Growing up playing video games has taught us that controllers with two sticks are a good way to move around a game. One controls looking and the other controls movement. Or maybe you prefer a mouse and keyboard?
However, the prevalence of these somewhat awkward schemes (similar to the prevalent but inefficient QUERTY keyboard layout) means that motion controls are often overlooked. This was made worse when the Wii failed to offer many high-end games and made motion synonymous with kid’s games.
The reality of well-implemented motion controls for aiming can make a profound difference to how approachable and accessible the experience is -- especially if two sticks don’t work for you or are unfamiliar.
We’ve worked with Jibb Smart on this list of games that offer motion controls that work as a viable (and often enhanced) replacement for stick control. He is pioneering well-executed motion controls and has created open-source tools JoyShockLibrary and JoyShockMapper to help explore the potential offered by the gyroscopes in these controllers. His website GyroWiki teaches developers how to implement these features well. In this list, we highlight games that put motion controls to good use in a way that is effective and well-executed.
Much of Jibb’s work focuses on the potential of gyro aiming. “It replaces the mouse with gyro controls. And since mouse control is a core pillar of PC gaming, it bridges a significant gap between PC and console players.” But motion controls is a very broad category. It’s worth breaking it down into more specific types of control that can help players in different ways:
- Motion Aiming: Can use small movements of the gamepad to fine-tune aiming or as the main aiming mechanism. This is sometimes known as Gyro-Aiming. Games like The Last of Us Part II and Rogue Company provide this ability to replace one of the sticks or mouse with gyro controls. This usually requires the ability to calibrate these controls to taste. Search database for Motion Aiming games.
- Motion Pointing: Can use the direction of the gamepad to move a cursor-target around the screen like a mouse. Games like Ghost Squad, World of Goo and Boom Blox use this to offer a light-gun experience. Search database for Motion Pointing games.
- Motion Tilting: Can use movements of the gamepad to replace steering or left/right movement with sticks. Games like Forza, Mario Kart and Wipeout offer this to enable you to steer left or right by tilting the controller. Search database for Motion Tilting games.
- Motion Gesture: Can motion with the controller to direct an in-game action. This can be a nuanced one-to-one motion for analogue sword (Zelda Skyward Sword) or bat movement (Wii Sports Resort). It can also be a simple shake to trigger a one-off action, like in Super Mario Galaxy. Search database for Motion Gesture games.
- Flick Stick: Enables you control the direction you are facing in a game by pressing the controller stick in that direction, rather than a left or right relative motion. Once you are facing a direction, rotating the stick moves the camera by the same degree. The result is a quicker and simpler way to control your orientation in a game world.
This list includes 2 games from the last 30 years, with 145 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to use motion controls rather than sticks.