Consoles evolving: NATAL and Wii

Ever since E3, I've been hearing two things when it comes to the subject of project NATAL, either it's the best thing for the future of video game development or it's just another gimmick that M$ is hoping will win the massive Wii playerbase over to their side. I'm of the side who thinks this is wonderful for the future of all video game development. Just in case you've been living under a rock and haven't heard about NATAL, I've embedded a video of the E3 presentation for NATAL and a commercial at the bottom of this blog.

For such a long time, the evolution of video games has been either stagnant or so predictably linear, a 5 year old could predict the next line up of platformers, FPS, RPGs. It seems that when the developers finally struck gold with games like Counter-Strike, Starcraft, Guitar Hero, and Street Fighter, they became afraid to step out into the frontier and try something new. Although we have had some great games that simply surprised us in their ingenuity and originality *cough* Little Big Planet*cough* and creative improvements on existing genres like the sleeker and more intuitive HUD in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, they have been few and too far between. I am anxiously await the release of Modern Warfare 2, Starcraft 2, or Final Fantasy 13. I loved Starcraft, the Final Fantasy series, and first person shooters like Counterstrike, Team Fortress, and Quake 3, and there is a reason they have such a huge fanbase, they are great games. However, I wonder what other possibilities could be out there.

I think Nintendo did a great service to video game development when they made the Wii, and when they began releasing Wiiware titles. Games such as World of Goo, Space Invaders: Get Even, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as King are an incredible twist on the genre and help attract developers to venture outside the box they have built for themselves. I realize the Wiimote in itself, isn't going to change the gaming world, but the Wii is showing developers that they can and should risk breaking away from the traditional molds.

Although I understand that M$ weren't completely original; they went in the same direction that Nintendo was already heading, but I do think they were dead on when they stated that Wii is a merely a stepping stone onto full motion control. They are thinking of development as non-linear; instead of making an improved motion wand and taking baby steps forward in the shadowy tunnels of development, they took a running leap into the darkness.

I am proud to state that I am a hardcore gamer, but I also understand that games need to evolve and change. Nothing could be worse than when evolution becomes stagnant, like it has in the MMORPG market; a new one every week, yet nothing new. And I feel the "hardcore gamer" title is purely elitism as casual gamers and hardcores are not as different as they would like to believe, but I suppose this is an argument for another day.

I am looking forward to the new peripheral, and hope that the Xbox 360 will take advantage of all of the new possibilities that it brings.


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