Guest Thoughts : PAX Prime Gams

Unofficial Nitrobeard correspondent Mike Lemieux was kind enough to take notes and do a write-up of his thoughts on some of the games being shown at PAX Prime. He was also kind enough to pay his own way there and not ask for any kind of reimbursement or financial assistance from Nitrobeard Enterprises whatsoever. What a guy!


 

Fans of developer Cyber Connect 2's Naruto games will be immediately familiar with the gameplay and over the top action style in Asura's Wrath.

The game feels about half button mashing beat 'em up, and the rest is either a MARVELOUSLY angry cutscene about how pissed Asura is at things or a string of QTEs that lead to some crazy stuff happening. Cyber Connect 2 continues to be incredible at conveying their style in a 3D game as Asura's Wrath is a remarkably good looking game. 

 

The Trackmania 2 Canyon Demo looks and plays great. It's more or less the same Trackmania that you loved except with an amazing new coat of paint. Seriously, this game is better looking than it has any right or need to be.

 

Gunstringer is a Sin and Punishment style run and gun that works well with the Kinect. However, the concept and gameplay seem pretty thin for a retail game. While it's a good use of the hardware, the paint and shoot mechanics didn't seem to vary much and might get old when stretched out over an entire game

 

Zelda : Skyward Sword is, if anything, something that shouldn't require too much explanation.

The game has a great art style coupled with really interesting gameplay mechanics. The semi 1:1 sword control works... mostly perfect. Having to vary up sword swings really makes the combat more engaging. You have to pay attention to the stance of the enemies beyond whether they have their shield up or not. The new weapons like the flying beetle control well and even within the limited demo displayed many interesting uses. Also, it has a run button. So there's that.

 

Hey guess what, Mario Kart 7 is Mario Kart as hell.

One thing it does that deserves mentioning is the new gliding mechanic which will probably open up doorways to an entire new world of snaking-esque mechanics to be exploited. (Snaking on a Plane? Sorry. -Ed) The quick back and forth change in gameplay helps break up the races a bit, and controls well (think pilotwings). The 3D effect is also extremely well implemented, and stands out.

 

Rhythm Heaven Wii is more akin to the GBA Rhythm Heaven games than the recent DS ones. Using absolutely none of the Wii features except the A button you might wonder why this is even on the Wii. It's a fair question, but the visuals and most of all the sound are scores above anything that could have been done of a handheld.

The simple graphic style scales up nicely and the beat heavy music of the demo I played had me swaying and grooving on the expo floor.

 

This game is destined to be the next big party game. The simplest way to describe Kirby : Return to Dreamland is that Kirby got New Super Mario Bros.'d.

What Kirby brings to the table here, aside from being goddamned adorable, is that each of the four characters (Kirby, Metaknight, Dedede, and Waddledee) all play completely different. Kirby is obviously the star in this, as he is the only character able to get powers and even go through end-of-area doors. The gameplay is standard Kirby, but the multiplayer adds some much needed chaos to the game. Boss fights end in almost incomprehensible mayhem.

 

I'm struggling with where to even begin with Super Mario 3D Land. Okay so it's a 3D Mario, but it's from a fixed camera perspective. And you're going left to right... mostly. You're also going way up and down and back and... yeah this isn't going well. Okay how's this, it's pretty much Super Mario Bros. 3 in 3D.

I couldn't quite get a good feel out of the jumping in the demo- I always seemed to jump a lot shorter than I thought I would. Which is weird for a Mario game. The fixed camera angle also provides some annoyances,  occasionally causing me to fall between two close platforms and be wall jumping like mad with no idea where I actually am. Aside from some sort of wonky feeling jumps and a bit of annoyance with the new camera, the game was really good and fun. They're going super old-school with this. Forget the tanooki suit, the levels end with you jumping on a flagpole and being scored. It's great!

 

The one thing I will not possibly be able to state hard enough is how beautiful Rayman Origins is.

My god, it just... man. Everything in this 2D platformer is hand drawn and looks even better in motion. Watching the sprites start to lose their balance on ice and right themselves was an absolute treat for me, especially as an artist. Even better is the fact that the gameplay is up to par with the art direction! The platforming and speed both feel excellent. One thing that surprised me, however, was how goddamn hard the game was- try as I might I just could not finish the demo level I was playing. It was really hard!

 

Fortune Street is absolutely not a game that should have been demoed at PAX.

I'm sure this monopoly-like featuring Dragon Quest and Mario characters is fun in the right setting, but that setting isn't PAX. After over half an hour of watching characters move around a game board and invest in hotels and stuff I felt absolutely trapped into finishing the game. It was like some kind of bizzarre dice-rolling purgatory. Again, I'm sure it's fine for a relaxed night at home doing a board game on the big screen, but man. That game is not fast or exciting. 

 

This was an enigma that I was hoping to get some clarity on, and what I found was a... clearly not finished game. Let's get that out of the way early about Dragon's Dogma, this is clearly not a finished product. At all.

I get the feeling that this is a very early build of the game, so I will avoid going on at length about the most noticeable pop-in I've ever seen, or the confusing HUD. Let's talk gameplay! The easy comparison to make here is a more hack and slashy Demon's Souls. Your character is equipped with heavy and light attacks, and special versions of both. On top of that you also have a grab button, which I quickly learned meant I could grab on to a (Last Guardian spoilers ahead. -Ed) giant Gryphon, ride it into the air, then stab it with my special fire sword and watch it burn and writhe on the ground.

While I don't know (or have particularly high hopes for) how this game will eventually turn out, that was pretty cool.

 

Yo, it's Star Fox 64. In (sorta? Even cranked up it's not super noticeable) 3D.