Post-E3 Chatcast(TM) Wrap-Up

E3 has come and gone (last week). We still have one more article to write about E3, so Joe and I decided we should write this article together in a chat-style format. Since we don’t have our own equipment to do podcasting, nor did we have any time to get together during the week, we’re doing this the ol’ ghetto way. Joe coined the term chatcasting(TM) and we hope this will take off and slowly rid of liveblogging, much like how podcasting is taking over live talk radio. (Okay maybe not, lulz)

Without further ado, here’s our chatcast (and our longest blog post yet) on what went down on E3!

Joe: So we’ve been covering E3 for the past week now and I have to say this year really brought out the sequels, remakes and series reboots. All of the big three console makers had a bunch of these during their press conferences.

Jesse: Yeah. Pretty much the same story from the last E3. Not to say it was boring or predictable mind you.  There was a fair share of “wow” moments.

Joe: Halo, Mario, Metroid, Metal Gear, Final Fantasy, I’m surprised Sony didn’t announce a new Crash Bandicoot.

Jesse: Crash Bandicoot is no longer owned by Sony and Naughty Dog by the way.

Joe: Well let’s talk about one of those “wow” moments, Kojima announced not just 1, but 3 Metal Gear titles.

Jesse: Yeah, it was a bit of a “wow” moment.

Joe: We got Metal Gear Solid: Rising for the 360, Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker for the PSP, and Metal Gear Solid for the arcade which looks like an arcade version of Metal Gear Online.

Lightning bolt action baby!

Jesse: I was a bit surprised about an MGS announcement for the 360… and disappointed.

Joe: Were you hoping for MGS: 4 to be ported?

Jesse: Not necessarily. At first I thought, “awesome, Kojima is handling this new MGS for the 360.”  Then when he showed up on the Sony press con, he said that him and his MGS4 crew will work on MGS: Peacewalker. Which makes me a bit pessimistic as to who’s actually handling MGS: Rising. Is Kojima actually directing, or is he just Jerry Bruckheimer?

Is Kojima and company only working on Peacewalker and not Rising?

Joe: Not only that, but the way Kojima talked about how MGS: Peacewalker was a TRUE Metal Gear Sequel, he made it seem like he was talking down his earlier appearance at the MS press conference.

Jesse: Yeah, exactly. I’m not a trying to be strictly rooting for the 360. As a primary 360 owner, it is a bit disheartening. But, business is business. I really need to get a PS3.

Joe: Well you are forgetting one important thing with MGS: Rising, something we don’t know that could change everything. Lighting bolt action baby!

Jesse: Hahaha. Because of that tagline, I’m expecting Raiden to do naked cartwheels like he did on MGS2. Hopefully, Kojima’s second string team can do a good enough job to pull it off.

Joe: Well moving on from that disturbing image, let’s take a step back. So we posted our thoughts on the big three’s press conferences, but let’s talk about defining moments of those press conferences were. You go ahead and start with Microsoft.

When it red rings, it becomes HAL 9000. (Oh ho, I made an RROD funney, I are teh edgey!)
It stares into your soul!

Jesse: There’s no question that Microsoft pulled out a rabbit out of its top hat with Project Natal. Now, first of all, yes it’s a prototype and yes it’s not proven, and yes this could be just like that Killzone 2 “in-game” graphics trailer back in E3 2006. But much like Killzone 2’s announcement 3 years ago, Project Natal kinda does lead to new gameplay and interactive possibilities. It could be the start of something big. Maybe this is where the Holodeck begins!

Joe: I agree that Natal was Microsoft’s big moment during the press conference.

Jesse: Will it replace traditional gaming in the near future? I don’t think so.

Joe: I defintely don’t think so at all either. However, I like how they took an existing technology and idea and really refined it into their own.

Jesse: But, game developers, nay developers in general should continue the research and development of gameplay without the aid of a controller or handheld device.

Joe: It’s really taking motion control to a whole new level, with 1:1 body 1:1, and speech recognition. I’m glad Microsoft is taking a risk. Will it work out?

Jesse: Well, not for all games anyway. I wouldn’t want to play Street Fighter, for real.

Joe: Hey as long as I can control my menus all Minority Report style, I’m good to go!

Jesse: As to will it work out? I think if any company can do this, it’s gotta be Microsoft. (Or Google, but they’re not in the games business, thank god)

Joe: And we’ll be one step closer to sentient machines taking over and enslaving humanity, I mean the Natal prototype does look like a mini Hal after all.

Jesse: LOL Yeah it kinda does. But hold on. If Sony or Nintendo announced Natal, do you think the media would take it seriously?

Joe: That’s a good question, I could see Sony, but not Nintendo.

