"We constantly have to revisit 'Why would Donkey Kong do this?' or 'Why would this environment be like this?' And then we start thinking: 'We're making a game about a gorilla wearing a tie.'"
-Michael Kelbaugh of Retro Studios on Donkey Kong Country Returns
"I have to say it's kinda scary how much you know about this game."
-Nicolau Chaud creator of Marvel Brothel
E3 2011 is gone now. Tokyo Game Show, PAX and other conventions will keep us satiated until next year, but they won't have the same excitement as E3 did.
I was sick all week, and had the pleasure of seeing all the press conferences and what was only likely a small percentage of the massive amounts of press on the event. Through Robitussin induced viewings of this major event I have sifted through what would be my best of the best that was E3.
Below is a list of what made my E3. Please chime in below what your favorite picks were.
Skullgirls might be flying low under everybody's radar, but the game looks more than solid. While I'm not a huge fan of the animation styles, I love the things that they are adding to the characters. Each character has attacks that are classic homages to great games of the past. I mean seriously, one fighter can attack with Kuribo's shoe. That's pretty cool.
Street Fighter X Tekken is a cross up of two of the greatest games in two very different genres. Throw in the fact that you can fight from home and from your portable, and you've changed the way I look at online fighting games. This fight anywhere mechanic is going to be huge.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is the sequel to the last great Tekken game for me. This return to form might contain a few new characters I'm unfamiliar with, but it's tag team Tekken. I am salivating remembering that wonderful feeling of a pocket full of quarters. It's good to be excited about Tekken again.
UFC Undisputed 3 is the only game on this list that doesn't yet have some tag feature. That's okay, because the game looks like it's taken that extra year off to really improve upon some of the less interesting elements. A bigger roster with two new weight classes helps. Changing the style of fighting with the Pride ring should make for a much better and longer lasting game overall.
Winner: Street Fighter X Tekken
Capcom was one of the few studios that brought their Japanese talent with them to E3. Thank you for that Capcom. We then got a smiling Ono-san showing off the cloud save feature that works between the PSV and the PS3. My major limitation with learning fighting games is that I have to put them down to do something else in my household. Now I could potentially take the game anywhere. Throw in some weird looking Cole action with the already solid looking gameplay, and you have a clear cut winner.
Disneyland Adventures looks to recapture everything that I loved as a child with my copy of Adventures in the Magic Kingdom for the NES. Fun little mini games, talking with Mickey Mouse, and exploring a fully realized Disneyland is something that might not be as fun for those over the age of 10, but just have a little imagination. This is a dream for a child. Plus it's cheaper for me than actually going to Disneyland.
Fable The Journey is an odd little game that's supposedly not on rails despite looking exactly like that. The idea is that the game is split between casting and horse riding. Horse riding is a bit silly looking, but the concept behind the magic system looks brilliant. Using a variety of spells to interact with the environment gives off a more technical Pokemon Snap feel to it. Once again I'll have to wait to see if Molyneux lives up to his end of the bargain, but I'm interested to see where this goes. I know he hated the demo, so hopefully he'll refine everything and make it in to what I think he's going for.
Sesame Street is Tim Schafer's blockbuster. The man deserves one by now don't you think? If you're sitting back thinking "oh it's just a kid's game," the Schafer element has to change that for you. Whether or not the game will be good, it'll be fun and funny. That's more than enough for my child and me to play with Elmo. Throw in some decent body tracking from Double Fine and this looks tight enough to be one of the premiere Kinect titles.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a Zelda game. Do you really need more? Fine. It's a nice looking aerial take on the Legend of Zelda that should be more than refreshing to a lot of people. The mechanics should also be better tuned with the Wii Motion Plus accessory. With the Zelda 25th Anniversary happening, you know the game has to be pressured to be a step above. The combination of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess designs should help that.
Winner: Sesame Street
This is the clear cut motion game for me. Whoever Tim Schafer had to beg to get this project started, I thank you for allowing this. My child thanks you. It's a beautiful game that will be kid friendly and funny. It's the best Father's Day present a guy could ask for. I can't say that enough.
The Playstation TV is a small little thing that is impractical for a lot of us. What it does however is implement 3D separate screen multiplayer. This is cool tech for the low low price of $500. For somebody that plays split screen with the little lady, this could be a great alternative.
Shoehorning is the act of placing something in to something else by using some new tool. For this console generation, it's motion and 3D technology getting placed inside of current games that we all own. Sure, I don't need Kinect support for Mass Effect 3 and I don't have to play it as such. However, if I have a Kinect and Mass Effect 3, I might try it out. The Wii refused to adopt alternate control schemes and it hurt the games, this essentially does the exact opposite to positive results. I approve.
