Category Archives: Classic Gaming

Dick Tracy (NES) Review

A video game developer would have to actively try very, very hard in order to make a game more frustrating than Dick Tracy on NES. Though it was released in 1990, around the same time as the Dick Tracy feature film, this Bandai game was more inspired by the original comic strip of the yellow-clad detective. Not that it matters, really. A bad game is a bad game, no matter the source of inspiration. And Dick Tracy on NES is indeed a bad game.

The first issue with the game is its setup. As soon as the game starts, you have a mugshot screen featuring six different subjects. Dick Tracy might have been an interesting game, if it actually made you look for clues to deduce which suspect is guilty. Instead, the game already tells you which of the six is the culprit of the game’s first crime, and you simply have to look for enough clues to have him arrested (if you try to arrest them before finding each clue, you’ll just go back to the police station to continue looking for the clues). The four subsequent crimes that Dick Tracy has to solve follow a similar pattern, which really makes you wonder why the developers didn’t just present the game as a traditional side-scroller. Dick Tracy had the opportunity to make players feel like a detective (if even just a little); instead, the detective-y bits are nothing but window dressing.

That’s only the beginning. Dick Tracy includes an overworld map, presented as the big city. You traverse this overworld via Dick Tracy’s car and, my lord, the driving controls are bad. The game forces players to stay in the right lane which, while realistic, makes the driving controls feel really restrictive. When combined with how awkward the turning is, and the driving controls are just a mess.

Yet, that’s not even the worst part of the overworld. That would be the snipers. Yes, atop most of the buildings in the city are snipers, who will shoot at you repeatedly, and drain your health before you even make it to one of your destinations. You can shoot from the car, but it only shoots straight, which makes hitting the snipers nearly impossible. You can exit the car, which gives you more range in movement (and thus, shooting as well), but having to stop the car to exit just to get rid of the snipers just makes the game all the more tedious.

You may be wondering “why not just move around the overworld on foot?” The answer to that is you can’t. As soon as you exit the car, you can only walk around to what’s currently on-screen. Between the horrible controls and the barrages of snipers, driving the car is one of the game’s worst elements, yet it’s the element the game forces you to do the most.

When you actually make it to one of your destinations, things don’t get much better. Dick Tracy can jump, punch, and can use a gun. But in the on-foot stages, Dick Tracy has limited ammo, and can’t shoot unarmed enemies, otherwise you’ll take damage. Sure, it’s realistic that a good cop wouldn’t shoot an unarmed criminal, but the enemies appear on screen so suddenly that you might not have switch back to your fists before hitting the B button. You’ll be shooting at an armed enemy, only for an unarmed guy to appear on-screen and walk in front of the bullet. And with how much the stages love to bombard you enemies, trying to keep track of what enemies are in front of you and what item/weapon you’re currently using just gets way too hectic.

Dick Tracy can swap between his fists, a gun, and first aid kits by pressing the select button. The punches and gun are used by pressing B when they’re selected, but to use a first aid kit to heal yourself, you have to press the select button and B at the same time. Why the developers made such a bonkers design choice is anyone’s guess.

What’s worse with the health situation is that Dick can only carry two first aid kits at a time, and they aren’t always easy to come by. And while they replenish all of your health when used,Dick only has a handful of health, with most of it, once again, being depleted by the snipers in the overworld.

This brings me to the game’s gravest flaw: You only have one life. Just one. If you die, it’s game over and back to the beginning of the game. There is a password system, but only in between cases. And again, going through just one case by finding all the clues, and apprehending the culprit, with all those driving sections sprinkled in between, is no walk in the park. And with players only able to hold onto two first aid kits at a time, the whole experience is unforgiving and unfair.

Dick Tracy is one of the worst games on the NES. Its squandered potential of 8-bit crime solving is further muddled by its atrocious controls, tedious pacing, and its unreasonable difficulty..

 

1.5

Beetlejuice (NES) Review

The opening level in Super Mario Bros. is so expertly realized in introducing players to the game’s fundamental mechanics, that it’s largely taken for granted. From the opening screen that presents Mario is the basics (blocks to jump into for coins and a power-up, a Goomba enemy to avoid or defeat), all the way up to its secret areas and ending flagpole, stage 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. remains a case study on how to properly ease players into the game ahead.