Jesse: I’m not an expert in computer engineering, but I’d assume it would take considerable research, manpower and resources to even attempt this.

Joe: I mean if you look at Nintendo’s track record, they don’t tend to repeat technology, so it’s hard to think they would announce something that basically says, “Hey guess what those Wiimotes? Throw them away! This is the real shit!”

Jesse: And with Sony being in last place, and Nintendo doesn’t have as much technical resources, only MS can do this because the company has all three.

Is this the future of controllers, more peripherals and attachments?

Joe: And they have the Wii Motion Plus anyways. Which they claim is more accurate than Natal is.

Jesse: That’s true.

Joe: Which is a good segue yeah?

Jesse: Well, one more question, and then let’s move on. Now the bigger question is, is Microsoft too late to do this? I think, in the public eye, Microsoft have jumped in the bandwagon too late. Or maybe, they didn’t have the chance at all. The one major hurdle to MS’ plan for world domination, is itself.

Joe: Well I think people need to realize that consoles are no longer limited to 10 year or less life cycles.

Joe: Natal could very much well come right in the middle of the 360’s life cycle. Or maybe it could lead the way to the next generation console.

Jesse: I don’t mean to suggest that the 360 is nearing its end. I’m suggesting that the timing for MS to jump on the motion sensing controller bandwagon is not good. They should’ve done so in the beginning, same with Sony. Public perception will take this as, MS and Sony copying Nintendo. Even though theirs could be superior to Nintendo. Don’t you think so, or are you done with this question? LOL, I thought you wanted to be serious business with this “chatcasting.”

Joe: That’s chatcastingTM

Jesse: Okay, how about this… NEXT! Nintendo, better or worse than last year’s showing?

Joe: And well, it’s blantantly obvious they are copying Nintendo by jumping onto motion control.

Joe: Nope! Let me get one last comment off.

Jesse: Type faster!

Joe: Really it comes down to the games. The technology is awesome and all, but just remember motion control was revolutionary when it was announced for the Wii. I just hope developers really think of creative ways to use this technology instead of just more shovelware, but in HD. So that’s also a good segue into Nintendo!

Jesse: The press did test out Burnout Revenge with Project Natal, so maybe there’s hope for high fidelity games with motion controls. Okay, so yeah… Nintendo, worse or better than last year? You answer that first.

Joe: Defintely better, I was listening to an interview with Denise Kaigler, the VP of Corporate Affairs and Nintendo. She said they defintely heard the outcry to last year’s press conference of Cammie smiles and Ravi Drums. So in response, they drugged Cammie up something good so she wouldn’t smile… ever!

Jesse: LOL. So they replaced her with a cyborg?

Joe: In a stylish 70 style white bottom deal too! I think they did a good job of not relying too much on sales numbers, but I can say I am really sick of seeing all these marketing photos they use of casual people enjoying the Wii and DS.

Jesse: I thought it was a better presentation too, but it’s still a far cry to what MS and then later Sony had to offer. I think the best part of Nintendo’s presentation is the first and last game they presented.

Joe: Yeah it seemed a bit subdued compared to the other two, but at least they announced games that the audience would actually care about.

Thank God, 2D Mario is back on the console!
Thank God, 2D Mario is back on the console!

Joe: I’m honestly really excited about New Super Mario Bros Wii

Jesse: And the new Metroid game from Team Ninja… at least a little excited about it.

Joe: The DS version of New Super Mario Bros was awesome and the 4 player co-op is really icing on the cake. It’s looks really chaotic playing with all 4 people.

Jesse: I agree, I love 2D Mario platformers. And this one looks like a blast.

Joe: Finally a party game that doesn’t involve 50 million mini games.

Jesse: I don’t know about you, but I’m more excited about this than Super Mario Galaxy 2. Although you know that I don’t like Mario in 3D.

Joe: I am excited about Super Mario Galaxy 2, but I just can’t shake the feeling that it should be an expansion pack if anything.

Jesse: Hopefully New SMB Wii will have hidden levels and crazy glitches like New SMB for the DS. This is like the first “true” sequel to a Mario game isn’t it? I mean, in the NES you have SMB 1, 2, 3

Joe: Yeah unless you count Yoshi’s Island.

Jesse: SNES only had one with Super Mario World.

Joe: But even Yoshi’s Island 2 had enough differences from the first one to make it feel like a new game.

Jesse: Okay correction, first “true” sequel to a Mario game in a LONG time.

Joe: That launches this holiday doesn’t it?

Jesse: I think so. But don’t take my word for it; I don’t really keep track of 3D Mario games. Hahahah

2D Metroid is also back on the console!
2D Metroid is also back on the console!

