06/16/2009

Dreams Of Samus, Totally Nude And Covered In Metroid Goo, Soon To Be Realized At Long Last

by Matthew Hawkins

So E3. Still kinda pissed about being so damn busy while everything was going down. And talking about it almost two weeks later seems rather pointless. But everyone keeps asking me for my two cents, plus it remains a major point of conversation many days later, which I guess is proof positive of what a truly crazy show it was. One that most folks, myself included, had zero expectations going in. Maybe because last year?s sucked so hard? While it hardly blew anyone?s minds this time either, there was still plenty of genuinely intriguing stuff laid on the table. Case in point: the game of E3 2009? According to all the major gaming outlets, Scribblenauts of all things. Hardly a surprise, since keyboard cat is in it, I realize. Do people still care about that, btw? Sorry, but I’ve been out of the loop for a bit now. Anyhow, yeah, it was just that kind of a show.

Also, federal laws mandate that every video game blogger in North America have the obligatory E3 rundown, no matter how after the fact it might be…

- First you had Microsoft, who was the first out of the gate and in many people’s mind the overall winner, since they provided so much to talk about. Almost immediately after their press conference, I was already hailing E3 2009 a roaring success, not because of what MS announced, but what they DIDN’T, that being a brand new system. I was super afraid a Xbox 720 was going to be formally unveiled and that same old song and dance would begin anew, especially since it just doesn’t feel right, despite the fact that it’s been about four or five years and on paper that’s precisely when one starts hearing opening salvos. Hearing the experts explain that, due to high cost of everything, one shouldn’t expect any word of any new systems from some time now, since MS and Sony were just starting to turn a profit and weren’t looking to dig themselves into another money pit anytime soon, due in part to the crap economy these days. But then came word just days after the show formally wrapped up that next year might see the Xbox 720 after-all, perhaps to support their new Project Netal, which I’ll get into in just a bit. Just great. Perhaps they kept mum at the show due to a possible backlash?

EDIT: Apparently there’s no 720 for next year. That’s nice to hear. But what about 2011?

Well instead of talking about the future, at E3 MS showed their commitment to the present and the existing 360 user-base by laying out all sorts of new features and tricks, some cooler than others admittedly (I guess Facebook and Twitter functionality is a neat idea, though I have no idea how Last.fm is going to work on the console, unless it actually creates custom soundtracks to games, which would actually be really neat). Then there were the games, and near the top of that list was… yes, Metal Gear Solid is finally coming to the platform! But it’s not a port of part 4, which is what everyone (well, me to be honest) really wanted, but some new title starring Raiden as everyone had assumed, plus it’s gonna be on the PS3 anyway. Yay. I was actually going to address this later, but since I’m on the subject of MGS, seriously, f*cking enough already. Jesus Christ. And this coming from a Meta Gear fan, but enough is enough. You’d think that Kojima and crew would want to leave the series off on a high note, that being part 4, which did the impossible by tying up every loose end nice and neat. The more you do, the more you risk of undoing. Plus, I just wanna see the guy move onto other things, like you know, ZOE or Snatcher, or how about something completely original! Hence why I’m not super jazzed for the Castlevania title that he’s producing, since he’s once again only the producer, plus the actual studio itself is European or something like that. It looks okay, but just Devil May Cry with Castlevania, which would be fine if not for the fact that we’ve gotten two of those already. At least it features a killer voice cast. Now make no mistake, I’ll pick up MGS: Rising on day one, along with the new PSP installment. I’ll play the damn games, but still… I guess the main problem is that Kojima is in the same shoes that Bungie is in, meaning that neither really can afford to move on due to all the bags of money being thrown at them.

