Last week, I attended a “Project Natal” preview event hosted by Xbox 360. Since I could bring a couple of people with me (along with my family), I had Mom in the City reviewer Lesley’s husband – Marc (a huge gamer fan) – and the son (“R”) of another mom in the city come with us.
Basically, we had an hour to test out a prototype of the new system (the real name has not been revealed yet) that will be available this holiday season. Before it was our chance to play, someone on the Xbox team told us about current Xbox features. I was already aware of the video (Netflix, etc.) and music streaming capabilities. The social aspect of Xbox play was interesting to hear about – not enough to make me switch gaming systems though. (Both Marc and “R” have Xboxes in their homes. Marc mentioned that the social features were great because it allowed his kids to play video games with other family members who live far away from NYC.)
I was there to see if the “you are the controller” claim was true. The main reason that I initially bought the Wii was the active aspect. I didn’t want couch potato gaming. One thing that Marc (who also has a Wii) mentioned is that after a while the kids learn to play most of the Wii games without using a lot of motion. (It’s true. Michael knocks grown men out in Wii Sport’s boxing without even breaking a sweat!) Let me just write, if the prototype is a true indicator of the final product, people will not be able to fake motion with “Project Natal”. All five of us who played that day broke a sweat.
Besides the activity level, the game was fun. With the real game, you have the option to play together (cooperatively). We could only play in competition mode – which made it even more fun. I won round 1 (yeah!). Marc and the kids (Michael and “R” combined to play one game) tied for round 2. It was so cute to see the kids doing so well. (We were a competitive bunch…no one let them win!) Everyone was moving their bodies to hit the balls that were on screen. Michael had me laughing the most though, because he was moving like James Brown – he even went down on one knee to get one of the balls. Hilarious. When we left, the crew said that it seemed like we had “the most fun” so far. (I think that was their code words for saying that we were the loudest. “Go Marc!” “Go Reggie!”) In any event, everyone in our group had a great time. You can watch Marc’s video of the event here on YouTube and see a little bit of Michael’s dancing below:
The result: “Project Natal” might very well be the Coleman family Christmas gift this year. Why? The controllers are easy to use…because you really are the controller. (Besides the couch potato aspect, the other thing that had turned me off to the original Xbox was that the controllers just look too complicated. I’m a simple woman who likes simple, easy to use things.) If ease of use and activity levels are important to you in your family gaming systems, you might want one too…
Thanks to Xbox 360 for the invitation to the preview event. At the event, I was given a Mino HD FlipCam to take video and such. I gave it to Marc for two reasons. One – he was there and doesn’t have a Flip (sometimes you just luck out by being present!). Two – his enthusiasm made a fun event turn into a hilarious (in a good way) one!