GameTrak: Dark Wind Bundle Due for Release

Beat-em-ups have always been a bit of an odd genre for me: the highly kinetic action on the screen – punching, kicking, disembowelment – has always been strangely at odds with the frantic button mashing dictated by the controls. Well, those first two techniques anyway.

Now being beaten by your opponent simply because he saw a button sequence on the internet that you didn’t know about, or thrashed by your girlfriend because she can press the triangle button faster than you can is a thing of the past – now you can throw real punches at your on-screen opponents.

GameTrak have developed a new PS2 beat-em-up, Dark Wind, that will be bundled with their eponymous controller. The game makes full use of the GameTrak hardware to allow players to punch and block with great accuracy.

The GameTrak controller itself consists of two sensors which can be attached to limbs or a prop (like that Samurai sword you’ve always wanted) and can measure with an accuracy of up to 1mm in a 3m cube. The controller can be used with many different genres of games – GameTrak themselves suggest golfing and lightgun games. I just can’t wait to see if it’s compatible with Freak Out. A USB peripheral, the controller may end up being used on XBox and PC games, as well as the PS2. The Dark Wind bundle will cost UK£69.99 or €99.

The controller won the Most Innovative Product award at the Leipzig Games Convention and has certainly stirred a lot of interest in a market that is starting to take notice of different types of games controllers, particularly in the wake of the success Sony has enjoyed with EyeToy.

Exotic controllers have become popular in arcades of late – indeed, when consoles can reproduce arcade cabinets exactly, cabinets are turning to controllers to make them stand out. Modern arcade cabinets now have swords, revolving seats, footballs and denim-clad buttocks as controllers to give an experience that console games don’t provide. Since the first light gun came in to the home, consoles are always quick to adopt what’s going on in the arcade – and the GameTrak will be able to emulate many current controller and game styles. Though I don’t expect to be wandering home with that buttock thing under my arm any time soon.

But I will soon have some bongos, and that’s even better.


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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?