E3 Is madness. Although two new consoles are being shown, things feel somehow less spectacular and dialed back. I am going to do my best to give a daily breakdown of the things I saw, and wrapped my sweaty hands around.
Guess what? Nintendo is coming out with a new 3D mario game. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be the creative leap that was the Mario Galaxy series. The game does add a multiplayer component which carries the vibe from New Super Mario Bros. which unfortunately I have become fatigued by with the most recent iterations . I played as Luigi in honor of his year, while three others took the role of Peach, Toad and Mario. The different players have different abilities similar to how things worked back in Super Mario Bros. 2. Peach can hover for a short time and Luigi has a higher jump. Our group decided to play the boss demo because we decided we could handle it, and we did. Battling in a 3D play space felt good, but it wasn’t enough to feel different from the NSMB. The game played like a 3D Mario game should, and I really love to see bright Mario color pallet in HD. It isn’t a bad game, but it also isn’t the interesting new Mario game I was hoping for.
Instead of getting a new Metroid game from Retro, we got a sequel to the Wii platformer Donkey Kong Country Returns. A great platformer which looks great on the Wii U. The Kongs look fuzzy and look great, because Nintendo games look great in HD. The game now has coop (which was also brought to the 3DS port of the Wii game) and that was the way we decided to play. Since we destroyed the Mario boss pretty quickly we decided to go for the boss again in this demo. I am glad to say the game is still difficult, we lost to the giant evil seal boss on the first go. One of the problems I noticed is how easily it was to accidently have Diddy jump onto the back of Donkey, and when this happens Diddy loses control of everything but the peanut gun and if the players take damage it removes one of Diddy’s hearts. Other than that the game felt great, and the new environments looked amazing. I am excited to have this game to play on my Wii U later this year. More so than that Mario game.
I decided not to wait in line to play a game that I almost beat on the GameCube. Instead I just watched someone else have a go at it while I comparing the game to the GC version which was hooked up to a TV right next to it. The main differences are the 16:9 aspect ratio (it fills up your widescreen TV) and the textures look sharper and brighter. The cel shaded art style is ages better than other types of art and video comparisons of the two don’t show the differences in quality as much as seeing them running side-by-side. I am disappointed to hear the Tingle Tuner has changed from using a second screen (formerly the GBA connected to GameCube) in favor for a message in a bottle Miiverse connection. Why not just use that second screen built into the Wii U gamepad to display the Tingle Tuner?
The game looks great as a single player experience that, while it looks like Pikmin, plays differently as your little dudes form together into one object to fight or defend. But I didn’t play single player. I opted for the co-op mode. One player used the gamepad while the rest of us had pro controllers. It was absolutely chaotic, and not in a good way. It took a good 5 minutes for us to all enter the match and figure out who was controlling which pile of little people. Once the match loaded we were pitted against various enemies with a goal of destroying them as a team while trying to personally earn the highest score. As just a group of people you can only dash and collect items. To participate in the combat you have to draw shapes with the right thumbstick and then press A to active them. This was difficult and clunky because drawing shouldn’t be done with an analog stick. Once we actually got into combat it was hard to determine where to attack and who was taking damage. Maybe with some better explanation or clearer visual design things would be more enjoyable.
This game has been out in Japan for a while and will be out in the States within a month. I was eager to get the taste of The Wonderful 101 out of my mouth. We jumped into a Pictionary style game within Game and Wario. First, each player needs to take a picture of their face and apply a filter. Naturally I chose the one that gave me long, pretty eyelashes and made my face look like it was glowing. The player with the gamepad starts the game off by drawing as many of the given words as possible within the time limit. The word is only shown on the gamepad and the drawing is shown on the TV for the other players to guess. Once a correct guess is made, the gamepad player assigns the point by tapping on the guesser’s goofy photo. Players take turns doing this until everyone has had a chance. This was great because we all got to laugh at how terrible each other’s drawings were. This might not be a true Warioware game but it has a similar charm while going for more of the party game appeal.
A 2D Metroidvania game with combat and setting of a Rocksteady Batman game sounds like a great mix, however the demo lacked any exploration opportunities and was little more than a side scrolling beat-em-up. The game first felt reminiscent of Shadow Complex, where players move towards the camera and traverse different layers while remaining on a 2D path. I was mostly just walking right and occasionally encountering grappling segments. Instead of these segments being a swinging mechanic like other games of the genre, Blackgate sticks to the Arkham roots by zipping Batman into place. Most of these segments have Batman grapple, land, move slightly to the right and grapple again. When the grapple prompts appear there is a 2 second delay before the game will let you grapple which takes away any cool factor of zipping around buildings and makes it clunky. Hopefully, the lack of exploration and delayed grapple is just a result of this being an E3 demo and not the final game.
Instead of actually playing PS4 games, I ran up to the shortest PS4 line to get my hands on the controller. It feels great. I have never been a fan of the Playstation Dual Shock, but this new model has changed my mind. Everything feels more spread out, which lets my hands feel less likely to cramp. I could use both analog sticks simultaneously without the fear of my thumbs colliding. Perhaps the best part is the newly designed R2 and L2 buttons which feel a lot more like the triggers they should be. The only problem I had with it: the share and options buttons are higher up and harder to hit from a gameplay position. Oh, and that touch pad on the controller is also one giant button. The whole thing depresses and it feels weird.
The shortest line in the PS4 area of the Sony booth was for the extended tech demo from Quantic Dream. We watched their short film which was rendered all in realtime using the PS4’s hardware. It was absolutely gorgeous. After the video completed they took us on a virtual tour of the stage area in real time. Playing out scenes, zooming in to show us weird eye hairs and skin pores all “easily” handled by the PS4’s hardware. While it might have been beautiful I’d be surprised if we actually saw some complex game mechanics to go along with these beautifully ugly characters but maybe Quantic Dream will do something different.
Saint’s Row the Third is an amazing game, but it was great because of its absurd writing and situations. The E3 Demo was mostly just to showcase the world and the new superpowers. Running, jumping and gliding all felt great but the Xbox 360 hardware it was running on was having a lot of trouble keeping up with the speed. Drops in framerate and lots of vertical tearing made the game rough to look at. Shooting felt like the previous games in the series and driving seems pointless when you can run faster than cars without having to worry about crashing. The demo had some territory control missions and racing opportunities, but nothing very interesting.
You are a ghost detective trying to solve your own murder. Very awesome and exciting to see this atmospheric title at E3. The game has players find clues by investigating elements in both the ghost realm and the real world. The puzzles they showed at this theater demo were mostly looking at objects, or possessing a person and then picking the correct key words out of a group of words to piece together what happened. The game also throws some action segments where players have to avoid evil spirits, or take them out by performing a surprise ghost on ghost possession. What excites me most for this game is the tone and atmosphere. It’s set in Salem, Washington which has that creepy, spiritual pacific northwest feel and gets players to focus on the details.
I saw some other little things here and there through the madness and between streetpassing while waiting in line, but it’s nearly 2am and I need to get some sleep to do this all again tomorrow. Going to wait in a lot of the Microsoft lines and check out all of the Konami stuff. If you have any questions or any games you’d like me to take a look at, just leave a message in the comments section below.