Joe: Well that last game they announced, man was that a real surprise to me. After not warming up to the Prime series, the trailer makes it look like the next gen Metroid game I always wanted.

Jesse: Yeah, but the more I watch the trailer, the more I realize that, it isn’t your typical Metroid game.

Joe: People are already QQing about it, saying those kind of sentiments.

Jesse: I mean, I don’t remember Samus ever speaking with an actual voice.

Joe: They also complain that it doesn’t give you the same feeling of isolation that the other Metroid games had.

Jesse: LOL. I’m not saying it’s bad per se, I just realized it is all.

Joe: Honestly, are people going to complain about a new Metroid game?

Jesse: If it turns out horrible, then yeah I can see it happening.

Joe: It’s like I can imagine Nintendo right now being like “WHAT THE F— DO YOU WANT CORE GAMERS???”

Jesse: LOL. Well speaking of getting what you didn’t ask for. What is up with the Vitality Sensor thingy that Iwata presented?

Finally! I can finally play doctor, without being asked to take a seat by Chris Hansen.

Joe: Uhh yeah that made the audience give out a collective, uhh what? Basically Iwata was like, hey guess what screw 1/3 of the gaming population. They NEVER will get into gaming! So I’m going to bridge the gap with this!

Jesse: Or maybe he’s going senile?

Joe: You could use it to you know, check your heartrate? Maybe we could make a lie detector game?

Joe: Maybe when you die in real life, your character dies?

Jesse: What could’ve helped if there was an actual game that uses this. A demo, anything!

Joe: I’m Iwata, and I’m rich bitch! And I’m OUT!

Jesse: Hold on. I have this feeling that the reason they even brought this out was that they’re trying to combat MS’ Natal. They’re trying to be different.

Joe: More like they were like, “Quick come up with something! We got nothing!!!”

Jesse: LOL. Exactly! The picture of their heart monitor thing, looks like it was photochopped in a few minutes. I guess that’s pretty much it with Nintendo. I know there were a lot more games that they presented compared to last year.

Joe: You need to post some of those up on the site.

Jesse: But personally, it’s nothing to write home about.

Joe: So let’s move on to Sony. Sony I think, really hit it out of the park this year.

Jesse: Yeah for the first time in this generation.

Joe: The PSP GO! Your thoughts?

Jesse: Firstly, I noticed that Sony was a lot more self-deprecating this year, than in years past. They made themselves look more likeable instead of the big badass company you love to hate.

Joe: Yeah they poked fun of the fact that they had information leaks. Including the PSP Go! Which seemed like it really wasn’t supposed to be leaked.

Jesse: They made themselves a bit endearing and at least sympathetic. Yeah the PSP Go! What is up with the (!) exclamation point? LOL

This is Sony's iPod killer?

Joe: It’s like Punch-Out!!! You gotta say it with enthusiasm.

Jesse: There’s nothing to be enthusiastic about the PSP Go to be quite honest.

Jesse: Can I explain myself for a bit?

Joe: Yes please.

Jesse: (1) It’s priced at $250, (2) you can’t play your PSP UMD-based games, (3) it’s fatter than an iPhone, (4) and also, after the Apple keynote address at this week’s WWDC conference, the PSP Go is effectively useless to the crowd its trying to appeal to. I don’t know if you remember that part of Sony’s conference. Kaz Hirai pointed out that the PSP Go’s main target is really the iPhone/casual crowd.

Joe: Yeah I do remember that.

Jesse: He didn’t say it specifically, but he mentioned “people on the go” and “a casual demographic on the move.” I doubt he’s talking about the DS, because the DS has more hardcore gamers than casual.

Joe: Well even the design of the PSP Go itself seems to appeal to that kind of demographic. Very minimal, just the screen itself. Slide out controls.

Jesse: Even still, I think again, it’s one of those “too little, too late” situations.

Joe: Honestly, points (1) and (2) you made are more than enough, to turn off most people.

Jesse: (1) and (2) turned off the hardcore crowd. But that’s not Sony’s motive with the PSP Go in the first place. It reminds me of how they lost their dominance in portable music to the iPod. They thought their Walkman brand is unbeatable. As it turns out, iPod took over Sony’s seat in the portable music player category. I doubt the iPod crowd will even flinch to think about getting a PSP Go, over the iPod Touch/iPhone. So, anyway, even though Sony’s press con was a lot better than years past, the first hour was really dull and rocky, don’t you think?

Joe: I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say it’s that hopeless, but I will say it’s defintely underwhelming.

Jesse: It barely had anything, except for Uncharted 2 and MAG, but most of the time was friggin’ montages.

