This year, I had the distinct pleasure of finally attending PAX, an event for me 8 years in the making. During this time I enjoyed going around all the booths to play demos of the games that are not scheduled for release yet. As a veteran retro gamer, placing the bulk of my gaming experience to my NES and Genesis days, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a lot of games that I played were starting to go back to a simpler gameplay style, with basic stories that were supported by actual gameplay and not pretty graphics. Now while I didn’t play games like Gear of War 3 and Halo: Reach, mainly because of the ridiculous queue lines for each, I was able to play and enjoy many of the other games on the show floor. The following games are some that I found very enjoyable and will be games I’d suggest to everyone that owns a game console.
Super Meat Boy (XBLA, PC, WiiWare)
This title, coming soon during Xbox’s Game Feast from Team Meat, is a fully playable game ready to keep gamers of all types on their toes. The premise is that Meat Boy’s girlfriend, Bandage Girl, has been kidnapped by Dr. Fetus. Meat Boy, in order to save Bandage Girl must traverse through multiple levels to retrieve her and defeat Dr. Fetus.
In regards to the style of play, SMB harkens back to an N+ style of game play by going through levels, avoiding hazards, running, and performing crazy wall jumps to reach the gate at the level’s end. In my hands on demo I got to try out, I was able to play a few levels and enjoyed them thoroughly. After I finished a level with an A+ rating, I was asked by the folks at the booth if I wanted to try a boss level. After accepting their challenge, I then attempted the first Dr. Fetus boss level and found out that the game will throw more challenges at players than you can shake a stick at.
The main highlights of Super Meat Boy will be their sharp graphics, fluid controls, 300+ levels, unlockable characters, and fun factor, this is a game that I would suggest to anyone who enjoys a great platformer. Release date for Super Meat Boy is October 20th 2010. Check out www.supermeatboy.com if you are still craving meaty goodness as well.
Skulls of the Shogun (XBLA)
Skulls of the Shogun, is a Japanese inspired turn based strategy game from Haunted Temple. The story was actually pretty interesting. As warriors die, they are sent to another world, an afterlife if you will. In this alternate world though, the undead warriors fight in an endless war only to be ‘reborn’ every day and carry out the war again. While talking with the developers, they told me that there is a complete story mode with unlockable units while progressing through the game.
As a fan of turn based RPG games, this title was right up my alley as I easily spent 30 minutes sitting in their booth playing the game. To play, players choose a unit and move to an open spot on the map. From there they are given an option to attack if applicable or haunt a location. The haunt feature is what I found interesting. In each map there are locations such as shrines, temples, and rice fields. By haunting these locations, players can recruit new characters, buy upgrades, and earn money respectively.
Skulls of the Shogun does not currently have a release date nor a price point set and unfortunately, Haunted Temple, could not give me any more details other than it would be available on XBLA. My guess for this one would be an early 2011 release but don’t quote me on it. If you want more information make sure to check out www.skullsoftheshogun.com for all the games details and their Dev Blog.
Hoard (Playstation Network)
Hoard is a game that I really don’t have a category for. However, that doesn’t mean it was bad. In fact it was great. The folks over at Big Sandwich Games seem to have put a lot of work into this title and it shows. In Hoard, players take the role of a dragon set in medieval times, whose purpose is to cause as much destruction and collect as much loot as possible. By destruction, I mean use the awesome power of fire breathing and destroy as many enemies and buildings as possible. From these destroyed ruins, players can accumulate gold and take it back to the drop off point.
While playing I found that the game was actually quite fun and especially fun with 4 players simultaneously causing havoc. While playing, one of the interesting things I noticed was the wide array of destructible buildings and characters. While collecting gold, the dragons will gain levels once the gold meter is filled to the next level. After leveling up, players can increase attributes such as the amount of loot that can be carried or effectiveness of the fire breath.
For those that love causing destruction and dragon (catchy huh?), this would be a perfect fit. If you’d like to know more, check out www.bigsandwichgames.com to learn more about Hoard and all the gameplay options available. Make sure to look for this title in September.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Nintendo Wii)
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Kirby in his own title. While he’s been romping around on the DS, we’ve yet to see a full fledged Kirby consol game since Kirby 64. While Kirby is known for his massive suction, I was a little disappointed to see that that particular element has disappeared, at least from the demo.
In the world of Kirby, everything now has a sewing approach to it. By this I mean the landscape is comprised of thread, buttons, zippers, and various other fabric elements. By using Kirby’s attack, players can unthread enemies to destroy them and turn them into a ball to launch as a projectile to other enemies. As stated previously, this title is a deviation from the usual Kirby game with the ability to absorb enemies’ abilities. However, while playing I soon forgot about that trend. With memorable and colorful levels and gameplay, that more that makes up for the fact that this is an obvious deviation from the norm.
For more information about Kirby’s Epic Yarn, head over to www.nintendo.com and check it out. Kirby’s Epic Yarn will release in North America on Oct 17th 2010.
While I played other games, at PAX these were some that stood out most in my mind. However other games that should be checked out are:
Donkey Kong Country Returns (Nintendo Wii)
GoldenEye 007 (Nintendo Wii)
BattleBlock Theater (XBLA)
Marvel v Capcom 3 (Xbox 360)
Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 (XBLA)
Bangai-O Spirits HD (XBLA)
Make sure to check out these other games as they were all great as well and worth a shot.
Trailers for the games mentioned in this article can be found on page 2.