E3 2013 impressions: Beyond, Ryse, Dead Rising, Knack, and Nintendo stuff.

I’m at E3 2013 and I’ll be telling my impressions of what I played my first day there. Also a bit about Dead Rising 3.

Knack was fun but I wanted something a bit more creative. The demo opens with you as a big bulky version of Knack and you’re immediately fighting these robot enemies shooting this purple goo at you. It was a typical video game encounter. It would have helped to open with something better.

The combat options are punching and a jumping roll similar to a group pound. While this combat works and is fairly satisfying, it’s the same type of combat that has been in these 3rd person platformers. This bulky version of Knack has special moves like a hurricane attack. You need to fill up a bar to use these attacks and I felt like I couldn't use them enough. These powers were fun to use and helped make the combat interesting. So I guess That’s why I wanted to use them more.

The transformations in the game were not showcased especially well. The only time you need to transform into a little invisible version of Knack is when you need to pass through those red lasers you see in heist movies. I see potential there but it was not shown in the demo. There was an ice level but it really didn’t add much, although it did change Knack’s specials moves a bit. The game played like a well made 3D platformer but it lacked a spark that makes games stick out.

A game that did have that spark was Beyond: Two Souls. In the demo I played the action sequence they showed a bit at the press conference. The one where she’s in that dry desert area and Jodie's helping that kid to safety.

Beyond was stellar

In the first part, you are going behind cover and using her entity power to choke the enemies in her way. Using these powers feels great. It’s the combination of how each quick time event takes you step by step of the process and how good the character models look. The detail in the characters really help you feel the impact of each stab and choke.

The demo was filled with moments that showed this off. The best ones of these is when you take over the enemy truck by taking an enemy over and stabbing the other guy. I said out loud “this is awesome” as it was happening.

Those character models and the overall look and feel of the game also really bring you into the emotion of the story. When Jodie says goodbye to the kid it affects the emotions. For that to happen in the noisy environment of E3 means something.

There has been some puzzled reaction to the more action focused side of Beyond being shown. But this action fits the close-up filled, Cinema influenced style of David Cage’s games really well. It just makes the action more intense.

I saw a hands-off demo for Dead Rising 3 and as a fan of Dead Rising I liked what I saw.

The game is trying the fix the frustrating problems of the first game. The Xbox One makes the load times invisible between areas. You can build your weapons anywhere. At your safehouse, you have a weapons locker that stores weapons you’ve already discovered. The leveling system allows you to build combinations easier.

The combat kept the same pace but seemed smoother. Although the frame rate still was choppy in spots. There are a lot more zombies and ways to clear them. Cars and missile strikes have been added to the game and the way they clear zombies is fun and funny to look with guts flying everywhere. But those additions did seem a bit at odds of the up against too much survival feeling the the previous games had.

Another game I played, Ryse: Son of Rome, looks really, really great, from the way the buildings burn, the scale of the battle and the way the combat looks. It may be gruesome but when the swords hits shield and flesh it looks really good. Ryse is on Xbox One and the game makes clear that the new system is a huge step up graphically from the 360.

The gameplay was only ok. The combat didn’t flow well since the poor implemented quick time events interrupted the flow. The combat just felt clunky in general. Plus the sequence where you’re blocking arrows and throwing spears was a great showcase for how good a game can look but it wasn't very fun to play.

Of my time at the Nintendo booth, my favorite game was the new Donkey Kong Country game: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. It was a familiar experience that I enjoyed. They're designed new enemy characters and they're colorful and fun. The tropical theme is really embraced and the game looks filled with life with water, and the like. Even the cart level seemed more vibrant.

The gameplay was what you want from Donkey Kong. Just you collecting bananas in secret rooms, jumping on baddies and firing barrels between hazards. I’m not sure what else about it was so great. It just felt really fun. I was smiling the whole time.

I played Super Mario 3D World and and I picked Peach since she’s a new character. I picked a pipe stage where those black spikey things for the Snes Mario World game were flowing through the pipe. So you had to time your jumps into the pipe as not to hit them. That really was the gimmick of the stage and there wasn’t much else. So I really didn’t have a chance to see how the platforming was or how Peach affected the jumping. Other than to say she floats like in Mario 2.

Mario Kart 8 looked great in HD. Like Donkey Kong, the art design really shines. Other than that it played like Mario Kart does nothing more, nothing less. I will say that the track I raced on seemed creative with a lot more jumps and shortcuts that are sometimes in Mario Kart.

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What is hundreds on ios.

When Patrick posted the trailer for the ios game Hundreds I was intrigued, but it was one of those annoying trailers that tell you nothing about the game. So here I’ll tell you.

As you might expect it’s a puzzle game based on numbers. You start the game with grey circles that have a 0 in them. When you touch them they grow bigger and the number on them goes higher. The goal is to get those circles to add up to 100.