Joe: And yes all the talk of the PS2

Jesse: And PS Home!

Joe: and the PSP games, which really ehhh I’m not interested in.

Joe: I don’t have time for epic style games. I have them for games I can play on the can.

Jesse: However, they did pick up steam in the second half of their presser.

Sorry, we don't have a screenshot for Final Fantasy XIV.
Sorry, we don't have a screenshot for Final Fantasy XIV.

Joe: Yeah once they got to the games for PS3 it defintely picked up momentum. The announcement of Final Fantasy XIV was one of the biggest shockers. It was like hey we know we’re not even done with FFXIII yet, but here’s the next game!

Jesse: I almost forgot about that game… I mean, I shouldn’t have, but I almost did.

Joe: Even if it is just an MMO, it was still a great surprise announcement.

Jesse: Yeah it was a shocker, but while I was watching it, I noticed that the graphics weren’t PS3 graphics, so I immediately knew it was the sequel to FFXI.

Jesse: Or the very least, a spiritual successor.

Joe: Hopefully the next MMO from the Square Enix won’t be as hardcore as FFXI was.

Jesse: Ugh, tell me about it. But that’s for another time!

Joe: If they can appeal to the World of Warcraft crowd, I think they can really give Blizzard a run for their money.

Jesse: Help me refresh my memory a bit though, what other games they presented?

Joe: MAG. 256 player online!

Jesse: That’s in the beginning. I mean, refresh my memory of the second half.

Joe: To not go in order God of War 3.

Jesse: MAG by the way does look amazing.

Joe: God of War 3 to sum it up, looks like more of the same. BUT for me, not a bad thing. It could be just what Sony needs to really have a definitive must play action game for their system.

Jesse: No not at all. Not too exciting, but not bad. Kind of like Halo: ODST or even Halo: Reach.

Joe: Uncharted and Ratchet and Clank were great, but I don’t think they’ll draw more Halo-ish kind of gamers than God of War could. Another announcement was a racing version of Little Big Planet.

Jesse: Yeah, even though Uncharted 2 in particular looks amazing.

Joe: Called Mod Nation: Racers

Jesse: I hate cart racers, and I’m sure I’m not gonna like this one either.

Joe: Yeah this looks like a real hit or miss. The idea is novel, but it doesn’t have that general appeal that platformers have that makes Little Big Planet work.

Jesse: I don’t know, I don’t get why they chose a cart racer out of all the possible genres. I guess it’s the only “kid-friendly” genre that adults can play? But I digress.

Joe: Well we’ve come a long way since Fighter and RPG Maker for the PS2! The last big announcement was The Last Guardian, the next Team Ico game. Once again it was all trailers, but Team Ico has yet to dissapoint to really redefinte what an epic game is.

Jesse: Yeah, I’m excited, but I really wish they’d show gameplay.

Joe: I’ll defintely be keeping my eye out on the progress they make for it.

Jesse: I think we’re at a point where, CG cutscenes are no longer exciting. And should never be used in marketing a game ever again.

Joe: Well we’re at a point where CG cutscenes ARE gameplay.

Jesse: But some companies still use CG cutscenes that doesn’t use actual in-game graphics. Like the new Wolfenstein game.

Joe: And Dragon Age.

Jesse: Wolfenstein’s cutscenes looks like it came from 10 years ago.

Joe: Anyways I’m glad to see that Sony took a lot of momentum out of their press conference this year.

Jesse: Not showing off numbers too much (or at all) is always good. So, let’s wrap this up.

Joe: Yeah I was thinking the same thing

Jesse: Who “won” the E3 press conference show-off?

Joe: For me personally? Sony

Joe: It finally gave me a reason as a PS3 owner to be glad I made that purchase.

Joe: To know that they actually have exclusive games coming out.

Jesse: Really, that’s unexpected. For me, it’s Microsoft… but only by a VERY small margin.

Joe: Yeah honestly it really is close, if I didn’t own a PS3 I would give it to Microsoft.

Jesse: I’m excited for Sony because of MAG, Uncharted 2 and its other exclusives.

Joe: This definitely was the E3 of “Hey look at all these exclusives we have!”

Joe: After last year’s announcement of FFXIII on the Xbox proved no franchise is safe from going multiplatform.

Jesse: I’m also excited for Microsoft because of Alan Wake (finally showed some gameplay), Splinter Cell Conviction, MGS: Rising, etc.

Jesse: But really the icing on the cake and the 360’s X-Factor is Natal.

Joe: Yeah there’s a lot we didn’t talk about, which leads me to one final question I want to ask.

Joe: What one game did we not talk about are you most excited about?

