So for the second day of PAX, we’ll look at four big meetings I had. We’ll start with Twisted Pixel, then check out some of WB Games’ titles. After that we’ll see what iPad games Big Fish featured, and conclude with some big time Epic Mickey coverage! So click to read some more PAX 2012 fun!
What’s funny is that nearly every year at PAX, the companies in the showrooms are nearly always in the exact place that they were the year before. So when it came time to meet with Twisted Pixel, I knew exactly where to find them: right next to the Behemoth booth. Behemoth was showing off their upcoming Battle Block Theater game as well as the arcade machines where you could play their big hit Castle Crashers.
Twisted Pixel is one of my favorite up and coming game developers. They’re located in Austin, TX, which is cool since that’s where I lived when I was in college many years ago! They make some of my favorite Xbox LIVE downloadable titles. At this year’s PAX they had their best booth yet, I’d say it was E3 caliber even. They had themed stations set up where you could play their lineup of titles, such as The Maw, Comic Jumper, Ms. Splosion Man, and The Gunstringer.
Here is where you could play The Maw. It was Twisted Pixel’s first Xbox LIVE game, and still my favorite Twisted Pixel title (it was even on the PAX 10 way back when). The Maw is the most family-friendly of their lineup, and I still recommend it to Xbox 360 owners who have gamer kids. It’s a colorful 3-D platformer where you guide around a purple alien who eats anything and grows bigger in every stage!
Here’s where you could play Ms. ‘Splosion Man, the sequel to one of Twisted Pixel’s most successful titles.
And here’s the western themed section where you could play their first retail game: The GunStringer for Kinect.
There was also a band nearby playing silly songs from Twisted Pixel’s lineup.
I’ve reviewed nearly all of Twisted Pixel’s games, so if you want to learn more about them, just do a search for those titles along with my name on Google. The last thing that Twisted Pixel was showing off at their booth was their recently announced new game: LocoCycle. In this game, you play as a living motorcycle named I.R.I.S. If GlaDOS from Portal and Kitt from Knight Rider had a baby, it would probably be I.R.I.S. From what I could tell by the gameplay video they showed, LocoCycle looks like a cross between OutRun and Spy Hunter, as the living motorcycle shoots down cars and enemies with machine guns and crazy transformations while zipping down wide sections of road.
LocoCycle also seems to carry the same twisted, slightly juvenile and off color sense of humor from their last few games. I.R.I.S. talks a lot like GlaDOS, spouting movie quotes (like Back to the Future), and other comments in the same dry, computerized female voice. In the game, I.R.I.S. was dragging a hapless Spanish-speaking man behind her. In real life, he’d be a dead piece of mangled meat. But he was OK here since it’s just a silly video game, although he did beg for I.R.I.S. to slow down a lot! Sometimes you’d have to fight human enemies jumping out of cars and on jetpacks, and when this happened, the game would slow down like in ‘bullet time’ as the motorcycle would transform and punch and ‘kick’ with her tires and even sling around that poor man she’s dragging behind her! The folks who made the game were still pretty tight-lipped about important details, like will LocoCycle be downloadable or retail, or if it’ll be a Kinect game or just use a controller. No release date yet either, but it should be out sometime next year.
They had a ton of games at WB’s booth. Most of it was devoted to the DC super hero stuff like Batman and the new Injustice fighting game. But I had a meeting for a closer look at LEGO Lord of the Rings and Scribblenauts Unlimited. LEGO Lord of the Rings looks like any of the other LEGO movie games, so if you liked those and the LOTR films, you’ll enjoy this one, too. The LEGO characters are fully voiced, just as they were in LEGO Batman 2. But this time the lines are taken directly from the movie, so it should be funny seeing Orlando Bloom and the gang speak the movie lines in LEGO form.
The Scribblenauts Unlimited demo was the same one I tried at E3. But again, it was great that the public got a chance to play the Wii U, too. The lady showing the demo helped me again with the new character creation mode that lets you create your own wacky doodles. She made a triceratops with a hot dog body that shoots out hot dogs and renamed it Hotdogatops! I think Scribblenauts Unlimited will be very fun and even educational, and it’s also one of the first Wii U games I’m really looking forward to!
