Another E3 has come and gone, so I thought I’d write a blog about my favorite games and news stories from the show. But before we get to that, I have to rant a little bit. I do apologize in advance, but for the second year in a row I was denied a press pass to E3. So I have to gripe about that a second.
I’ve been writing game reviews semi-professionally for nearly 20 years now. And whether it was for The Dallas Morning News or the GamerDad.com site, I’ve been able to get a press pass to E3 every year I’ve gone with little to no problems. I’ve been going there since, oh, 1997 or so. I’ve skipped a few of them over the years, but most of them I’ve been to. But the past couple of years, for whatever reason, they’ve denied my request for a press pass.
In a way, I’m glad that E3 is very selective about who gets into the convention. Pretty much anyone can make a gaming Web site nowadays, so the E3 folks need to be picky so the show doesn’t get overcrowded (I don’t think it was too crowded last time I went however). But I think they should look at other factors, too. Like experience. E3 press staff KNOWS I’ve been going to E3 for a long time, and I know they have me on file. I didn’t just poop out a game review on the Internet yesterday and expect to be let into E3.
While I understand why the E3 staff needs to be this way, I think they are shooting themselves in the foot. Not only does it hurt me as a game reviewer to be denied a pass into E3, but I also think it hurts the publishers and developers, too. I think the gaming industry NEEDS smaller, enthusiast game sites as well as the big ones.
When I go to E3 I cover the show a little bit differently. I mostly look at family friendly games instead of just all the titles like most sites do. Of course, that has a lot to do with the site I write for, but those are the games I like best anyway so it’s OK. Big game sites aren’t going to cover stuff like Gardening Mama 2 like I do. So I bet a lot of games won’t be covered this year since less site writers will be allowed into E3.
Some may argue that E3 isn’t necessary anymore because of all the technology we have now. And some of that is true. Nintendo didn’t need a press conference because they have Nintendo Direct, which is probably cheaper for them to do. They were still at the show. But I don’t think anything can replace being able to talk to the PR reps in person and getting hands-on time with the games. Speaking of PR professionals, when I told them why I wouldn’t be going this year, many of them were equally surprised and appalled. I really appreciate all the help and support that the PR people have given me through this and in the past, too. I think one of my favorite things about going to E3 is getting to meet and talk with those folks up close and personal. With all the technology that we have now, I hope we never lose sight of the importance of physical personal interactions. These contacts help me review more games and write the reviews better, too!
Of course, the worst part of not going to E3 is that all those pretty booth ladies are going to miss seeing me this year. JUST JOKING! JUST JOKING! Sorry, I had to be a little bit silly there. Just trying to lighten the mood.
But seriously, you know what the worst part of not being able to go to E3 is? You see, I’ve been blind in my left eye since birth and can’t drive a car. So when I go to E3, I bring my dad along to help me get around LA. So E3 has always been a great way for us to spend some time together. So I’m a bit sad we didn’t get that opportunity this year. I’m glad that the last time we went, we got there a day earlier so we could go to Universal Studios. One good thing about not going to E3 this year is that since I’ll have extra vacation time, I will be going to Disney World in September with my dad’s side of the family! But I’m still sad about not being able to go to E3 because I don’t get very many opportunities to get out much, and when I do get a chance to get out and it gets cancelled, I get pretty disappointed.
Some folks have told me things like, “Oh you’re lucky you won’t have to go to E3 this year and deal with all the crowds and work.” To that I say, NO! I actually LIKE going to E3. Sure it’s a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun. People who get to write game reviews for a living have no right to complain. If I ever catch a game journalist complaining about having to go to E3, I swear I will rip them a new one. With that said, I apologize for ranting so much about not being able to go to E3. I don’t have a right to complain either, so I guess this might make me sound like a bit of a hypocrite. I hope my rant didn’t make me sound like I was some kind of God’s gift to gaming journalism, and I don’t want you all to feel sorry for me either. Oh well, enough of that. Let’s look at my favorite announced E3 2014 games and news stories!
