Explaining Project Natal's mantra of fun and accessibility can't be the easiest task in the world, especially since it has to be done while ricocheting about in front of a motion-detecting camera. And despite that, creative director Kudo Tsunoda makes it look easy, calmly elaborating on Natal's goals and features while he dances about in a room full of journalists.
We've heard it before: Natal is Microsoft's sledgehammer, swung straight into the walls that years of button pressing and circle strafing have slowly erected around traditional gaming. We've seen similar attacks from Nintendo's Wii, as well as from the massive genre of the Instrument Protagonist, but Microsoft is hoping for much more than a dent. In the wall. Do you get it? It's like a metaphor and stuff.
The bizarre problem with Natal in its early state is that it, um, works. The technology is clearly functional -- heck, it's vaguely magical -- which makes the absence of truly compelling software almost immediately disappointing. Anyone can simply hop in front of the camera, which never seems to stop and ask, "Who are you and where did you come from -- and why are you so fat compared to the last person?" You're recognized within seconds and can start playing a moment later. And then you slap flying balls.
It's a bit of an unfair demand considering the product's not due until 2010, but the impatience is testament to the convincing nature of the technology itself. In the meantime, Microsoft is exploring Natal's tricks in two existing games: Beautiful Katamari and Space Invaders Extreme.