Big Fish Games
Since I recently just got an iPad, I’ve been trying to learn more about what games you can play on it. So I set up a meeting with Big Fish Games, who was showing a lot of their iPad lineup at PAX. First was Fairway Solitaire. It’s the classic single player card game with a golf twist. It’s free to play, but you’ll have to pay for additional challenges and events. There’s a fun and interactive tutorial mode, too. Later on they’re going to release a more fast-paced arcade-y version of Fairway Solitaire, too. I’m definitely going to have to try it on my iPad someday. I’m going to make sure to tell my dad about it, too, as he also has an iPad and loves golf!
Another Big Fish game I’m going to make sure to tell my dad about is Drawn. He loves point and click adventure games like Myst, so Drawn looks right up his alley. Drawn has a more storybook style to it, though, and the puzzles should be a lot more intuitive and fun. It’s also free to play, but you’ll have to pay if you want to see it through to the end.
Another free to play game they had on hand was Big Fish Casino, but you pay for more chips. It has all your casino favorites, like Blackjack, slots, and poker. They had an original version of poker where you have to try and make words with your hand of letter cards. Some of the slot machines had multiplayer aspects as well. One car themed slot had a racing mini-game where you compete with three other players online!
The last game I saw at Big Fish was Fleck. It’s a social online game similar to Farmville, where you can grow and give plants to friends as well as help them fight enemies. The neat thing is that it uses a real life world map to construct the areas. In fact, if you are helping friends fight zombies and run low on health, you can just find a real life restaurant on the map and go there to refill your energy! Definitely looks like one of those games I could spend too much time on if I let myself!
Nintendo Handheld Lounge
Before I start talking about my last meeting, I wanted to mention the Nintendo Handheld Lounge as promised. Just like last year, Nintendo sponsored the bean bag filled area of PAX where gamers could play handheld games together. They also used it to show off their upcoming lineup which included Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Luigi’s Mansion 2, Pokemon Black & White 2, as well as third party handheld titles like Adventure Time (definitely feels like a WayForward title), Skylanders Giants, and Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion.
But the coolest thing at the Nintendo Handheld Lounge was the area where they were showing off the Kirby 20th Anniversary Collection on Wii, which comes out September 16, the day after my birthday! This collection will have six of Kirby’s main adventures, as well as a history timeline, cartoons, and other new stuff. Also included is a CD soundtrack and artbook! I can’t wait for it to come out! I promise I will talk more about it in a future blog. Here’s a Kirby timeline they had on one of the walls. Only problem is they are missing a game, but it was only released in Japan (Kirby Super Star Stacker on the Super Famicom).
And here is a neat Kirby mural next to it.
Only problem is I had to miss one of the Kirby events at PAX. To celebrate Kirby’s 20th anniversary, they were going to try for a Guinness record of people blowing the most pink bubble gum bubbles at the same time. Participants could get a Kirby T-shirt and other goodies. Unfortunately, the line capped out even before the check in started! Oh well, I can’t really blow bubbles with gum very well anyway, and I had a roundtable discussion meeting with Warren Spector to go to at the same time. Since I’m such a big Kirby fan, I hope the folks at Disney feel slightly honored that I missed the big Kirby celebration to learn more about Epic Mickey 2! Ha ha! At least I got a cool Kirby poster and stress ball for playing the game!
Epic Disney Power!
And speaking of Epic Mickey 2, I’m glad I got to play it at PAX because I didn’t get a whole lot of time with it at E3 (I spent most of my E3 time at Disney getting Oswald ear hats!). Anyway, so at PAX I first played a little bit of the tutorial level on the Wii version. It seems to play pretty much like the original game, with Mickey spraying paint to fill in surfaces, and thinner to clear things out of the way. The tutorial level was made to look like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from Fantasia, and included all the familiars like the walking brooms and the starry night sky scene. Of course, the main new thing about Epic Mickey 2 is that Oswald the Rabbit is along for the ride, and two people can play co-op at the same time! The neat thing about the Wii version I played was that the nunchuck was shaped like a paintbrush, and the tip would light up blue or green depending on whether you are using paint or thinner! The Disney rep at the demo station said there’s also a nunchuck shaped like Oswald’s remote! I don’t know if those special nunchucks come with the Wii version of the game or if they’re part of a special edition or sold separately, but they looked pretty cool and almost makes me want the Wii version instead of the 360 one. They also had the 360 and PS3 versions of Epic Mickey 2 on display, showing a new level called Disney Gulch, based on the Frontierland section of Disney theme parks. In the demo, you had to figure out how to get into Fort Wasteland, and there were many ways to do so.