Back to MS, like so many others, I’m hopelessly in love with the Beatles Rock Band opening that kicked off their event. Perhaps the game of the show for me, even with Team Ico’s PS3 masterpiece present at Sony’s end. I simply cannot wait! Then you not just one but TWO new Halo games on the horizon, which I know both Dave and Katie are pumped for, and various other high profile titles that I could honestly care less about, so moving on! On the XBLA front, there’s Shadow Complex, aka Contravania from Cliffy B, which sounds awesome on paper but looks rather bland and somewhat boring in motion. At least Trials HD is coming as well; I know Dave is a pretty big fan of that one. Though the real star of the show was the aforementioned Project Natal, that new motion controller. Hey, remember when MS (along with Sony) said Nintendo’s use of motion to control a game was ridiculous? Yeah, me too. I guess it’s neat, but I remain unconvinced till I actually give the thing a whirl for myself. Though I will admit, hearing surprisingly well it worked with some off the shelf title has forced me to take the whole thing more seriously that I normally would have. But even then, the reason why Nintendo was so successful with introducing motion control to the masses was because A) it was Nintendo, B) they had Wii Sports backing them up, and C) that’s what the Wii is really all about, period (yes, I realize there are plenty of non-waggle Wii games out there, but you know what I’m saying). It’s neat that Project Natal works with existing games, but it’ll need some kind of killer app to truly push the thing. Then again, with the possibility of a Xbox 720 being designed around this new control method, it might be MS trying to be Nintendo but even more so. Which means the need for a killer app is even more vitally important, so whose gonna make the dame thing? Bungie, MS’s current go to resource? Since I highly doubt Halo fans would stand for a game featuring said tech, sorry. Perhaps Stephen Spielberg then? He seems eager as hell to do something with it, and all I can say is… dude made Boom Blox, so perhaps he can finally get his wish and make a game that makes everyone cry.

EDIT: No sh*t, Johnny Chung Lee worked on the thing? Interesting…

And no, I didn’t catch Natal being demoed on Jimmy Fallon’s late night craptacular. Maybe if it was on Conan I would have, but we all know he’s more of a Nintendo guy. Also, what about Milo, the creepy looking virtual boy and his dog? Because it’s from Peter Molyneux, I already knew it wouldn’t live up to the hype, so moving on!

- Speaking of Nintendo, they tried their best to extend an olive branch to their disenfranchised hardcore fanbase and succeed more or less. No word of a proper Zelda sequel, but at least we got a slight teaser…

… Meanwhile, you’ve got two new Mario titles coming down the pipe, both the Wii version of New Super Mario Bros (I love the four player support, but am saddened that player four will be a second Toad instead of the Princess, a la SMB2) and an actual sequel to Super Mario Galaxy (considering that Miyamoto & crew simply scratched the surface of what was possible in the first one, I heartily welcome a direct follow-up). The most exciting news for me was Metroid: Other M, by the makers of Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden. Though I have no idea how good it’ll be without Tomonobu Itagaki steering the ship. Or maybe it means that the difficult level will actually be reasonable? Immediately my mind filled with visions of Samus, completely naked and covered in Metroid goo, though I’ve heard from various sources that, it being a Nintendo game, the t&a will not be totally insane. Drat, Though the teaser vid already shows Samus semi-interacting with another woman that looks vaguely like her. Her mother/sister/clone? Whom she’ll make out with? One can only hope. At any rate, it looks kinda like Metroid mixed with Devil May Cry, which is not the worst thing in the world honestly. Plus, unlike the new Castlevania, which once more is purely in the “seen that, done that” territory, who knows how Kojima’s pals will fare in such territory, whereas Team Ninja obvious has a strong pedigree in such things, as anyone that’s played the last couple of Ninja Gaiden titles can certainly attest to.

Along with a bunch of other first party Wii and DS titles, like Zelda on a train, you also had the Vitality Sensor. You know, that thing you hook up to your finger while playing so you look like you’re in the emergency room? Hopefully it’ll be supported better than the Wii Talk! And much like MS, talk of a “Wii HD” never really surfaced till after the show. Unlike the Xbox 360 and the PS3, the Wii’s visuals hit the roof some time ago, so a HD upgrade relatively soon makes a certain degree of sense. Though unlike their competitors, Nintendo is enjoying their success via a very healthy profit, so I also don’t see them screwing that pooch up anytime soon. Once again, time will tell.

