Microsoft demos Katamari, Natal-style
Plus motion-controlled Space Invaders.
Microsoft showed off two more ways Project Natal could work with existing games at the Tokyo Game Show last week.
According to creative director Kudo Tsunoda, speaking during a demo presentation, Japanese firms such as Konami, Square Enix, Capcom and Namco Bandai are "all building games for project Natal". But to further illustrate the potential of the technology, Microsoft put together a special TGS demo featuring Beautiful Katamari.
"I think what this does really well is take a game that was super-hard to control, and make it super-easy and approachable," he said. "On 360 the controls in Katamari were really hard - it was hard to navigate around the world. Now, with Project Natal, it's very simple and easy to do. Anybody can get in and be able to play it right away. It makes it simple, fun and accessible while still keeping the depth and excitement this game has."
Eurogamer got to have a go and sure enough, the game was instinctively easy to play. You position your hands as if they're on top of a beach ball then move them as if rolling it around - left to go left, right to go right and so on. The game was responsive to our movements, with no lag between our gestures and the action on screen. It all felt fluid, natural and less fiddly than twiddling analogue sticks.
Next up was Space Invaders Extreme. To play the Natal version of this game, you stand in front of the screen with your arms out to the side and bent at the elbows. Stepping from side to side moves your ship left and right. You raise your arms to fire, keeping them bent. You look like C-3PO at a rave, having just discovered disco biscuits.
In practice, it's easier to control your ship by leaning from side to side rather than stepping. The game occasionally appeared to struggle to keep up with our firing motions, and twice had to be reset after it stopped responding altogether. But Space Invaders Natal-style was strangely good fun to play and apparently hilarious to watch, and overall it worked. Plus it's probably completely amazing if you've had disco biscuits for tea.
But is there any chance the Natal versions of these games will make it into the shops? Seems unlikely, as these were tech demos built specially for TGS. "We just wanted to make something Japanese consumers and publishers could identify with," said Tsunoda. Here's hoping someone sees the potential of Space Invaders Natal in time for our Christmas party, anyway.