My Picks of E3 2018

I’m not a totally mainstream gamer (as you may have noticed) so when everybody got a bit excited over the likes of the new Fallout and Elder Scrolls games that were revealed at this year’s E3 event, I was pretty much nonplussed. It was similar case with many big names that were shown to be returning for sequels either later this year or in 2019. It didn’t used to be this way either because in years past, there’d be so much coming out of E3 events that I wouldn’t know where to look first and while this was great back then, I now see some value in only coming away with a few games that interest me. After all, money and time are both finite resources so not having around twenty upcoming titles on my wanted list is actually a positive thing. So what did catch my eye then?

Dead Or Alive 6

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I’ve already spoken about DOA6 so I won’t rabbit on about it too much here. In brief, it’s another awesome-looking fighting game from a series I’m already a fan of so a brand-new installment is a good thing. Team Ninja are apparently trying to grow up at last (moving out of their parents’ house and getting a mortgage not yet confirmed) and tone down the boobs so that will be interesting. I’m hoping that they don’t go too far with the whole getting serious thing but I will definitely buy this regardless.

Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition

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As a big fan of Namco’s Tales series, I’ve always been well served by owning every Playstation console to date. However, the last generation threw a curveball in the form of Tales of Vesperia, a critically acclaimed installment in the long-running franchise, which became an Xbox 360 exclusive back when Microsoft were determined to attract fans of Japanese games to their system. Save for the original black slab, I’ve never been an Xbox owner so I missed Vesperia the first time around and was pretty peeved that an eventual upgraded PS3 port remained a Japan-only release complete with incomprehensible language barrier. Thankfully, a new ‘Definitive Edition’ is coming to various platforms including (yay!) PS4 so I will at last be able to play this game. I’ve recently gotten back into JRPG’s and the Tales series with the two superb Xillia games on PS3 so this news is fantastic timing.

Cyberpunk 2077

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It wasn’t until it was pointed out to me on a gaming forum that I remembered Cyberpunk 2077‘s original teaser from waaaaaay back in 2013. That trailer ended with a statement along the lines of “ready when its ready” and boy, they weren’t kidding were they? Five years later, the game looks completely different and all the better for it. I absolutely adore anything Cyberpunk-y that even vaguely resembles the likes of Blade Runner or Ghost In The Shell so Cyberpunk 2077‘s detailed futuristic vision is right up my dystopian alley. I’m not sure whether it will a first or third person game at the moment but either way, this is something I will almost certainly pick up just for the art style alone.

Metal Wolf Chaos XD

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The (very pleasant) surprise of E3 2018 has to be a the remaster of Metal Wolf Chaos for PS4 and Xbox One, due later this year. Surprising because of it’s obscurity and pleasant because of it’s notoriety as one of the sparse reasons to import Japanese games for the original Xbox. The game is a batshit-crazy mech-style affair starring the president of the United States and while the game itself isn’t meant to be anything super-special, it’s one of those that can sell itself on sheer madness alone. The original Xbox was a very western-orientated console that barely performed in Japan and as such, the number of games worth importing can be counted on one hand. Hardcore Xbox collectors have been spreading the word for years about Metal Wolf Chaos however so the fact that we will finally be able to play the game natively is very welcome. I am still genuinely shocked that something this niche is being revived but who’s arguing?. Not me.

Team Sonic Racing

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Not strictly an E3 reveal since the game was already leaked pre-E3 but since a new trailer was shown at the event, I thought I’d throw it in here anyway. Developed by Sumo Digital who were responsible for the superb Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (THE best Mario Kart game to date), the footage revealed thus far shows only Sonic characters but even so, I have high hopes for this one based purely on how good its forerunners were. I’m not sure if I will enjoy it as much if there aren’t any additional Sega characters/representation as in Transformed but even so, it’s a racer that I’m definitely interested in. Fans of the Sonic Adventure era games will also be pleased to see the return of Crush 40 on soundtrack duties so open your heart for this one.

