Motion sensors, 3-D games grab limelight at Tokyo Game Show

by Kazuaki Nagata

Japan’s biggest video game show kicked off Thursday at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba, with motion-sensor game systems and three-dimensional display images drawing the most attention.

At the four-day Tokyo Game Show, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. and Microsoft Corp. presented game systems that let users control the action with their entire bodies, in an apparent response to Nintendo’s Wii hand-held motion-sensor controller.

At the Sony booth, many tried out a wireless remote controller, PlayStation Move, that detects the user’s movements via both a hand-held sensor and a camera.

PS Move, which is played on the PlayStation 3, enables users to “get in the space of the video game and play intuitively,” said Hiroshi Kawano, SCE Japan president, who added that Sony aims to attract novice gamers. The controller goes on sale in October.

Microsoft Corp. is also stealing the limelight with its newest motion control system, called Kinect, for the firm’s Xbox 360 game console. The system goes on sale in November.

Unlike Wii and PS Move, the Kinect sensor system for the Xbox 360 machine doesn’t require a hand-held controller. A camera, depth sensor and multiarray microphone set up in front of the users detect the movements and location of the players, and match the characters’ actions in the video game.

Many trying out the system moved their bodies up and down and even jumped to test the results.

Some thought the system left room for improvement.

“I enjoyed playing, but I think the Wii is better” at detecting movements, said Yusuke, a 23-year-old man from Tokyo who only gave his given name.

He said the Kinect seemed to have trouble keeping up with fast movements.

Game makers are also trying to take advantage of the growing popularity of 3-D TVs.

Sony, tapping the powerful graphic performance of its PlayStation 3 and technologies for 3-D televisions, is an industry leader in developing the 3-D video game market. Sony is showing off several 3-D titles for visitors to try.

“It was very fun to play, but it could make you dizzy if you play for a long time,” said a woman who tried out “Ridgeracer 7″ wearing 3-D glasses.

“Unlike 2-D, it makes the scene really come alive, and I felt like I was driving a real car,” she said, adding that she thinks 3-D gaming will take off.

Other popular attractions included video games for Apple’s iPad tablet computer and iPhone, as well as those for conventional cell phones.

The trade show, which runs until Sunday, is open to the general public on Saturday and Sunday.