Another E3 is behind us and I think this is one of the better offerings. It’s certainly an improvement over last year’s depressing Move/Kinect coming out party, and between Essfita, Wii University and Bioshock: Air Level Edition it was easily the most interesting show since the aftermath of Sony’s 2006 press conference threatened to destroy the annual gathering forever.
Presented before you are this year’s in-no-way-official Nitrobeard E3 2011 Awards. Thankfully there were only six retail releases this week so I didn’t have to stretch the joke out beyond reason.
Also somehow Rez, American McGee’s Alice and Duke Nukem all received sequels in the same week. We can only hope that a new Stabbling Westward CD will mistakenly be released sometime later in the week.
Alice: Madness Returns
Developer: Spicy Horse
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
It’s hard to imagine a public domain property that’s been as weirdly twisted beyond it’s original purpose as Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Lewis Carroll: Alice is about the wonder and mystery of mathematics. Also my crippling inability to understand women.
Walt Disney: Alice is about the innocence of youth and talking flowers and shit. Also possibly drug use.
Alice McGee: I dunno. Chick with a knife or something. Also holy shit look at this idTech stuff. Also, drug use.
Tim Burton: Hot Topic merch. Also drugs. Totally drugs.
Spicy Horse: Hallucinogenic platformer about a girl with a knife. Also something something sanity something. Probably drugs.
Gameplay video would seem to indicate this is something like a goth Psychonauts, only without Tim Schafer’s inherent whimsy or wit-- so basically a version of Psychonauts you’d never, ever want to play.
(Speaking of developer branding, for those who care about this sort of thing, American McGee is still attached to this title despite the notable lack of “American McGee” in the title. Spicy Horse is his China-based development house and Madness Returns represents the country’s first ever self-published console title.)
As much as I want Alice to be good, I have a hard time imagining Return to Madness is going to wind up worth playing. For one thing there’s next to no pre-release hype surrounding it, no review copies were sent out over E3 week, and the publisher saw fit to include a free copy of the (inexplicably rare) 2001 game American McGee’s Alice. I mean, I hope it’s good, the world needs more fucked-in-the-head platformers featuring goth chicks but it’s not like American McGee exactly has a breathtaking track record:
Which may explain American McGee’s pressing need to flee to China.
IN NO WAY OFFICIAL NITROBEARD PRESS CONFERENCE WINNER: SONY
Remember, two weeks ago Sony was a punchline. They were (and still are) wholly inept at the critical art of internet security, and it seemed doubtful that the PlayStation Store would come online before E3. Developers were losing money, fanboys were losing patience, the corporate hierarchy was losing face and there was the very real possibility that this year’s conference would start by Sony’s network administrative team would commit ritual seppuku on stage.
But the store came online before the conference, a welcome back program chock full of free games was implemented, and the conference itself was a two hour long parade of fantastic games followed by the revelation that the essfita would be available for a seemingly reasonable two hundred and fifty dollars. As an added bonus Sony managed to inadvertently crush Hideo Kojima’s hopes and dreams; rendering his revolutionary “Transfaaring” concept irrelevant by including it in all essifta/PS3 games instead of Kojima Production’s PS2 catalog.
Child of Eden
Developer: Q Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox 360
At first I was concerned that Child of Eden had basically fallen off the radar since the last round of PR material released in September, but then I found out Ubisoft went and rented out an entire storefront in Soho, London
So they must feel pretty good about Child of Eden.
While I’m hesitant about any game displaying the purple Kinect stripe, gameplay impressions indicate the Child of Eden plays just as well with a controller as it does waving your arms about like some demented extra from Minority Report. And it damned well better; fucking up Rez in order to futher Kinect would be the single greatest Microsoft atrocity since the iLoo.
For those of you unfamiliar with Child of Eden or Rez or Q Entertainment (which begs the question why you’re reading this site in the first place) imagine Panzer Dragoon on a weekend’s worth of ecstasy and Red Bull. If I have to explain Panzer Dragoon and/or the urgent need for you to buy this game, leave my sight immediately. That said, here’s a gameplay trailer:
If you don’t want to play this then maybe you need to rethink what lead you to this sorry point in your life.
IN NO WAY OFFICIAL NITROBEARD PRESS CONFERENCE LOSER: MICROSOFT
Microsoft came into E3 2011 with a competent, if not exactly stellar year ahead of them. Sure there wasn’t anything on the horizon for Kinect, but Forza 4 , Gears of War 3, and Mass Effect 3 would at least help the company maintain it’s hardcore chops against incoming hardware announcements from Sony and Nintendo.
Then the conference itself came along and all of the sudden Microsoft, who previously swore they would keep Kinect and mainstream audiences separate, announced Kinect functionality for most of it’s major hardcore releases. Also since they cant’ think of anything else to do for the next six years, they decided to trot out the Halo name again and announced a new trilogy.
Microsoft has no new hardware in sight, no reasonable prospects of a handheld to compete with essfita or the 3DS, and their big play this year is to cram Kinect functionality upon a market that has largely rejected motion control for the past five years. Microsoft appears directionless and inept, and there’s little doubt that the prospect of becoming a Halo sweatshop is what drove Bungie away from Microsoft in the first place.
