movements. And then the touch-screen becomes your bonus enemy in later puzzles when the symbols start traveling at top speeds and it becomes more difficult to catch them. All these only mean one thing: Use innovation appropriately; do not overuse it. Overusing it would result in, as I put it earlier: Innovation for the worse.

Other articles related to this topic: Uniquely Gaming
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