I remember late in 2006. I was salivating. The Wii had been announced, we already knew about its amazing motion controls. The prospect of 1:1 motion in video games was one I was keen to experience. I believed that the Wii would be the console for first person shooters. I was captivated by the idea of not having to buy a peripheral to play Samba De Amigo, one of my favorite Sega Dreamcast titles. I was over the moon with the idea that light gun shooters were going to see a renaissance. So what happened?
The dream was over.
To begin with, the Wii controls were not very accurate. Even playing simple games where you were tasked with shooting balloons from the sky (forgot the game name), one could tell that either everyone they knew had a rare form of palsy, or the motion control was far from 1:1. It didn’t help that even 1st party titles used motion controls as tacked on “alternate button presses.” In Zelda the waggle was used to swing the sword. The movement in no way correlated with the direction of the waggle. In Mario Galaxy, the second controller was used to collect star bits and waggle used to launch Mario, but again, these additions seemed tacked on and were not an integral part of the gameplay.
Super Mario Galaxy 97
Super Mario Galaxy 2 97
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess 95
World of Goo 94
Super Smash Bros. Brawl 93
Top 5 games as ranked by metacritic.
The top five games, with the exception of World of Goo, do not make great use of the motion controls.
Where I stop picking on the Wii and get to the point
The problem isn’t the Wii, the problem is that the Wii sold a bajillion (not a real figure) units. Sony and Microsoft saw this and thought that the reason was motion controls (it was and it wasn’t). Enter the Kinect and the PS Move. While I cannot vouch for the Kinect (although looking at this list I'd guess it was a pretty similar state of affairs. Further Proof.), the PS eye had approximately one game worth playing, Child of Eden (margin of error plus or minus Sorcery).
Don’t take my word for it. Sorcery sold 50,000 units. Child of Eden fared a little better, but not much. You can Google sales figures for your favorite XBOX Kinect game and prove me wrong that the two off Wii brands motion controllers weren’t failures.
Even Wii eventually
admitted their mistake released an “update” to the Wii controllers to make them more usable in the form of Wii Motion Plus. But for me, at that point, it was too little too late. My Wii streamed Netflix and that was about it. Eventually I’d return to it for a brief period when Project Rainfall was a thing and The Last Story was the best Final Fantasy game Square never made. But that’s another story (gamer’s ability to get crap done and Kickstarter: HEROES).
Why motion controls ultimately don’t work
Because let’s admit it. You just got home after work. You are tired, you still have to make dinner, finish up some cleaning around the house and now you’re ready to sit down and….move? I’m not saying that motion controls don’t have a place or that every gamer is a fat, lazy, slob. I’m saying that sometimes, the last thing we want to do is stand up and jump around in order to get Wario to collect some coins.
I loved the Wii and had motion controls worked better from the get go, maybe I’d be writing what a rampant success they had been. However, with Kinect being vilified as the second coming of Lucifer, and Move not seemingly an integral part of Sony’s next gen, I think it’s safe to say that motion controls were more on the negative side than the positive.