Microsoft & Sony
I really wish that I could say more about Microsoft and Sony’s games, I really do. I enjoy my PS3 and Xbox 360 a lot, and I want to be a well-rounded game reviewer and not sound like I’m biased toward Nintendo or anything. But at the same time, I’m not going to spend hundreds of dollars on a new game system if there aren’t any games on them that appeal to me. By the first year of both the PS3 and 360, they had a wider variety of games with more whimsical fun themes. The 360 had 3-D platformers like Kameo and colorful creative games like Viva Piñata, and the PS3 had the same thing with titles like LittleBigPlanet. And both had more varied third party support, too. It’s just been a slower process for the new systems I guess. Right now a PS Vita looks more enticing to me. I will say that some E3 games did catch my attention briefly. The 360 will be getting an interesting 2-D platformer called Ori and the Blind Forest, and I like the idea behind Spark, even if I don’t have time to make my own games! I guess they also announced LittleBigPlanet 3 for PS4, which is good, but not a system seller for me (again, I don’t have time to make my own levels in games). I heard something about Ratchet and Clank Remastered, and it is exciting that both Ratchet and Clank and Sly Cooper are getting movies. But that’s about it for Microsoft and Sony.
Everyone gripes at Nintendo for not having a press conference, but I think they did pretty well with their Direct videos and Digital Events. With that said, I’m glad I got to go to their press conference two years ago. I love how it took them forever to describe what the ‘amiibo’ figures do. If they would’ve just said, “It works like Skylanders,” it would’ve saved them a lot of time. I like the idea, though. Skylanders is cool but I never had the desire to collect all the toys. These on the other hand, let’s just say that if they get hard to find at first, and you see a Kirby one, you’d better give it to me! On a related note, I think one of the coolest pieces of E3 news is that Pac-Man is in Smash Bros. Best of all, it’s NOT ‘Ghostly Adventures’ cartoon Pac. The video is so cool, lots of Namco references.
Everyone went ga-ga over less than a minute of footage of Wii U Zelda, but I’m sure it’ll be a fun game anyway. Hyrule Warriors on the other hand, got more playtime and looks interesting. I think Nintendo and Koei got together and said, “How can we get Cary to play a Dynasty Warriors game? Kirby Warriors? Maybe, but let’s make it Zelda instead so it’ll sell more. Cary still likes Zelda, too.” Best part is that you can play as Princess Zelda and Impa. I wonder if you’ll be able to be Tingle, too. At any rate, it may be a silly crossover, but I’m still going to give it a try anyway and have a positive attitude about it. Koei and Nintendo collaborated with Pokemon Conquest, a mix of Pokemon and Nobunaga’s Ambition, and that turned out pretty well, so I’m sure this one will be fun, too.
Yoshi’s Woolly World also looks promising, as a combination of Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Yoshi’s Island. The problem with Yoshi’s New Island on 3DS was it felt too similar to the SNES classic. But the yarn mechanics and two player mode of this new entry promise some new ideas. Mario Maker also looks interesting. Not because I want to make my own Mario levels, but because it uses many motifs from Mario Paint (title screen, icons, etc.). And I loved me some Mario Paint on the SNES as a kid. And speaking of Mario, there’s a Mario vs. Donkey Kong game coming to Wii U as well. Fantasy Life from Level 5 on 3DS looks like Animal Crossing except you fight stuff. And Pokemon Art Academy on 3DS and Art Academy for Wii U look like great educational titles for artists of all ages. Too bad the Wii U one is download only.
You’d think my favorite game of E3 would be Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, a Wii U sequel to the DS Canvas Curse game. But actually, Canvas Curse isn’t one of my favorite Kirby games. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it and I’m glad there’s a sequel coming. But I’d rather have had Kirby Air Ride 2. Regardless, life seems a little better when you know a new Kirby game is coming.
But no, my favorite Nintendo game of the show, heck, my all-around favorite game of E3 was Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, starring my favorite Mario character: Toad. I loved the Captain Toad levels in Mario 3-D World, and even said they’d make a great standalone game on Miiverse. They looked like they’d be some great DLC levels, but it looks like Nintendo is making a whole game out of it (I don’t know, I guess they can still be DLC). Hopefully it’ll be a game you can buy in stores and not an eShop game that Nintendo pooped out. Nintendo showed a lot of other stuff, too, but it didn’t interest me as much so I won’t go into it here.
