Friday, 6 June 2008

A bit of a rant about controllers and peripherals

Chris Plante posted an article called "Problematic Peripherals" about all the extra kit that seems to come along with games these days. He's got a point - where exactly are you supposed to find space to put it all? And what sort of place are you supposed to be living in to have space to play things like Wii Fit or god forbid, Rock Band?

For the Wii alone I seem to have collected two wimmotes and nunchucks, at least one plastic guitar (two if you count the one I've borrowed from the department), a Mario Kart steering wheel and four GameCube controllers (that I seem to have acquired on long term loan). The funny thing about Mario Kart is that I found the the steering wheel to be the most difficult choice of controller. Playing it with a group of friends the other week, it seemed like the more traditional GameCube controllers were easiest, though one us seemed quite happy using the Wiimote and nunchuck combination. Maybe it's because the older controllers are just the ones I've had more experience with, but it still seems a little odd that the option that appeared to be the most intuitive, wasn't in practice. I just don't get what the advantage was supposed to be, and considering it's essentially a bit of plastic you just stick the Wiimote in, I'm not going to be buying any extra ones for my friends.

You see, besides the issue of where you are supposed to store all this equipment, it's also worth asking how you are supposed to pay for all of it? Nintendo are really pushing their periperals - for the Wii, you can get a Sharp shooter, a Light Sword and tennis rackets to name but a few. With things like the Zapper that comes with Link's Crossbow training, it's not even clear whether you'll be able to use the peripheral for anything else. Further, it's a little confusing which controllers you can use with what games as there is also the Classic Controller and the option to download retro games through the Virtual Console.

As consumers, are we really expected to buy every add on we can get? I think what really annoys me about the whole thing is how much emphasis companies like Nintendo have placed recently on the social side of gaming but at the same time they only provide one set of controllers. Plus, it's not exactly cheap get the set of four (don't forget you need a Wiimote and a Nunchuck) that would allow you to take full advantage of multi-player gaming. I'm pretty sure the same is true of the PS3 and Xbox 360 as well. Anybody else remember the days when you could buy a Sega MegaDrive with two control pads?

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