And another thing: Kinect compacting

Ladies go nuts for Kinect

Wooo! Kinect's coming! Aren't you excited? I am!

Unless you’ve been locked in an isolation ward for the past five months or so, you’ll know that next month heralds the arrival of Kinect, Microsoft’s hand-free motion controller. A lot of things have been written about Kinect – a lot of praise and a lot of smack – but none of the articles I’ve read have addressed one of the more interesting questions about the device.

Most of what’s been written has focussed either on its potential (which is immense) or the fact that it has no titles which will appeal to core gamers. While that may be true about the launch game – although I’ve spoken to Kudo Sunoda and he emphatically stated that Kinectimals has quite a bit of core content – it ignores what happened in Tokyo at the Xbox 360 briefing last month.

At TGS, Microsoft unveiled a lengthy list of hard-core titles for Kinect from some of the Japanese games industry’s biggest hitters – Yukio Futatsugi, Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Suda 51 among them – which are set for release in 2011.  They all look pretty good from where I’m sitting – mind you, I’m actually looking forward to having a go on Kinectimals (shaddap, okay!) so I’m obviously easy to please. Still, the TGS briefing did raise one interesting question that I haven’t yet seen anyone address.

One of the titles that is being made for the hands-free motion sensor is Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour from Capcom. I’m not sure at this stage whether this is an entirely new game in the series or a port of the last Steel Battalion title for the Xbox, but whatever the case, here’s what I’m battling to get my head around. Kinect is a hands-free interface for Xbox 360 which looks like this:

Kinect Controller

No controller = more fun, the Kinect way

The controller for Steel Battalion on the Xbox looked like this:

Steel Battalion Controller

Serious stick (and button and dial and pedal) action: Steel Battalion's Control set-up

Right, have a look at the top image again. No buttons. No joysticks. No dials. No pedals. No flashing lights, nothing. Now look back at the second image.

How in the name of God is the Steel Battalion controller going to be adapted for Kinect? And if it isn’t, how is Steel Battalion going to work? And if it is, once again, how is that going to work? Have the Steel Battalion Mech’s become touchscreen? Are they powered by Apple? Is the game a euphemism for how Steve Jobs is taking over the world? Whatever the case, if it works, the compacting of that interface into Kinect will be at least as impressive as the final game.

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