Project Natal: what’s the worst that can happen?

Flash-forward to the grim, unholy darkness of a post-Natal world. Possibly.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, January 14, 2010


The date is 10th November 2012, around 10.13 pm, and you’re squatting in your sweaty, lice-infested shithole of an apartment, contemplating the catastrophic facepalm that is your Project Natal unit. There’s no longer sufficient liquid in your body for tears, but you still have breath enough to curse, thank God.

Over the past two gruelling years, this sleek, innocuous-looking, ruinously gimmicky strip of spare parts has destroyed your life, made you the laughing stock of your small, hard-earned circle of gaming buddies, the punchline to every geek joke. It has killed your romantic career, too. Women with no more knowledge of Xbox than a Daily Mail headline shun your presence as they would that of a plague doctor, compelled by some mysterious, unquantifiable sense of dismay and disgust.

Even the flies that buzz idly around the room refuse to settle on your tainted flesh. Your XBL friends list is a glacial landscape, empty of life. Dogs howl as you quit your refuge in search of the supermarket brand vodka that has become your only source of comfort. When you totter unsteadily past the local game rental shop, the guy at the till makes the sign of the Cross.

Fire up the Tardis. Hit the rewind button. Cast your mind back, back to that fateful morning a lifetime ago when you leaned over the counter, giggling like the lamb to the slaughter you were, and slapped down 80 big ones. Dude, what the hell happened? Where did it all go wrong?

Like all history’s greatest disasters – Simon Cowell’s producing career, the Matrix films, the fall of the Roman Empire – Project Natal’s collapse into infamy was a gradual process.

When you arrived home, box cradled tenderly in both arms, stripped the device of its shrink-wrap with trembling fingers and plugged it into your Xbox, the results were everything you’d hoped for and more. Spastic hand gestures were transformed into fluid kung fu punches, feeble flicks of the ankle became surgical butterfly kicks.

The appeal was infectious. At some point during that initial session your girlfriend (yes, poor fool, you once had a girlfriend) walked past the sofa, and the Natal camera immediately plucked her features out of thin air and folded them round the physique of a CPU fighter. Battle commenced. It was, she exclaimed, better than sex. You chose to take this as a compliment.

10 Responses to “Project Natal: what’s the worst that can happen?”

  1. Johnny Anonymous says:

    Wow. You really need a life.

  2. ECM says:

    While this is hyperbolic, it pretty much sounds exactly what is going to happen w/ this device.

  3. Brush says:

    Enough of the Natal and red ring nonsense, when is your interview with Naughty Dog coming out….you know…the one about what %age of the PS3′s power is being used in their next game (i hear it’s going to be 15%)

    • Edwin says:

      Heh, all in good time old son. First I need to write up that editorial on how Halo causes dysentery.

  4. Brush says:

    In all seriousness Edwin…

    Am i going to open a copy of Edge over the next few months, to be confronted with an article on the ways in which Natal will fail, accompanied by a picture of a red ringed 360.

    No..i’m not.

    As a multiplatform site it’s surprising to me to see an article where you’ve assumed the character of the worlds biggest Sony fan to write it…was it a great stretch to get into that mindset? I would hope so, but fear not, because you’re arguments are as sharp as only those basking in the glow of the cell can muster (splinter cell – ouch)

    Which is a shame…level playing field and all that…article next week on how Sony wand will crash and burn accompanied by a YLOD picture? (and perhaps one of Anne Robinson, uber Milf). I suspect that’s lined up to show me the error of my critisicms….surely..

    • Edwin says:

      Er, well I suppose the first thing I’d say to that is that this is all a bit of a joke. An extreme joke, perhaps, but a joke nonetheless. I seriously doubt Activision’s working on a title named Call of Goofy, for instance, though I’d be delighted if they were. Secondly, I think if you de-exaggerate the piece a few notches you’re left with a not-implausible account of what Natal may face post-launch. Microsoft probably *will* have troubles getting publishers to release games for the interface as long as it remains optional – unless, of course, the entire market goes nuts over it Wii-style, which I doubt.

      If you’re worried we’re going too hard on Natal, I suggest you read Adam’s super-positive hands-on from E3. As for our Sony wand coverage – I’d love to go to town on the thing, but only when it seems newsworthy and resources allow. Will start stockpiling Anne Robinson snapshots :)

  5. Brush says:

    Do so asap… is a good place to start.

    As much as MS may/will crash and burn with Natal (they’re making such a big deal of it, PR disaster of the century may be on the way). Some of the suggestions, when you de exaggerate, fall a few miles wide.

    ”Microsoft probably *will* have troubles getting publishers to release games for the interface as long as it remains optional”

    This for example…there is no discussion to be had regarding Natal being ‘compulsory’…they’ll not be saying ‘sorry Mr Kotick, but Call Of Goofy can’t be released because it doesn’t use Natal’ — There’s just nothing there, and would you extrapolate an argument this far away from sense if it were Sony? That’s a pretty crazy question, but…dial it back a bit, and i’m probably closer to the mark.

    We all have our favourites, and hey, i probably just made you less impartial by having a moan.

  6. Edwin says:

    Ah, I wasn’t being clear in my comment there. When I said Natal would be an optional feature I meant for the consumer, not the developer/publisher – Microsoft isn’t (or so it tells us) planning to bundle them with every 360 sold, though I’d be very surprised if it didn’t have a custom SKU or two up its sleeve. And if 360 users can’t be relied upon to own the unit, where’s the commercial sense in producing Natal-intensive or Natal-only games? (Again, ruling out for the moment the prospect of Natal becoming a Wii-level market event in its own right.) Games which merely *support* Natal-based play e.g. as an optional control scheme should be in the clear though…

    Would it help my case for being an impartial critic if I said that I find Sony’s wand deeply, deeply unimpressive, that I’m struggling to see it as anything other than the “me-too” mentality at work? Even if it’s a wobbly idea, Natal is far more intriguing. “You are the controller”, hmmm. Got a nice ring to it :)

  7. Brush says:

    Absolutely helps :OP

    now just publish an article as such (the robinson, the ylod, maybe a pic of ken k in a noose?) and this will be one satisfied 360 maniac

    evening up the ‘shoe in the nuts’ articles is only fair.

  8. Choupolo says:

    Could happen… as likely as Kikizo resurrecting the babes section with an Ann Robinson feature I guess. I’m certainly reluctant to click the link provided my Brush above. :P


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