Jesse: I think this question should be saved for a later chat session, but real quickly, out of these 3 press conferences, the game I’m really excited about… this is a shocker… New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Joe: Wow, will that be the game that finally makes you get a Wii?

Jesse: Maybe, maybe.

Joe: Or at least start hanging out more often with people who own them lol!

Jesse: Hahahaha, yeah, I hope you get the game, so I don’t have to! But seriously, I might get the game, and it’s probably a good time to get a Wii, especially since there’s a few nice games that are coming out for the system.

Joe: Muramasa for one.

Jesse: And games that doesn’t have “party” in the title! How about you? Out of the 3 press conferences, and only these conferences, which game are you excited about?

Joe: For me, it is quite a tough choice but I am going to say God of War 3. I was surprised about how much I loved the first game. And the second game felt just as fresh despite being very similar.

Jesse: The third game looks like it’ll be just as good, if not even more epic.

Joe: I want to see the next generation upgrades they made, plus for me, the storyline has always been a big draw. I love their take on twisting Greek Mythology, and if you didn’t know God of War 2 ended on a cliffhanger, literally. So I need to know how it ends! LOL

Jesse: Hahaha, well on that note then, we should leave a cliffhanger of our own. Are we going to do an overall discussion on the games themselves that were shown at E3?

Joe: Yeah maybe we could do like an actual podcast style next time with some of the other crew.

Jesse: Alrighty, well on that note, we’ll end it right here. So take it away man! LOL

Joe: Hope you all enjoyed this first ChatcastTM! Remember the Unwound Show is on every Sunday at 5PM PST.

Four Days of E3: Best in Show Part 3

My final look at Best in Show evaluates the RPG’s that were represented at E3. There is one thing you may immediately notice about the games in my list, none of them contain the words Final or Fantasy in them. While Final Fantasy XIII did look amazing and I myself am looking forward to it, I feel the RPG’s below offer a fresh perspective on the RPG genre. Did your favorites make the list?


Best in Show – Star Wars: The Old Republic

SW: TORDevelopers: Bioware/LucasArts
Platform: PC

Fancy CG trailers aside, what makes Star Wars: The Old Republic my choice for Best in Show is Bioware has created some real innovations for the MMO genre. Most notably is every bit of dialogue in the game will be voice acted. This is a massive undertaking and they think it’ll be one of the biggest voice recordings for any game ever made. If that wasn’t amazing enough, just like in other Bioware RPG’s, your choices have an affect on the storyline. In the demo they were showing, players were in control of a Sith character. At one point during the demo, players had to choose between killing a captain of a ship or sparing his life. If they killed him, the ship was then boarded by Jedi they had to fight off. If they spared his life, the captain would later shoot down the pods the Jedi were approaching in. This is mostly unheard of in current MMO’s where storyline usually follows a linear path.

However, the biggest draw and what could also be its biggest weakness too, is the appeal of playing a Jedi in an online game. There’s no denying the appeal of going online, force choking, throwing lightning, and generally being evil towards other players. However, Bioware has to make sure all their classes are attractive to play, so every player doesn’t end up rolling a Jedi class. Bioware has already proven that they can innovate the single player RPG genre, let’s see if they can take that same innovation to the online world.

Runner Up – Borderlands

BorderlandsDeveloper: Gearbox Software
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

If this is the first time you have ever heard of the game Borderlands, don’t feel so alone. Just like you I had never heard of this game before E3. After hearing people talk about it and seeing a really awesome trailer I am really excited about it now. At first glance you will look and tell me I put this in the wrong category as it is a first person shooter. You soon learn it moves quickly past that with a level up system, a skill tree, a loot system (they claim they will have over 1,000,000 different guns in the game) and everything else that makes up an RPG. Seeing the Diablo formula applied to an FPS is ultimately why I think this game can do well. On one hand you have the addictive formula of leveling up a character, collecting loot, armor and weapons with friends online. Add in the FPS style gameplay that can draw from a player base that may not normally play RPGs, and you have a formula for a massive hit. We’ll see if Borderlands becomes the Diablo/PSO/Monster Hunter for the FPS crowd.

Missing in Action – Kingdom Hearts 3

Kingdom Hearts 3Developer: Square Enix
Platform: PS3 Exclusive?

In an E3 year where console exclusivity was the big rage, I’m a bit surprised that Square Enix did not announce any information regarding Kingdom Hearts 3. The first two Kingdom Heart games have been Playstation exclusives so it makes sense that the third one would be a PS3 exclusive. Then again, if E3 2008 showed us anything, it is that no series is safe from going multi-platform. Could Kingdom Hearts follow the same trend and join its franchise brother on other consoles? Is that why we haven’t heard any information regarding Kingdom Hearts 3 yet? I guess I’ll have to settle for spin-off after spin-off after spin-off until then.

