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Star Wars Xbox 360: Use the Force, controller-free

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(Read caption) A Star Wars Xbox 360, complete with C-3PO-themed controller, is set to hit shelves later this year.

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R2D2 and C-3PO: Best friends, cult heroes, hardy droids, and now, the inspiration for a Star Wars Xbox console. This week, Microsoft announced it would soon offer a "Kinect Star Wars Bundle," complete with a white Kinect sensor, a controller that looks like C-3PO, a console that looks like R2D2, and a brand new edition of Kinect Star Wars, the long-awaited new Xbox title.

Oh, and don't forget the secret message on the disc tray: "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope." Kinect Star Wars, for those not in the Star Wars loop, will let gamers control spaceships and Lightsabers with a simple flick of the hand, bringing "the ultimate Star Wars fantasy" – in the parlance of the Microsoft marketing team – to the comfort of the living room.

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Over at Gizmodo, Matt Buchanan has published an unapologetically gleeful first look at the Stars Wars Xbox – and yeah, it sounds pretty awesome. (An interesting footnote: Apparently the idea of a Darth Vader-themed console was tossed around, and ultimately nixed. "Doing something like a Darth Vader didn't make sense," Xbox designer Carl Ledbetter told Buchanan. "It would look cool, but it wouldn't make sense for the game." And it would look a lot like the original PS3.)

Consider the time it took just to get the shading on the console right: "Microsoft spent a month working with the factory in China to figure out how to layer the metallic inks in order to create shadows and the sense of the depth. When you turn the R2-D2 Xbox from side to side, the sheen of metallic inks shifts," Buchanan writes, "so there's an almost three-dimensional look to the faux vents that run up and down the side."

Meanwhile, Buchanan adds, "the top chrome is bead-blasted, to approximate the spun aluminum of the real R2's dome." Cool. Also: A little geeky! (To quote a commenter over at the gaming site 1UP, "I like it, but it's one dorkiest things I've ever seen.") Also: Pretty expensive! Microsoft says the limited edition Kinect bundle will cost a cool $449.99, which isn't outlandish for a system, a game, and the Kinect. But the price still puts it beyond the reach of some casual gamers.

Interested in the sleek, shiny goodness that is the Star Wars Xbox? Drop us a line in the comments section. We're listening.

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