On the complete opposite end of that spectrum, we have the opening stage of Beetlejuice on NES, which is so cryptic, convoluted and unfair that it serves as a means for everything a game designer should avoid when trying to introduce players to the game. Though I suppose for a game this terrible, the introductory stage may actually compliment the rest of the experience (though that statement in itself is certainly no compliment).

Beetlejuice is based on the Tim Burton film of the same name, and like so many ill-fated licensed games on the NES, it was published by the notorious LJN. And like all the other movie-based NES games from the (thankfully) now-defunct publisher, Beetlejuice fails as both a game and in representing its source material.

By definition, Beetlejuice is a side-scrolling platformer. Though in execution, it can barely handle being that. Beetlejuice’s jumping is sporadic and slippery, and his only means of attack his a little stomp, which naturally doesn’t harm enemies, but instead is used to crush tiny beetles that pop out of holes in the ground to get points. Beetlejuice can then use those points to purchase “Scares,” the game’s power-ups.

Though you can continuously farm the beetles for points, it proves to be an arduous process: you have to be incredibly precise with your stomps to hit them, and they only give 10, 25, 50 and 75 points (depending on the color of beetle, though even that seems inconsistent, with blue beetles sometimes giving 25 points, other times 50). Considering that it costs hundreds of points to buy even a single use for a Scare, and you’ll often needs multiple copies of a Scare in order to finish a level, you’ll find yourself spending a good deal of time stomping on beetles like an idiot. Sound fun yet?

“The shark fin in the tub can kill you. The torches can kill you. Even that umbrella thing can kill you.”

Another problem with the game is its unfair difficulty, which stems from three primary sources; the first of which being that Beetlejuice is sent flying when touching an enemy or object, which will frequently send “the ghost with the most” careening around the place like a pinball, bouncing from one damaging object to the next until he’s dead. The second issue is that, when traveling vertically, any previous ground that is now off-screen works as a one-hit death trap. The third issue is that you can rarely tell what can and can’t hurt you. Early in the first level, for example, you’ll find yourself inside a house with some torches, which look like simple background decorations, but actually hurt you when touched (even when they’re off-screen).

Combine these three issues with Beetlejuice’s aforementioned slippery jumping, and the game is utterly unenjoyable to play. And all of these issues are at the forefront of the very first stage.

This first level sees players traveling across a small town, where they are soon greeted by an enemy they can’t kill, but one that can easily kill them if it bumps into Beetlejuice and sends him into a nearby pit. Shortly thereafter, the player will enter the torch-riddled house, in which Beetlejuice has to continuously travel vertically which, you guessed it, means you’ll often get hit by a surprise enemy or object, and fall back to what should be a previous area, which instead kills you. After that you’ll find an area where you’ll waste time stomping on beetles (while avoiding another enemy you can’t kill) just so you can enter the nearby building to purchase power-ups. You’ll soon come across a beehive which can only be destroyed by using the skeleton power-up and throwing a fireball at it, which then gives you access to a cloud platform (a baffling scenario which the game never even hints at). Then when you finally make it to the first boss, you’ll find that he’s practically invincible, and can only be killed by spamming the skeleton power-ups and throwing enough fireballs at him to send him to the right side of the screen (once again, the game never tells you to specifically buy the skeleton power-up for the boss, so if you buy anything else, you’re just wasting your tediously earned points). Naturally, this boss can kill you in a single hit, which will either send Beetlejuice back to the first house area of the stage (despite other deaths taking the player back to the spot they died), or you’ll spawn right back at the boss. If you respawn at the boss, you’ll keep doing so. So if you didn’t purchase enough skeletons, or used them up and died, you’ll have to reset the game entirely, because you’re trapped in an impossible scenario.

Again, first level. And it doesn’t get better from there.

To top everything off, the graphics are ugly to look at and, though the music can be somewhat catchy, its upbeat and bubbly tone is anything but reminiscent of the dark comedy on which the game is based.

Beetlejuice is perhaps marginally better than LJN’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure –  if only because Beetlejuice’s bad controls are a relative step up from the unplayability of Bill & Ted – but it still since alongside Who Framed Roger Rabbit on NES as one of LJN’s greatest crimes against the most beloved of 8-bit consoles.