This ends my look at some of the most anticipated games coming out of E3. There were quite a few genres I didn’t get a chance to talk about, but just like the three genres I covered they were full of so many candidates. Among some of these are games like DJ Hero, Rock Band: The Beatles, Alan Wake, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Split/Second, Forza Motorsport 3, Halo: ODST, and Left4Dead 2. 2009 and early 2010 already look like another wallet burning game season. Look forward to Unwound’s coverage of all these games and more in the months to come!

Four Days of E3: Best in Show Part 2

Just like a bad Star Wars prequel, I’m back again with Best in Show Part 2! Today I’m going to tackle sidescrollers. While there weren’t an abundance of sidescrollers at this year’s E3, the ones that were shown prove that 2D is never truly dead. Which games measure up today? Let’s find out!

Side Scrollers

Best in Show – New Super Mario Bros Wii

New Super Mario Bros Wii

Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Wii

New Super Mario Bros. Wii reminds us that next generation gaming can be as simple and fun as the first time we picked up a controller. We have come full circle as the gameplay looks identical to the original Super Mario Bros on the NES. Of course they had to add some new mechanics and there’s just enough to shake up the old formula. My favorite new addition? The Penguin suit that lets you shoot ice balls and slide around on your belly. The biggest change by far is the inclusion of 4-player co-op. Based on the gameplay that I saw, this looks like a fun party like experience that casual and core gamers alike would enjoy. Nintendo has gone back to their roots with this title, and I’m more than happy to come along for the ride.

Runner Up – Shadow Complex

Shadow Complex

Developer: Chair Entertainment
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade

The first thing that impressed me was the quality of graphics not just for a 2D game, but also on a game that is a downloadable title. The second thing that drew me further into the game was the Metroidvania style gameplay of exploration and combat. What makes this game stand out is the way they present character progression. Just like Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night before it, your character levels up and finds better items that allow for greater exploration. Unlike those two titles, the main character is not a space bounty hunter or half-vampire. He’s a regular hiker with a flashlight looking for his lost girlfriend. So to show the progression from hiker to one-man army, your character dons technology he finds until he ends up looking like something out of Robocop. Shadow Complex looks like a great addition to Metroidvania style games, so look for it this summer on Xbox Live Arcade.

Most Jawdroppingly Beautiful – Muramasa


Developer: Vanilla Ware
Platform: Wii

The thing I love about next generation hand drawn 2D games is the amount of detail they can put into the sprites. Just like Vanilla Ware’s previous game Odin Sphere, Muramasa looks visually stunning. The above screenshot can hardly do it any justice. As not much of the gameplay has been revealed, we’ll have to hold our breaths and hope that it doesn’t turn into a repetitive beat-em-up.

Hope you enjoyed Part 2! Come back Thursday for my final Best in Show post where I’ll discuss my thoughts on the RPG’s of E3 2009. Plus a quick list of all the other genres I’ve skipped over. See anything you don’t agree with above? Tell me why in the comments!

Four Days of E3: Sony Press Conference

Finally, we’ve saved the best press conference for last… okay not really, we just didn’t have the time to write about it in the past week. So, sue us. Sony, the dominant force in video games in the past 15 years, has a lot to prove to both the so-called hardcore and mainstream video game fans. A company that’s still looks up from 3rd place in PS3 console sales for the third consecutive year, Sony has to bring a lot more to the table to convince fans, that their video game brand is still relevant. Is the third time really the charm? Let’s find out.

Unexpected Self-Deprecating Humor

One of the more surprising things that came out of the Sony presser is not some new game announcement or what’s in store for the Playstation brand. It was Sony’s candor and self-deprecating humor that surprised us. Jack Tretton, CEO and President of SCEA, joked about how he’s thankful that people showed up to the presser because of all the product leaks. Kaz Hirai also joked how the PSP Go is also known as “the worst kept secret in the game industry.” Not to be outdone, Jack Tretton also joked about Hannah Montana games as being important to the Sony brand. Which was promptly followed up by an enthusiastic “WOOOOO!” from a few people in the audience.

More Live Demos, Less Fakery

For the past 3 years or so at E3, Sony repeatedly promised to showcase more games than their competitors. But time and time again, they haven’t delivered anything tangible, or anything that was actually playable, until now. Sony delivered the goods this year by showing actual in-game footage of their first party lineup. Uncharted 2, MAG and God of War 3 are among the few that Sony fans, and gamers in general have been waiting to see in the flesh, with no gimmicks or misleading tricks.

