PAX West 2017 Part 2: Runner-ing Around Like a Blue Hedgehog

Like I said in my previous PAX article, I had more meetings at this PAX than any other.  You could say I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  In gaming terms, I was running around the show like a speedy blue hedgehog to attend all those meetings.  Speaking of which, I did meet with SEGA and played a new Sonic game.  Not to mention a bunch of awesome upcoming titles from Square-Enix and even Atari!  And many more, too, so we’d better get started!

Humble Bundle

This company with the name that’s hard to say three times fast started out by selling a group of games at discounted prices, but now they publish games, too!  Most of my meetings at PAX were on the show floor, but some of them were in hotel suites, and even apartment rooms!  That was the case with Humble Bundle.  Unfortunately, I was a little late to this meeting because of misinformation given to me by the reception desk, so I didn’t get to see the game I came to check out there: A Hat in Time.  It’s a 3-D collect-a-thon platformer that hearkens back to when these kinds of games were popular in the mid to late 90’s.  It’s also Humble Bundle’s first console outing.  Even though I didn’t get to check it out at the show, I hope I can review it when it comes out later this year.


Another hotel meeting I had was with Atari.  Old school gamers like me may remember when Atari was king of video games in the 70’s and early 80’s.  Now they’re remaking one of their most famous titles with Tempest 4000.  Tempest was an arcade shooter hit featuring vector graphics.  It’s been updated a few times before, with Tempest 2000 and 3000.  But with 4000, Jeff Minter (Tempest 2000 creator) is back on board.  Tempest 4000 seems to have all the features of the past two games, like hypnotic backgrounds and a thumping techno soundtrack.  There are also power-ups that help boost your score and shoot enemies.  You can also use a jump feature to avoid enemies, but be careful because when you do this, your score won’t be counted.  Classic arcade game fans should look for this downloadable title on consoles and PC later this year or the next.


When I was in high school I loved playing Square’s games in the 16-bit days.  So I was thrilled to find out that many of their showings at PAX were remakes of classic RPGs I loved, or new RPGs with classic sensibilities.  Note that while the pictures posted here were at their booth on the show floor, I was lucky enough to play their games privately in a hotel meeting room across the street.  I’ve been able to do this with them for several years, and I’ve enjoyed it every time.  In fact, Square-Enix’s games were probably my favorites that I played at this show!

Secret of Mana

One of the games I played to death back in the 16-bit days was Secret of Mana.  This new game is a 3-D remake of that original classic.  It features 3-D graphics and voice acting, but still stays true to the original.  It’s still played in a top down fashion and everything seems as I remembered it, so I was able to jump right in!  The fact sheet says it has a newly arranged soundtrack, but the music in the game sounded exactly like the SNES game to me.  One addition I did notice was a map screen on the top right corner.  The map screen looked like the graphics from the SNES game, but since everything is in HD now, the higher resolution allowed that screen to be really small!  One other change I noticed was that once you level up your sword and can hold down the button for a charge attack, the new move was a jump slash move that was harder to hit enemies with than in the SNES version.  But this was just a preview version so I’m sure things can change.  Unfortunately, I could only play until I almost got to the first boss before they made me stop and move onto the next game.  Aww, I had just started!  Oh well, that’s how you know I’ll enjoy this game because I didn’t want to stop playing it!

Lost Sphear

Even though this is a new RPG, it has a lot in common with the classic ones I used to play in the 16-bit days.  It’s made by the same folks who did I am Setsuna, which I loved and reviewed earlier this year on the Switch.  Lost Sphear is a lot like that game, except with less snow.  In the game you play as a boy named Kanata and his friend Lumina and their younger pal Locke.  Their job in the town they live in is to ring the bell to warn others of approaching monsters.  One day when they were away from town for a bit to catch fish for dinner, they hear the bell ring.  Rushing back, they find the whole town has disappeared into a nothingness of white, as well as patches of the world map (I guess that’s how they keep you from exploring places you’re not supposed to go too early).  So now they set out on an adventure to find out what’s happening to their disappearing world.

