It’s been tough to muster anything resembling rabid excitement over Sony and Microsoft’s sudden mad dash to keep up with the motion-sensing Joneses. The blame for that, of course, lies with the companies. At this year’s trade shows, did Sony really expect people to do a double-take over all its subtle variations on pop-the-balloon-style demos? Nevertheless, once in your living room, the PlayStation Move and its handful of launch titles hint at what the controller is capable of.
It helps that setup couldn’t be simpler: Plug the PlayStation Eye into the USB port, press the PS button on the dildo-looking contraption with a shining clown-nose sensor, and you’re ready to rock. Skeptics have labeled the Move as Sony’s version of the Wii Remote, but that isn’t the case. Although your arm will still get strained during prolonged play sessions, it’s immediately apparent that the Move is more sophisticated: Its ability to sense depth and to recreate your subtle wrist rotations more faithfully makes the Wii Remote look like child’s play.
Even bearing in mind that launch titles are usually forgiven for being little more than overblown tech demos, the Move’s initial offerings still leave a bit to be desired—especially since they can be traced back to their Wii counterparts. For example, there’s little need for both Racquet Sports and also the superior Sports Champions, which runs the full athletic gamut from dueling to Frisbee golf. The high-def Tamagotchi clone EyePet is adorable and frustrating: The Move’s impressive accuracy necessitates awkward repositioning of your wrist on the ground, and it feels out of step when your pet obliviously scampers over your knee and the rug at the same time, as if it’s all the same surface. Kung Fu Rider, an oddball gem of the launch lineup, is a bit like Crazy Taxi in an office chair, but ultimately sags under its unnatural controls. And for whatever reason, it seems that all Move titles that require you to stand a good 8 feet from your TV are then beholden to reduce all important onscreen text to microscopic size.
But these are the glorious awkward days of growing pains for a new wrinkle on a long-established system. The Move’s true test lies in how it changes previously released games (like Heavy Rain and Resident Evil 5), and how it works with the original titles designed with it in mind. For now? It’s a coy, funny-looking hunk of plastic with loads of intriguing potential.