Wednesday night on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” Microsoft’s Kudo Tsunoda demonstrated “Project Natal.” Expected to launch in 2010, “Project Natal” features a camera that hooks up to your Xbox 360, letting you play games just by moving your body — no controller needed.
Tsunoda began the demonstration with “Ricochet,” a game that is almost like virtual handball. A 3-D representation of yourself will appear onscreen, and by swinging your arms and legs in the air, you can bat back a ball that breaks digital blocks at the end of a hallway.
Unlike traditional motion-capture devices, which require multiple cameras and a special skintight suit, “Project Natal” works with whatever you’re wearing and features just one camera placed below your screen.
At E3 2009, we had the chance to try out “Ricochet,” and it accomplishes what it’s promising. Within seconds of walking in front of the screen, we were slamming balls back, pulling off headers and making slide-kicks. It felt like the first time we played “Wii Sports,” but this time we didn’t even need a controller.
Fallon’s guests, John Krasinski (“The Office”) and Stephen Moyer (“True Blood”), were all too willing to try out the new device, donning orange jumpsuits and hopping in front of the screen to play some digital handball.
After the “Ricochet” demonstration, Tsunoda queued up a modified version of “Burnout: Paradise,” a racing game from EA. Holding his arms in front of him as if he were grabbing an invisible steering wheel, Tsunoda was able to drive the car, dodging incoming traffic and drifting around corners with just a twist of his arms. Again, Fallon and guests hopped in after him and couldn’t seem to be torn away from the screen.
Since its premiere at E3, “Project Natal” has become the talk of the video game world, as it hopes to upend video games as we know them, besting even Nintendo by making the system even more approachable to new gamers. Although no official release date has been announced, experts predict that “Project Natal” will launch in late 2010 and will be compatible with all past, present and future Xbox 360 consoles.
For more on “Project Natal” and other big news from E3, check out Multiplayer.MTV.com.