Convening quicker than ice cream disappears at a five year old’s party, the big names in the gaming industry descended upon LA this week. Conference floors were awash with news of forthcoming games, accessories, and those odd people who like to pretend they’re Xena the Warrior Princess. There was a lot of news about what games are going to be big this year, and the common theme seemed to be that companies were really getting on board with 3D. I’m bringing to you the most exciting of the announcements, and the games that will be topping my wish-list come Christmas.
Here’s what to watch out for in the gaming world this year.
The Nintendo 3DS
3D and gaming are natural bedfellows, as this is one arena where you won’t mind wearing stupid glasses and you’ll be totally immersed in the action. Nintendo has gone a step further by creating an updated version of their bestselling handheld which allows you 3D goodness- WITHOUT the glasses. So how does this work exactly?
Well, they’ve kept the DS to similar proportions, but have made the top screen capable of 3D action, whilst the bottom screen remains a 2D touchscreen panel. The size of the upper screen has grown to 3.53 inches and the resolution is 800×240. The reason you’ll be able to view the content in 3D is that whilst holding it you’re within the ‘optimum viewing angle’, which is why this feature works well on a small device and has more difficulty translating into television- as there are so many more viewing angles.
The 3DS also features 3 cameras, two external and one internal. The external cameras actually allow 3D images to be taken, though they are fairly low res at the moment.
They’ll be releasing a host of compatible games, and their current offering so far includes metal Gear Solid and Mario Kart, and it is backwards compatible with your original cartridges.
No word on price or release date yet, but we’ve been told ‘later this year’.
At first glance, Kinect sounds very exciting- an add on for the Xbox that allows you all the motion controlling benefits of the Wii without the need for a remote. Dig a little deeper and you’ll realize this is basically a rebadged version of last year’s exciting announcement, Project Natal, an add on for the Xbox that allows you all the motion controlling benefits of the Wii without the need for a remote. See what I mean? This time round, they promise us that the system is actually ready for home user, and have a brand spanking new name to go with it as well. Cos we all have ‘kinnections’ with each-other right..uh, kind of.
Essentially, Kinect is a video motion controlled sensor which you plug into your Xbox. How this differs from other similar cameras is that the sensitivity is said to be much higher and this means you can interact with games with far greater finesse, as each arm will equate to a remote control. The Kinect features three cameras plus voice recognition, so it’s able to pinpoint your movements with accuracy and allow you to interact with it with no buttons at all.
Where this will really be exciting is the library of games that are Kinect ready, such as the ‘Dance central’ game, which allows you a full body workout, or the Kinectimals game, where you play with a 3D style Tamagotchi of your own. A host of publishers are signing up to Kinect, so this year should also see a lot of compatible games get released later this year.
Release Date: November 4th in the USA, Price $149.99
The Wii is often touted as the bridging console, the one that attracts non gamers into the gaming world. With its easy to use settings, entertaining Wiimotes and plasticky looking box it’s an inexpensive way for those nervous about angry MMORPG fans and hardcore techies to dip their toes in the water. The fact that it was a runaway success have made both Sony and Microsoft sit up and take note, and whilst Microsoft has gone down the virtual route with the Kinect, Sony seems to think that imitation is the finest form of flattery and have brought out their own Wiimotes- sorry, Playstation Move controllers.
What you’ll get is a two wand like device with glowing orbs at the head which allow you to wave them around and control the on screen action.. like a Wiimote. You can also buy the Playstation Eye camera to allow you to upload your own avatars and track your movements, and there are going to be a range of games to go with it. The spheres of the motion controller use internal RGB LED to give visual feedback to the console, and they’ve integrated DualShock vibration into the wands, for a more immersive experience.
The games are probably where Sony is the strongest, as they’ve revealed a line up of compatible games that look very entertaining. You’ll get Dukes, a bare knuckle fighting game, Sports Champion, a grittier version of Wii Sports and Shoot, a first person shooter using the wand.
Release Date: 19th September, Price starts at $50 for 1 controller
Grease: The Game
It was always difficult to decide if I preferred Rizzo to Sandy. Rizzo was so much smarter, funnier and bolshier, whilst Sandy.., well she got to wear sweet twin sets and frolic with the divine John Travolta. I watched the movie so many times that the VHS would skip in certain places, and have since upgraded to Blu-ray so I can mime in time with the Greased Lightening song (and do all the dance moves). I still long for that satin pink jacket, so the release of a Grease themed game may be all the excuse I need to find an unsuitable boy wearing leathers…
Entitled, ‘Grease: The Game’, there are two versions, one for the Wii and one for the DS. The Wii game is suitable for multiplayer’s and lets you compete in two teams to be the best singer at Rydell High. You can use two compatible mics and the Balance Board as accessories, and warble and dance your way through the iconic songs. There is a huge selection of mini games that let you try your hand at the hand jive, or race down Thunder Road and there’s a story mode where you can try and win the heart of Sandy by showing off your skillz as a driver. The DS version is a little more simplistic, as it follows the Grease story to completion, where the couple only come together if you’ve completed each level correctly. Frustratingly they’ve edited some of the songs.. (fans will understand why) as they’re looking to appeal to all age groups, but the classics still remain mostly intact.
