NIgmabox Rundown (6/13) E3 2017: Prelude To Final Climax

Well, after two days of staying up obscenely late and writing approximately 7,000 words on video games announcements, I am getting fed-up with this whole charade that points out just how darn formulaic I can be with these Rundowns.  I know that one of my weaknesses as a writer is my reliance on formula and a structure that I can base my writings about, and while I do try to break away from this when possible, it is far too easy to fall into a routine when doing something on a large scale.  Anyways, E3 is almost done, and I just have Nintendo’s showing and a few more things to take care of.

It’s hard to imagine an Electrifying Edutainment Exposition without some sort of involvement from Nina Tensen, the oldest player of this game and one who has been weird about it in the past few years, opting not to hold a massive presentation and instead spending almost all of her time on the showfloor after showing a prerecorded video she made in advance.  Still, she brings a style and energy that has come to define this convention to many, so whatever Nina Tensen wants, Nina Tensen gets.

As has become a tradition for Nintendo, their approach to E3 is to present a video that shows off some of the games followed by hours of video footage of people playing said upcoming games.  A format that has worked well for them in the past, and the games they showed were fairly top notch looking.  

The first of these games was Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which really does resemble the first game more than I assumed, and considering it is centered around groups of humans living on the backs of giant beasts called Titans, I would assume that there is more than just a spiritual connection there.  The world is still a grand and enticing landscape, laid out to maximize the player’s desire to march on and explore, the combat has been revised for the sake of streamlining and depth, and while I am not super sold on the more generic looking art style with very JRPG clothing, I am interested in checking this game out after it releases in late 2017.  Also, I really should clear the first Xenoblade beforehand.  I stopped that game at the 90% mark.

Fire Emblem Warriors certainly does look like the Musou game that it is and should be an almost ideal fit for the series, however it really does look like a Musou game and that’s about it.  There is the ability to switch between characters on the map and order them to do certain things, but those are the only tactical elements shown.  As it stands, the character models look weirdly glossy due to the shading style chosen, the world looks like a generic fantasy backdrop, and things feel a bit off, like how almost every single guard featured in the demo is the same infantryman with a sword.  Part of me thinks the game looks a tad rushed and will eventually be greatly improved upon with DLC and possibly a complete version later on.  At least that’s my impression based on the demo.  The game will come out sometime this autumn.

After its excellent reveal trailer, I have been pretty calmly anticipating Super Mario Odyssey, and if what was shown today was any indication, the game is shaping up not only to be a masterpiece rife with creativity and innovative thinking for what has become a predictable franchise, but possibly one of my favorite games of all time.  You see, I have an immense adoration for three things in games.  Character mobility, collecting secrets that the game subtly guides the player to them, and exploring worlds with a lot of personality to them and creativity behind their design.  Super Mario Odyssey manages to do all of these things, and introduces a mechanic where Mario can throw his hat at enemies in order to capture, or rather possess them.  Meaning you can play as a chain chomp, bullet bill, or weird cute little snail thing that can grow vines from the bottom of its shell.  

I cannot even begin to describe how excited and happy seeing a mechanic like this makes me, and combined with a more playful and eccentric personality than Mario is usually permitted, and this is the first game in years that has made me feel genuinely giddy and excited for its eventual release.  Needless to say, I will be picking this game up when I purchase a Switch for myself later this year.  Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 are among my favorite games of all time, and this just seems to be taking the ingenuity, fun, and wondrous craftsmanship of those games to a whole new level, and without any of that motion control rubbish.  Super Mario Odyssey will launch on October 27th.

Beyond existing titles, there were a few announcements, including an untitled Kirby game that is more of a traditional platformer.  Well, traditional in the sense that it draws some of the best mechanics from the series’ past and combines them together into one.  From Super Star comes the ability to turn enemies into partner characters.  From Return to Dreamland comes the 4 player co-op, except it is four players all the time.  While from Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, the ability to mix and match copy abilities into creating some truly excellent combinations returns, with Kirby using his partner characters to unleash a wide barrage of new powers.  It is basically everything I would have wanted from a Kirby game, and it is due out for 2018.

Continuing the trend of insanely adorable platformers without proper names comes a Yoshi game set in a papercraft 2.5D world that can be flipped around with a ground pound.  I am a sucker for any game that uses arts and crafts materials in a way like this, and the game itself looks like a calming collection driven co-op platformer that also happens to be developed in the Unreal Engine… what?  Either way, I’m sure to have a lovely time playing this game with my significant other after it comes out in 2018.

After a decade of dormancy, Nintendo announced that a new Metroid game is indeed coming in the form of Metroid Prime 4.  It is coming to the Switch, is in active development, and that is literally all they said.  It truly was an underwhelming way to reveal things, as there was not even a model of Samus to show off, just a logo followed by a later announcement that the game is being developed by a new unnamed team.  Also, I should probably finish Metroid Prime 2 and 3 before this comes out.

Oh, but that is not the only Metroid game they revealed, as after the showcase proper, Nintendo announced Metroid: Samus Returns, a remake of Metroid II developed by MercurySteam, who were said to have been developing a Metroid game only to have it cancelled early into development.  Nintendo apparently had a change of mind though, and likely changed the game into a remake.  The game will redesign much of the original Gameboy game and introduce mechanics new to the series such as 360 degree aiming and a melee counter move that allows Samus to parry attacking enemies, while the entire thing is given a much more action oriented feel compared to the past 2D Metroid games, and introduces some in-game cutscenes to establish the setting.  

