With the success of the Wii and it’s motion based controls such as the nunchuks and balance board it seems that other companies are suddenly jumping on the peripheral bandwagon in an attempt to stake a claim in this burgeoning field. The real question is, will these peripherals become the gaming tools of the future, or will they go the way of Duke Nukem Forever?
Nintendo has been on the cutting edge of peripherals from the very start, giving us gaming greats like the NES Zapper which paved the way for every light gun you’ve ever used, and the Rumble Pack which made its debut on the N64 and is now standard in every gaming controller. Yet for every great peripheral there are five abominations that should have never seen the light of day. A gaming peripheral is designed with the idea of “Enhancing the player’s gaming experience” this doesn’t always work out as planned (Just look up the UForce)
For a while there (during the first gen consoles, Playstation, Xbox, N64) gamers were free from the peripheral onslaught, and it was in fact Sony that brought this monster back to life with its Playstation 2 Eye Toy. Since then peripherals have been making a comeback the likes of which I never could have imagined, just look at the Guitar Hero guitar for example.
Now we’re venturing into the realm of the next gen consoles and seeing exactly where they will take this new gaming battle. E3 09 had one of my funniest memories in gaming peripheral history, Microsoft had just delivered their keynote speech and debuted the Natal, which frankly blew everyone’s minds. Sony was scheduled to deliver their keynote speech the next day, and for the first time in a long time were the first company not to be on the bandwagon by not having some kind of motion based controller. When Sony delivered their speech (The same statistics and graphs based spiel they give us every year. I really don’t care how many games the PS2 is selling.) and showed us the Sony Motion Controller it was clear that they got scared by Natal’s ridiculously well executed demonstration and pulled these guys straight out of R&D to show off a product that was barely in the early stages of testing. Well, I found it funny.
Peripherals come and go but one thing always remains (relatively) the same, the standard controller. Yes we’ve added new things to it over the years, a D-Pad, Analog Sticks, Rumble Pack, but the structure and core idea behind it remain the same. While the Sony Motion Controller may have 1:1 movement tracking, twitch gaming will always be controller based.
-Dr Strange Lulz