‘Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee…’ – Well, if I practice now, I’ll rock when it comes out, right?
Release date: August 2010
Glee Karaoke Revolution
Considering the show has just finished and already there are THREE albums out, it was really only a matter of time before games got involved, so I’d like to introduce you to the gleektastic world of Glee Karaoke Revolution . The game will include 35 songs from Season1, and though no songs have been officially released, I’m sure we can expect the likes of ‘Don’t Stop Believein’ and ‘Push It’ to make an appearance.
The format is that of a story, where you unlock scenes from the show and gain extra Glee points as you warble your way through the soundtrack. There are rumours of a co-op mode which should be good for duets, and intriguingly there may be a combat mode- where you get to enjoy a sing off- New Direction/ Vocal Adrenalin style.
Information is pretty scarce at the moment, but I’m sure this is just the start of a huge Wii/Glee franchise and that there will be many more games to come. The Wii actually holds the exclusive for this content, which is a pretty smart move for Nintendo, and shows they’re aware of the current TV trends and translating them to the gamesphere, Sadly, no sign of a Gossip Girl mystery game anytime soon…
Release Date: Autumn, Price TBD
Michael Jackson Dance game
The King of Pop may be long gone, but his legend lives on, and now we can turn to the gaming world to get our fix. In a surprising (but pleasant) move, the Jackson estate has given permission for a selection of songs to be used in a brand new dance game. The game incorporates dance moves, karaoke and coordination and allows the player to sing and twirl in time to the music. Available on all platforms, it seems possible that some consoles will offer more choices (SingStar comes to mind) when interacting with the songs, but for every little girl whose ever rolled-up white socks and tried to moonwalk, this could be the greatest thing since Britney’s comeback.
“Michael always pushed every limit when it came to technology to give his fans unforgettable entertainment experiences, whether it involved his videos, his recordings or his concerts. Now, with this interactive product, we have the chance to bring Michael, the artist, into households around the world in a perfect match of Michael’s artistry and the family entertainment which he always highly valued. Kids, their parents, extended family members and friends will now have an opportunity to all come together and experience Michael’s music and dance in an innovative, exciting and fun way,” said John Branca, co-executor for The Estate of Michael Jackson.
Zumba Fitness on the Wii
It’s well and good getting excited over all the new hardware on the market, but many people have no desire to spend loads upgrading their systems and are rather more intrigued by what’s new to the gaming world. Zumba Fitness has been getting a lot of good press lately as the entertaining exercise class that allows you to shake it whilst working out, and they’re now bringing this to the world of the Wii, PlayStation Move and Kinect for Xbox.
Zumba is an explosion of Latin rhythms where you shake it like you’re Beyonce, but look like you’re a sleep deprived contestant on America’s Next Top Model. The game will follow the same principle as the dance lessons, where you’re taken through a workout that combines Latin rhythms with different dance styles. Zumba is fan of using ‘shake weights’ as part of their routine, so I’d imagine that Wii player will be able to clip their Wiimotes into the shakers, whilst those with the Kinect and PSMove version will just have their actions followed by the camera.
Release Date: Set at Christmas 2010.
RapidShot machine gun from Innex: The first age restricted gaming accessory
When I’m playing a game I tend to lose myself in the action. Whether I’m spacing out to DDR, or losing myself in Tekken, I trend to jump all over the sofa, and pull some pretty strange faces. As much as I try to completely forget about the world around me, sometimes the actions I’m making- pink arrow, blue arrow, double jump- seem so unnatural that the momentum is lost, and I start to get booed (literally in DDR). This is why I’m quite intrigued by the latest accessory to come from the Komodo stable, the RapidShot machine gun.
Whilst I don’t want to glamorize violence in any way, there’s something attractive about a gadget that’s age restricted, though that really means that young-ins’ will just be snapping it up on eBay. My familiarity with guns is fairly limited, but I have to admit it’s a rather scary looking piece of kit.
The gun is designed to be used in conjunction with a variety of point and shoot games, such as Modern warfare 2, and if you’re gripping this bad boy, I’m sure you’d be in no doubt as to who would win.
Release date TBD and Price $50.