Next up on my E3 coverage, we’ll take a look at the games from companies that I set up meetings with! Nearly all of my meetings were in the South Hall, and I had forgotten that South Hall is really where most of the fun is! There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started!
Like I said last time, please forgive me if I don’t cover certain games at the show. I’m just one person, and can’t cover EVERYTHING there is to see at E3. So for my coverage, I tried to narrow my focus a bit. Since I write for GamingWithChildren.com, I tried to focus on the family friendly games at E3. And the games that interested me, too. Luckily, most of the games I’m interested in are family friendly! There are a couple of games I looked at that are for more mature gamers, but you’ll know which ones I’m talking about when I get there.
Even though Majesco only had three games to show, each one was really interesting and sure to be a hit. The first game, NBA Baller Beats, combines sports, exercise, and music games in a really creative way. It’s a Kinect game where you dribble a basketball to the beat of the music. The game comes with its very own basketball, and the Kinect camera can sense when the ball hits the ground, and what hand you are dribbling with. Gameplay is similar to Rock Band and has tons of licensed songs that fit well with the basketball theme. And having all the NBA teams to choose from helps, too. Not only does the game sense when you dribble and with which hand, sometimes you may also have to hold the basketball in different poses in time with the beat. I think that this would be a great game to help young sports enthusiasts practice their basic basketball skills.
During the presentation, they had a professional basketball player demo the game. And he was really good, too! I think I now know how a non-gamer must feel whenever they see someone ace through a video game. Because I felt really intimidated when I saw this guy play NBA Baller Beats. Between me being blind in my left eye, and just being a klutz in general, I really can’t dribble a basketball very well at all and I don’t think I’d truly be able to review this game. Plus I don’t know how this game would work if you had all carpeted floors. The folks there said it would still work, but I’m still a tiny bit skeptical. However, I still think the game is a creative idea and should be fun for folks who enjoy playing basketball.
The next game Majesco showed me also combines exercise and music in a fun way. The Zumba video games have been a hit for them, so now they’re making Zumba Fitness Core for Kinect and Wii. It’s a lot like the other Zumba Fitness games, except with a focus on core exercises, which really work areas like your abs. Core also features a wider variety of dance styles and licensed songs, so I think it’ll be a fun and educational way for kids and adults to get up and move, and get some exercise in the process.
Demoing the game on stage were professional Zumba fitness instructors, including celebrity trainer Gina Grant. It was a lot of fun to meet and talk with her about the game. Here she is about to start a new routine in the game.
The last game Majesco showed brought back memories of my gaming childhood. Double Dragon Neon by WayForward (Shantae, A Boy and His Blob), is a remake/update of the classic brawler. They’ve added new moves and techniques to keep the game fresh, but it still feels like the old game. The game starts out just like it did, with thugs kidnapping your girlfriend while you’re still in the garage with your car. Even Abobo returns, and he’s bigger and badder than ever! They even have the part with the conveyor belt where you can throw people off the edge!
I loved the 80’s motif they gave this remake. Everything has a florescent neon Miami Vice look to it (hence the Neon name). Even whip wielding Linda wears bright pink leg warmers! When you revive a teammate, it shows a pencil rewinding a tape! The hand that tells you to go left or right looks like a Power Glove, too! Even the music has an 80’s vibe to it, but I couldn’t hear it since E3 is so loud. As a child of the 80’s, I was loving all this. The 3-D graphics look great, and if WayForward can get me to like a BloodRayne game, I’m sure they can do Double Dragon justice, too.
Nyko is one of the leading game accessory and controller makers, and they had a few things that interested me at the show. They had a couple of crazy accessories using the Yo Gabba Gabba characters, a popular kids’ show on Nick Jr. First was a backpack/fanny pack made to look like Brobee. It can hold all your kid’s handheld games and accessories, comes with a Brobee screen cleaner, and you can even switch his frown to a smile. The other item was a DS and 3DS charger featuring Muno. But it was also a radio, alarm clock, and could play songs from the show. Muno would even dance when you did that.
Nyko showed off lots of other stuff, too. Like their own 3DS dual analog stick, and a nice arcade style fighting joystick. They were giving out red superhero capes to anyone who won while playing one of the fighter games on display. I knew I would never win that, so I didn’t even try. Oh well. Nearly every year that I’ve been to E3, it seems like Nyko has made a tradition of having their booth model helpers wear bright red wigs (they even gave them out to people at last year’s show). The red haired ladies were back again this year, too!
The makers of the Harvest Moon series were celebrating their 15th anniversary of their popular farm sim with a new game: Harvest Moon: A New Beginning. Customization is a big feature of this latest entry. You can design your farmer’s look and clothes and grow textile materials and fabrics (like cotton) to make more. Decorate your house with wallpaper, flooring, and furniture you make yourself. And if you don’t like the layout of your farm and town, you can just move things around there, too! Yes, your farmer just picks up houses and moves them. He or she must be really strong! Spinach must be a crop you can grow on this farm. New animals you can have on your farm include llamas and yaks. Nintendo had better watch out, Natsume may beat them to the Animal Crossing punch!