 

1.5

Xena: Warrior Princess: Talisman of Fate Review

“Caesar! Caesar!”

If you choose to play Xena: Warrior Princess: Talisman of Fate on the Nintendo 64, be prepared to hear those words often. Why? Because one of the characters in this 3D fighter – based on the popular television series from the 1990s from the studio that brought the world Superman 64 – is Caesar, and one of his moves involves him raising his arms in the air, to which an unseen audience shouts “Caesar! Caesar!” which inexplicably knocks any opponents to the ground. This move can be spammed repeatedly, and though it doesn’t do any damage, the fact that you can just repeat it non-stop to incapacitate your opponents gives Caesar an insanely unfair advantage.

It’s a broken move from a gameplay standpoint, but it also doesn’t make any sense. What’s knocking the opponents down, exactly? Are the thunderous roars of Caesar’s fans so loud they push Caesar’s opponents to the floor with force? Or could the crowd be stomping their feet in support of Caesar with such enthusiasm that it causes a small tremor, thus causing Caesar’s foes to lose their footing? In either case, shouldn’t Caesar also be affected by this, considering he’s standing on the same ground as his opponents?

I may be going on and on about a single move, but said move somehow sums up Xena: Warrior Princess: Talisman of Fate as a whole (though “from the publisher of Superman 64″ might also explain everything). This is a fighter that’s sloppy, clunky and broken in pretty much every regard.

As stated, this Xena video game adaptation is a 3D fighter, with players being being able to choose from a variety of characters from the TV series. Among them are the titular Xena, Gabrielle, Ares and *sigh* Caesar. Battles can take place between two to four players, with team options also being available.

The controls are a mess. The four C buttons are used for attacks, Z ducks, R jumps, and A and B switch targets. There’s nothing about the control setup that feels intuitive. It’s a game that just feels awkward to play. Combine the poor controls with clunky character responses, and it becomes an utter mess (some characters have magic moves, but good luck hitting anyone with them with how long they take to activate).

“Gee, I wonder how he won?”

The graphics are similarly horrible. Now, the N64 is not one of the better-aged consoles of yesteryear, so dated visuals are to be expected. But even by N64 standards, the game is ugly. The characters look like blocky shapes tied together, and only vaguely resemble the characters they’re based on. The arenas are just wide, empty spaces that don’t stand out in terms of visuals or stage design.

I will admit, however, that the music – though not necessarily what I would call good – adds a bit of personality to the game. The “best” of the musical lot being the theme music for Joxer, the series’ comic relief character, which is intentionally annoying to such a way that, when coupled with the disastrous gameplay, makes for a good laugh if you’re playing with friends.

Really, there’s not much else to talk about here. Xena: Warrior Princess: Talisman of Fate is one of the emptiest, most poorly-designed fighters I’ve played. It fittingly sits alongside its fellow Titus-published brother Superman 64 as one of the worst games on the N64. Between the two, Xena might be marginally “better” if only because, unlike Superman 64, it may put a goofy grin on your face at its own expense, as opposed to driving you mad with rage.

 

“Caesar! Caesar!”

 

1.5

My Favorite Games from E3 2017

E3 2017 has come and gone. Everyone seems to be doing their E3 awards now, so I’ll do the same. Though I’m mainly basing this on my personal experience of attending the event, and since I couldn’t experience every game E3 had to offer, my selections will (mostly) look different than most peoples’. I decided to do something of a top five, but instead of ranking the games, I’ll award each one in its own category, to compensate for the long lines preventing me from playing more.


*Best Game I Didn’t Play*

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

There were plenty of games at E3 that I didn’t get to play, so I guess it makes sense to make a category honoring the best of the games I (unfortunately) missed out on. Of course, I kept track of all the big games from the show through…basically every source I could. And while there were a lot of games I wish I had the chance to play at the show, the one that I regret not getting the chance to play was Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom.