PSP Go Attempts to Take Out the iPod Touch

Hmm... I don't know if this is the iPod killer Sony is hoping for.

In the last 10 years, Sony’s once dominant Walkman brand has been reduced to dust thanks in large part to Apple’s intuitive iPod portable music player (and bullish marketing). Now, Sony is trying to return the favor by releasing an update to the PSP — the PSP Go.

The PSP Go has similar specs of the PSP-3000, except that it doesn’t accept UMD and has a smaller screen. Instea, it has a built in 16 GB flash memory and has a slot for Memory Stick Micro M2 for up to an additional 32 GB. To tie it all together, Sony also announced their take on iTunes with Media Go, a PC application to access the Playstation Store for the PSP and PS3. Sense Me, Sony’s version of Apple iTunes Genius playlist, analyzes your media library and will automatically create playlists based on your mood.

The one major setback for the PSP Go is the exorbitant price of $250 (that’s $50 more than a 360 Arcade!) Understandably, the iPod Touch is priced at $230, so I can understand where Sony is coming from. However, much like the Xbox 360, the Sony PSP has a hardcore gamer reputation. This attempt to expand the audience will only alienate the more experienced gamers and non-gamers unfamiliar with Sony’s offerings will only gloss over the product.

Hideo Kojima the Weapons Dealer

Hideo Kojima took the stage once again, and like an arms dealer, he’s selling ammunition to the ongoing console war by presenting Metal Gear Solid Peacewalker for the PSP. In a somewhat subdued “backstab” after his brief appearance at MS’ press con, Hideo Kojima announced that MGS Peacewalker is written and directed by Kojima and the entire MGS4 staff is also working on the title. Which leads me to believe that MGS: Rising for the Xbox is getting the shaft much like how Kojima didn’t want to get involved with the NES port of the original Metal Gear, because he thought the system was inferior to the MSX. Just saying.

Playstation Home

Sony shows a quick video of a few people in their normal lives who then transition to their online Home avatars. They show off some new content like Street Fighter outfits, the games that you can play on Home, and themed areas like the Uncharted Home space.

Frankly, still not sold on Home at all. I once tried to login onto Home when it first launched and it gave me a connection error and I never tried again since. I’m not quite sure exactly what Sony is trying to accomplish with Home. Is it their answer to Xbox Live? Is it their attempt to cash in on the Second Life crowd? Whatever it is, Sony is dedicated to make it work.

Surprise Announcements

Sony announces that Rockstar is going to be working on a new IP called Agent. Agent will be exclusive to the PS3 and Sony claims it will do for the PS3 what Grand Theft Auto 3 did for the PS2. Without any other information, concept art, or screenshots, these are very bold words indeed. Grand Theft Auto 3 defintely help make the PS2 what it is, but as far as Rockstar’s track record with new franchises? Let’s just say we have yet to see a Bully 4: San Andreas.

The surprise announcement didn’t stop there. After Sony showed off some footage on Final Fantasy XIII, they announced Final Fantasy XIV which would be a console exclusive to the PS3. It took everyone by surprise and for a second it didn’t make sense. I mean how could Sony announce FFXIV before FFXIII was even finished? It made more sense when it was revealed that it would be the follow up to the Final Fantasy XI MMO. Defintely not a traditional Final Fantasy, let’s hope that Square Enix addressed the problems that many casual MMO players had with FFXI.

The Era of Motion Control Wars

Sony, not to be outdone by Nintendo and Microsoft, announced that they too were working on motion control software. What they showed off was an early prototype of their motion controller. As if to take a cheap shot at Microsoft, Sony mentioned how they think that in gaming there are certain experiences that you just cannot do without buttons. They quickly showed off some tech demos using a Playstation Eye. The presenter was shown on screen and they were able to overlay various objects where the controller was. They believe in finding applications for motion controls that will appeal to core gamers. They ended the demo by fighting a skeleton army using the controller as a bow and arrow.

I think Sony’s stance on making motion control attractive to the core gamer is a daunting task. For me motion control will always be just a novel thing, but I could never picture using it in say a first person shooter or a fighter. That being said, the controller does look more accurate than a Wiimote. The PS3 defintely has more power and capabilities than the Wii, and compared to the Natal, this motion controller actually looks like it could happen sooner rather than later. Now I feel the war between these big three companies has truly begun and as long as all developers continue to innovate it’ll be a great ride.

Little Big Racers?

Next on Sony’s lineup was a game in the spirit of Little Big Planet called Mod Nation Racers. Just like Little Big Planet before it, Mod Nation Racers is a game that will thrive on community content. Except instead of creating platforming levels you’ll be creating kart style race tracks. The game makes it easy to create a track. All you do is drive and the track will auto populate behind you. You can fill in things such as scenery, road terrain, powerup boxes, ramp and hazards afterwards.

