This year’s NYCC was notable in a number of ways. Perhaps the primary one is that the folks behind NYCC decided that BrainLazy didn’t count as a media outlet anymore. Thanks for the vote of confidence, guys! Fortunately, in addition to being a phoney baloney game journalist, I am a moderately less phoney baloney author. (See? Books and everything! No Foolin‘!) All griping aside, I got my badge, and that was all I was after. So let’s cover what sort of geeky goodness I encountered this year.
To tell you the truth, the game presence was a little thin this year, in comparison to previous years. There was no official Sony or Microsoft presence on the show floor, for instance, though I did catch a glimpse of the fabled Xbox One at the The NeXt Level booth.
It really does look like a DVR.
Capcom was showing off their new stuff and old. I decided to put my hands on Duck Tales Remastered, after lusting over it at PAX East a few months back. (I don’t care if it is already out, it is Duck Tales.) I cannot articulate the amount of pure nostalgia that was coursing through my veins once I slipped on the headphones and started listening to the enhanced but still entirely recognisable soundtrack. The graphics are crisp and fluid, a combination of expertly animated cel-style sprites and 3D backgrounds. Even the periodic comments from Scrooge sounded right. (Fun Fact: This game also produced one of my very first “Kids These Days!” moments. A youngster wandered up, looked at the sing along trailer playing on the big screen, and wondered out loud, “Why is Capcom doing a Duck Tales game?” I turned and made ready to scoff and sputter about how they made the first one, and Darkwing Duck, too, when I realized that it was entirely possible that this kid hadn’t been born at the time that those shows and their respective games were dominating my TV. Best to move on.)
Right next to Duck Tales was the new Strider game, Strider HD, which I like to think of as “Ninja Run: The Slashening”. I’ll admit that my background in Strider is a little weak. I remember peppering people with shurikens and marveling at his ability to hang on walls. Strider HD contains both of those things, so we’re off to a good start. What immediately struck me about this game was the breakneck pace. Seriously, within moments of picking up the controller I was literally slicing futuristic soldiers in half two at a time. The titular ninja moves with an intuitive fluidity, and the controls are laid out in such a way that I was throwing razor sharp shards of metal at unsuspecting robots and double jumping before the tutorial could even tell me how. Even in the few minutes I had my hands on the controller, the metroid-vania aspect of the game was made clear, slowly revealing a map and discovering abilities that help traverse the world. “Oh, I can slide now? Look out, floor-level vents and bad guy shins!” I’m definitely looking forward to this game.
Nintendo had a few new entries to their venerable franchises on display. The newest Mario Game was front and center, naturally. Super Mario 3D World. If you liked the gameplay of New Mario Brothers but wished it played more like Super Mario 3D Land, this one’s for you. If you have been waiting to play as the Mario cast dressed as kitty cats, that very specific dream is a reality as well. The platforming is excellent, the powerups are fun, and 4-player simultaneous is always a plus in my book. Another thing I thought was fun was the fact that the cast from Super Mario Bros. 2 has been reassembled, and they’ve got their unique abilities from that game intact. If history is any indicator, I’ll be playing the princess exclusively, thanks to her floating power. They were also showing off the new Donkey Kong Country title, which gave me a quick burst of pleasant memories. More pleasant memories were stirred by the pair of Zelda games on display, The Wind Waker HD and A Link Between Worlds. I was a huge fan of Wind Waker, but A Link to the Past was my favorite Zelda game, and is probably tied with Super Metroid as my favorite game overall. Needless to say I’m extremely enthusiastic for this title, which captures the look and feel of Link to the Past perfectly (despite 3D graphics rather than sprites.) Must play.
Oh, also there was some sort of Pokemon game or something. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
So… there’s aliens I guess?
Though the fervor over South Park has largely cooled of late, I’m nonetheless greatly anticipating the forthcoming RPG The Stick of Truth. I stood on line in front of a disturbingly accurate depiction of downtown South Park in order to get a 10 minute glimpse of the gameplay, and it has stirred my anticipation to new heights. I’ll be the first to admit that South Park hasn’t exactly churned out a sequence of masterpieces when it comes to games, but this one has hope. For one, the graphics are indistinguishable from the show (not a tall order, but worth noting). The voice work is entirely authentic, and the humor doesn’t pull any punches. For those unfamiliar with what the game has in store, it is a JRPG-esque game that follows the South Park crew (joined by “Sir Douchebag” , who I assume is the player character) as they fight their way through a make believe medieval quest. In the demo the boys are in costume, adventuring through friends houses decked out in grade-school-level attempts at replicating archetypal medieval settings, such as The Inn of the Giggling Donkey. There are traversal portions of the game that have you using farts and dodge balls to open passages and incapacitate enemies. Once the battle start, we’re introduced to a combat system that reminds me more than a bit of Final Fantasy, with semi-turnbased combat enhanced by timed events to build attack and dodge effectiveness. Maybe my favorite part of the game as demonstrated was its willingness to play with the medium, with a character notorious for his stutter causing a cinematic to run so long that the tutorial reminds you that you can skip it. Gonna have to get this one.
Another part of NYCC that I look forward to each year is the display by the folks at Project Triforce. They had their usual array of flawless recreations of video game props, but the star of the show just might be the most accurate recreation I’ve ever seen.
The Detail! The SPLENDOR!
Yes, that’s right. Now you too can own your very own huge angular shapes of various colors! (License pending.)
Like PAX East, one of the fun parts of the show isn’t just finding out what the big boys have in store, but what the little guys are doing. Though I did a great deal of my wandering around the show floor under the guise of my author alter ego (who, get this, has fans!), one group managed to grab my attention and cause me to revert to full journalism mode; AlgoCrunch, the minds behind a unique digital card game in development called Mythix: Adventures In Lore. Card games, even when they end up on digital devices, tend to look, feel, and play like derivatives of Magic: The Gathering with an extra bell and/or whistle glued on for the sake of novelty. Mythix seeks to break that formula by taking full advantage of the digital platform and produce a rare (if not unique) real-time card game. They had an early build of the game available for demos, and I must say even at this early stage it had some merit. The game is played by conjuring creatures from your deck that each fall into the roles of healer, attacker, or defender. These creatures are played onto their respective columns of the playing field, and each have a vital role to play in the game, either attacking, absorbing damage, or boosting your health and belief.
An aspect of the game I thought was interesting was way in which a creatures are targeted for attack. Obviously in a turn based game you are able to choose individual attackers to take your lumps for you, but there isn’t the time to do so here, so the targets are selected based on MMO-style “aggro”. Different creatures have different aggro levels, and thus draw attacks accordingly. Since aggro is at least partially based on threat level, having poor defense means that your heaviest hitter could quickly start to draw the full brunt of the enemy offense.
The other draw to this game is the fact that the mythologies it draws upon for its inspiration are diverse (Greek, Norse, Egyptian, and the rare Celtic), and well researched for accuracy and authenticity.
Mythix isn’t quite finished yet, but even in its early form it was playable and engaging. Perhaps most encouraging for me, it is planned for both iOS and the oft-overlooked Android tablets! If you want to help this game along, head on over to their Kickstarter and contribute!
That’s about all I’ve got notes on from the gaming end of NYCC (though if you really care about my other experiences, you can always check my author page for more). Until next year!