It’s been about three years since Sony introduced the Playstation Move and… well, sold it to about a dozen people (including myself). For most, its sole purpose was to collect dust, be used periodically for half-hearted exercise, and to show off its advanced waggling controls (suck it Nintendo!). But believe it or not, the Move has potential. Or at least I think so. And apparently so does Sony, because they’re still pushing it, and according to the show back in February, expect you and other gamers to play it on the PS4 next-generation.
Back during February’s PlayStation Meeting 2013, Sony’s PS4 reveal had one segment of the show dedicated to the use of the PS Move for next-gen. This demonstration showed Media Molecule–the creators of LittleBigPlanet—sculpting amazingly detailed digital works of arts and performing advanced puppet shows and concerts with the Move. Riding this wave, I half-expected Sony’s E3 conference to have some mention of it, and yet a whole week went by and I never heard a single peep. It may be that Sony is abandoning the Move and–pardon the pun–moving it from priority status to lowly passion project. Or, it could mean that they want a focused presentation that will continue to counter Microsoft’s every move–we all know a ten minute demo of the WonderBook was not going to do Sony any favors in the next-gen console wars. Does this mean the Move is completely dead? Or waiting for a renaissance?
With Nintendo’s Skyward Sword & Metroid Prime 3: Echoes, and Sony’s Sorcery, Sports Champions franchise, and Deadmund’s Moves in mind (arguably the best examples–technically speaking–of what motion controls can do), and perhaps even the idea of Sony’s HMD set (their PS4 console version of the Windows-based Oculus Rift) to make games even more immersive, I’m pitching five ideas for games that can get the Move moving off the shelves and into your homes.
Note: These ideas are primarily for people who actually want to get up and do physical things when at home, and not for those who remain firmly faithful to the religion of Couchafarianism.
A Real Star Wars Jedi Game
When Star War: Kinect was announced, fans of both Star Wars and the Kinect went absolutely nuts in anticipation for what seemed like the ultimate Star Wars game. But how can an ultimate Star Wars game not put an actual lightsaber in your hand?
Technically speaking, the Move is more than capable of handling a hardcore game that combines free-roaming, adventuring, lightsaber duels, and Force powers. Using the extensive list of Star Wars’ Expanded Universe Force abilities, powers as diverse as the typical Jedi Force Push ability and Sith Force Lightning to the Expanded Universe’s Force Combustion, Cloak, Flash, Status, and Deadly Sphere would make for an intricate Ability Tree. The Navigation Controller could, in combination with the Move buttons, control movement, dashes/dodges, jumping and strafing. Its D-pad would be used for Hot Keys that allow players to switch powers quickly and on-the-go without interrupting the flow of action. The Move itself would obviously be used for attacking with the Lightsaber, using the precise 1:1 tracking to hit enemies on special weakspots for added variety.
To capitalize on the idea of being trained as a Jedi Knight in an era of conflict, the story could take place in the Old Republic Era, where Jedi and Sith are numerous; the New Republic and/or New Jedi Order era, with perhaps the player as a new Jedi being trained by Luke Skywalker himself to combat the remnants of the Empire (and later defending the galaxy from the monstrous Yuuzhan Vong); the Star Wars Legacy Era, with players dealing with a troubled Jedi Order and the return of the Sith. These periods offer a lot of breathing room to establish something new and different, and still allows for a variety of plot options and gaming mechanics.
Ideally, you could–like Mass Effect–perhaps choose a background, indicating your race and your origins. Perhaps you’re a Human, or an ever-popular Twi’lek; perhaps a Nautolan, or even a Witch of Dathomir. Perhaps, depending on your choice, you get certain starting stats or bonuses, like being a Miraluka with a higher attunement to the Force, or a Nautolan with a higher diplomacy stat or defense stat (due to their pheromone sense and multiple hearts).
Like Fallout 3, the game could start with your character as a Youngling going through a personal story as you–the player–also learn the controls and go through the stages of Jedi Apprenticeship. During the Padawan period you get to build your own lightsaber, and at the end you go through the Trials of Spirit, Skill, Courage, Flesh and Insight/Knowledge. This then brings you to the rank of Jedi Knight, ready to dive further into the story.
As you journey through the game, you’ll take on missions, explore multiple plots, make alliances, and fight (or join) enemy Jedi. You’ll partake in optional mini-games to expand your powers and attributes, like the Alchaka Meditations and Art of Moving exercises Jedi go through, to increase stats. Collectibles and activities like Pod-Racing are great to take a breather from defending the galaxy, but again, the choice is all up to you.
Ultimately this is a game about immersion, and with a story that offers narrative choice (like Mass Effect) and the ability to interact with dozens of facets of the world, a Star Wars Move game could be the freshest take on the franchise and Motion Gaming than ever seen before. With Disney’s relatively recent acquisition of the Star Wars franchise, a new fresh experience may benefit both LucasArts and Sony, even if the last attempt at jedi motion-gaming possibly left a bad taste in their mouths.