At Natsume’s booth they also had what I like to call the Wall O’ Harvest Moon, showing off every game in their 15 year history. Have you played them all?
Natsume was also showing off their iPad/iPhone titles, some of which have already appear on DS like Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming, Cheer We Go, and a Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove puzzle game. They’re also making a new Reel Fishing game on Wii featuring ocean fishing and downloadable content.
Even before the show started on the second day, I was already meeting with niche publisher Aksys Games. They have a big lineup of upcoming titles, including a downloadable PS Move title called Crazy Strike Bowling, a cartoony fun-looking bowling challenge. Agarest War 2, due out soon, is the sequel to the popular strategy RPG. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward is a 3DS sequel to the DS puzzler thriller 999. It uses the capabilities of the 3DS for puzzle solving, and fans of Phoenix Wright and scary horror thrillers should like it. Ragnarok Tactics uses characters and settings from the classic online game, but with tactical RPG gameplay. And it’s for PSP, so it’s nice to see Aksys still supporting that system. Finally they announced Bit.Trip Runner 2 for Wii U!
Activision had something for everyone at their booth. Not only were they showing off new Spider-Man, 007, and Call of Duty games, I got an up close and personal look at Skylanders Giants and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.
We here at GamingWithChildren love Skylanders, and more than one of us has written big articles about them. Skylanders Giants plays pretty much just like how the last one did. Except in this one, you can get giant figures that are twice as big as the regular ones. They even have parts on them that light up when you put them on the Portal of Power. In game, giants are super powerful and can lift heavy rocks. But the smaller figures are still important as they are faster and can fit into places the giants can’t. And the game will feature new regular figures as well as Series 2 versions of existing figures. Some of the Series 2 figures will light up as well, and the level cap is even higher this time. Just as in the last game, you can use your figures on your friend’s game, even if they have a different system. And all your levels, hats, and stats from your old figures will work in Giants as well.
At the booth, they had large statues of some of the new characters. Here’s Pop Fizz, a magic type who uses potions.
And here’s one of the giant figures: Tree Rex.
Finally, here’s one of the existing Skylanders, Prism Break, showing off the new light up features.
I also checked out Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (I hear it’s actually a sequel, why didn’t I know about that?). This game takes place millions of years before the Autobots and Decepticons land on Earth. They’re still fighting on their home planet of Cybertron, but years of war have ravaged the planet and it is dying. Now the robots are fighting for the last energon resources. The characters are more akin to the original toy line and cartoon I remember, not the new Michael Bay movies. Even though the robots transform into Cybertron vehicles, you can still tell who they are. They showed us a level where you play as Starscream, Optimus Prime, and even Grimlock! (They explain how Grimlock can turn into a dinosaur before ever reaching Earth). I even played an intro level as Bumblebee. Optimus Prime could even control the city transforming Metroplex when you needed to break down giant towers! A lot of the voice actors from the old cartoon contributed to this game, too. My inner child was just in awe. Why couldn’t they have a Transformers game like this when I was a kid? Only problem is that it’s a third person shooter, and I stink at those kinds of games! Oh well, maybe I can have my brother Jeff play it for me while I watch.
I was a little disappointed with how Square-Enix handled their meetings at this E3. All you got was a sticker on your badge that let you get to the front of the line at the movie demos. But I really wasn’t interested in seeing the new Tomb Raider and Hitman titles. You still had to wait in line to play the other games. But oh well, they must’ve been very busy.
Kingdom Hearts 3DS plays a lot like the other titles in the series, so expect lots of fun hack and slash action. I played a level where Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are the Three Musketeers, and there were also levels based on the new TRON movie and the animated Hunchback of Notre Dame. A bit too much usage of Organization XIII for my tastes, though.
I was also excited to play Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, a 3DS music game featuring songs and characters from the popular RPG franchise. Only problem is E3 was so loud, I couldn’t hear the music even WITH headphones! Oh well, the game comes out in less than a month, so I’ll be able to enjoy it then.
The last game I played at Square-Enix was a bit of a surprise. It’s called Quantum Conundrum, and it’s a 3-D puzzler similar to Portal. You can change dimensions to solve various switch puzzles, and they even start you out how they do in Portal, automatically switching dimensions for you to get you used to the gameplay. In the game, I switched from a fluffy dimension to a metal dimension to make things heavy and light so I could carry things and weigh down switches. It seems a bit more cartoony and family friendly than Portal, but I think fans will enjoy it all the same.
I noticed that a lot of games at E3 had awards and ribbons by them that said ‘best of show,’ from different Web sites. I wonder if I could make awards like that next time and put them on games I liked.
I also checked out a new accessory for iPads. It’s a die that you can roll and the numbers light up and you can play board games on your iPad like Parcheesi and a unique finger Twister game. The die connects to your iPad wirelessly and will automatically count your moves after you roll. If the die lands on an uneven surface, the numbers will light up red to let you know to roll again. It looks like a neat idea, and will be available in December.