They had some Disney love with Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix (I still need to play the first HD remix I got for my birthday last year), and Kingdom Hearts 3, one of the only PS4 games I’m interested in. But I bet it won’t be out for a year or more. I’m really looking forward to Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call, though. It comes out the day after my birthday, even! The first one was my Game of the Year in 2012, and I’ve already got the super special collector’s edition of the sequel reserved at Square-Enix’s Web site!
They had two games that caught my eye, one being Prof. Layton vs. Phoenix Wright. And it comes out at the end of August! Sorry Prof. Layton fans, but Phoenix is going to kick his butt! Ha ha! Speaking of which, Capcom is also making a Phoenix Wright Trilogy of the first three games on the 3DS eShop. Since it’s not going to be a cartridge, I probably won’t get it (what’s the point of having a collection if you don’t really ‘own’ it?). But I’m glad they’re doing it anyway so people who missed out on this great series the first time can have a chance to give it a try.
They showed off Sonic Boom, based on the upcoming CG cartoon series. I’m not a big fan of Sonic, but I’m interested to see how this all plays out. And even though I probably wouldn’t buy it myself, I’d love to review Hatsune Miku Project Diva F 2nd, as I’m a sucker for games with cute characters in them.
OK, what gets me about the next three companies I’m going to talk about is that I didn’t see any news coverage on these titles on the gaming sites I visit. See my rant above if you want to know why this disgusts me. I know these were at E3 because I got press releases about them. To be fair, the sites may not have written the articles yet, or I may have overlooked them, and I don’t visit ALL the sites either. But still. Anyway, Little Orbit is publishing a lot of cartoon licensed games, but you’d think someone would’ve talked about Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom since it’s a popular cartoon and the game is made by WayForward. Some of Little Orbits other cartoon games don’t interest me as much, like Disney Planes: Fire and Rescue, but I’d still love to review them for the GamerDad.com site!
Since XSEED is now part of Marvelous, makers of the Harvest Moon series, they now have publishing rights to them now. But they can’t use the title Harvest Moon because Natsume still owns that name. So they’re called it Farm Story: Story of Seasons. Also, XSEED publishes a series of beat ‘em ups featuring well-endowed ninja girls called Senran Kagura. I’m not too interested in those, but they are making a cooking game on the Vita called Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit, which sounds hilariously bad. Too bad I don’t have a Vita!
I was really worried about Natsume when XSEED took the farming game away from them, but luckily Natsume is still going to do their own Harvest Moon games, and this new one is called Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley. Hopefully snobs won’t disregard this one and draw conclusions that it’s not a ‘true’ Harvest Moon game. I say, give them a chance and try ‘em both! Natsume is also publishing an A-Train City Simulator game. I tried playing one of those train games in an arcade and couldn’t figure it out, but I’d be glad to give it a try again. Natsume is also upping their mobile games with neat titles like Gabrielle’s Monstrous Duel, Hometown Story Pocket, and Reel Fishing Pocket 2: Ocean. I hope I get to review some, if not all, of these!
Some other E3 games that interested me include Costume Quest 2, even though I never played the first one (I know, I know, I really should). Also, LEGO Batman 3 should be fun. Lots of indie games were shown, too. I think my favorites were Shovel Knight and Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse. Even though I bash the new CG Pac-Man cartoon a lot, the 3-D platformer game they made out of it wasn’t THAT bad, and Namco is making Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2. And finally, Activision has Skylanders: Trap Team, which I hope to review. I lost my contact at Disney so I don’t know if I’ll be able to review the new Disney Infinity game that has Marvel characters in it. Oh well.
And that’s all for now. In the comments section, let me know what you think of my picks, and tell me YOUR favorite E3 news stories and announced games. And I would like your help, too! If you saw or read any E3 news story that I missed that you think I would like, please let me know as well. Thanks for reading! –Cary