- There’s actually a lot more to talk about when it comes to Nintendo, but I guess now might be a good time to mention you know who. Yup, Sony. First off, I can’t believe people actually believed that they had anything other than an abysmal showing. Seriously. I was expecting an epic fail, and that’s precisely what I got; with the exception of one single game (any guesses as to what?), absolutely nothing made me want to run out and finally pick up a PS3. Yet a need finally exists, if only to avoid the horrible looking redesign that’s apparently legit according to many. First no price drop. Yay! Next, one of the Final Fantasy 13s were shown. Too bad I don’t care about Final Fantasy. Not gonna lie, it looks gorgeous, but I know already that I won’t be able to play it. Final Fantasy 14 was also announced. Okay, sure, whatever. God of War 3 was highlighted as well, but not a fan of the series, so didn’t even bother, sorry. Then you had Sony’s own motion controller, which basically gave me douchechills for a number of a fairly obvious reasons.

I guess the primary talking point was the redesigned PSP, aka the PSP Go. First off, awesome name, lulz. I’ve already gone over how ultra lame it looks. so moving on, $250?!?! Wasn’t the whole point of ditching the UMD drive was to make the stupid thing cheaper? Jesus. Anyhow, numerous parties will be keeping a very close eye out on the thing, believing that it’s the first real test to see how the average consumer will feel about digital distribution. What did Brian Crecente call it? Oh yes, “The Great Experiment”. Sorry, but as much of a fan I am of digital downloads, this new PSP is not the best means of judging or determining its long term viability, and if anything might actually hurt its reputation in the long run. Meanwhile, what if you want the system but already have a bunch of UMDs already? Which already is kind of a silly situation to consider. Well according to Kotaku, a solution is in the works. Which again, seems a tad bit wonky and half-assed; I totally understand the fear of pissing off your existing userbase, but when if you’re going to forge into new territory like the Go aims to, sometimes you have to go all or nothing. Period. And speaking of pissed off, not surprisingly, those who operate the traditional distribution channels are less than pleased about such a device since it’s a clear “f*ck you” aimed at them by Sony. But ultimately, I honestly believe the Go will fail due to Sony being wishy-washy on a number of fronts.

As for heavy-hitting software, a portable Gran Turismo is at very long last coming out. About damn time. I’ll admit it, I still care. Then you have LittleBigPlanet, which sucked on the PS3, and I’m sure it’ll suck on the PSP as well! Next is a new Resident Evil title. Color me interested, I suppose. Though the real hotness was the other new Metal Gear Solid title announced, Peace Walker, which is supposed to act as the “missing link” in the saga. Which I thought Portable Ops was supposed to be, though much to my surprise while playing it recently, that’s not really the case, hence why I’ll definitely be picking this one up. Actually, a third Meta Gear title was revealed, but it’s an arcade title, so who cares. And not to be a hater or anything, but I’m a thousand times more interested in this one than the one starring Raiden, since Peace Walker features Big Boss, four of them!

There was still one game on the PS3 side that managed to floor me, as it did for everyone else, though it was hardly a shock. Been one of the main reasons to get the system since day one and continues to be. I’m talking about Project Trico, aka The Last Guardian…

… Additional images can be found at Offworld. And for those who somehow missed it, the simply awe-inspiring trailer. But yeah… that’s more or less it. Good job Sony.

