Cancelled Natal project sheds some light on peripheral’s mechanics

We’ve heard plenty of buzz about Microsoft’s upcoming longevity-adding and ground-breaking new peripheral Natal. Everything from suits saying how much the hardcore gamers will love it, to cryptic job postings has been mentioned. Well… we haven’t heard too much on just what ideas are being thrown around, or how it’s going for developers. However, some recent design documents on a canceled Natal game by independent developer Arkedo show an interesting side of the machine that, while not shortcomings exactly, do show some new challenges to the development of new games for the peripheral.

The title was 2 Finger Heroes, where you play as a pair of fingers in a side-scrolling beat-’em-up where your protagonist is itself, and would be controlled by, yes, a pair of fingers. As one can imagine, you would move, jump, and kick with easily imagined motions of the fingers, but, and the design docs acknowledge this, your fingers would surely be tired of constantly kicking “waves of (really stupid) enemies” and so other mechanics are in place, such as swapping hands, folding arms to affect the environment, and what appears to be vehicle interactions with your whole hand.

It looks like something that could have been a whole lot of fun. Alas, the motions proved possibly too specific for the device to be able to recognize, among other, less-considered obstacles, as described by one of the developers, “One of the design flaws of this, apart from the fact that it demanded some very precise pattern recognition from the Natal system, is that it would have been HELL to localize,” the developer wrote. “Yup, what can be understood as the victory sign in France, could be a terrible insult in the UK, for instance. And we are not even talking about Italian. Oh, the possibilities…”

Hopefully, not all developers hit walls like these. On the flip side, if more ideas like this are flying around development studios looking to design games around Natal, it certainly makes the later part of the year a more intriguing one.

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