Battle of the Motion-Sensor Gaming Systems

It took for years for competitors to present alternatives to Nintendo’s Wii motion-sensor game system, but this holiday season, consumers had a big decision to make.  Stick with the Wii? Or try the PS3 Move or Kinect for Xbox?  With Sony and Microsoft now entering the ring, is the Nintendo Wii still the best option for motion-sensor video gaming?

Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360

This new component transforms the Xbox system into a motion-sensor gaming system for $150 (total cost with an Xbox 360, around $350).  The price includes the sensor and the game Kinect Adventures, which allows hands-free gaming on obstacle courses, river rafting, and a full body game named Rallyball.  One of the major benefits is the ability to connect the sensor to any of the current Xbox 360 systems, so there’s no need to replace the gaming unit.  It’s simply an addition, not a replacement.

Kinect works by using a depth sensor, camera, and multi-array microphone system that track players’ full-body movements, voices, and faces for a full motion-sensor gaming experience.  Instead of waving your arms with a remote, the game picks up on your full range of motion, allowing you to perform the actions with a more natural range of movement. Another unique feature is the ability to issue voice commands to the system.

There are currently 15 Kinect games available, such as the full-body dance game Dance Central, Zumba Fitness and Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. Pet simulation games, sports games, and licensed games like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I are also available. The Kinect are provides wireless, motion-sensored and voice commands for Xbox’s other features like movies and live chat.

While hard-core gamers might not be interested in this new kind of gameplay, the Kinect seems to be opening up the Xbox to a new audience.  Aerobic and wireless gameplay may attract younger players and families, says USA Today in the article “Let the showdown of video-game motion sensors begin.”

PC Mag adds that, while the full system might be a bit pricey, you can have up to six players without adding extra motion controls.  In that sense, the Kinect is a winner.  However, gameplay on this system requires more space to play because a full range of movement is necessary, so it’s not ideal for those with a cramped living room.

Sony PlayStation Move

Sony’s option is also an ‘upgrade’ to your existing gaming system, so owners of the PS3 need only pay $100 for the Move motion controller, PlayStation Eye Camera and Sports Champions game (total cost with a new PS3, around $400).  If you already own the PS3 camera, you can purchase the Move controllers separately at $50 each.

The camera is the key to this system, as it tracks the motion controller in 3-D space. A glowing orb at the end of the controller (which takes some getting used to, visually) uses a magnetic sensor that acts as a compass to determine the controller’s orientation.  The combination of the camera and this sensor allow fairly steady gameplay. Players wave the controller around to control gameplay and a microphone enables voice chat as needed.  From a purely functional standpoint, this system seems to be the halfway point between the Wii system and the Kinect system.

The Sony Move has more game offerings than the Kinect does (so far), with nearly 25 titles available including Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 and Dance Dance Revolution.  Sony promises Move-compatible versions of their other top-selling games, such as SOCOM and Killzone.  These updates will hopefully keep hardcore gamers engaged and encourage sales of the Move, but time will tell.

PC Mag’s review of the Move praises it as the least expensive system as a whole and possibly the most accurate, in terms of motion tracking.  The downside is the cost of the wands, with sometimes two being needed per player.  With up to four players, you might be purchasing eight wands at worst.  The review goes on to say that gameplay isn’t as easy as the Kinect, where players can jump in and out as needed without taking time to calibrate the remote, but it does offer more games than its Microsoft competition.

Nintendo Wii

As the first motion-sensor system, the Nintendo Wii still seems to reign supreme.  The downside to this system is that you must be the entire system to play, not just upgrade an existing system with a sensor.  But given that it’s been available for over four years, prices have been greatly reduced over time.  A complete system now costs around $200 and includes the console, Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort games, a Wiimote with MotionPlus accessory and nunchuk controller.

The technology is fairly straightforward. The system works with a sensor bar and wireless remotes using infrared beams and Bluetooth, so gameplay is controlled by the position and movement of your remote.  The MotionPlus accessory, which plugs into the remote, adds accuracy but is sold separately (thus increasing your overall cost).  The remote can also be used like a regular handheld remote, held sideways to play games like MarioKart.

As the longest-standing system, there are over 1000 games available to play on the Nintendo Wii in a wide range of genres and styles, including updates to old die-hard favorites like New Super Mario Bros.

PC Mag lists the Wii’s pros as its inexpensiveness and its huge game library, while it also offers the least accurate motion sensing of all three systems.  It’s also not a high-def system, like Microsoft’s and Sony’s are. While it’s not as flashy as the newer models on the market, the Wii does boast a history of many happy players and a wide catalogue to suit every taste.

With all three offering a unique spin on this new style of gaming, the choice is ultimately yours. Whichever gaming system you choose to call your own, make sure you visit our Video Games coupon codes before you get started.  Save with bundle packages and discounted games and get playing!

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