I loved the original game, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, on the Playstation 3. In fact, it was my favorite game of 2013, and one of the best RPGs of recent years. Though the sequel seems to be changing up the formula a bit in terms of combat, it’s still aiming to bring the ineffable charms of Studio Ghibli to the world of video gaming. And frankly, the new combat system looks just as fun (I really liked the “Dragon Quest meets Pokemon” gameplay of the original, but the Pikmin-esque elements are winning me over). In a year chock-full of great games, Ni No Kuni II is among the titles I’m most excited for. And with all due respect to the other great games I wasn’t able to try at E3, I’m kicking myself the most over missing out on Ni No Kuni II, whose line seemed to always be closed every time I tried to play it…

Yeah, I’m also eagerly-awaiting the remakes of Crash Bandicoot and Superstar Saga, but they’re remakes. It’s different.

 

*The “Wow, I Can’t Believe This Actually Works!” Award*

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

For years, I’ve found the Rabbids to be nothing but annoying. When I heard the rumors of a crossover with Super Mario, I was more dumbfounded than anything. Never would I have imagined that this oddball combination would actually lead to a very promising tactical RPG.

It’s Mario. It’s Rabbids. It has XCOM-esque gameplay. It has music by Grant Kirkhope. The Mario and Rabbid characters use sci-fi weapons… This is the weirdest concept for a game I’ve heard in a very, very long time. Almost like Ubisoft pulled a bunch of ideas out of a hat, and decided to put them together. But, if the demo I played is anything to go by, it actually works.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle proved to be surprisingly complex with its battle system, and it seems to be using both Ubisoft’s Rabbids and Nintendo’s most iconic IP in a really creative way. Here’s hoping the final game is every bit as much of a pleasant surprise.

 

*The “Outta Nowhere” Award*

Dragon Ball FighterZ

As a kid, I loved the Dragon Ball franchise. As I’ve gotten older, I still have a soft spot for it, even if it loses any shred of story structure once it goes into the “Dragon Ball Z” territory and beyond. The planet-devastating action from the manga/anime series should be ripe for the picking for the video game world. But to be honest, I think that Dragon Ball games, at their best, have only ever been so-so.

That all changed when I played Dragon Ball FighterZ. Visually, it looks just like you’re playing an episode of the anime. Actually, considering the game’s animation is far more fluid than the anime’s, Dragon Ball FighterZ looks better than its source material. More importantly, it plays beautifully. The combat is classic, 2D fighting at its best.

The game oozes both depth and accessibility in its gameplay, with easy-to-learn combos and mechanics that definitely take some time to learn to use to greater effect. Plus, it rectifies one of my major gripes with most 2D fighters by making the matches decently lengthy. Normally, I feel like if you get hit by just a few moves in a 2D fighter, the match is nearly over. But here, players get to choose three characters apiece, with each one being decently durable, leading to matches that felt lengthy, but not so lengthy they overstayed their welcome.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been as excited for a fighting game as I am for Dragon Ball FighterZ.

 

*The “Right in the Childhood” Award*

Sonic Mania

Sonic the Hedgehog was one of my favorite video game series as a kid, but somewhere along the line, the games started sucking. I – like many people – believe this all happened around the time Sonic made the jump to 3D. Some still swear by the Sonic Adventure titles, but I’m sorry, they really show their age. Not to mention they also began the trend for Sonic games trying to be melodramatic story-focused, furry-baiting nonsense, which focused more on introducing more small armies of dumb animal characters in each game than actually making a good game. The more I think about it, the more I think Sonic Generations may be the only 3D Sonic title I actually like…

Sega has tried in the past to bring Sonic back to his former glory, with the Sonic Advance/Rush titles being decent attempts that never quite felt right. A more literal approach was taken with Sonic the Hedgehog 4, but both of that game’s “episodes” felt like dumbed down, clunky versions of the formula.

But with Sonic Mania, Sega seems to finally be getting Sonic right! It looks and feels like the Genesis Sonic games in many ways, but also feels like a proper sequel to the 16-bit Sonic classics. It takes the best bits of Sonic’s most beloved games, while also making everything smoother, and adding a good dose of originality and creativity to boot. Plus, we get the classic pot-bellied, Felix the Cat-esque Sonic that we all love, instead of that obnoxious, desperately-trying-to-be-cool buffoon that the Hedgehog has become.

Whether or not Sonic Mania can repair the franchise as a whole is yet to be seen. But at least it looks like we’ll finally get one game that does the series proud.

