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LK4O4 avatar 11:26 PM on 09.12.2010  (server time)
PAX 2010: The Last Hours on the Floor w/ Fluidity and Raskulls

Posted by: Ryan

Instead of doing one huge PAX Cblog, I'm gonna try to write one smaller post every day for maybe an entire week,
if I can. And I didn't take many pictures, so bear with me.

It's an odd state to be in when you've only got less than two hours left to play games on the show floor, because you still want to see things that you haven't gotten around to seeing yet, but you also don't want to wait in line and burn the precious little time you have left. So the last hours on the PAX show floor tends to be filled with games that are "hidden gems" of sorts. Games like Nintendo's Fluidity.

Now Nintendo certainly had it's share of long lines with both Kirby's Epic Yarn and Metroid: Other M, but Fluidity only had one kiosk where you could play it, and every time I walked by it, there were never more two people in line waiting to play it. Now from what I can tell, it seems like Nintendo doesn't give a fuck about WiiWare: they don't advertise download games at all (unless you're signed up for Nintendo's email newsletter, and even then, not so much) and instead of allowing developers to put up demos, they released demos for only five games for a limited time. I really like the content of WiiWare and I've been happy with the games I've bought, but Nintendo seriously treats the platform like a zit on prom night. So when Nintendo said that they were going to debut Fluidity at PAX, I figured it was just a half-hearted attempt to throw us a bone.

But no, I was totally wrong: Fluidity is actually awesome. It initially reminded me of Mercury Meltdown Revolution or LocoRoco, in that you're tilting the Wii remote to move the world around a blob of liquid. Except that Fluidity is a completely 2D, side-view game and your liquid tends to break apart a lot. You can shake the Wii remote to pop yourself up (also known as 'jumping') and you can hold the '1' button to try and draw the liquid all back together again. But if you hold the '1' button for too long, too much tension will build up and your blob will explode outward into droplets again.

The game has a very precarious feel, as you hop a blob of liquid that's barely holding itself together, but can't be held for too long before it'll explode and fall apart. And despite how unstable and just barely in control I was, the game felt good to play, if slightly disorienting due to constantly tilting the environment. It probably won't set the world aflame, but I was really impressed, and I'll most likely be picking up Fluidity once it makes it's way to WiiWare. When I asked the Nintendo rep about the release date, he said that he wasn't sure, but that all the games at Nintendo's booth were intended to be holiday games, and he said that, "fingers-crossed," the game should be coming out before the end of the year. So I'm thinking maybe a December or January release.

Next up was Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2, which also only had one kiosk at Capcom's booth (for perspective, Ghost Trick and Okamiden each had four), and it also only ever had two or three people in line to play it. And I really wasn't sure what to think going into it, because while I was waiting in line for the Retronauts panel with Kraid, he told me that he had felt disappointed by it. But then in the panel itself, Jeremy Parish said that he liked it and he recommended that we go play it.

To be honest, once I got my hands on it, I actually really liked the new jumping mechanic. Everyone's been pretty skeptical about it, but your character doesn't jump very high, meaning that you often just use the jump to make more daring, faraway swings. And you would think that the jumping would make the game lose some of the original game's bloody-minded precision, but that's weirdly not the case. Even if you suck at the "jump, then grapple mid-jump" thing, there's still usually another lower path that you can make it through without much jumping. Essentially, the game still feels like Bionic Commando, which is a very good thing, and the jumping mechanic really just adds to the game.

Not too far from that was the booth for Raskulls. Now apart from the fact that Mr. Destructoid is in Raskulls, I really didn't know anything about the game. For shame, I know. So imagine my surprise when I found out that the game is pretty much just Mr. Driller, except even more awesome and with race-to-the-finish multiplayer. They've made the game a bit more Bomberman-esque by including a turbo power-up and some items, but the fact that it really is just blatantly Mr. Driller came as a complete surprise to me. The second surprise hit me once I found out how much faster and way more fun this game is than yet another Mr. Driller game.

And you wouldn't think that would be a big deal, but the game has a great, cute art direction, it feels great to play, it's got some sidescrolling sections, and it's even got some boost panels thrown in for good measure. Now if you've never played Mr. Driller, it's kind of hard to explain why it's so fun to travel downward by destroying weirdly-shaped, gravity-affected blocks, but I assure you it's an addicting formula that Raskulls both apes and improves. Seriously, I'm definitely buying this game when it finally comes out. Go look up a trailer if you haven't already seen it.

Also, they gave me a Raskulls shirt, which of course means BIAS.

The next game I played was Lost in Shadow, and the people I talked to seemed to really like it, but what I played was just incredibly easy and boring. Your character moves very slowly, he jumps realistically, you can occasionally move things in the environment to a turned/unturned state with the Wii remote, and attacking was short-ranged and a little stiff. And it's not like I revel in disliking games: it's actually kind of sad that quite a few people I know really liked this game and I didn't. I dunno, maybe it's just not for me.

Not that there isn't potential for the concept: I'm hoping that later levels of games have more complex mechanics, such as moving light sources to make enemies larger/smaller, but I didn't really see any of that in what I played. I've still got some hope that the game will introduce more clever mechanics than the ones I saw as it's progression goes on.

Yeah, I didn't like that game much, and I certainly wasn't going to end my time on the show floor on that note, so I played the Castle Crashers arcade machine, which was totally cool. And then I got in a few more rounds of Super Meat Boy before they kicked us out. I couldn't help but get my hands back on that game one last time.


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