Two days ago, if you had told me that Nintendo was working on a competitive multiplayer third-person shooter, I would have thought you were crazy. Imagining Nintendo venturing into the territory of blood-spattered 360 no-scope headshots just does not quite feel right.
Of course, Nintendo can take a gameplay mechanic that is normally reserved for more "mature" games, open it up to everybody, and inject its own ideas to create something that is wholly its own thing. That thing is Splatoon, and we got some hands-on time with it here at E3.
Mario Maker is a drag-and-drop level creator, letting you use classic (and newer) Mario game tiles and props to create your own stages. I gave it a spin here at E3 to try to create the next great Mario stage. I found that while making your own stages is quite easy, making a truly fun one takes a bit more work.
You knew that upcoming Wii U title Hyrule Warriors would be a blend of Tecmo Koei's Dynasty Warriors and Nintendo's Legend of Zelda. But I'm here to tell you that the gameplay is much more like Dynasty Warriors than I thought it would be. Not that that's a bad thing.
The Zelda side is like the yummy icing on the top.
Since the first game in the series, one of the most exciting aspects of the Super Smash Bros. series has been watching for the appearance of unexpected characters. Back then, it came in the form of unlockables, but it evolved into a pre-release hype-building machine that spawned the "confirmed for Brawl" meme.
Through the excitement of new character announcements, it is easy to neglect to consider the work that goes into making each fighter feel unique while still maintaining a relatively balanced game. We took some time to test out a lot of the newcomers to the Super Smash Bros. series, both on the Wii U and on the 3DS, and they definitely each have their own niche.
If there's one thing that the folks at Double Fine aren't known for, it's being pigeon-holed into making the same game. In fact, almost all of its titles are wildly different from one another. From the likes of Brütal Legend to Stacking to Broken Age, nothing the studio does is derivative of its past works.
It's not exactly a flag that Double Fine waves proudly, but it maybe kind of is, in a way. That's why when I sat down with publishing manager Greg Rice last month to talk about Costume Quest 2, he almost sheepishly started off with "Well, it's the first sequel we've ever done," (apart from the add-on to Double Fine Happy Action Theater, which hardly counts).
The statement struck me as unusual as I mentally ran down the company's list of titles. "Has Double Fine really gone this long without iterating on any of its other games?" I pondered. Apparently so, and Costume Quest 2 will be the game that finally breaks the streak.
And, that's okay, because more Costume Quest is never a bad thing.
[Update: Apparently, just this morning, Sega decided to subtitle both Sonic Boom for Wii U and the upcoming Sonic 3DS game. Sonic Boom on Wii U is now Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, and the 3DS title is Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal. This preview only looks at Rise of Lyric.]
Heading into a recent play session with Sega's Sonic Boom, I was filled with odd, conflicting senses of hesitation and anticipation. Would this be an all-out trainwreck that I had to cringe my way through? If I set my internal bar low enough, would I be strangely surprised? Heaven forbid, might it actually be good?
The Sonic name has sat in an uncomfortable place for years now -- past failures in the franchise simultaneously meriting both more lenient expectations and a more critical eye to future installments. Sonic Boom looks to be no exception. Its faults stick out like poorly bandaged sore thumbs, but some of them are sort of acceptable because it's Sonic. Sort of.
The demo that we were shown was broken up into a few different sections that could be selected. There was a level from the campaign, a boss fight against Doctor Eggman, and a fast-paced, on-rails level to zoom through. They all played very differently from one another, and gave good indication as to what Sonic Boom's strengths and weakness truly are.
Mario Kart 8 has unveiled two "new" characters. They are Baby Rosalina and Pink Gold Peach. What the heck, right? You're probably rolling your eyes at the lack of surprise with Baby Rosalina (who's joining Baby Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Daisy), but Pink Gold Peach?
Think Metal Mario, but a more precious, royal metal (gold) and then pink because femininity is pink even though I'm wearing a pink shirt right now and I am super manly. Seriously. I am eating a pound of salami and a half pound of cheese for lunch.
The developers at Toys For Bob are back in the saddle with Skylanders Trap Team, the next entry in their hit toys-meet-videogame franchise. This time the hook involves you capturing villains and enslaving brainwashing reforming them to work for you. Same overall formula where you use Skylanders both old and new, but now you have the aid of all the bad guys.
This means a new Portal of Power, plus a whole new set of toys specifically designed for capturing the villains.