 

*Overall Game of the Show*

Super Mario Odyssey

Earlier this year, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a game which reinvented the foundations of the Zelda series to masterful effect. Now, Nintendo is aiming to do the same with the one franchise that is arguably more highly-regarded than Zelda.

Nintendo may be boasting that Super Mario Odyssey is returning to the “sandbox style” of Super Marios 64 and Sunshine. But it’s actually so much more than that.

Super Mario Odyssey looks to be rebuilding what we know and love about the Mario series. The worlds of the game are outlandish even by Mario’s standards, and that sense of originality is finding its way into the gameplay.

Instead of one-off power-ups being found in blocks, Mario can buy different outfits – with each boasting different abilities – which he can then wear whenever. The famed plumber is free to search for Power Moons (the replacement of Power Stars) however the player sees fit, with the episodic nature of past 3D Marios no longer limiting Mario’s options. And most prominently, Mario can take control of enemies, NPCs and even objects using his new magic hat, which means the gameplay is constantly changing.

Even with all the changes Odyssey looks to bring to the Mario formula, it still retains the level of polish, intricate controls, and bountiful charms you would expect from the Mario series. Odyssey looks to be a classic in the making.


Well, that does it for my E3 awards. I now leave you with this video of the Super Soul Bros. performing at E3 (pardon my recording skills…or lack thereof).

E3 2017: Day 3

E3 2017 has come and gone. While there are plenty of discussions to be had on the presentations and such, I’m just here to recollect my experience at the show. While there were some detriments to this E3 (namely the ungodly long lines), it was fun to be able to experience E3 again, and I look forward to next year’s show… provided they sell reasonably-priced tickets to the public again. Anyway, here’s how my last day at E3 2017 went.

First the bad news: I didn’t get to play Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom. I tried – several times – to get in line for it, and every time the line was “temporarily closed,” until the last time I tried and it was closed for the day. So that sucked. Otherwise, I had a good last day at the show, though I didn’t actually play a whole lot.

The first game I got to play was a second go at Dragon Ball FighterZ against my brother. I managed to win once again after a hard fought battle (I usually suck at fighting games, so I don’t mind bragging here), but I really can’t stress enough how much I enjoy this game. It was definitely worth a second look, and was definitely one of the best surprises of the show.

Speaking of pleasant surprises, the next game I managed to play was Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Now, when I first heard of the rumors of this game, I can’t say I was too excited. I was never a fan of the Rabbids, so to hear they were crossing over into my favorite franchise was a bit iffy. It also didn’t help that the rumored title was Super Mario RPG: Invasion of the Rabbids, which seemed like a disappointing follow-up to the classic Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (one of my favorite video games of all time).

Now that the game’s been revealed (and has no connection to Super Mario RPG), I’m actually really excited for it. The game basically plays like the XCOM reboot, but with Mario and Rabbids characters, and music by the composer of Banjo-Kazooie (Grant Kirkhope). That is an odd combination, but certainly an interesting one.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is essentially a tactical RPG, with the game featuring eight playable characters (Mario, Luigi, Peach and Yoshi, along with four Rabbids dressed as those four characters), though the demo only featured three (Mario, and the Peach and Luigi Rabbids). The battles use a turn-based system, with players able to move their characters to different places within a certain distance on the field at any time. During movement, players can boost their characters’ distance by pairing them with another character or going through pipes, perform a sliding attack by crossing an enemy, and ultimately find a spot to cover from enemy damage. After the characters are positioned, they can attack enemies using an array of weird sci-fi weapons.

It sounds simple, but Mario + Rabbids proved to be surprisingly deep and complex with its tactical elements. What seemed so easy on face value had me making a number of mistakes before learning better.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle may be one of the weirdest games I’ve ever heard of, but if the demo was a taste of what is to come, then I can say I’m actually very excited for a game featuring the Rabbids. Never thought I’d say that.

Truth be told, standing in line for Mario + Rabbids took up a good deal of time, so I didn’t get to play a whole lot else on this final day of E3 2017, though I did get to explore the show floor a bit more, and I liked what I saw. Two games I’m looking forward to but skipped were ARMS and Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy. With ARMS literally being released tomorrow, I didn’t feel the need to stand in a lengthy line for it. And while the Crash Bandicoot remake compilation is one of my most anticipated games this year, it comes out at the end of this month. So again, I didn’t think waiting in a long line for it made much sense (I would possibly make an exception for Mario or Dark Souls, if that scenario ever occurs).