However, the big point of contention is how it is for the 3DS.  Now, I do not like the 3DS very much, and feel that the system is outdated, that it is basically dead and should be viewed with some contempt for being an underpowered piece of hardware with a poor screen.  I honestly hope that a Switch version is eventually realized, partially justified by how MercurySteam has made a HD version of a 3DS title in the past,  but I have learned to never have faith in Nintendo when it comes to this sort of thing.  So I just bit the bullet and decided I would buy the game for 3DS when it launches on September 15th.

Yet that is not the only remake of a classic game coming to the 3DS this fall, as the previously leaked Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga DX was revealed as Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions, a remake of the first Mario & Luigi game with the art style of the 3DS entries and a complete new team building real-time strategy mode where the player must control Bowser’s minions in order to retrieve their boss after they had themselves been kidnapped in an attempt to save Princess Peach’s voice.  I highly doubt a Switch version will happen, but considering I do not like the art style of the 3DS Mario & Luigi games, that is not a big loss to me.  I know and enjoyed the original, and will probably stick with it even after this remake comes out on October 6th.

That marked the end of Nintendo’s announcements, assuming they do not keep the news going for the next few days, which I doubt they would.  They ultimately did show some interesting games, but their reliance on continuing to push the 3DS combined with a lack of any discussion about the Virtual Console really did rub me up the wrong way.  Still, they announced two Metroid games, a Yoshi game, and a Kirby game in addition to offering more information on the hottest looking game in development at the moment, so they would probably get an A regardless.

In conclusion, most of the press conferences ranged from passably okay to good, without any of them being truly bad or truly great.  EA was EA, which is to say pretty average overall.  Microsoft did not have much to show that would surprise, but did offer a very diverse line up of games while hocking their hot new game machine, which was fully expected.   Bethesda focused mostly on impressive 2017 lineup, but the showing was short and sweet for the most part.  

The PC Gaming Show was a toilet with a few good bits of news on it.  Ubisoft offered a series of quality looking titles and some new IPs before closing out with a re-announcement of Beyond Good & Evil 2.  Sony offered a showcase of games, most of which were seen before, but both Monster Hunter Worlds and Shadow of the Colossus look incredibly dope.  While Nintendo showed just enough for them to feel like the undisputed winners, even though I am annoyed by the 3DS as a concept at this point..

That’s about it for the conferences, but there was some miscellaneous news revealed outside of them.  The first of which being yet another reason to ignore Life Is Strange: Before The Storm, as it was revealed that the voice actress for Chloe Price in Life Is Strange, Ashly Burch, will not be reprising her role in this game.  When Chloe serves as the protagonist this time around.  This is due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, launched last October, and really does make me wonder how well this game will do once it is finally released, as it is easy to view it as being both pointless and disingenuous considering how much voice actors do for characters in games like this.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Hey y’all, to the fans asking – I wasn’t able to reprise my role as Chloe in Life is Strange: Before the Storm due to the SAG-AFTRA strike</p>&mdash; Ashly Burch (@ashly_burch) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ashly_burch/status/874344938627977216″>June 12, 2017</a></blockquote>

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

In recent years, it has become strangely popular for crossover fighting games featuring incredibly niche characters to pop up, with games like Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax and Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel.  However, I doubt anyone would have expected Blade Strangers, a crossover title from Studio Saizensen and Nicalis that will feature simple inputs similar to Super Smash Bros. and a cast of characters spanning games like Cave Story, Code of Princess, and Umihara Kawase.  It is niche among niche, but I only hope it the best when it comes out of PS4, Switch, and PC.

This is not related to E3 at all, but it was revealed today that Comcept, the creative leads behind games like Mighty No. 9 and Recore, have been acquired by Japanese game developer Level-5 and will become a subsidiary known as Level-5 Comcept.  They will continue their role as a team of creative leads behind several projects going forward, and their first project will be a smartphone town building RPG named Dragon Colonies.  This collaboration will also feature Comcept head Keiji Inafune working together with Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino.  Ultimately, this is an unexpected yet interesting proposal, as I want to believe that Comcept does have some talent as a developer, and while I can criticize some of their business habits, Level-5 is a talented game developer.  

The second bit of unrelated gaming news to E3 is the announcement of .hack//G.U. Last Recode.  A remastering of the three .hack//G.U. series, which itself is a spin-off of the .hack quadrilogy, that will feature numerous improvements and changes that I lack the context for, as I know next to nothing about .hack, let alone this spin-off series I just learned existed.  It is certainly odd how it is the one receiving an HD remastering as opposed to the original titles, but this series has a dedicated fanbase who will be able to easily revisit these titles, and they will be made available for people who never touched a .hack game.  The game is coming to PS4 and PC, and a European trademark implies that the game will be localized.

That is all I have for now, and any noteworthy news I missed will be included in the Rundown later on in this week.  As always, this has been both hard and fun, and I kind of look forward to doing this again next year.  Mostly because I want to try and cover the events a bit better.

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