Satoru Iwata said he wants the next Nintendo DS iteration to detect motion, but you don’t need new hardware for that. There’s a motion controlled DSiWare game called Katamuction out in Japan right now.
How does the Nintendo DSi know when you’re tilting it? Hi Corporation licensed software from Realeyes 3D that uses the DSi’s camera to sense motion. Let’s examine how Hi Games used the Motion Cortex code in the four mini-games that make up Katamuction.
Dino World is probably the most iconic game. To avoid being a dinosaur’s dinner you have to tilt the Nintendo DSi in the direction an arrow points. A quick flick to the right, left, up or down is all you need to do to dodge the jaws of a dinosaur. Position is relative so you don’t have to center the DSi after each tilt. After the safari explorer escapes you unlock a new mode where the tables are turned and you become the dinosaur. The game still controls the same way.
Mr. Bear’s River has the best integration of Motion Cortex. In this game, you’re a bear and the goal is to catch fish for hungry bear cubs. The bottom screen has fish and you tilt the DSi to change what Mr. Bear looks at. When a fish is in the center of the screen, press the D-pad to grab it with your left paw. Well, that’s if it’s swimming towards your left paw. If it’s moving in the other direction you need to use the face buttons (ABXY) to grab it with the bear’s right paw. Mr. Bear’s River is simple and smooth. The camera picks up and tracks movements fast enough that it’s possible to chase fish.
Home Delivery Helicopter is the weakest game in Katamuction. The way you control the game is unique – you tilt the DS left/right to increase speed and up/down to change the the helicopter’s altitude. While you’re flying, there are clocks to collect that increase your play time by five seconds and skulls that decrease it. It works, the gyroscopic system is nifty, but Home Delivery Helicopter just isn’t really fun to play.
Ghost Detector, the final game, doesn’t use motion control. It’s an augmented reality game that adds ghosts to the “real world”. Using the camera, Ghost Detector live captures wherever you’re are as the background and stamps ghosts on top of it. The goal of the game is to shoot all of them, which usually requires spinning in a circle. Ghosts like to sneak up behind you. A handy ghost radar lets you know where they are.
Since Katamuction uses the DSi’s outer camera to sense motion there is a way to “break” the game. Covering the camera with your finger obviously disrupts it. Solid color backgrounds, say a white wall, also confuse the game. Since the background, even after turning the DSi, is still white Katamuction doesn’t realize you moved the DSi.
It’s easy to call Katamuction gimmicky or a well polished tech demo. Actually, that’s not a bad description and as a tech demo Katamuction is also a look at how a motion controlled DS game could work.