Wii Sports was a mirage. At first glance it seemed the perfect sports game, all action and technique, no button-mashing. A few hours in, though, and you saw it for what it was: incredibly primitive motion control that let you essentially cheat your way to victory by flicking your wrists instead of hurling your body.
Diabolical Pitch, a game I played last night at Grasshopper’s pre-TGS party (and which was formerly known as Codename D), is just like Wii Sports. Only it’s for Kinect, and has blood everywhere.
What I played of DP before my arms gave way and my shoulder collapsed showed a game that, if not being able to improve on the limitations of motion-based sports gaming, can at least tackle the presentation with typical Grasshopper Manufacture flair.
You play a baseball player who has to pitch (and sometimes bat) to save his life against hordes of demonic funpark creatures. This is played out in simple shooting gallery fashion: the creatures shamble towards you and you pitch baseballs to knock them down.
Brief breaks are had with special attacks, either from certain enemies or from your own charged power meter, which involve changing stance to “catch” a hurtling projectile, “swing” a magic bat or leap over things being thrown at you.
It’s supposedly tracking how fast you swing your arm, but when I actually swung with a bit of venom, the game spazzed out and lost track of me. And while it was supposedly tracking which direction my arm was aiming at, half the time it got this wrong too.
So, yeah, same old problems with motion-gaming. What was cool about DP, though, was the dressing: it’s as cool as you’d expect from Grasshopper, full of ridiculous special attacks and candy-coloured special effects.
This didn’t ease my pain, especially the physical kind, but it at least made it easier to bear. Especially since it does something other Kinect games have so far failed to do: make itself, and you in the process, look a little badass.
You can see some video of the game in action here.