The just released Xbox Kinect sold 1 million units in the first 10 days it was available to the public this month. Talk about a grand opening.
The new hardware from Microsoft removes all controllers from your hands and puts the user right into the action. The technology is pretty incredible in that a single bar, which is placed in the appropriate spot above or below the TV, houses within it an RGB camera, depth senor and multiarray microphone. The result is that you, your body shape, face and movements are placed on an in-game avatar. One cool thing about it is, in sports games, your victory celebrations are recreated by the avatar (Moonwalk anyone?).
With a price tag of $149.99, the basic Kinect package comes with the hardware and the game Kinect Adventures. According to reviews, Adventures is a way to get the user comfortable with the new hardware and a fun way to pass the time with friends and family. It has several mini-games that involve you jumping up and down and sidestepping virtual obstacles.
With Microsoft to release a total of 17 games, including sports, dancing and fitness titles by the holiday season, there will be more than enough out there to keep you occupied.
The best part about the Kinect is how user friendly and, dare I say, smart it is. When you come home from work and the Xbox is on, the Kinect will recognize you by your body shape and automatically sign in your avatar. You can also use voice commands, "Xbox, watch ESPN," or hand movements to control everything the system can do.
It is also great because, for Kinect games, you never have to buy another controller. When friends come over, they don't have to worry about bringing one either, which makes it that much easier to have a virtual bowling party at your pad on Friday nights.
The Kinect is also being sold in packages with the Xbox 360 console. The 4 GB package runs $299.99 and the 250 GB sells for $399.99
Like the Nintendo Wii handheld controller, the Playstation Move fits in the palm of your hand and is used to manipulate in-game character movements. The Move features a color-changing, LED-filled sphere on top that communicates with the Playstation Eye, a camera that sits near the TV.
The Eye tracks three-dimensional movement of the orb, allowing absolute precision with the user and the virtual world of whatever game you are playing.
The basic Move package, selling for $99.99, comes with the Move motion controller, the Eye and the Sports Champions game, which features archery, table tennis and, yes, disc golf.
For those who have played disc golf before, you know that the angle of the wrist, the release point and the power put behind a throw are of the utmost importance. A disc golf virtual game would be frowned upon unless it did not recreate these actions perfectly. Thankfully, that is just how precise the Move can be.
By the end of 2010, the Move will have around 30 games compatible with the Move. The other cool thing Sony is doing is providing updates to the Playstation 3 software, which will make old games compatible with the Move controller.
The Playstation Move is also being offered in a package with a 320 GB system for $399.99, which also includes Sports Champions and a standard Dual Shock 3 controller.
Both the Playstation Move and Xbox Kinect are Sony's and Microsoft's answer to an until-recently monopolized portion of the gaming market. The Wii has been unbelievably successful since it was released in November 2006, selling approximately 75 million systems. That's a lot of Mario.
For the holiday season, Nintendo is harking back to a couple of its most successful franchises from previous systems. The one that is sure to catch the eye of Nintendo fans is a new version of Goldeneye 007, released on Nov. 2. Previously released for the Nintendo 64, Goldeneye brought a new age of multiplayer console gaming to the market. Countless hours were spent in college dorm rooms and homes across the country playing a seemingly endless combination of multiplayer warfare. The new version does not disappoint. With new levels, options for multiplayer online play, the game also features game play, which should not disappoint Nintendo 64 fans.
Nintendo is also releasing a new adventure for Donkey Kong, an update to the Super Nintendo game, entitled Donkey Kong Country Returns. To be released on Nov. 21, Donkey Kong Country Returns hopes to capitalize on game play mechanics that made the previous version so popular and loved by fans. Yes, Diddy Kong returns as Donkey's partner in crime.
With a price-tag of $199.99, the Nintendo Wii is a great gift for anyone in the family. Featuring titles like Wii Fit and the New Super Mario Brothers, the Wii really does offer fun for any age group.