This week, Zero Punctuation digs into the news from E3 2010.
As the operator of a coin-operated artillery cannon might sarcastically yell to a retreating army, "you should never be afraid of change!" The youthful medium of gaming has grown out of the processor power arms race that took up most of its childhood and has finally begun shaving its bumfluff and touching itself at night as it enters an awkward puberty. There will be a lot of changes to come and you shouldn't fear them. You should resist them, though. You've got to dig your heels in and show these changes who's the bitch before everything we've worked for all these years sells itself wholesale to the kinds of Bejeweled-playing, child-having twat-mackerels who spent the last decades nodding meaningfully to each other every time a Sega Genesis is found in the home of a murderer.
Regular viewers will know that whenever E3 rolls around I like to devote a video to discouraging people from getting too excited, but this year it almost feels like turning a firehose on a cigarette butt. If gaming is going through puberty, then motion controls are its first period. It's become clear to me now that motion controls are something each game company just needs to get out of their system. Nintendo were the early bloomers who are now saying: "Motion controls? What are those? We're just making five million reboots of our popular franchises!" And I'm all like, "oh, Nintendo, it's like you never left us!" But now Microsoft and Sony are triumphantly waving their bloodstained underpants.
Let me make my position clear: gaming should be about games, not about controllers. Controllers as they stand are a perfectly adequate conduit for connecting man to machine by way of thumbs. It doesn't matter of A Tale of Two Cities is printed on the side of a horse or if every other word is in Greek; what matters is that Sidney Carton sacrifices himself for Charles Darnay at the end (spoiler alert). Delude yourself all you like with videos of happy families in pastel-coloured shirts spending quality time with bouncy castle simulators, but in the long term people want to play games the same way they want to read books or watch TV: slouched on the settee with a big bag of Maltesers. How on Earth do you think forcing them to do a sit-up every now and again is going to revolutionise entertainment?
So anyway, Microsoft's Kinect thing, a combination of "connect," "kinetic," and some colossal wankers in marketing. Apparently it's like the Wii except it reads your movements without needing a controller. So everything will be fine until a wasp gets in the room, and then your character will probably throw all their grenades away and pummel a chair! The launch titles are an array of colourful, family fun sports, fitness, and playgroup activity centers, too forcibly cheerful to list. "Games anyone can enjoy," promises the blurb. Well, what about people who want to go see Phantom of the Opera every now and again rather than the Christmas panto every fucking night, Microsoft? What about them? People who like games about crying widowers bleeding their last on filthy basement floors, who don't want to express their inner child because they wrapped up their inner child in bin liners and tossed it off a bridge.
I will grant you, though, Kinectimals 's box art is the most terrifying thing I've seen all year. It looks like what would happen if John Wayne Gacy worked at Disneyland. You might have realised that if any of you had souls rather than clockwork emotion simulators that run on money. This is probably why they keep wheeling Peter Molyneux out: because he's the only person they know with actual emotions. Very strange emotions unique to Peter Molyneux, but emotions nonetheless.
So after Microsoft's butchering of the English language comes the PlayStation Move, a much more appealingly straightforward name. Almost authoritative, really, like an order barked by a drill sergeant. It uses a controller that's completely different to the Wiimote because it's got a big, shiny bell-end. In all seriousness, this is just sad. It's like a huge, smelly tramp putting a spandex leotard on over his crusty trousers and trying to enter a children's athletics competition. With similarly straightforwardly named game titles like The Fight and The Shoot promised, it seems like Sony are aiming for a slightly more hardcore audience. But that's even worse! Motion controls are at least somewhat attractive to the casual, pastel shirt, family fun time brigade, but surely actual gamer gaming technology should be working toward controls that use smaller movements, not larger ones, to enhance immersion by minimising the separation between thought and on-screen action.
I noticed Sony are re-releasing a couple of games to use the Move system, including Heavy Rain, because I remember thinking at the time its story would have made much more sense if I'd been waving my arms around like a cat in a grandfather clock, and Resident Evil 5, which has now abandoned all pretense and subtracted the black character from its box art.
Speaking of re-releasing, as I mentioned earlier Nintendo is busily tearing its way through all its intellectual property and isn't releasing a single game that can't be prefixed with the words "another bloody," as in "another bloody Zelda," "another bloody Donkey Kong," and of course "another bloody Metroid," developed by Team Ninja of Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball fame, so I look forward to seeing how they work juggle physics into Samus Aran's power armour.
And a hefty shovelful of Nintendo's back catalogue is being remade for the 3DS, a concept that is literally impossible to demonstrate in picture or video. It rather shoots the advertising potential in the foot, but who cares? It's just a gimmick. Stereoscopic 3D is a thing that's being desperately pushed by movie companies because they're trying anything to stop cinemas from being irrelevant in a world where everyone has a home entertainment system the size of a small retirement cottage. And it's only a matter of time before everyone collectively realises that 3D as it stands is about as immersive as sitting too close to a glove puppet of James Cameron. Call me when they've invented the 3D hologram viewscreens from Star Trek. Or when Nintendo's entire staff commits suicide with carbon monoxide fumes.
Just time to finish off which some third-party games.
XCOM! Which now isn't set in the near future and isn't turn based, so it could have called itself Custard Pie Fights With Christopher Walken and that would have been equally relevant.
Star Wars: The Old Republic! Fair enough. I mean, of all that things that tried to unseat WoW from the MMORPG throne, Star Wars is the one thing over which nerds get even weirder.
Metal Gear Rising! Listen to me, Hideo Kojima, you really need to face the fact that nobody likes Raiden as much as you seem to. I mean, no one could say you didn't do all you could. You made him a cyborg, break-dancing ninja, and somehow he's still a little bitch. And I don't see how having him prepare fruit salad will remedy that.
Probably just bitter 'cos he couldn't go: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
I'll stop making Capcom racism jokes when they stop making it so easy for me
On the other hand Splatterhouse looks fun
Love Song to YahtzeeEdit
The episode ends with a complete airing of Rebecca Mayes's "Love Song to Yahtzee", which had debuted on The Escapist five days previously