Fist Of The North Star: Lost Paradise

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Even though I have no knowledge of the legendary Fist of the North Star, I have to take an interest in this awesome-looking beat ’em up purely because it’s from the same team behind Sega’s Yakuza franchise – one of my favourite things ever in gaming. The gameplay shown at E3 looked suitably brutal and over-the-top so this is one that I will be quietly keeping an eye on.

Resident Evil 2 Remake

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It disappeared for a long time but now – just like one of its own zombies – the highly-anticipated Resident Evil 2 remake has resurfaced at E3 2018 (with a January 2019 release date) and man does it look good! Anybody who has played the original Playstation classic will instantly recognise the locations shown in the trailer but otherwise, it looks all-new with an over-the-shoulder Resi 4 style viewpoint and quite graphic, gory violence. I’m very excited for this game because RE2 is probably my second favourite game in the series after RE3: Nemesis and it’s going to be great to return to a virus-ravaged Raccoon City without all the baggage and divisive direction that some of the most recent sequels came with. I really hope that this a success and Capcom follow-up with a Nemesis remake in the same style.

Doom Eternal

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Old-school FPS favourite Doom was a critically-acclaimed success when the franchise was recently revived but even so, this freshly-revealed sequel was still a surprise and a sweet one at that. Looking set to take its cues from Doom 2: Hell on Earth, Doom Eternal should be one hell (I’ll get my coat…) of a no-holds-barred blaster with a lot more enemy designs promised this time around. I still need to get around to playing the recent Doom reboot but Doom Eternal goes straight onto my wanted list based solely on how much I enjoyed the original games and their attitude of pulling no punches.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

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I’ve not kept up with the Fire Emblem series since the superb Awakening on the 3DS and with valid reason. I found Fates to be an extremely dull follow-up that had taken too many anime tropes onboard and it had me questioning whether the franchise had become a waifu simulator. Not owning a Switch, I missed out on the Heroes spin-off and I’ve not as of yet picked up the last 3DS installment which was a remake of one of the classic Famicom Fire Emblems (so possibly all the better for it?). This newly-unveiled sequel for the Switch however looks mighty tasty with high production value. It’s certainly a step up from previous home console versions such as Path of Radiance which – while an excellent game – was a bit fugly in the graphics department and didn’t really push the host hardware at all. But then, am I calling the Switch a home console? Is it really? Regardless, this is the kind of thing that makes me want to a buy a Switch so it gets a huge thumbs-up from me.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

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I honestly thought that I’d gotten over falling for Smash Bros. hype. After all, where could they possibly go from the last game save for mixing up the roster and adding in a few new bits from recent Nintendo games? How about an ‘Ultimate’ version featuring every single character – no matter how minor – that has ever been playable throughout Smash history? Oh and coming even further out of the left-field by granting the wild fan-favourite wish of a playable Ridley from Metroid? And the naysayers said it could never happen because Ridley was “too big” to be a playable character…

If the promotional artwork above doesn’t get you excited about this then I’m not sure what will. Bringing back everybody ever for one overcrowded character select screen is a simple move but a genius one that should please most people. Even more impressive is that Nintendo seems to have secured the use of all previous guest stars hence the return of MGS‘s Snake who hasn’t been seen since Brawl on the Wii. Again, I’m feeling the need to buy a Switch!

So that was E3 2018. Okay, so my “few games” turned into a ten-strong list in the end and Betheseda DID sneak in there thanks to Doom Eternal so call me a liar and sue me. The big absent elephant in the room was the Final Fantasy VII remake which seems to have vanished for the time being. Like Resi 2 though, I have no doubt it will use a Phoenix Down on itself and return before long. Shenmue III and Kingdom Hearts 3 were two other disappointments given how both games have been knocked back to 2019 now. Overall though, a pretty decent E3 showing and more than enough to get hyped for.