So the last game I played at this E3 was, well, the first game I played at this E3: Super Mario Odyssey. Mercifully, Nintendo seemed to learn from the chaotic mess of a line from the first day of E3, and tweaked things to make it more tolerable. There were more, smaller lines this time, instead of a gargantuan mass of humanity. I probably only had to wait a half hour, which was a godsend compared to the first time around.

On the first day, I played the desert stage of the Mario Odyssey demo, which felt familiar to the Super Mario Galaxy games in that it was built around action and platforming. This time, however, I tried out the city stage, which felt more in line with Super Mario 64 or – perhaps more accurately – Breath of the Wild.

The city stage serves as a massive sandbox with objects galore to be found and completed as the player sees fit. In retrospect, I probably should have tried out the different costumes to see their abilities, but I was too busy gathering Moons (Odyssey’s replacement for the traditional Stars).

I got one Moon by performing well at a game of jump rope, one for besting an obstacle course, and a few for braving precarious situations. In total, I earned a total of six Moons, which the man working at the kiosk told me tied the record set for the city stage during the demo. Of course, this leads me to an aggravating little detail: My demo ended just as I was climbing the pole at the top of the highest building in the city, which the Nintendo employee ensured me had an additional Moon at its peak. So I was apparently seconds away from having the best record of Moons on the city stage for Super Mario Odyssey’s E3 demo. Just my luck…

In between viewing, playing, and waiting in line for all these great games over the past few days, I also enjoyed some of the other things E3 had to offer: I enjoyed a bit of a GameSpot interview with WWE wrestlers Xavier Woods and Samoa Joe on the last day, while during the second day I had a listen to some awesome Mario Kart 64 remixes courtesy of the Super Soul Bros.

“Joe’s gonna kill you!”

I’ve had a great time at this year’s E3. Yes, the lines were disastrous (hopefully they’ll learn how to better handle the extra people if the event is still open to the public next year), and sure, people can go ahead and comment about how Sony’s presentation wasn’t up to their usual quality, or how there weren’t too many surprises. But for me, it was simply a great time. I made lots of memories, played some terrific games (particularly Super Mario Odyssey, which I feel is destined to be a Nintendo classic), and just had a good time.

I’m hoping I can return to E3 again next year, but all I can say for now is that it was great to attend the event again. But good luck with 2018’s E3 having as stellar of a lineup of games as this year.

“Me…about to be crushed by the DK Rabbid…”

E3 2017: Day 2

Day two of my ventures of E3 2017 have come and gone. Today, I managed to play a few different games, and actually found some great surprises. On the downside, the AAA booths have proven almost too crazy to deal with. I made the exception for Super Mario Odyssey, and I hope to still play a few more AAA games if I’m able (I really want to try Sea of Thieves). But their lines are pure evil. Just evil.

On the plus side of things, I’m not the biggest fan of the direction many AAA games are taking these days, so missing out on them at E3 isn’t a personally crushing loss. But there are a couple of games I hope to catch tomorrow, seeing as it’s the last day of E3 2017 *sob*.

Anyway, the great news is that I spent most of the day with my brother, so we got to experience a number of games together. First we played Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, the newest edition of Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy spinoff fighter for the Playstation 4. It was pretty fun and interesting, though I clearly didn’t know what I was doing. In a game placing two teams of three against each other, I came in last place in the losing team, while my brother got first place on the winning team. Ouch.

I got a bit of vengeance, however, with one of E3’s biggest surprises. Dragon Ball FighterZ had a bit of a line, but it was definitely worth it. The game is a classic-style, 2D fighting game from the makers of Guilty Gear, and uses the same beautiful cel-shading as said series, which looks as close to hand-drawn animation as possible.

Dragon Ball FighterZ uses a team system, with players picking three different characters. The demo consisted of six characters from the anime franchise: Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, Frieza, Cell and Majin Buu. Both me and my brother picked variations of a Frieza, Cell and Buu team (because Saiyans are boring). The game not only looks gorgeous, but the controls and gameplay are incredibly fluid. Better still, unlike many fighters, where it seems like characters are eliminated rather quickly, it took a good few minutes before either of us knocked out our first character. I ultimately ended up victorious in my match against my brother after a hard fought battle. But the real story here is how disappointed I was when my time with the game ended. I wanted it to keep going. Dragon Ball FighterZ was that much fun.