The first Sorcery had great intentions. It had one mission statement: make a hardcore Move game, built from the ground up for motion controls, centered around a boy named Finn and his magic wand. Conceptually, it worked: players in Finn’s shoes with the Move as a wand could flick their wrists to throw arcane bolts, whip their arm over their heads to create a whirlwind, and dart their wand across and below them to create a wall of flame. Players could also combine elements, like sending a whirlwind through flames to create a firestorm inferno (and then shoot more arcane bolts through it to create flaming bolts). The whole idea was that YOU were the sorcerer, and YOU were the hero.
But in execution, the game suffered. For a game trying to evolve from the Wii’s “waggle” stigma, Sorcery felt like advanced waggling, with the novelty of the Move as a wand undercut by the intense flicking the game’s combat encouraged. The only thing hardcore about the game’s motion controls was how badly your wrists hurt after a session of spellcasting.
So instead of gestures, what if the game relied on hot keys to switch spells? Combined with an autofire button, the emphasis would be more on strategy, spell-weaving, and pure fun, and less on tiring, tedious, half-functional motion controls. Flicking and curving spells around corners (think the film Wanted‘s “curving the bullet”) could be reserved for special, stronger charged attacks and advanced tactics.
Story-wise, Sorcery excelled: with a simple story following two likable characters, on a quest to stop the Nightmare Queen from taking over the world. A sequel could follow a now adult Finn, retaining his brash Nathan Drake-like charm, off to stop another huge threat. Now a master of the five elements, Finn has to use his skills to create even more spells and apply them to new situations. Like during a harrowing mission through a dangerous field, Finn could use fire and water to create a steamy mist that Finn can stealthily hide in; apply spells to the environment to unlock secret areas with special items; use timed wind blasts coupled with artificial wings to gain limited flight; apply lightning to your movement to dash about the world faster; or add elemental magic to dragon bones to summon a fiery or icy dragon to fight by your side. Really, the options are endless. Finn’s mastery of alchemy could also be applied to unique power-ups, special hidden spells, and special enhancements for Finn’s wand. Add with this a much needed sense of discovery and freedom, and Sorcery II could be leagues ahead of its first installment.
Sorcery may not have been the Kinect-killer Sony hoped it would be, but that doesn’t mean it was a completely wasted opportunity. Like most average movies that inspire far superior sequels, the foundation is already made: now all they have to do is build a better game.
Sports Champions 3
This is an easy one.
If there’s anything Sports Champions accomplished, it was giving the Playstation its very own “Wii Sports” type of title, which has worked in providing fun and generally being a tech demo for the potential of what a Move controller can do. But the game was plagued by long tutorials–I’m looking at you Volleyball–or boring sports (what the hell is Bocce Ball, anyway, amirite?). Most of the games were okay, and worked, but just didn’t have enough content or flair to make it stand out. Arguably, the best “Sports” available were Archery and Gladiator Duel, with the former giving a variety of fun challenges in Single and Multiplayer, and the latter giving a pretty good–if bare–fighting game for sword-weilding Movers.
The sequel, Sports Champions II, added a pretty cool customization option, a more “party” oriented design, a better range of typical sports choices, and even brought back the popular Archery games (but oddly left out the equally popular Gladiator Duel). Still, the game was a by-the-numbers attempt to get at both the Wii and the Kinect’s fans, and didn’t really attract new gamers to its fanbase.
Now that the Move device has been established as a technically effective device, there’s no need for such a bland title. No need to prove anything anymore. Developers San Diego Studio and Zindagi Games only have to take what they know about the Move device and make a game with even more life to it.
Creating a new Sports Champions title should entail two main objectives: the first to add some personality to the franchise, and the second to add a more diverse range of fun games. A new Sports Champions should leave behind the sort of pseudo serious or dry atmosphere of past games, and get a little crazier. No need for an Olympics ripoff here. The goal is finding some random, maybe even silly reason to get a bunch of people together in a competition. Perhaps a tournament of “champions” hosted by some larger-than-life mythic god(s), with a crazy Buzz-like host who comically berates the champions who compete for his prize.
The craziness shouldn’t end there: characters should have a little more style, a little more uniqueness in their design. Playing Sports Champions felt like an 80s cartoon: there was one caricature from every culture, from the agile martial artist Asian chick to the, uh, “Urban” Black guy, to the hillbilly with a cowboy hat. Sports Champions II allowed you to make your own characters with some crazy unlockable items (like flaming bowling balls or ram-horn boxing gloves), but that’s only the start. Give everyone crazier personalities, more diverse costumes than just simply pallette swaps, and even wilder options for creating your own “champion.”
Finally, throw in any sport that makes sense for the Move. Of course, Archery should remain, virtually untouched (except for the Zombie Challenge: make them real zombies this time). Bring back Gladiator Duel and maybe add in some variety, with some optional rules from Fencing or Kendo, and more challenges involving “Sword-stuff” (like perhaps Samurai challenges where you have to draw and attack faster than your opponent, or slice through an oncoming projectile like Isao Machii). Bring back Tennis, Boxing and Disc Golf and amp them up a little. Throw in the Javelin, Gun/Rifle Shooting, and Fishing, even, but make the goals include hunting monsters or something. And hell, maybe even bring back Bocce Ball.
Like I said before, the foundation is set: time to build.