Transfarring is a term that the mad scientist Hideo Kojima coined. It involves the act of taking your save state from the PS3 and transferring it to your PSP or PSV to use it on the go and vice versa. As somebody that occasionally games next to sleeping people, this is a great alternative to simply breaking up my play sessions to put in something else.
Wii U tablet controls are incredibly interesting. To essentially turn your video games in to a DS is something that can add a different idea to console gaming. It might even net us some upscaled DS titles. I may have scoffed at the conference, but the concept is pretty good. Now they just need to slim that controller down.
Transfarring is a brilliant idea that the Wii U both fleshed out and dropped the ball on. The assurance that this isn't a portable probably means that it has to be attached to the Wii U console through some kind of networking. PSV owners however don't need to worry about this as save states can be transferred to a portable device. I love this idea.
It plays especially well to both regions as Asia is demanding a lot from the portable market while America is wanting more console growth. This can boost both industries simultaneously and encourage some really interesting developments.
(Note: I realize I'm stretching the definition of Puzzle for this, but now it's a pretty strong category)
Catherine is the sexy new Persona team game. It's going to be hard, it's going to be trippy and at the end of the day it will be fun. Sure, it's a tower climbing game, but the mechanics are solid. With a strong story, it should be interesting to dive in to Vincent's world.
Luigi's Mansion 2 has me wondering why a scaredy cat like Luigi keeps stumbling in to haunted mansions. Whatever the reason, it's a sequel to an underrated Gamecube classic. I wish this were for the Wii, but a 3DS version should really pop with the layouts.
Rhythm Heaven is the best rhythm based title on the DS. It's catchy, quirky and it kills time easily. I can think that the console version will do no less. Now I can play Rhythm Heaven with stereo support. Cool beans.
Rock of Ages is that game that nobody really seems to talk about, but I'm simply amazed by. It's a Monty Python-esque, Katamari styled, tower defense game. After playing the 2d version, I'm excited to see what the fully realized game turns out to be. How could this not be awesome.
Of all the games, Catherine is the one I know the most about. Not because it's the bigger game, but because I want to know more about it. I don't care about the gameplay as I've tried that demo. It's the trailers and the voice acting that I needed to hear. This game wasn't going to sell me as a tower climbing simulator, but it was going to sell me on the story. Atlus's trailer intrigued me and I'm waiting to see how this Catherine/Katherine affair plays out.
Apparently Vincent's a bit more of a douche than I picked up on and I want to see how Persona team does with that.
Dark Souls is the spiritual sequel to Demon's Souls, the feel good JRPG of the year. This game looks a lot like it, but with some good looking improvements and an interesting little community fireplace feature. Time for a million more people to die playing this game.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is going to be Oblivion without the crappy engine holding it back. As somebody who has never attempted an Elder Scrolls title, this intrigues me. As somebody that has played Fallout 3, I am salivating. This game looks good and fun. Need I say more?
Final Fantasy XIII-2 is the direct sequel to XIII. If there was one issue with XIII it's that it built up too long for too little payout. Obviously a sequel can do away with the 10 hours of tutorial and can turn the game in to something more. There were a few promises of side quests on the show floor and the demo looks good. Hopefully Square Enix can capitalize on this, because 3 bad Final Fantasies in a row is painful to see.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is Fable with better combat and a tighter attempt on story. I would never say that I believed in Curt Schilling, but this game looks fun and Adam Sessler won't shut up about it. Whether I believe in Sessler's taste in games is one thing, but I do know the man knows games. As somebody that has to try each new Fable out, I am intrigued by a game that looks to play a bit faster with less risk in the story.
Winner: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim by far looks to be the most impressive Role Playing Game coming out of E3. Whether it's the beautiful landscapes or the randomly generated dragons, it's shaping up to be a real winner. I can't wait to see what they do with all of this pretty new technology. Just imagining a world that large and that gorgeous makes me applaud however it is that Bethesda makes their games.
Dragon's Crown is what happens when you mix the Saturn Dungeons and Dragons brawler with Princess Crown's beautiful hand drawn art. This is something very cool. Throw in some 5 player co-op and this game looks like it can jump to the top of the rapidly filled beat-em-up genre.
Kirby Wii is finally a console Kirby game. You might consider that yarn game to be a Kirby title, but it's not. It was that little prince's game until Nintendo realized something, stepped in and said "new IP's aren't as good as old ones." So now we finally have not one, but two Kirby's. This get's top nod for the 4 player co-op.
Sonic Generations looks like a brand new sonic and a very old sonic. Since I'm very much in love with crossovers, this excites me! The idea of creating one level with two perspectives should be done more and I applaud Sega for making something interesting after all of these years. It looks like fun.