Duke Nukem Forever
Developer: 3d Realms Triptych Games Gearbox
Publisher: GT Interactive Infogrames Gathering of Developers Take Two Interactive 2k Games
Graphics Engines: Build Quake 2 Unreal Doom 3
Presidents: Bill Clinton George HW Bush Barack Obama
There’s just too many obvious jokes to be made and they’ve already been run to death. I’ll just say that there’s no possible way for a FPS first envisioned back when Turok: The Dinosaur Hunter was seen as a positive development will turn out well.
Duke Nukem Forever is a proof of concept that the Duke Nukem franchise is still viable to Gearbox’s corporate masters so they can work on Duke Nukem 5. The funny part isn’t that DNF is being released after 14 years; it’s that Gearbox is asking sixty bucks for the stupid thing. But its a novelty and people will buy DNF on that alone; hopefully Gearbox has a vision for DN5 outside of misogyny and dick jokes.
IN NO WAY OFFICIAL NITROBEARD MOST INEXPLICABLE UTTERLY UNNECESSARY PRESS CONFERENCE ELEMENT THAT ONLY SERVED TO WHOLLY UNDERMINE THE GAMES THAT WERE ACTUALLY ON DISPLAY: UBISOFT’S FAKE RETRO GAMES.
In observance of their 25 years of gaming development, Ubisoft preceded each game revealed at their press conference with a demo reel of a stylized, utterly fictional retro version of the game in question. The only problem is that in every single case the fake retro game was vastly more compelling than the real game on display. If Ubisoft isn’t at this very instant working on an XBLA version of a 2d Assassin’s Creed in the style of Prince of Persia then they’re throwing money away.
Record of Agarest War Zero
Developer: Idea Factory
Publisher: Aksys Games
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
There are a few things that interest me less than a JRPG full of dewy-eyed moe-types, but most involve math and/or the Teapot Dome Scandal. Even the usually wince-inducing Aksys Limited Edition is boring, I mean c’mon
At least the last Argarest War game LE had a pillowcase and a mousepad with squishy gel boobs
I mean does this game even have an excessive hot springs bath scene? Stop pretending you’re above this, Aksys.
IN NO WAY OFFICIAL NITROBEARD BEST DEVELOPMENT OF E3: VANILLAWARE DROPPING ALL PRETENSE TO BECOME A PURVEYOR OF HIGH QUALITY PORNOGRAPHIC SPRITES
In case you were worried that maybe Odin’s Sphere and Miramusa were localized events, Vanillaware has decided to just stop pretending with Dragon’s Crown
And god bless them for it.
Oh and it’s also a meticulously animated 2d sidescroller in the best tradition of Knights of the Round, Guardian Heroes and Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara. In other words there is nothing that’s not wonderful about this game and I hereby pledge my undying support for Vanillaware and it’s highly talented team of complete and unapologetic perverts.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Developer: High Motion Studios (HD versions) Behavior Interactive (Nintendo Ghetto versions)
Platforms: Everything not named “Playstation Portable”
Don’t be fooled by last year’s inexplicably well-developed War For Cybertron; Dark of the Moon is based on a Transformers movie and combined with less than a year between titles there’s next to no chance of this being worthwhile. Even if it is little more than a roster update for the previous game there’s almost certainly a way for Micheal Bay’s taint to ruin this title, possibly by the inclusion of hilariously racist stereotype Autobots or robotic transforming Shia LaBeouf.
The Horrible Nintendo Conversion is being handled by Behavior Interactive, a studio famed by thier development of Mercenaries 2 (The PS2 version), Iron Man (The Nintendo versions) and Naughty Bear. Parents who buy the Nintendo versions of Dark of the Moon qualify for criminal child abuse in 34 states.
IN NO WAY OFFICIAL NITROBEARD WORST DEVELOPMENT OF E3: THE IMPENDING SENILITY OF PETER MOLYNEUX.
Apparently driven mad by Microsoft’s demand for Kinect games and/or Britain's exclusively all-meat diet, Peter Molyneux demoed an on-rails Kinect-branded version of Fable that Peter constantly referred to as not being on rails and even went so far as to demand that journalists viewing the video sign a document (well, a whiteboard, but whatever) stating that the game in fact was free roaming and not in fact a Kinect-ized version of Time Crisis.
On the bright side, if Peter is indeed now insane then there’s every possibility that the Kinect-driven creepy child predator sim Milo and Kate still exists in some form and may accidentally be leaked via his facebook profile.
Wii Play Motion
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Of course all the games listed above will sell fewer copies combined than this fucking thing. At least you get a free Motion Plus controller.
IN NO WAY OFFICIAL DREAMCAST ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR STOPGAP HARDWARE WITH A REALLY WEIRD CONTROLLER THAT YOU’RE TOTALLY GOING TO BUY REGARDLESS OF HOW SILLY IT LOOKS: WII UNIVERSITY
Call it silly, call it overwrought. I’m going to call it The VMU; Fixed. All this and no stupid watch battery chirping at you after three days of use!
SHADOWS OF THE DAMNED tests my allegiances as I must choose between this or El-Shaddai! (SPOILER ALERT: I BUY BOTH)
ZELDA: THE OCARINA OF TIME is here to make you feel marginally less silly for buying a 3DS!
CAPTAIN AMERICA: SUPER SOLDIER hasn’t been seen in nearly two years! Feel the hype!