At the Tokyo Game Show, Motion Controllers Take the Stage

Kinect video-game controller
Kinect video-game controller

The Nintendo Wii's dominance over motion-control gaming eroded further this weekend as Microsoft (MSFT) and Sony (SNE) highlighted their own new controllers at Japan's largest video-game industry event, the Tokyo Game Show (TGS). Coming near the beginning of fall and just before the holiday shopping season, the show was open to the public and gave many Japanese their first opportunity to play with the new controllers.

Unlike Nintendo's (NTDOY) Wii remote, Microsoft's controller for Xbox 360, named "Kinect" (pictured), isn't a controller at all. Instead, it's a camera under the player's TV that captures the player's movements and uses them to control avatars on the screen.

Microsoft used the Tokyo event to show off five games from Japanese companies that it hopes will further set it apart from Nintendo's Wii. "What you see in Japan is that there are a lot of creators who like to make core games, and that's their heritage," Xbox Product Director Aaron Greenburg explained to Gamasutra.

Aiming More for Hard-Core Gamers

Many traditional game fans say they're put off by what they see as too many "casual" games, or simple games designed for quick and short play, like the WiiSports and WiiFit lines. At E3 earlier this year, Microsoft added to those fans' worries when itshowed off the 15 games that will launch with the $150 Kinect on Nov. 4, all of which resembled the simpler games on the Wii.

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"There is such potential for not just Capcom but for other creators to create games for [hard-]core gamers," Capcom head of R&D Keiji Infune told the audience at Microsoft's press conference. Along with Infune, Panzer Dragoon developer Yukio Futatsugi debuted his Kinect game, Project Draco. Gamemaker Goichi Suda, whose Wii game No More Heros had players splattering blood with a "laser-katana," one of the few Wii titles with appeal to serious gamers but which produced mediocre sales, told the crowd his fans have asked him to develop for the Xbox 360 and that his game Codename D "is a very core action game." All five of the games are scheduled for sale in 2011.

Joining Microsoft in introducing a motion controller was Sony, whose Playstation Move controller for the Playstation 3 more closely resembles the Wii remote. Both are hand-held wands. But Sony's has a glowing ball at the tip and a camera at the TV to track movement.

Like Microsoft, Sony also showed off games for hard-core players, such as Killzone 3 and Resident Evil 5, which have versions for both a standard controller and a Playstation Move. Many reviewers have commented on the similarity between the Wii remote and Playstation Move, but they note that the Move offers greater accuracy.

A 3-D Gaming Push

Sony also used TGS to announce a downloadable update for the PS3 that will allow it to play 3-D Blu-ray movies along with its previous 3-D games capability -- if the PS3 is connected to a 3-D TV. The push to 3-D comes even as forecasted sales of the sets look mixed, with some at the show complaining about prolonged use of 3-D glasses. Still, Sony showed off one of its most anticipated games, Gran Tourismo 5, in 3-D, though it's also playable in 2D.

Sony was the only company debuting a 3-D game at the show, but it's not alone in pushing 3-D games. Nintendo, which traditionally avoids TGS, will soon announce a launch date for its latest handheld device, the Nintendo 3DS, which produces a 3-D image without glasses. Because the 3DS is a handheld system, it won't directly compete with Sony's PS3, but comparisons will be unavoidable. Without the need for glasses, the 3DS could prove more enticing than even the high-definition 3-D graphics Sony touts.