Sunday, May 23, 2010

Swing along

Finally, a replacement for Wii, and it comes loaded with your PC

The ever-growing popularity of the Nintendo Wii seems to have set the cat among the pigeons, and it's only for the good of the consumers. While Microsoft has already done its bit in the direction with Project Natal, HP has taken motion sensor gaming to a mass level with Swing, a controller it will pack with all its Pavillion Desktop PCs in the future.
Well, the beauty of the Swing is that it will work on a regular desktop or laptop, provided you are using Windows Vista or above — I just couldn’t find the programme after I installed it on my 2004 vintage XP desktop. Though HP thinks its best suited for Windows 7, I got it to run on a Vista laptop with no trouble. Once you load the programme and the games you want from the DVD provided in the box, plug in the USB dongle which acts as the Bluetooth receiver for the handhold. The programme takes a few seconds to recognise the handhold, which shakes a bit to show it’s locked in to the computer. 
The Swing marries advanced wireless Bluetooth, which is easy to connect, reliable and uses lesser power than standard devices, with an accelerometer and gyroscope to implement the accurate motion recognition and motion tracking algorithm.
The unit, with a very comfortable shape which sort of snuggles into your hand, has a toggle near the thumb and an ‘A’ button — like the left click on a mouse — just below it. On the rear of the unit, also called the air mouse, is the switch-like B button which you will be using a lot for the games. There is also a Bluetooth button, to link to the PC, and a menu button at the bottom of the unit.

You can use the handhold to select the game of your choice — the box comes with nine free games — from those listed and proceed to play. The Swing can take multiple players, but you will need to buy more hand units for that.
The user interface and feel of the games reminded me a lot of the Wii, and at times it felt like a dumped-down version of the same. Still, without much additional paraphernalia, the Swing was able to recreate the gaming experience which most of us have started thinking was synonymous to Nintendo.

I tried my hand at bowling but hurt my foot as the ball kept falling on my toes and not on the track. I don't know what I was doing wrong, but nothing went right with this game for me — my first shot at the bowling game on Wii was a huge success.
Then I shifted to tennis where I fared considerably better, but that was before I realised that all players have just two shots whatever you try to make them do — the Wii tries to recreate your hand movements better. But the visuals here were much better than Nintendo.

My best game, however, was reserved for fishing — I’ve always been good at it — where I kept hooking the biggest fish, rewriting the record books. It helped that I was the first person to make any sort of record with this game. I also overlooked the fact that this game needs the skill factor of a toddler to win.
But with this game I realised that motion sensing was almost real-time and every tiny nibble on the bait was relayed to the handhold as a small vibration, as if to tell me it was time to pull.
I fooled around with the rod just to see how it was responding and was happy that every little movement made it to the screen.

That doesn’t mean there were no issues. At times, during the tennis game, the arrow kept getting stuck to some parts of the screen and I had to literally peel it off. This could have been because I was playing on despite the error message that my computer was not compatible for the game.
Nevertheless, the Swing is a very playable gaming unit and even better if it comes. HP Swing is now available only on purchase of new HP Pavilion desktops and you will have to pay additional handling charges of Rs 1,999.
Finally, we have a fit replacement for the Wii.

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