Super Mario is Mario in 3D! It looks to be an expansion of both Mario Galaxy's design elements and Super Mario 64's gameplay. This can only be described as amazing. Also the Tanooki suit, despite it's uselessness this go round, is still the best looking outfit Mario has ever worn.
Winner: Kirby Wii
I've always been a huge Kirby fan, but my cousin was the one I had to borrow the games from. So I've always been stuck playing these games on his consoles. Enough! Crazy four player Kirby looks amazing and I can't wait to see the fun things they add in to this to really push it forward.
Bioshock Infinite is a Ken Levine game from Ken Levine. He makes atmospheric games with good storytelling and great gameplay. This one takes us to the skies and looks like Bioshock did in its tight presentation. What's not to be intrigued by the spiritual sequel to the breakout FPS of this generation. There might even be some PSV transfarring going along with it.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is another in the long line of Call of Duties that keeps dutifully fighting the FPS war. I however was much more impressed by the tone and depiction of underwater levels off of the Microsoft conference. The game looked like a lot of fun and made me more interested in the series than I had been.
Dead Island looks to be an interesting little game. For all the Zombie games we get, we don't really have a FPS with some real survival progression. Left 4 Dead is more concerned with the chaotic zombie attack. This seems to take a new twist that could be entertaining. Hopefully Square Enix's faith in this isn't unsubstantiated.
Payday: The Heist has a pair of balls on it. A multiplayer bank heist game with rapidly changing scenarios and objectives seems pretty smart. Hopefully, they'll be able to build some story off of this demo. Otherwise it'll be a PR nightmare.
Winner: Bioshock Infinite
Ken Levine showed up on stage with a Bioshock Infinite gameplay trailer that looked incredible. It was colorful, it showed off an incredible looking world and it told us what our goal was for the game. To save this woman in blue. Something that seems like the exact opposite of Bioshock's objective for a few of us.
Jumping off of platforms to use the railing system shows a bit of exploration that the first game lacked. This just seems like such an improvement over an already phenomenal game.
I have to play this.
Asura's Wrath is the first new IP from CyberConnect 2 since 2002's .hack series took hold. The company has since been synonymous with it's quality Narultimate Hero title. They have now taken the gorgeous engine of Ultimate Ninja Storm and utilized it in to something fresh. We now have Capcom's penchant for crazy stories applied to an engine and a team that only wants to focus on making the story happen first. This could be the craziest new IP since Suda 51 showed up on the scene.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a proper sequel in the Deus Ex lineage. Since I haven't played any of these games that doesn't mean much. So when I see a tactical shooter with divergent paths and a crazy design asthetic, well color me intrigued. This looks like one of the IP's Square Enix acquired and wanted to turn in to a million seller. It's pretty.
Mass Effect 3 is the sequel to a series I have issues with. I think the scope is brilliant, just the execution is a bit lacking. While I wish they had more time in the bag to make sure this title brings in more of the first game's options, it still looks like the same old Bioware awesome. The Kinect voice recognition is also really smart, which makes up for the fact that they should have built the recognition software instead of relying solely on the Kinect.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is deservedly Sony's big franchise of the show. The entirety of the Uncharted brand name must have taken 30 minutes of their conference and it looked pretty cool. The ship's gravity showed how dedicated Naughty Dog truly is in selling their idea. It's shaping up to be another solid entry in the Uncharted series.
Winner: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
You don't have to sell me on Uncharted's gameplay. It's going to be pretty good and we all know this. When you get an entire ship to start bucking up and down on the ocean with explosions going off everywhere, you've proven that you are trying to do something beyond simply satisfying people. You're showing off. For that I thank you Naughty Dog.
Bullshots plagued Sony's Killzone reveal and they've turned up once again during Nintendo's Wii U showcase. I don't like anybody showcasing software that isn't running on current hardware and I definitely don't like it when you are trying to pitch me on what it is you are trying to show off. The Wii U's concept videos were fairly weak, but to bring in 360 footage for a clip show is disappointing.
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is on this list solely for the fact that I don't want MGS2 and MGS3 in high definition. I could honestly care less about those two because I own them. Since I don't own a PSP however, I don't own Acid or Portable Ops. Expanding upon those and rendering them in beautiful HD would please me greatly. I just don't really need another reason to get MGS2 and MGS3 since there are two versions available already. I don't see myself paying for this just for Peace Walker HD.
No Zelda 25th Anniversary Collection Announcement is kind of disappointing. I bashed the Super Mario All-Stars last year because of it's shoddy reproduction, but to just put two games out that were never part of the Zelda 25 announcement is a bit low. The concert series is the only kinda cool thing announced and my money has it that it won't be playing in a region near me. I'm sure Nintendo World will probably have a big announcement, but Miyamoto should have had something huge with that cool orchestra.
