Event Coverage: E3 2004: The Hardware of E3
E3 is known not only for its immense collection of games, but also for the eclectic hardware found on the show floor. Sarah Warner highlights the vast hardware offerings from this year's convention.
E3 is a stuttering spectacle of noise, flash and over-stimulation of the senses. After sifting through the hype, I managed to pick out some especially interesting, sometimes over-the-top hardware, peripherals and accessories. While some may prove useful or add style at your next LAN party, others are simply gimmicky, frivolous or downright bizarre.
Fit for gaming
It looks like the gaming industry has gotten hip to the obesity problem in America and used it as a marketing gimmick for the sedentary lifestyle of gaming with several new products that claim calorie busting as a primary sell point.
Hanaro Dream, Inc.
Resembling a microphone stand, the Action Stick comes equipped with motion sensors on the stand (jumping), stem (kicking) and top (punching, ducking). Motion is transposed in video game form on a TV (via Playstation 2), where two people can engage in martial combat without suffering pesky bloody noses or broken thumbs. In practice, however, using the Fighting Stick in a match proved less strategic than expected. I managed to beat the company's in-house fighter by wildly flailing my arms around and jumping up and down excessively. Perhaps I was just lucky. The Action Stick claims to be a bigger calorie buster than an hour's worth of swimming and jogging. While these claims might be hard to confirm in a short demonstration, it certainly beats sitting on the couch feeling one's ass grow. The manufacture's representative said the Action Stick is proving very popular with parents who are looking to get their lethargic offspring involved in more healthful activities.
Look for the Action Stick to be available in North America shortly for a MSRP of $89.
The Powergrid Fitness Kilowatt System
Powergrid Fitness, Inc.
The Powergrid Fitness Kilowatt System poses as a cure for obesity by requiring vigorous muscular control to be translated into video game control. Essentially it is a shoulder-height steel resistance rod that replaces the two joysticks on a standard hand-held controller. It measures force rather than motion. The sensors are adjustable and the system comes with a waist high backrest for support. The fact that it reacts to force as opposed to motion puts a damper on the accuracy in your game, however. I imagine adjusting to using a body-size joystick apparatus might be a bit of a challenge. It is a step in an interesting direction, though, towards less-sedentary gaming for personal use.
At $699, the Powergrid is aimed at those in the market for serious exercise equipment. The Powergrid is a flexible device, compatible with PC, MAC, PS2, Xbox, and Game Cube. To see the Powergrid in action, check out the videos at the product website.
Joysticks, mouse and consoles, oh my!
MonsterGecko has taken the PC mouse and offered a solution to the muscle fatigue problem of first-person shooter games with the MonsterGecko PistolMouse FPS. The PistolMouse is in the shape of a pistol with a palm rest at the base. Fully equipped with customizable trigger buttons (fire, zoom or run), scroll buttons (crouch and reload) and an optical sensor for fast wrist movement response, the design of this "mouse" offers a comfortable alternative because motion comes from the wrist instead of the elbow. The best part about this mouse is that it is also ambidextrous. The scroll buttons are located on both sides so you can choose your weapon whether you are a lefty or a righty. The PistolMouse FPS lists for $70 and is compatible with the PC and MAC.
RTR-720 MARK II USB Gaming Mouse
Good Work Systems
This mouse is an excellent LAN party accessory. The RTR-720 is sort of an odd-shaped little gadget - completely circular with seven buttons, four of which are illuminated with purple, blue and pink. The rotary grip at the base offers an eight-way scroll for changing directions. The key features of this mouse are the tracking, (1600 dpi!) and the ability to personalize the functions, settings and sensitivity while still in the game. RTR-720 Mark II contains its own CPU, memory and software and you can save 30 sets of configuration instructions. The buttons react differently depending on how they are pressed: click, double click or normal press. Very fancy!
Cyborg Evo Wireless PC Joystick
What I liked most about the Cyberg Evo is that it is wireless, works from up to 30 feet away and is ambidextrous. The handle is also adjustable to fit all hand sizes for maximum comfort and dexterity. It comes with two shift buttons, 4 base buttons and five fire buttons.