The trick is that while you touching the circles and they turn red. If the circle you’re touching touches another circle or anything else in the play field, it’s game over. Also the circles bounce off each other as they move. Depending on the size of the circle the circle will bounce fast or slow. So a part of this game is controlling how the circles bounce off each other by controlling their size. On some of the puzzles, they start out moving and you have to figure out when it’s safe to touch the circles.

But the real beef of the game comes from the various objects they add to the puzzles. There are dotted lines that connect the circles where you have to touch the circles on both ends for them the grow. There are play pause circles that you control the movement of. There is even a chainsaw that shirks down any circle that touches it to zero.

It’s those objects that make the game interesting and the challenge comes from dealing with all those objects while still having to worry about the circles bouncing off each other. The way the objects and bouncing circles interact is actually pretty mind bending.

Of the 25 levels I’ve played I think the game is pretty interesting. 25 levels in I still feel like there still ramping up on the challenge and how mind bending the puzzles can be. For a game that has a lot of mechanics going on, they ease you into it pretty well. I still wish games like this would explain when they introduce a new mechanic instead of you just randomly trying stuff until you figure it out.

I like the clean simple look to the game, but I feel like the overall presentation needs a little something. The music is just generic synth drone and I would have liked to have some real music. The clean look works for the gameplay really well and that’s the most important thing with all games. But the look of the game is a bit too simple it just feels a little drab and lacking in personality, the game just needs something visual to make the game stand out and keep you playing.

I would still recommend this game to people that like puzzle games on their iphone or ipad. The way the objects and circles interact will keep those fans intrigued and challenged.


Here are some impression of the Rayman Legends demo

When I played the Wii U at best buy, I felt that I was having a better experience than some of the people that spent the 350 to 400 dollars on the device.

There is one reason for this, Rayman Legends. It was the game that was being demoed and it felt like it used the Game Pad controller better than what I have seen of launch games like New Super Mario Bros.

To be fair I haven’t played the Mario game but just looking at it, I just can’t see how just making platforms on the Game Pad in that game can be compelling. In contrast, in the first level I played in the demo I was having fun and participating in the action with the Game Pad. A kid who was about 5 or 6 was playing Rayman with me, he was doing the traditional platforming on the big screen tv while I was playing Murphy, the small flying character that helps him in doing various things by using the touchpad on the Game Pad.

I was doing all sorts of things, moving platforms, punching fire balls, cutting ropes, it all added up to an experience that felt involved. I know I just said that the platform building in Mario looks boring. But the difference with the Rayman demo is the way they used the Game Pad in a way that has been designed into the levels, they really thought about how to incorporate these actions into the level. In contrast the use of the Game Pad in Mario just seems tacked on.

The way I experienced the platform moving with the kid I was playing with is an good example of that, in the areas where he needed to wait for me to move the platform, he would jump before I had a real chance to move it. The levels were designed well enough that it wasn't a problem. I had to move those platforms at a hectic pace, but I could keep up. It was a unique challenge trying to keep up. My dad even kept mentioning that he needed to wait up, and unless I was imagining things, I heard a bit of amusement in his voice.

With some of the platforms, I had to touch a button on the platform and then rotate the Game Pad, which would cause the platform to rotate,it was a bit confusing at first, to be honest it could have used the often mocked “Look at the TV” message on the Game Pad that the demos had at E3 2011. But it’s not even really a flaw because you get used to it quickly. It was a small change but it helped keep the platform moving from getting boring.

In that level, we even cooperated. It was just little “Move that platform” and “slow down” type stuff, but it was still neat to be talking to someone through a game.

I liked doing all the simple motions required of me, things like cutting the rope and tapping on things to make collectables come out. I liked the tactile feeling of using the touchscreen. There was this cool amusing bit where one of the big enemies with spike amour could be tickled by rubbing him on the gamepad. It was a simple thing but it made me smile and the kid laugh out loud.

It’s things like that that makes the game stand out. The Rayman game just has a lot of life and personality. The second level in the demo was a heavy metal inspired run where the screen scrolled pretty fast, it provided a little challenge that required some trial and error.

But the level itself was just a blast to play. The character design and look of the lava and fire in the level just looked great. The music was this insane version of that song “Black Betty.” The sense of speed was smooth and the checkpointing was frequent enough that the trial and error was a fun challenge and not frustrating.

By the end of the level, while I watched Rayman head banging in victory, I was saying to myself “this is awesome.”

Its that type of craft that seems to be missing from the Wii U right now, and not all people with the system will play the demo. So they are left wondering where the great games are. Rayman Legends will be one of those great games if it can all can be as good as what I played.

This is a reblog from my site singingcheetah.com