If you’ve played RPGs like I am Setsuna, or even older ones like Chrono Trigger, you’ll be able to jump right into Lost Sphear.  Tromping around the world map and battle encounters are exactly the same.  One new thing they added to this game is that when it’s your turn to attack in battle, you can freely move around to try and find the best way to fight.  Each character has a range that their weapon can reach.  Kanata uses a sword and strong Lumina punches things with her iron gauntlets, so their weapons have short range.  But Locke shoots a crossbow and you can try to line up his shots by looking at a red line so he can hit multiple enemies at once.  Later on in the game you’ll supposedly be able to don powerful mech armor for stronger attacks.  I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a sequel or spinoff to I am Setsuna, but there is one move where if you hit the square button at the right time, you can do more damage in battle, similar to what you could do in the other game.  In fact, in Lost Sphear, they even call it the “Setsuna System.”  Also, the enemies I fought look exactly like those in the first game.  Anyway, this looks like something I can really sink my teeth into when it comes out next year.

At the main Square Enix booth, they even had a man and a lady dressed up as Kanata and Lumina.  They were probably the best cosplayers at the show.  I don’t know if they were Square Enix employees or just professional cosplayers, but they were both very nice and friendly.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT

One of my favorite games on the PSP was Dissidia Final Fantasy, a fighting game featuring characters from the Final Fantasy series.  Ever since then I’ve always wanted a version of it to play on big consoles, and now we can early next year with Dissidia Final Fantasy NT.  It has a bit more of an arcade-y feel to it, as you battle in teams of three this time, but mostly it feels that way because I believe it’s based on a 2015 Dissidia arcade game.  Plus Team Ninja helped make it, and while I’m not a big fan of Team Ninja, they are experienced in making 3-D fighters.  Because of the more arcade style nature of this game, I’m a little worried the single player experience may not be as robust as it was on the PSP, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

King’s Knight: Wrath of the Dark Dragon

The last game I played at Square Enix was actually at their main booth.  Guess there wasn’t as long of a line to play it.  Anyway, in Final Fantasy XV, the characters play a game called King’s Knight.  And this is a game that’s based on what they’re playing.  King’s Knight was actually originally a game on the NES, and it was a 2-D shooter featuring a fantasy theme and graphics that look like they were lifted out of an 8-bit RPG.  It also wasn’t a very good game either.  The new King’s Knight game hopes to improve on that with much better graphics and hopefully better gameplay.  I had a little trouble controlling the game on the touch screen, as it’s a mobile game.  But then, I didn’t know what I was doing either.  But it’ll be interesting to try this free-to-play classic update when it comes out on mobile devices later this year.


I’ve seen Brawlhalla at PAX before and you might’ve heard of it already.  It’s a free-to-play Smash Bros. type game on PC.  The characters are cartoony and many resemble Vikings and characters from Norse mythology, with a few werewolves and minotaurs mixed in for good measure.  But the reason why I met with them this time is because they’re bringing the game to PS4.  It’ll still be free-to-play, and you can play online with other versions of the game on PC and whatnot.  While the game isn’t quite as good as Smash Bros., it’s still simple fun with light controls and I liked how you could climb up walls like Mega Man X.  I’ll definitely be on the lookout later for this one and maybe even review it.

Arrow Heads

This is a single screen, overhead viewed multiplayer battle game.  You play as one of four cartoony multicolored bird men armed with bows and arrows.  You move around with the left stick and try to shoot other players with arrows.  You aim with the right stick and the longer you move it forward, the farther you’ll shoot your arrows.  So it’s tricky to hit other players, but good simple fun.  Even when you die, you can make your body flop around to stun other players.

