Like every other red-blooded American boy growing up in the Nintendo era, I liked me some peripherals. I had the Nintendo Zapper and its pimped-out cousin, the Super Scope. I wore out my Power Pad with hours and hours of World Class Track Meet. I even had Mario Paint. As I grew older, however, something started to bother me. I always felt older NES titles that required a peripheral like Duck Hunt and Wild Gunman were every bit as legitimate as Super Mario Bros. or Zelda. I spent just as much time playing them as I did the “regular” titles that only required a controller. But these days it seems that the games made specifically for peripherals are pretty crappy compared to the “regular” market. The Kinect seemed like a good idea, certainly if you like Dance Central games, but so far most of the games released for the device seem like watered-down titles built off of existing franchises with gimmicky gameplay. The trailer for Marvel Avengers Battle pretty much confirms what I’ve been thinking for a while now. Kinect games are bad.
First off, I don’t know anyone with a living room that clean. Second, I can’t imagine playing this game seriously for more than five minutes without breaking something. And third, why does a game look like this in 2012? It looks like a seven year old title. It doesn’t help that the gameplay is only shown to me in conveniently short micro bursts, as if seeing too much at once would tip me off to how bad the game is. Maybe if it was a couple of five year-olds playing I would think it was a kid’s game, but these guys are almost teenagers, there’s no way they are playing this over CoD, Halo, or almost any other 360 title. If you’re invited to a friend’s house and they have this, call your parents to pick you up.
Maybe I’m being a little too hard on the Kinect. Strictly speaking the Kinect is a great little piece of machinery, but so far game development for the peripheral has lagged behind other non-Kinect titles. I guess that’s what things like the Kinect have become; a cheap trick, a gimmick used to sell weak titles. They have to know that the titles they’re releasing aren’t very good. Last year they announced Hulk Hogan’s Main Event and while the promo for the game does its best to make it look as legit and intense as possible, the reality is sadly so boring it borders on pathetic. It took them five minutes just to figure out how to navigate through the menu.
Maybe my nostalgia over things like Nintendo’s Zapper and Power Pad have skewed what I think the Kinect should be. When it was released I had thought that there would be a whole bunch of new games that utilized the controller free technology, I mean that’s what they made it sound like. Instead it seems that the only titles that reach the Kinect are the left over scraps from existing franchises like the Avengers, Kung Fu Panda, and Dragon Ball Z. There’s almost no enthusiasm or hype behind any of their releases, each silently placed onto shelves only to be purchased by die-hard fans of the franchise or naïve grandparents.
If developers can’t or won’t create quality products for peripherals then what’s the point of having them in the first place? As we approach the next console generation it will be interesting to see if things continue the way they have been. Nintendo’s newest Wii-U has a gamepad which will likely be a part of many titles released on the new console. If Microsoft and Sony for that matter create a next-gen peripheral or some sort of console add-on, they would be wise to take a fresh look at their development for those products. If they don’t, these types of add-ons will continue to be a fringe service for out-of-touch shoppers and fitness gaming fanatics.