As technology improves, you can bet video games will take advantage of these advances. We evolved from cartridges to CDs to Blu-Ray and now everything can be downloaded or streamed nowadays. No one has to trip over those long cables on the floor thanks to wireless controllers. Graphics have evolved from pixelated blobs on the Atari to photo-realistic polygons on PCs and modern consoles.
But there are those instances in history when developers did try to use emerging technology in their games. Unfortunately, the tech just wasn’t good enough to make their vision into reality. That wouldn’t be the case now, though. Well, for these games, anyway…
Lifeline (PlayStation 2)
Lifeline is… interesting. It’s a game that was released on the Sony PlayStation 2 that required the microphone because, instead of controlling Rio, the main character, using the DualShock controller, you issued voice commands to her. It’s a game that I actually played and finished but it took me a long while to do. That’s because the voice recognition only works half the time!
That’s the fault of either the programmers of Lifeline or, more likely, the PlayStation 2’s specs. It may have been a powerhouse for its time but its highly touted “Emotion Engine” was still limited and couldn’t handle the nuances of voice commands and, well, words and syllables. This definitely made Lifeline a pain to play through.
This shouldn’t be a problem these days with even apps like Siri and Alexa able to comprehend speech to an astounding degree. If Lifeline were made today… it would still be a slow paced game but at least controlling Rio wouldn’t be so frustrating!
Steel Battalion series (Xbox and Xbox 360)
Ever wanted to pilot a huge mech but feel like the standard Xbox or Xbox 360 controller was too limited? Well, the Steel Battalion series is for you! The first two games of the series required you purchasing a honking large rig. The “controller” had two sticks, a throttle, three foot pedals and a whole mess of switches, buttons and knobs to play with! Seeing that the game and the required rig required was expensive, Steel Battalion was generally a niche game that appealed to only rich kids who really wanted to pilot a mech but still wasn’t rich enough to actually buy a mech themselves.
When the next entry was brought to the Xbox 360, they ditched the rig and decided to simulate the controls using the Kinect. This was a noble idea as the original Steel Battalion controller made purchasing the game a hard sell. Unfortunately, like Lifeline’s voice command gimmick, the Kinect just wasn’t responsive enough for actual gameplay. It just couldn’t recognize your arm motions accurately enough, rendering it virtually unplayable.
I’m not saying that motion controls are accurate enough today for the Xbox 360 version of Steel Battalion to work. I’m also not stating that making a new full-sized Steel Battalion controller would be cheap either. So, what would work? Oddly enough, Steel Battalion might work… on the Nintendo Switch using Labo technology!
Nintendo Labo may have this kid-friendly atmosphere around it but that doesn’t mean that it should just stick to making childish cardboard controllers. Imagine if each Steel Battalion came with instruction pieces to assemble your very own Steel Battalion rig! It may not be as sturdy but it’ll definitely bring down the price.
Enemy Zero (Sega Saturn)
Not many people played Enemy Zero for a couple of reasons. First, it came out on the Sega Saturn. I know exactly one person who had a Sega Saturn as it had the dubious honor of coming out at the same time as the first Sony PlayStation. Basically, hardly anyone bought a Sega Saturn. Second, Enemy Zero is a weird game. It’s kind of like a survival horror game but set in space. Oh, and the enemies are invisible and you can only track them using sound.
While fighting the invisible enemies isn’t the crux of the game (it’s actually more adventure Myst-like), the invisible enemies do heighten the fear element. As you can’t see them, the only way to know how close they are is via an audible ping. The closer the alien is, the frequency and pitch of the pining increases.
Granted, the pinging system worked fine for its time and Enemy Zero got a lot of accolades for upping the horror element via this gimmick. The thing is, Enemy Zero could be so much more frightening today. It would be incredibly scary and atmospheric if Enemy Zero used things like Dolby surround sound or even 3D sound techniques. It could even be used to make it seem you were surrounded by several invisible aliens as there would be different pings all around you! Wouldn’t that be scary?
BONUS: Yoostar: You’re in the Movies
I hate to admit it… but I really wanted to buy Yoostar: You’re in the Movies when it came out! As someone who loves watching movies, the idea of inserting myself into some classic scenes from my favorite flicks of all time was fantastic. The only reason why I didn’t get it is because I didn’t own a Kinect or a PlayStation Eye. I was even tempted to buy the PlayStation Eye but I didn’t like the idea of hooking up a camera to my PlayStation just for one game. I mean, look at the promo video for it!
Thankfully, I didn’t get Yoostar because the game looks like balls! I honestly believed the bullcrap that everything would look so seamless. In reality, everything comes out very blocky and you can really notice that you’re just inserted into the scene.
That being said, technology has made it so much easier to create digital fakery. But I don’t want to see Yoostar appearing on any consoles. It would be much more suited as a cellphone game. Heck, I believe it would be a huge hit, considered most people already have smartphones! The only problem is all the annoying videos idiots would be posting on their social media sites with their super unfunny takes on popular scenes… you know what? Forget I even suggested it.
What other gimmick games of the past would work today? Let me know what they are in the comments section below!