It was a little plastic thing that sat atop the keys, and you used your fingers to mimic the art of surfing – sort of like those little finger skateboards stupid young boys seem to like.
It was a neat idea – one intended to launch a series of sporting games that used similarly quirky inputs - but in practice it didn’t really work.
Why, in some respects Surf Champ was a bit like Microsoft’s Kinect 2.0. Oh-hoh!
However you look at it, Microsoft’s Kinect has been a terrible and embarrassing failure. Within a year, the company went from saying that its magic camera was integral to the Xbox One, to doing a sort of embarrassed, twitching shuffle in the opposite direction, while frantically scratching its face, and shouting “H… huh… hey…!”.
This isn’t just hindsight to say it was always a weird decision to bundle the thing with the Xbox One. Aside from anything else, it never really took flight on the 360, and in the run up to launch, people were sort of waving their hands in front of Microsoft telling it to slow down before it drove into a cow. But on it ploughed – on and on, ignoring the warnings, before the inevitable, messy, slow-motion, bovine impact. Oh, how that farmer wailed…
Maybe if Microsoft had managed to come up with a game that really sold its hardware, things would’ve been different. But it didn’t do that. Shouting orders in Ryse: Son of Rome, or leaning your way through Kinect Sports, is a waste of everyone’s time.
Regrettably, using the device has never felt instinctive enough for it to be considered as anything more than a gimmick.
Whereas the Wii launched with the ultimate proof-of-concept – Wii Sports – the Kinect has yet to offer a single compelling reason to own one.
Apart from, I dunno, being able to Skype on it, and play some dance games;
unfortunately, there appeared to be few teenage girls among the Xbox One’s early adopters, due to Microsoft seemingly hedging its bets in terms of which demographic it should be appealing to.
What's more, you need space to use the Kinect properly, which forces it out of bedrooms and into living rooms. Do you really want to leap and sway like that, only to be judged and laughed at by your awful family?
Looking back now, it’s weird how the Kinect debacle ever happened. Microsoft must’ve known that it’s quicker and easier to navigate the One’s front-end using a joypad than their much-vaunted barking and flailing of arms. They must’ve known they never had a justifiable system-shifter of a game like Wii Sports. And surely – surely - someone somewhere along the line must’ve warned them that it was sheer madness to launch the machine at such a high price, compared to the PS4?
For all that, any console launch is a long game, and it’s not over yet. The One has just managed to outsell the PS4 and Wii U for the first time (though it’s a long way behind in terms of overall sales), and it doesn’t exactly deserve to fail, because it’s a perfectly fine machine.
And yet, ironically, without the Kinect it’s difficult to really make a case for it. It doesn’t stand out. Though for that matter, nor does the PS4, such is the charmless homogenisation of our console industry (you have to wonder if that’s why the Wii U is suddenly looking healthier – what’s on offer there actually draws attention to itself).
Who knows? Maybe Microsoft were aware things were going that way, and that’s why it took the gamble with Kinect? Maybe it was an attempt at peacocking – like some ghastly tart of a man at a masquerade party, trying to stand out by windmilling his arms and spinning around while squawking like a knackered bassoon.
But anyway. Whatevs, guy. Kinect didn’t work. Microsoft probably knows that. And it’s fair to say that it would take an act of sheer insanity for the company to pursue that line again. Join us now in singing the traditional Kinect farewell song:
Comes out your bum,
Like a bullet from a gun,
Ha ha. Bum.