The delay of Ubisoft Montreal's new open world IP, Watch Dogs, surprised many. With only a month away from launch, and a rather bold marketing push for the holiday season, Ubisoft appeared ready, but then we found it wasn't. At all. It's not too often you see publishers holding back a game's release to further development, and it's certainly admirable of them to be so honest.
"The game wasn't finished," said lead game designer Danny Belanger rather bluntly. "You see all the content we have, there was a lot of different parts of it that were not at the level we wanted -- so it was hard, there was a lot of others reasons too, but at the end of the day, we didn't want to release the game in state we weren't happy with."
With its May release approaching, Ubisoft is ready to unveil its upcoming open world action title, and the publisher invited the press to get plenty of hands-on time with the game. As you can tell with title, I came away pretty pleased, though I have some reservations still.
Last year, the news of Ubisoft making an old-school throwback to the JRPG genre took a number of people by surprise. When Destructoid got the chance to check it out, there was a healthy amount of curiosity around it. Not too many people knew what to make of it, especially considering it was coming from the team that made Far Cry 3, which is a title that seems very far apart from it.
But after spending some time with Child of Light, about three hours to be exact, there might be more in common with these two titles than you think. I got the chance to talk with lead writer Jeffrey Yohalem, and saw what passion and a small team working on a unique throwback to JRPG titles managed to come up with.
As an institution within the videogame racing genre, Mario Kart has always been an example of what arcade style racing is all about. Focusing on simple, pick up and play gameplay, while still offering high level skill based action, the Mario Kart series has been going strong for over twenty years; and it doesn't seem like it'll stop any time soon.
Now, the series is finally taking its first steps onto an HD platform, and after spending about an hour of playtime with it, I just don't see how they can go back after this. I'm just going to come right out and say it: Mario Kart 8 is one gorgeous game.
As the first full HD release of the series, the developers at Nintendo went the extra mile with creating a game that is visually spectacular, but also the most content rich game of the series.
[Update: Frima Studios has reached out and informed us that it miscommunicated its statement about not being able to clear the game solo. The game can be beaten singleplayer, but only about 80 percent of the optional paths are accessible without a cooperative partner.]
Of all the titles on display at IGN's independent games mixer at GDC, I couldn't help but be intrigued by one in particular. It was kind of tucked away in a corner, but that didn't mean that it wasn't getting its share of traffic. That's because it immediately looked cute, colorful, and challenging -- three criteria that certainly help indie games flourish. At first glance, it seemed like the kind of game that could win your heart in an instant.
The game in question is Chariot, a co-op platformer by Frima Studios. Chariot's centered around a princess that's out to take her recently deceased father to the resting place of his choosing. She does this by lugging his casket through perilous ancient caves in an effort to please him.
In recent times it seems as though games in 'retro-style' are on the rise. Perhaps this is nostalgia at work for a bygone era of gaming, or maybe there's an endearing spirit and honesty from gaming's past that still resonates with people. One such title that believes in the later is Hyper Light Drifter. After an enormously successful Kickstarter campaign, the developers have been keeping things pretty close to the vest since it was funded.
During GDC, IGN hosted their Media Indie Exchange event to show off new and upcoming titles from independent developers and on-hand were the developers of Hyper Light Drifter with a new build. After getting some much appreciated hands-on time, we spoke with Heart Machine's Alex Preston, got to learn how the development of Hyper Light Drifter has been going, and how you can incorporate retro games into modern game design.
Aban Hawkins & the 1000 Spikes was a great concept. It launched way back in 2011 on the Xbox Live Indie store for a whole dollar, and remains one of the best games on the marketplace to this day. But the folks over at Nicalis knew that it was meant for something greater -- enter 1001 Spikes.
This confusingly named follow-up is set to rock on the Wii U, 3DS, Vita, and PS4 sometime this year, and if what I've played of an updated version is any indication, it's worth the wait.
Last year, after a very successful Kickstarter campaign, Black Forest Games was able to take what started as a Mario rip-off with the Great Giana Sisters and turn it into a unique, beautiful platformer. After being one of the first Steam Greenlight games released, as well as popping the title on to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is now available in Mario's home base.
I recently got to play a solid few hours of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and was able to do whatever I wanted, outside of the select core missions Ubisoft wanted to specifically show off. There was a lot to do, but I wanted to focus specifically the open ocean world and how you'll be interacting with it here.
Why? Because it was easily my favorite new feature for the Assassin's Creed series due to it being something fresh and different. Plus I liked ramming my big ship into tiny little ships because I'm the best pirate ever.