Tag Archive: ps move


Some mediocre abracadabra

Everyone loves the allure of magic and believing in the unbelievable. Typically, we know that it’s all really just illusion, but games give us a chance to suspend our disbelief a little further with fantastical characters and by immersing us in stories based in myth and legend. Well, Sony hopes that even after countless delays, that by putting a ‘wand’ in your hand with Sorcery and the PS Move, that you’ll be able to immerse yourself just a little bit further than ever before.

You play as Finn, an orphan taken in by a sorcerer named Dash and his cat familiar, Erline. When Dash goes off on some errands, Finn decides its time to have a little bit of fun of his own and breaks into Dash’s storehouse. There, he finds an enchanted wand and soon after the real antics ensue as what starts off as some simple childish hijinx, like turning sheep into pigs and pots into fishbowls, quickly turns into an epic quest to protect Erline, as she is not who she really seems to be.

I admit that Sorcery shocked me in a lot of ways. It’s very easy to just write off a lot of these motion-control gimmick based games as we’ve had a steady stream of disappointment from most every one of them for quite some time. But Sorcery succeeds in crafting a highly detailed world with interesting, well-acted characters and a bevy of ‘out of this world’ powers that can appeal to gamers of all ages and providing some actual depth. Even after the game’s countless delays since the PS Move’s launch though, there are still some serious problems with execution.

Although the game’s lack of a targeting reticule or lock-on system is intended to give you a sense of freedom in the somewhat linear world before you, all it does is lead to constant frustration. It is far too easy to mishandle your wand and fire off magical bolts of various natures in the complete opposite direction of your intended targets, even after later learning how to weave your elemental spells to create a volcanic wall of fire or an electrical storm. Often instead you’ll find yourself just running around in circles on the battlefield as you try to finally get the PS Eye to pick up your wrist movement just right in order to smack your enemies with some of these devastating spells. And when you add in that some enemies have rejuvenating lifebars, the fun can get sucked out of this game more quickly than you can say ‘hocus pocus’ due to poor controls.

When all is said and done though, Sorcery is easily one of the better PS Move games. But this is still not saying much and when placed side-by-side with various traditionally controlled RPGs or action-adventure games, Sorcery, like many gimmicky motion-based games, simply falls short due to the gimmicks that gave the game inspiration in the first place. If you’re desperate to shake the dust off of your PS Move or have children that won’t easily lose patience with the controls, Sorcery does provide an entertaining, although predictable, story for gamers to play through, but otherwise shouldn’t cause any money to magically disappear from your wallet in order to purchase this title.

SUMMARY:  The gimmick driven combat system holds Sorcery back, as fun quickly turns to frustration after each misfire from your wand. And this is a shame given the predictable, but charming story that Sorcery tries to tell through vibrant characters and the beautiful world they occupy.

  • THE GOOD: One of the more well-rounded PS Move games available
  • THE BAD: Too many basic short comings and control glitches to be anything of real note
  • THE UGLY: Talking cats just ain’t right

SCORE: 6.0

Sorcery is a PS3 exclusive.     

Tally-ho!

There were a lot of great moments at GDC. From the parties to the panels, GDC was a huge learning experience for me and definitely something that anyone interested in game design or the industry in general should look into attending one day. The conference also has a modest show floor to show off games, especially of the Indie variety and I admit, my personal highlight of the show may have been when I stumbled into a ring of people forming an impromptu arena for what became a hot topic of discussion at the show: Johann Sebastian Joust.

This indie game isn’t a video game in the most traditional sense. In fact, it has no video at all unless you YouTube videos of people playing it in the middle of the street. You see the only thing that Johann Sebastian Joust requires really is a PS3’s wireless connectivity and everyone who wants to play, two player minimum and seven player maximum, needs to bring their own PS Move controller.

After activating your Move, the sensor ball will turn a specific color. Your objective is to jostle the other players physically enough for their sensor to turn red, signifying their elimination. The sensitivity of the Move controller also changes depending on the tempo of the music. The music, of course, always being Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto”. The faster it plays, the less sensitive and the slower it plays, the more sensitive.