- This might be a good time to pull out the E3 2009 Photoshop and animated gif thread over at NeoGAF. At first it appeared as if MS would be the star, thanks to this retarded little moment (my passionate disdain for their avatars btw have yet to subside, and I highly doubt it ever will), but once again, Sony rose to occasion by providing the maximum lulz, as they’ve been doing for the past couple of E3s…

… I’m also a big fan of this, and I had a grand time reading all the Twitters from assorted game journalists bitching about James Cameron hogging the spotlight at the Ubi Soft conference. You know this entire time, that movie he’s doing, Avatar, I thought it was based on the Nickelodeon cartoon! Best of all was how his egomaniacal ranting and raving was the reason why No More Heroes 2 wasn’t featured at all. I wonder if Tetsuya Mizuguchi was supposed to hit the stage as well (it was revealed at the show that he’s doing something for them) but was given the boot as well. Also in the same thread, make sure you don’t miss any of the choice God of War 3 animated gifs featuring Kratos ripping out the genitalia of a minotaur or something like that.

- Back to Nintendo, who in my mind was the real winner of the show, simply because most of the stuff I really want to play is on their platforms. For starters is the already noted game of the show in many people’s professional opinions, Scribblenauts. Why? Just ask NeoGAF of course; here we have just one person’s glowing praise, which sounds totally ridiculous, but is apparently very much true

So listen to this story. I was in the early levels; I didn’t quite have an idea of how ridiculously in-depth the database was. I was summoning things like ladders, glasses of water, rayguns, what have you. But I reached a level with zombie robots, and the zombie robots kept killing me. Rayguns didn’t work, a torch didn’t work, a pickaxe didn’t work. In my frustration, I wrote in “Time Machine”. And one popped up. What the fuck? A smile dawned on my face. I hopped in, and the option was given to me to either travel to the past or the future. I chose past. When I hopped out, there were fucking dinosaurs walking around. I clicked one, and realized I could RIDE THEM. So I hopped on a fucking DINOSAUR, traveled back to the present, and stomped the shit out of robot zombies. Did you just read that sentence? Did you really? I FUCKING TRAVELED THROUGH TIME AND JUMPED ON A DINOSAUR AND USED IT TO KILL MOTHERFUCKING ROBOT ZOMBIES. This game is unbelievable. Impossible. There’s nothing you can’t do.

… Apparently, the game simply works. That alone is blowing everyone’s minds. Oh, that and keyboard cat.

Also high on my list is Sin & Punishment 2; was a huge fan of the game on the N64, though for whatever reason, the Virtual Console version just hasn’t clicked with me. But I have high hopes for the sequel via the Wiimote + nunchuck set-up. Plus it just looks plain awesome; you can find the trailer and some of the beautiful concept art over at Offworld once again, like this…

… Nice to see that the dude behind the artwork on Ikaruga is still employed at Treasure!

And I recall Dave saying that he thought the Wii remake of A Boy And His Blob looks boring, but I personally think it looks rather nifty!

- I still can’t believe that some of the best looking stuff coming down the pipeline is via WiiWare, which aside from a few notable gems (Bit.Tip BEAT, Cubello) has been a total bust in my mind. Remember that one title from Kenji Eno I spoke of a while ago? It’s heading this way as You, Me, and the Cubes. Looks totally hawt.

Then there’s Icarian, that vaguely Kid Icarus-ish platformer that I either spoke of already in the past, or have been meaning to but keep forgetting to. Plus And Yet It Moves was also announced, on the down-low it would seem. It’s been out for the Mac or PC for some time now, and while the art design was certainly not my cup of tea, I thought some of the level designs are pure genius.

And here we have Night Game, by Nicalis, along with the creator of Knytt, Nifflas. Kind of a tongue twister there. Though folks are mostly jazzed about Nicalis’s other WiiWare project, the souped up port of Cave Story, also got a nice little E3 trailer that most folks totally missed in all the hoopla.

Meanwhile on the DSIWare front, Reflection, which was shown at the GDC earlier this year has been picked up by Konami. Yet another one of those games were you control two characters, one on each screen, but at the same time games that’s become quite the formula recently, like the just released Mighty Flip Champs. Though this one looks a tad bit more on the complex and action-y side.

- A few hidden gems were also revealed for the PSP. Like the sequel to Echochome, which borrows elements of Cursor*10 and Braid to form Echochrono!