The Nintendo Switch: A Wii-U Owner’s Perspective Pt.2

So last time (it’s been a while), I posted about why I haven’t been sold on the Nintendo Switch thus far despite being a Nintendo loyalist (in a non-rabid fanboy way) since the Gamecube. The release schedule of ports, upgraded Wii-U games and a general sense of feeling “forgotten” by Nintendo were my main reasons BUT I concluded by saying that I’d go away, have a look at the upcoming release schedule and report back with some games that might make me change my mind. Due to a bout of sickness (some form of super-cold of doom which is going around here in the UK right now) I haven’t been up to making that follow-up post but I’m back now with a Top Five list of upcoming Wii-U games that might tempt me to buy a Switch…

1. No More Heroes 3

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If you’ve read my discussion piece on Suda51 then you’ll know that I’m a bit of a fan of No More Heroes and Suda51 in general. The first two games were a bit ropey as far as the technical side of things went but were immense fun thanks to the sheer style being served up with many side orders of out-there wackiness. I’m no longer 100% confident in saying that a Suda51 game will be definite hit (thanks to a few recent efforts being a bit disappointing) and wouldn’t even say that the likes of NMH3 are antidotes to the mainstream that we desperately need anymore BUT I would still like to play this based on how much I enjoyed the two Wii predecessors. The teaser trailer looks promising too so fingers crossed.

2. Mario Tennis Aces

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Mario’s tennis outings have always been some of more enjoyable spin-offs starring Nintendo’s main man but recent installments have dropped the ball (hur, hur) somewhat. I didn’t play the 3DS version and the Wii-U’s Ultra Smash was widely regarded as a huge disappointment due to being a flimsy release with little content. Before that, the Wii received only a port of the Gamecube’s Power Tennis which in itself wasn’t a gold medal-winning game due to the divisive inclusion of super moves and the constant, unskippable cinematic animations that came as part of the deal. It’s actually the GBA version of Power Tennis that was considered to be last great Mario Tennis game and it isn’t hard see why. Gameplay was tight and addictive on the small screen and the accompanying story mode gave players something to sink their teeth into. It was a great game and it’s one that I still have on my shelf. Thankfully, Mario Tennis Aces is looking like it will make up for the run of disappointing sequels thanks to the inclusion of a story mode. I expect that the gameplay will be great as well and to be fair, that side of things hasn’t been the issue over recent years.

3. Fire Emblem Warriors

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Okay, I’m kind-of cheating here because this game is already out BUT it made it onto this list because…I hadn’t realised that it had already hit the store shelves months ago! How did that sneak out? Talk about not keeping up with release schedules…sheesh. Anyway, I like Fire Emblem and I like the Warriors games from Koei so this should really be exactly my kind of game. The only sticking point for me is that they went down the fanservice route and filled the roster with Awakening and Fates characters. Understandable seeing as how they have to shift copies of the game but I was hoping for some more variety and not just the usual suspects that we’ve come to expect recently such as Lucina, Robin and Camilla’s over-worked bra. There are no characters from Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn for example. Looks like decent fun but I would have to buy it cheap which is never going to happen with the words “Fire” and “Emblem” together on the front cover…

Before I move on though, I will also make an honourable mention for the brand-new (traditional) Fire Emblem game that is slated for a 2018 release. There is no information or images as of yet however so nothing to go on. I will remain cautious due to how I currently feel about the series and the direction that Nintendo/Intelligent Systems have taken in recent years but even so, it’s got to be worth keeping an eye on.

4. Shin Megami Tensei 5

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Before the increasingly-popular Persona series of RPG’s stole the limelight, Atlus also pumped out a fair few similarly dark (if not darker) RPG’s under the Shin Megami Tensei umbrella. In fact, many may forget that Persona 1-3 were released with the ‘SMT‘ prefix before the games finally found western fame and it was dropped. The “Megaten” games were great RPGs that offered something different and more niche versus the typical mainstream alternatives such as Final Fantasy and I’ve always been a big fan. Not much is known as of yet about Shin Megami Tensei V for the Switch but it’s being touted as an exclusive RPG for the system and it’s exactly the kind of thing that would make somebody like me sit up, look away from my Playstation and take notice. Of course, there’s every chance that Atlus might decide they need more return on their investment and also release SMT V for the PS4 but we aren’t privy to the details of their deal with Nintendo (if there is some sort of exclusitivity clause in action at all). For now, it makes my list.