I played 10 matches of Johann Sebastian Joust, winning all my matches but one, and that was because I was against the idea of roughhousing with a girl I did not know…or pay for. Johann Sebastian Joust appealed to my competitive gamer nature in ways that few games can actually hone in on nowadays while working perfectly with the music set up. The game also forced you to think outside the box in some instances.

My first victory came when I hid my controller in my coat pocket, and when the last man standing assumed he was victorious, I went up to him and pushed him aside for the victory as he forgot that only when the sensor ball flashed multiple colors did it mean he was truly victorious. I also used my coat as a shield in one match and actually won another match by default as a competitor kicked me in the stomach (seriously, dude went all Kung Fu on me), but all his hectic motion caused him to eliminate himself before he even touched me. My favorite though was when it was down to two of us and I yelled “Hey look at out behind you!” and my opponent turned around and let me tap his sensor ball (I actually got an ovation for that one as people were shocked the guy fell for it).

Describing it can only do the game so much justice though, so below is one of the promotional videos for the game. Considering though this likely is only going to be a few dollars on top of the price of a PS Move controller, I think this could easily be the best PS Move game yet if enough people find out about it. Of course, the only drawback is you might need to move your PS3 outside to make sure you have enough space for the game. But if you have the space, this was easily the most fun I had on the floor of a show in a long time and was more than worthy of its 2012 GDC Innovation Award and cannot wait until it becomes readily available everywhere.

No skin, lots of bones, and a little bit of heart

It’s rare that you see a game revolving around motion controls that also attempts to feature a deep, fleshed-out story like Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest. Unfortunately, you all too often see these types of games fall into the same gameplay traps that this one falls into as well—missteps that take away from the overall experience.

Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest is set in a fictional medieval kingdom where a boy named Edmund lives in the castle. Although he’s an orphan, Edmund’s built up an almost King Arthur–esque mystique, and he’s now destined for great things—including inheriting the crown. But for now, Edmund’s still too young and is simply tasked with guarding a mysterious, powerful stone that contains mystical powers. Guided by the ghost of a past king, the castle chef, and several other allies, Edmund’s well on his way to being a just, beloved ruler. That is, until a nefarious necromancer attacks the castle with an army of undead skeletons. Claiming the mysterious stone and its power for his own, the necromancer curses the kingdom and adds them to his skeletal army. But Edmund’s fortuitously protected by a magical stone pendant, so although his flesh melts away, his mind’s free from the necromancer’s control. Jokingly renaming himself “Deadmund,” he sets off on a quest to save his future subjects—and himself—from the dastardly deeds of this depraved demon.

I’ll admit that some aspects of Deadmund’s Quest flat-out impressed me for a motion-controlled game. The cartoony graphics work well with the lighthearted  writing—and when you couple that with some surprisingly competent voice acting by all involved, this game’s definitely aurally and visually pleasing.

That’s why it’s such a shame that, just like many other motion-controlled adventures, Deadmund’s Quest ends up being held back by the very technology that allegedly empowers it. The most disappointing part? It’s designed almost like a pseudo action-dventure game but instead comes off like an on-rails Legend of Zelda. This is almost an oxymoron—you can’t explore your surroundings or talk to townsfolk, and you must always engage enemies head-on. You’re simply herded forward to area after area, where you slash away at more of the necromancer’s skeleton horde with your sword or fire away with your arrows. The lack of gameplay diversity makes progression a dull grind almost immediately—you just won’t find the same variety as in Zelda or other more robust fantasy experiences.

And the tedious grind’s only compounded by major control problems, as too many different actions are assigned to various Move motions. Pointing up lets you drink milk to restore health, pointing down pulls out a grappling hook for jumping over walls, pulling back brings up your shield, and swinging away unsheathes your sword. But since you need to attack some enemies vertically or horizontally, you’ll often find yourself suddenly drinking milk in the middle of battle when you don’t want to, dropping your shield when trying to defend yourself, or hacking away when trying to pull out the grappling hook.

Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest has a wonderful concept, but like so many motion-controlled games before it, this one’s subject to a poorly implemented gimmick—it would’ve been much more enjoyable with both a regular controller and an open world instead.

SUMMARY: A fun, lighthearted medieval adventure held back by Move technology and on-rails design.

  • THE GOOD: Humorous characters and an entertaining plot
  • THE BAD: On-rails action and epic adventure really don’t mix
  • THE UGLY: Undead skeleton monsters everywhere!

SCORE: 6.0

Carnies—now in videogame form!

When it comes to motion-controlled games, the experiences geared at casual audiences usually end up as the most polished, user-friendly products. Of course, you’ve also got the games you typically tire of quickly and don’t pull out again unless you’ve got company over and are looking to goof off—and Carnival Island is a perfect example.

This carnival-midway simulator sees you take control of a male or female avatar tasked with bringing color and life back to long-forgotten Carnival Island. As you play classic carnival and boardwalk offerings like skee-ball, coin toss, and ring toss, you’ll unlock various variations on these classic games. If you do well enough in each variation of the eight carnival contests—over 35 technically different games in all—around the island, you’ll succeed in bringing happiness and joy back to this carny paradise. OK, so the backstory isn’t the freshest idea—though, hey, how many games involving carnies have you ever seen?—but it works as an excuse to play these games without actually having to go to a carnival or boardwalk and drop hard-earned cash on rigged games that you’ll never win. Plus, each stuffed animal you win in Carnival Island will come to life and serve as a cheerleading sidekick. Try winning something like that down at the Jersey Shore!

But even though this one’s clearly targeted at a very casual audience, Carnival Island actually offers a surprising amount of polish. The anime-inspired cutscenes that play as you unlock various sections of the island are actually very pretty—and almost enough to keep you playing once the gimmick of the cheesy carnival games wears off, just so you can see the next one…almost. But, fittingly in a game clearly geared toward the casual audience and children, the bright colors and themes really shine through.

And although the controls are probably the simplest you’ll find in even most casual of casual titles—most of these carnival showdowns are all about flicking your wrist or moving one arm around—they do their job well enough. I mean, who ever broke a sweat playing ring toss? Still, it feels good when you start racking up 100 points per ball in skee-ball or flipping the coin in the cup perfectly each time in coin toss.

The big flaw of Carnival Island—like many of these minigame-based, motion-controlled, gimmick-driven, budget, soon-to-be-bargain-bin titles—is the fact there just isn’t enough replay value. In order to try to appeal to the lowest common denominator, the difficulty’s set to preschool levels, and the rewards are few and far between. So, after a few hours of skee-ball, you’re ready to either hang up your Move controller or move on to a real game. Hey, maybe that’s why the Move is so aptly named—because, after playing most of the games that require it, you want to MOVE on to regular games.

Carnival Island certainly isn’t a bad game, but it’s just not something you’ll end up devoting a ton of time to in the long run, especially if you’re a hardcore gamer. If you’ve got a kid or a niece or nephew who really likes casual games—or maybe a grandparent on the opposite end of the spectrum—well, they probably have a Wii. But if they do, for some reason, have a PS3 and a Move, this might be more their speed.

SUMMARY: This carny simulator’s as simple as can be—but it’s surprisingly fun and definitely helps bolster the Move’s casual appeal.

  • THE GOOD: Responsive controls and fun games
  • THE BAD: Simple—and can get tiresome quickly
  • THE UGLY: The handlebar mustaches of the carniefolk

SCORE: 7.0

Originally Published: December 20, 2010, on NationalLampoon.com and Youtube.com/CGRUndertow

Derek Buck, Kevin Lind, and I from CGR Undertow discuss the potential of motion controllers after their hands on experience with the Wii, PS Move, and Kinect.

Originally Published: November 9, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed John Daly’s Prostroke Golf for the PS3.