Wii and DS Support was pretty much sucked out of E3 by Nintendo's press conference. No mention of the hardware was made and the fact that many great franchises were getting sequels was ignored. While there were some good games to announce, most of the gaming world passed over it to review the Wii U. This was because Nintendo made no effort to prioritize these games. That's a shame.
Loser: Wii and DS Support
Unfortunately, every show has a down side and this just happened to be mine. I'm not really proud that I loaded this full of Nintendo stuff, but it's how I feel.
To make my point more relevant, there are far more Wii and DS systems on the market than from any other competitor. To short sell these games in respects to what was already a hard sell on the Wii U is a tragedy. The beginning of the new Layton trilogy, Rhythm Heaven, 2 new Kirby games, Fortune Street, Mario Party 9, Super Fossil Fighters, and Dragon Quest Monsters 2 were announced or available to see on the show floor. If you knew about all of these game announcement's I would be shocked.
Nintendo has quite a few months before Zelda and the Wii U come out to worry if people will still support their systems. They dropped the ball on the two biggest systems the world has ever seen this E3. That picture right there was the only thing during their E3 conference that proved they had an interest in their biggest consoles.
Just real quick, I'd like to highlight 4 games that seem to have fallen by the sidelines this E3
Fortune Street is known in Japan as Itadaki Street. It is a Mario Party style game starring Nintendo and Square Enix characters that has passed over US release for far too long. Since I'm a sucker for crossover games, this is a fanboy dream for me. Sure it's cheesy, sure it'll be a bit lame, but it will take two of my favorite companies and pit them against each other in Monopoly. I'm cool with this.
Gravity Daze is this crazy looking platformer that works off the gravity of the world and buildings to get around. It's gorgeous and a bit disorientating, but my lord does this look pretty brilliant. I'm not sure how it will do after a few hours, but I like this thinking outside the box mentality.
Kid Icarus probably shouldn't be here, but people seem to be disregarding this title in lieu of the other 3DS ones. It looks to me like something better than any of the other Nintendo 3DS titles available. I'm not sure if I'll care for the multiplayer, but the gameplay looks solid and I can't wait to see a 3D demo of it. Maybe it's been overexposed, maybe there is a reason it was overlooked most E3, I don't care. I want to play it.
OverStrike was announced during the EA conference and it looks fun to me. It was only unveiled as a trailer, but the idea is that you are a rag tag group of mercenaries taking on super powered evil villains. Maybe I've been watching the Incredibles too much, but this is right up my alley. I can't wait to see what the game actually looks like in practice with it's class based infiltration style.
Electronic Arts is not a big console manufacturer. So there won't be any $200+ super reveals that will shock the gaming world. What EA brings to the table will only be software. For this year's E3, they had a great list of software with no real lul in the show. It was a solid presentation all around from EA.
Microsoft starts the show off and they do it right. The games might have lacked that certain punch, but nearly everything they showed off could appeal in one way or another to you, your friend, or your children. Microsoft is hitting all the bases and with that, they brought out all the big players in the industry to showcase this.
Nintendo showcased their big 3DS titles with some sequels that look to be mind blowing. It then introduced a tablet based console that will change the game when it is released. I might have some issues with how the event went down, but there was still a lot of great things to take from it.
Sony had a huge cloud hanging over them with the hacking debacle, but they showed up with games. Lots of games. Lots of good games. Their stage presence was sorely lacking compared to everybody else, but they brought some goods to the show.
Winner: Electronic Arts
Let's just run this down real quick for those that missed it. We had the show start up with a trailer and gameplay for Mass Effect 3, the RPG of the year last year. Follow this with Need for Speed, a great looking SSX, and the hotly anticipated Star Wars: The Old Republic. Then the casual stuff with Madden, the Sims and the biggest sports title there is, FIFA. Finally we get new info on Kingdoms of Amalur, Overstrike and Battlefield 3. All games guaranteed to be million sellers and an overall great presentation made up for some of the inconsistencies that the bigger shows brought.
This doesn't even factor in that EA invaded all three of the big conferences this year with announcements. EA featured the games that Microsoft needed to showcase, the pacing Nintendo needed to build, and the quality of presentation that Sony was sorely lacking.
EA showed up with something that was sorely needed from the big three.
While many would argue that E3 lacked that punch this year, there was fun to be had if you really wanted it. Through a plague induced stupor I enjoyed the event of it all. This was my E3 and it was pretty good.
I know I didn't see everything and I'm curious as to what were the biggest and best parts for everyone else. What made E3 for you?