5. Yoshi

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I was a huge fan of Yoshi’s Woolly World for the Wii-U. The game looked beautiful with its unique thread-based visuals and was actually an extremely tough challenge to achieve 100% on; far more so than the naysayers slating it as a “kiddy” game would have you believe. It was the creativity oozing from what was on-screen that made me fall in love (as with Kirby’s Epic Yarn on the Wii) with Woolly World and Yoshi for the Switch looks set to run with that. The footage so far shows off a heap of interesting twists on the tried-and-tested 2D platformer and I’m impressed that Nintendo can keep finding ways to make their quirky platformers feeling unique. I’m definitely looking forward to this one, whatever the proper title for the game will be.

So that’s my top five (or top four if you discount my sly bit of cheating!). The third and final part of this series of Nintendo Switch-themed posts will focus on the games that I’d LIKE to see produced for the Switch…the kind of things that would definitely make me rush out and splurge on a console of my own. With this being Nintendo, there are loads of franchises that could tempt a veteran gamer like me…

Upcoming Fancies: Blade Strangers

Fighting games are probably my favourite genre in videogames. Outside of stimulating gameplay, I love the characters, music, artwork and even the stories (yes, really). I enjoy the pick-up-and-play gameplay which can last thirty minutes or even several hours if I want to get good at what I’m playing or simply because the game is that good. Unfortunately, the current generation of consoles has served up a few nasty disappointments such as Street Fighter V (unfinished on release, cynical F2P/DLC feel) and Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite (unimpressive visuals and – again – more fucking pre-determined DLC!!). The good, fair stuff is still out there (The King of Fighters XIV for example) but it seems that so much about modern fighting games is about cash-grabbing or telling us what add-ons we will be buying post-release before a game even hits the shelves.

If you want to try and fight “progress” then the best bet is usually obscure imports from Japan but this is a road that can lead to incomprehensible menus, purple hair and obscenely enormous breasts. Not that these things offend me but I just wish that I didn’t feel so apathetic towards the mainstream fighting game series’ and what they have become.

A game like Blade Strangers then is the kind of thing that I can get on board with. It’s going to get a fairly mainstream release in the West for several platforms (PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC) and is beautiful 2D-styled fighting game that looks very retro and features a mash-up of characters from smaller games such as Code of Princess, Umihara Kawase and Cave Story.

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Who would have ever imagined Kawase in a fighting game? Well, it’s happening, yo.

So far the gameplay looks like it could be quite intuitive and easy to get started with but with layers of complexity below the surface for old-school competitive players to get excited about. This gets a big thumbs-up from me because I want some depth and the scope for technical combos but I’d also like to be able to get into the game fairly easily and learn as I go along. For all the talk of being accessible for newbies, I found Street Fighter V (I know I keep bashing on it…) to be quite difficult to get into initially with the new combos/moves for existing characters and new V-Trigger system so anything which doesn’t make feel like I need to use the tutorials after years upon years of playing fighting games is welcomed by me.

Above all however, Blade Strangers simply looks like fun (remember that?) and I love a good crossover, especially when lesser-known characters/series’ are involved as they are here. Code of Princess was a big disappointment for me on the 3DS but I loved Kinu Nishimura’s artwork for the game and respected the stubbornly old-school gameplay so I’m really pleased to see these things being allowed to continue breathing in a sometimes stifling industry. It’s also nice to see Princess Solange continuing to strut her stuff in spite of all the criticism of Ms Nishimura’s scantily-clad design for the character, especially (surprisingly enough) in Japan. Nipple armour, a wispy skirt and a building-sized sword are all a King’s daughter needs to go into battle after all.

Blade Strangers is slated for a 2017/2018 release but I would be surprised if we see it this side of Christmas. Something to look forward to in the often dry post-holiday season at the least.

[Disclaimer – I do actually enjoy Street Fighter V…it’s just too easy to pick apart!]