Looming over their booth was a giant Finn and Jake from Adventure Time. D3 is publishing an Adventure Time game from WayForward (so you know it’ll be good). But unfortunately, it wasn’t playable at E3. Oh well, I like Regular Show better anyway.
They did show off games based on Rise of the Guardians, a new DreamWorks holiday movie where kid heroes like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc. team up to fight evil. They also had Ben 10: Onmiverse, based on the popular cartoon show. Both games play similar, like a Gauntlet style co-op multiplayer brawler. They also showed a Madagascar 3 game which I’ll be reviewing soon.
D3 is also publishing a couple of downloadable console titles that look really cool. First was PiD, a 2-D puzzler platformer where you play as a boy who can throw beams of light, and then ride them. It’s similar to the beams of light puzzles you solve in Portal 2. I can’t wait to get it. But even more, I really want to get Retro City Rampage. It’s an 8-bit style retro game where you cause all sorts of mayhem. Kind of like a 2-D Grand Theft Auto, but the violence is all cartoony and 8-bit. Best of all, Retro City Rampage has three mini-games featuring characters from other popular downloadable titles. There’s a road running Rad Racer style game with Super Meat Boy with all red Virtual Boy graphics. Also 8-bit versions of Bit.Trip Runner and ‘Splosion Man! I wish Mircosoft would let them finally release this game; I’d love to play it!
2K Games was showing lots of games, including Borderlands 2. I wasn’t really interested in that, but I did take a picture of this cool sculpture based on the game.
But I wasn’t there to play that. I was there to check out 2K Play’s line-up of family friendly titles! They had a few iPad titles that looked pretty fun. First was Herd! Herd! Herd!, an animal herding game where you use your finger on the touch pad to herd the animals to their pens. Each animal has different behaviors and there are lots of obstacles and challenges. Another was called House Pest, which featured pretty good 3-D graphics for an iPad game. In House Pest, a mischievous cat named Fiasco makes messes and causes trouble around the house, and you must play touch screen mini-games to fix everything up! Finally on the iPad lineup was Comedy Central’s Indecision Game, a humorous trivia challenge featuring fun facts about US politics and history. I think it’ll end up being educational, too, and it’ll be out soon!
2K Play also had some Nick Jr. games as well. They have upcoming DS titles featuring the Bubble Guppies, and Team UmiZoomi and Dora will pair up for another unique DS adventure. Finally is Nickelodeon Dance 2 for Kinect and Wii, with more songs and Nick Jr. characters than before (including Swiper the Fox, yay!).
Point and click adventure maker TellTale was showing off Episode 2 of their milling selling Walking Dead series, based on the popular TV shows. I think this was one of the only adult only titles I saw at E3. They showed us the first twenty minutes of Episode 2: Starved for Help, and it was some of the most gory stuff I’ve seen in a game. They showed that choices you made in the first episode will show up in the second, and the next adventure has even more decision making and zombie fighting than ever. I did like the catering table they had outside their booth, though. Hope you like severed hands! Eww!
Last on my list of meetings was with SEGA. I really liked their booth as they had plenty of space to walk around, fun goodies, and lots of games for all ages. And a giant Sonic statue.
Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed was the big game they were showing off here. It’s a kart style racing sequel that features Sonic and SEGA characters. New characters include Vyse from Skies of Arcadia and the dwarf from Golden Axe. I played as Tails and Amigo, though. When I asked if my favorite SEGA characters Ulala and Ristar would be in it, I got a ‘no comment.’ Oh well, I guess I’ll have to wait until later to find out!
The big new thing about this racing sequel is your car can transform into a plane or boat. Air and water racing controls different than on road, and each character drives differently, too. But play control is still very responsive and easy to learn, too. You could even do tricks in the air to give you a boost when you land.
The three tracks you could race on at E3 included ones based on Panzer Dragoon, Super Monkey Ball, and Golden Axe. The courses are ever changing and no two laps are the same. I especially liked the Golden Axe track, as a fierce battle was going on and parts of the track would be burned or destroyed each time you went around. In the second lap, for instance, you’d have to avoid fire on the road. But by the third lap, the road would be totally destroyed so you’d have to fly over it in airplane mode as the bridge ran out and the track sank in the lava! I think it will be a really fun game and should give Mario Kart 7 a run for its money!
SEGA also had a new Aliens game on display. I didn’t play it, but I did like the life sized statues they used to decorate their booth with.
I also played two PS Vita games from SEGA. First was Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz. But it just played like any other Monkey Ball game. The other Vita game I played from SEGA wasn’t even at their booth at all! I tried it out at Sony’s booth instead. It was called Hatsune Miku and featured a popular Vocaloid anime character. It was a music game that was really hard. I hate it when music games stop you when you don’t do well, why can’t they let you play the whole song and enjoy it, no matter how bad you do? Well, anyway, I don’t know much about this Vocaloid stuff, but I have a feeling I’ve seen that Hatsune Miku character before. She looks like a neat and fun character anyway. Maybe one of you can fill me in on this?
Well, that’s all the meetings I had at E3. For my final E3 article, I’ll talk about the games and companies I visited in between meetings! Later! –Cary