The game does look simple enough for anyone to pick up and play, but I can’t help but think that kart racing does not have the same lasting power and creativity that Little Big Planet users have shown. Then again I never thought you could re-create Gradius in Little Big Planet, so maybe the Mod Nation Racer community can accomplish the same thing.

God of War 3 Arrives, Violence Ensues

Lastly the developers of God of War 3 showed off a live demo of the game. The story picks up where God of War 2 ended, with a very pissed off (is he ever not?) Kratos alongside the Titans extracting revenge against the gods of Olympus. Gameplaywise it looks, well like God of War 1 and 2. And I can defintely confirm Chimera impaling.

I think Sony really needs God of War 3 to really bring in everyone who has been holding out. While the first Uncharted and Ratchet and Clank Future have been must haves for the PS3, I don’t think they have the same appeal as God of War 3 would have with it’s over the top violence. The way the audience reacted to the demo, you could get the feeling everyone was on the edge of their seat and wishing they could get a chance to play next.

Now About That Price Drop…

I believe that Sony had plenty of momentum going out of that press conference. Unlike Microsoft which tried to show that they were the multimedia solution for gamers and casuals, and Nintendo who proved you can never have too many peripherals, Sony seemed more focus on the core gamer. Sure stuff like Home and motion control may never pan out to core gamers, but from Uncharted 2, to MAG, to Final Fantasy XIII to God of War 3, Sony is quickly shaping up to be the console of choice for core gamers. One major thing they didn’t announce that many people were speculating was a price drop to their consoles. I think a price drop is inevitable and if done at the right time, it will close the gap between Sony and Microsoft.

The End of an Era?

Not quite. After a very dull first hour, Sony redeemed itself by showcasing actual in-game footage of its games. The presser could’ve been much worse if they kept on talking about the successes of the PS2, the dull unveiling of the PSP Go, and how millions of people are quincying in PS Home. After this presser, Sony have made a bit of a comeback after Microsoft’s dark horse announcement. Even without the price drop, Sony have made a better case that their platform can also have great, if not better games than the 360. Only time will tell if Sony made the right call.

Four Days of E3: Best in Show Part 1

By now the craziness of E3 has died down like coming off of some crazy drug. E3 came back big this year with lots of great greats shown off from all sorts of publishers and developers. Inevitably, like most shows where companies are all trying to one up each other, certain games just generated bit more hype and excitement than others. I’m going to talk about what I think were some of the standout hits this year. Please remember, I’m not trying to flame bait for any one console over the other. If you disagree with any of what I said, I’d love to hear your comments.

Action Games

Best in Show – Assassin’s Creed 2


Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC

This E3 was particular full of action games for the core gamer demographic such as God of War 3, Uncharted 2 and Bayonetta. Assassin’s Creed 2 puts you in the Italian Rennasiance as a man named Ezio who is extracting revenge against the rival families in Italy who killed his family. One of the main reasons this game stood out above the rest is the scope of the world they presented. The large crowds are still around from the first Assasin’s Creed and yet the world is big enough for Ezio to ride a flying machine across the span of a city. Ubisoft Montreal said they fixed many issues players complained about the first game, a big one being the combat. From the demo, you could Ezio disarming the guards and using their weapons against them. Assassin’s Creed 2 launches in November of this year.

Runner Up – Metroid: Other M


Developer: Nintendo and Team Ninja
Platform: Wii

Nintendo did not have too many major surprises (at least none that weren’t met with a big resounding HUH??) at their press conference save this one, Metroid : Other M. What really made this a surprise was seeing that Team Ninja would be a co-developer on it. The trailer and screenshots show that this iteration of Metroid will possibly have a mix of 3D and 2D action, but little is actually confirmed. Also with Team Ninja being Itagaki-less, the question remains of what talent is left behind from the old Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden staff. Nevertheless, it looks considerably different than the Prime series and looks like an exciting reboot to the Metroid franchise. See? Nintendo still cares about hardcore gamers! Metroid: Other M is slated for 2010 release.

Missing in Action – Dead Rising 2


Developer: Capcom
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC

The US may have stopped caring or forgotten about swine flu, aka the new Black Plague, but Japan hasn’t. Due to concerns about traveling abroad, Capcom of Japan decided not to attend this year’s E3. This move denied the public more information into the follow-up to their smash hit Dead Rising. Hopefully we’ll hear more info soon like how the infection spread to Las Vegas Fortune City, will they be any changes to the gameplay and most importantly, does the new main character forgo waxing?