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Tycho / on Mon, Oct 18 2010 at 12:00 am

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Wool On The Horizon

Kirby’s Epic Yarn is effective, not merely as an electronic entertainment product but also as a time machine.

Videogames often have “physics” of one kind or another, but they’re “big” physics - huge men staggering through marble, the wake of their rage and obliteration sending hunks of their world in all directions.  It’s no exaggeration to say that you’ll be shocked by what this game does, on this tiny, computationally insignificant machine, to create a story that takes place in a living storybook.  It’s one thing to see war ravaged stone or superconducting alien alloys, we may approximate them in our minds, but a world made entirely of surfaces and textures everyone knows by heart - denim, yarn, cotton - that fold and warp precisely as we know them to invites the player effortlessly.  These living fabrics get way, way down in you, sprouting at some place before cognition, exerting primal force.

I would love to live in a universe where its simple lessons about human play (to say nothing of its DIY aesthetic) swarmed like benevolent locusts, devouring the scabs and heaped cruft that make up all our holy preconceptions.

Having the Wiimote in hand again, just as the full Kinect lineup comes into view, is instructive.

The Wii is generally considered to be, well, the Wii - it’s virtually a shorthand for third party shovelware.  Even with this reputation, if you look back to its launch you’ll see a lineup with fault lines lurching through every type of player - with a new Zelda game to make an indelible case to the gaming stalwart.  That’s not happening with the Kinect launch - there’s nothing you could call outreach, no authentic or even nominal “bones” to what you might think of as the typical 360 owner.

Is that bad?

The Wii had no choice but to cast a wide net; its novel controller and its platform are synonymous.  But there there are already tens of millions of 360s in the wild, serviced by third party offerings and homegrown notions like Gears, Fable, and the Haloz.  But outside of a few TGS announcements, they haven’t made any kind of broad entreaty for the peripheral.

Is that bad?

I’m on record as saying that Kinect will succeed to the precise extent that gamers hate it, not because I want to believe that or even because I can prove it, but because it is the dramatically appropriate outcome.  You would be surprised how often this strange law holds.


there ain’t no devil

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