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Metal Gear, Mega Man and Yakuza Creators Talk Up Project Natal

Microsoft has Japan's finest creators speak about the potential for motion controls.

Sony shows off Project Natal's rival technology at the Tokyo Game Show yesterday.

Sony issued a first blow yesterday in Japan's upcoming motion control wars with a Tokyo Game Show showcase of actual product for its motion wand device, which is due for release next Spring.

Microsoft's response came shortly after during a stage event titled Xbox 360 Creator Panel Discussion. Taking part in the panel were Hideo Kojima, Toshihiro Nagoshi and Keiji Inafune, known respectively for Metal Gear, Yakuza and Mega Man.

As reported at Famitsu.com, the talk session was hosted by Microsoft Home & Entertainment division manager Takashi Sensui. Sensui asked a series of Natal-related questions to the three famous creators. While none detailed specific projects, they did share their views on the potential for motion controls through the hands-free Natal device.

The three were first asked for their reaction upon initially seeing Natal in motion some months back.

Inafune recalled being called over to Seattle during a busy period. He was surprised upon seeing the device, as it was far beyond what he'd initially been expecting to see. "I immediately felt that I'd like to try it," he recalled, and was filled with thoughts of the form "With this in hand, I can do these types of things."

Kojima also flew to Seattle, and he too was shocked with what he saw. "How much shock? The same shock as when we went from 2D to 3D, or when first playing Famicom," said Kojima. While he said that this type of motion technology had been researched heavily in universities and industry, he'd never seen it come this far.

Asked for general impressions of the device, both Kojima and Inafune praised the device for not doing away with the controller entirely. It's okay to use the controller and it's okay to not use the controller, said Kojima. It's okay for there to be a bat, or for there to not be a bat (I think he may be referring to, for instance, a baseball game where one could use an actual bat peripheral or just fake it). Having this much breadth is unprecedented, said Kojima.

"When I first saw it [Natal]," said Kojima, "I thought, 'I want to make my future game in this way,' but beyond that I don't think it ends with games. Perhaps our life style will completely change. I think games will be the first to use this technology, but the Natal technology has the kind of power to change our lives in the future."

Asked about how Natal will contribute to game expansion, Inafune said that games have gradually evolved, but control systems have evolved much slower than graphics. "For example, let's say an extremely beautiful girl appears. You can only control with your fingers, and thus can only call out to her with your fingers." Inafune belives that with Natal, people will be able to insert their feelings directly into games. When you're excited in a game (as in the above example), you'd traditionally be asked to press an "I'm Excited" button. With Natal, there's no need for the button.

Kojima seems particularly excited about Natal, as he said "With Natal, interactive entertainment will rise a level. I believe those who did not play games until now will play. Because you can play if you have your body and the system. I believe it will become casual, but I believe there is a chance for more advanced expression if future core gamers use Natal."

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