Even better was that I got to try the 3DS game: Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. It’s a 16-bit styled 2-D platformer and a direct sequel to the Sega Genesis classic Castle of Illusion and World of Illusion titles. Since I never had a Genesis, I’m not as familiar with those games, but from what I do know about them, Power of Illusion plays nearly exactly like those, so fans should be pleased. At certain points, you can draw or erase objects on the bottom screen to create platforms or rub out enemies so that Mickey can pass on through. I could even draw Scrooge McDuck if I wanted to, but it was too hard to draw and I didn’t have enough paint anyway. The stylus that I used to play was also shaped like a paintbrush, so I don’t know if it’s a special stylus for a limited edition version of the game or what. All I know is that I’m super excited for both Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two and Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion.
As said earlier, I got to participate in a roundtable discussion about Epic Mickey 2 with Warren Spector, producer of both the original Epic Mickey and its sequel. That was really a lot of fun. He revealed some interesting things about the new game, like how it is now fully voiced and in 17 different languages! The neat thing is that some of these characters never had a voice before, like Oswald the Rabbit, who was only originally in silent films. So now we can say that it was a video game that gave Oswald his voice! I also thought it was interesting that Warren said that Disney gave him quite a bit of freedom, but wouldn’t let him show Mickey’s teeth!
As we went through the Fort Wasteland level, Warren emphasized choices and consequences in Epic Mickey 2. For instance, he said there are four different ways to get into the fort, and whether you choose platform jumping or fighting, you’ll have to deal with the consequences of your choices later. When a second player picks up the controller to join in as Oswald, you’ll be able to reach all sorts of places you couldn’t before, thanks to Oswald’s ability to fly with his ears. And collectibles like tickets and pins are back, too.
Warren also mentioned that he wanted to make a game that was like an interactive musical. So at certain points in Epic Mickey 2, characters burst into song! I told him that if he likes songs in video games, he should try TellTale’s first Sam & Max title. He said he had it on his computer but hasn’t played it yet, so I hope he takes my advice someday and tries it!
After Warren showed us the game, we got to ask him some questions! I was disappointed that many of the other journalists asked him about Deus Ex, not Epic Mickey 2, but oh well. I got to ask him a couple of questions myself! One of my good friends is a big Oswald fan, and one of my favorite things about the first game was that you could unlock a couple of Oswald and Mickey cartoons. My friend told me that recently, they found an Oswald cartoon they thought was lost for good. So my friend wanted me to ask if that cartoon or any others would be unlockable to view in the sequel. Warren couldn’t tell me if there were going to be unlockable cartoons, but he did say that at a recent Disney company event to show off Epic Mickey 2, they did view that lost cartoon, called “Hungry Hobos!”
The other question I asked Warren is one I always like to ask game producers when I get to interview them. “What kinds of advice would you give a young person who wants to grow up and make games like you someday?” He first laughed and jokingly said, “Seek professional help!” But his real answer was “Find something you are passionate about and go with it and never settle for less.” That’s good advice for life in general, really. At any rate, the roundtable discussion with Warren Spector was very fun, and one of my favorite things I’ve ever done at PAX. He was also very funny and made me laugh out loud several times during the session. I’m very thankful that Disney let me participate in that event.
One last Disney related thing. At the GameWorks arcade near the convention center, they had a Fix-It Felix Jr. arcade machine to help promote the upcoming movie: Wreck-It Ralph. You could even play it, too! I’m really looking forward to that movie and can’t wait to see it! Here’s a picture of the display at GameWorks.
And that’s all for the second day! On the final day of my PAX articles, we’ll check out more games, hop on the Tekken bus, and see some funny game costumes! Later!