Runner 3

I’ve reviewed all the Bit.Trip and Runner games so far, and I hope to review this one, too, when it comes out later next year.  Commander Video is back, running continuously left to right, collecting gold and other score boosting goodies.  Like Runner 2, the graphics are in 3-D, but you still move in 2-D space.  In this game, you can choose branching pathways in 2.5D fashion, similar to games like Klonoa.  In Runner 2, there were secret classic levels that looked like an old video game.  But in this game, the classic levels look like an old 1930’s cartoon!


I met with SEGA to play Sonic Forces, but the majority of their booth was dedicated to a new Warhammer game.  I’m not into Warhammer, so I didn’t check that one out.  But I did win a set of Warhammer pins there for my brother by playing a Sonic trivia game!  But the entrance to the Warhammer area was pretty cool, so I took a picture of it.

Even the sides of the booth were cool, with these waterfall things sticking out.  They had to always have someone around to tell people not to touch the waterfalls, though.  If you don’t want people to touch them, then why put them there in the first place?  And maybe put a ‘don’t touch’ sign there, too, I dunno.

Sonic Forces

But the game I was there to play was Sonic Forces. It’s a 3-D Sonic game that lets you play as modern Sonic and Classic Sonic, like Generations, but you can also create your own character, too.  A lot of people have scoffed at this idea for various reasons, but I think it’s a good idea because kids love Sonic, and they also love making their own characters, so it makes sense to do that here.  Sonic games are for kids, too, not just older Sonic fans!

Anyway, I played a short 3-D level with modern Sonic.  It played like any other 3-D Sonic game, but I did like the graphics, especially the neat water puddle effects on the ground.  Then I saw a boss battle with Classic Sonic.  You fight Dr. Robotnik like the first boss from Sonic 1 with the ball and chain, but then he transforms into a giant mech robot for you to battle.  Then I saw a 2-D level with a created character.  It seemed to play mostly like Sonic, but the created character had a grappling hook and a flamethrower weapon.  Another character I saw had a lightning gun.  Created characters can have special perks, too, like pulling rings toward them or keeping one ring after getting hit.  Finally I played a 3-D level where Sonic and the created character teamed up!  You could dash around with Sonic but take out surrounding enemies with the created character’s weapon.  We’ll just have to see if Sonic fans take to Forces the way they did Mania, but I hope to review it when it comes out later this year.

Also at SEGA’s booth, they had a presentation area where they could show off games and have contests.  I like how they had a sense of humor because at the end of one of their presentations, they said they were branching out into other departments and showed off a concept for “Knux Enchilada Body Spray.”  I thought that was silly so I took a picture of the screen.


The last meeting I had was in an apartment building.  I had never had a meeting like that before!  Anyway, Muse Games is a New York City based game developer and one of their titles is an upcoming mobile game called Hamsterdam.  If you want to get my attention and play your game, just put cute hamsters in it!  Even though you play as a cute little hamster, he’s a tough kung-fu hamster who beats up bad guys!  The controls for this game are really unique.  When an enemy is about to hit you, they’ll flash yellow for a second.  Tap them quickly and your hamster will attack them instead.  If he brings them in closer, you can continue to tap for extra hits.  As you do that, a KO meter will fill up at the bottom of the screen.  When it’s full, you can drag and drop it over to the bad guy you want to defeat.  Sometimes you may have to swipe the screen in a direction to avoid ambushes, too.  Anyway, it looked like a silly little cartoony game and I hope to review it when it comes out later on.

And that’s all for now!  Check back later for Part 3 of my PAX West 2017 article, where I’ll talk about what I saw at PAX with three of my favorite video game companies: Bandai Namco, Capcom, and Nintendo!

3 Responses to “PAX West 2017 Part 2: Runner-ing Around Like a Blue Hedgehog”

  1. I am definitely looking forward to Lost Sphear and the Secret of Mana remake.

  2. I am ALL about Tempest man. That game is sick.

  3. All those Square-Enix games look great!

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