Even more exciting is Sony’s first real foray into augment reality gaming via the PSP’s own camera attachment (which I’m not even sure if its come out here yet), the Invizimals. What I like most about this particular title is how it’s aimed squarely at kids, which virtually no other ARG, at least the commercial variety, seems willing to do. And more than any other group, its kids that need the biggest push to go gaming outside.

- It would seem that Echochome isn’t the only title taking a page from Cursor*10;s book. So is the new Ratchet and Crank? Perhaps I’ll finally play a R&C title.

- Also according to Siliconera, Team Ninja’s collaboration with Nintendo on the new Metroid game was so secretive that not even Koei, which merged with them earlier this year, know about it!

Back to Kotaku, my good pal Steve Totilo has some additional info on Other M, such as how it’s gonna be “the most cool Metroid ever”, as well as how it’s not Metroid Dread, which I guess is still in the works? The GBA had to two portable Metroids, and its about time the DS got at least one. And then a remake of part 2, please.

- The big news that Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is actually coming to America I think got lost in the shuffle, among all the other huge announcements. That or most people simply did not care? When I first got the press release, it was stated how one of the Tatsunoko characters was not coming over, due to licensing issues, and I immediately became concerned. But when it was revealed to be Hakushon Daimaou, the comic genie, I gave out a sigh of relief; he’s not terribly interesting I’m afraid. Instead we’re getting five new faces, though they’ve yet to be revealed. Perhaps we’ll get Dante after-all! Oh, and possibly online play; as soon as one source said it was in, another said it wasn’t, and I’ve more or less stopped keeping track of the situation. Eh, online fighting via the Wii is such a pain in the ass that I could either care less.

- At every E3, there’s literally an avalanche of new game announcements, and if you’re heavy into Japanese gaming as much as I am, you sift through almost all of them in hopes of discovering that a few might be that hidden gem that’s stuck back east and finally making its way here. I think most people safely assumed that Mare In Ore was coming to America, but at last we get the official title of WarioWare D.I.Y. which is much better than the totally unremarkable title it was going by in recent weeks. Then you have the long-awaited (in America at least) Professor Layton sequel, though most of us knew of its existence for some time now. But I’m almost certain that most folks have never heard of Acroknights, which will be known here as Go! Go! Cosmo Cops. Give the Flash demo a spin to see why it’s one to watch!

But there are still tons of awesome stuff that have yet to see the light of day here, and might not ever. Tiny Cartridge has a list detailing just a few of such games, who clearly has not given up all hope for a domestic release for Zekkyō Senshi Sakeburein. Though I’m personally miffed that the Tingle RPG was never released here in America, despite Brits getting it, plus now I hear there’s another Tingle title coming soon! But considering that Starfy eventually made it out here, there’s still hope at the end of the day.

- I’ve read and re-read this preview for Line Attack Heroes maybe twenty times, and I still have no idea what the hells its going on.

- Oh God, I can’t believe Fret Nice finally made its triumphant return, thanks to Tecmo, but now it looks like this monstrosity…

… As a refresher, what it used to look like can be seen here. And to be totally honest, now that I’ve had some time to think about it, the new look has kinda grown on me.

- Most noteworthy news-item of the entire show? Hearing how New Super Mario Bros for the Wii might include that wacky new method game playing mechanic that allows players to jump in an out of the action like they were taking over in an animated cut-scene, which Miyamoto patented last year.

- And the screenshot of the show was indeed this scene from Tekken 6…

… If hanging with a bunch of lazy kangaroos doesn’t make you wanna play the game, how about the prospect of beating the crap out of this gigantic robot?

- Finally, some sad news: Steve Wiebe was not able to set a new Donkey Kong record. Bummer. What the GSW post forgets to mention is how Billy Mitchell was supposedly making fun of Wiebe afterwards via Twitter, though it has since been concluded that it was an impostor. Oh teh drama!

… So yeah, not the most incredible E3 by a long shot, but at the same time, not a total stinker.

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