A recent comment on Renegade’s Skyward Sword review got me thinking about motion controls, and how shitty they are.
I started thinking about them in a little more depth than I have previously. First of all… FUCK motion controls. In their current state, at least. Initially I respected what Nintendo was apparently trying to do with the Wii. By “initially” I mean when it was announced that it would use motion controls, not after it released and we all realized it was a cheap, tacked-on gimmick that nobody could ever actually like if they thought about it for more than a few seconds.
I thought “Hey, wow! We might see a whole variety of awesome new games that revitalize the industry with clever use of motion controls!”. Instead what we got was the same old shit but now you have to wave your arms around to make stuff happen instead of just pressing a button, which would require far less effort and far less conscious thought*, thereby feeling better, smoother, faster and simpler. More intuitive.
That’s a word Nintendo fans love to say in regards to the wiimote’s supposed “ease of use”. They like to say it’s intuitive because “You do something and the game does it too!”. Only that isn’t true at all. You do something and half the time the game will spaz out and do something unlike what you had intended because these motion controls simply aren’t precise enough for accurate 1:1 motion, and the games aren’t intelligently programmed enough to know what you mean when you’re waving your hand back and forth shouting “NO DON’T DO THAT, DO THE OTHER THING” at the TV.
But let me say that I don’t have anything against the idea of motion controls. I think the Kinect, dumb as its games all are, is a small step towards a type of motion controls that could be far better than what the wii can currently offer. It’s primarily the games that I dislike.
In my reply to that comment I mentioned at the start of this article, I use a few examples. Metroid Prime, Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy, and I also mention the Trauma series of games. The latter is a series designed to make full use of an alternative control scheme. It’s essentially a two dimensional flat screen and you simply use the wiimote like a pointer. It requires fast reactions, good timing, and the ability to maintain your accuracy under stress and high speed. It’s a really good series. If you wanna know more about it, just search “Trauma”. Renegade’s a huge fan of it.
The Trauma games work extremely well with motion controls because they have to. It’s what they were designed to make use of. You couldn’t plug a controller into your wii and play a Trauma game with it because you wouldn’t be able to use the analogue sticks to quickly move the cursor to the exact spot you want it. It simply wouldn’t work as well. It wouldn’t be quick enough and it would break the sensation of making use of your accuracy and reaction speed. It would be difficult to make a Trauma game work with traditional controllers without completely changing how the game itself plays.
But then you have the former few games I mentioned. Metroid, Mario, Zelda. These are games that didn’t change how they played to accommodate motion controls. For all intents and purposes, those games are the same as their predecessors and simply had motion controls forced upon them. Mario Galaxy isn’t all that different from Mario 64. Take a serious look at it and tell me what about it is legitimately new. Tell me what about it COULDN’T be done with a regular controller and the push of a button or two.
And that’s my main issue that I have with the current state of motion controls, specifically the wii remote. Do I think motion controls have promise and potential? Definitely, in the future when technology is better, and developers realize that they need to actually make games from scratch and design them completely with motion controls in mind. But right now, with the games that we have, I feel traditional control methods are faster, more accurate, more intuitive, simpler, and easier to use.
* Physical effort and conscious thought are extremely detrimental to fast-paced and action-heavy gaming. If you’re playing a fighting game, or an action-adventure, or even something more simple like Mario or Zelda, having to stop and think “uhhh wait I should swing this thing sort of diagonally” could cause you to freeze up for just enough time to get yourself killed. As a result, games like Devil May Cry, God of War and the like would never translate well to the wii. It simply isn’t good enough.