“The bounciest game of the year.”

Another surprise of the show was Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash. Yeah, yeah, this is a series all about waifus and bewbs (as if that’s a bad thing), but it was fun. It basically works like Splatoon meets Super Mario Sunshine, with teams of bosomy, bikini-clad ninjas using squirt guns against each other. Once you have an opponent down, you can continue to squirt them to remove their bikini top or bottom for extra points (convenient lighting prevents all-out nudity). Look, it’s actually a fun game, okay! I know sites like Kotaku are probably already writing their SJW-fueled negative “review” of it. But it’s harmless fun, and more humorous than anything.

Sadly, due to long lines and rather chaotic crowds, I didn’t get to actually play much else, but I did get a good looksy at Sony’s booth, and made another trip to Nintendo’s. That Spider-Man game looks great, and call me a sucker, but I’m really excited for the PS4 version of Shadow of the Colossus, even though I’ve already played it on PS2 and PS3.

I really wanted to try out Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, but the lines for it at both the Nintendo and Ubisoft booths were closed by the time I made it to them. Strangely, Ni No Kuni II’s line was “temporarily closed” the first time I approached it, and then closed for the day the next time. So I guess I know which games I’m starting with tomorrow.

“I never thought I’d want to play a game featuring the Rabbids so badly…”

I did get to play one additional game before the day was done though, Sonic Mania. The Sonic Mania demo allowed you to play as all three characters (Sonic, Knuckles and Tails), and had two different stages to try out (the classic Green Hill Zone and the brand-new Mirage Saloon Zone). I decided to go the classic route and play as Sonic, though because Green Hill Zone seems to be recreated in every Sonic game in existence, I picked the original level instead.

I have to say, it’s hard to get very excited for Sonic games these days, but Sonic Mania has been on my radar since it was announced last year. Even with under ten minutes of playtime with the demo, I think I can safely say it’s the best Sonic game in years. It looks, sounds and feels like the golden age of Sonic games. Though I might even say it controls even more fluidly than the classic Genesis games, and the fact that it’s on modern hardware means that, even though it’s still 16-bits, it can allow for far more complex and robust animations. Sonic Mania is now a game I can’t wait to get my hands on, and it’s been so long since I’ve felt that way for a Sonic title.

Well, that about covers everything I actually managed to play on day two of E3 2017. There’s one more day left, and still a few games I want to be sure to try (mainly Mario + Rabbids and Ni No Kuni II, but if I can manage Splatoon 2, or the Crash Bandicoot and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga remasters, I’ll hopefully squeeze them in as well. And I wouldn’t mind another go at Super Mario Odyssey, provided the line isn’t two and a half hours long).

Even though I may not get the opportunity to play a good deal of games on the show floor, just being able to be at E3 is a real joy for me. As a kid I always wanted to attend E3, and now I actually get to go and play some of the most anticipated upcoming games on the show floor. That’s pretty cool the more I think about it.

Here’s hoping for another trip to E3 in 2018!

E3 2017: Day 1

Day one of my ventures to E3 2017 have come and gone. The bad news is that the first day of the event always has the most unholy of long lines, but at least this means the next two days (hopefully) will be more manageable.

So how was my first day at E3 2017? Well, if I could describe it with a single image…

With a brand-new 3D Mario playable at the show floor, of course that was going to be the first place I went. And the above image pretty much explains what was in store for me. I waited in line for over two and a half hours just to play ten minutes of the newest Mario title.

Thankfully, though the wait was painful, it was ultimately worth it, because those ten minutes were a whole lot of fun. Super Mario Odyssey is shaping up to be something special. It controls beautifully (as is the case with most games starring the famed plumber), looks wonderful, and sounds great. But perhaps the best thing about Mario Odyssey is just how utterly insane it is: Mario can now take control of enemies and some NPCs by throwing his hat on them, with each possessed form bringing their own abilities to the table (a stone maui head could reveal invisible platforms, for example). Plus, Mario can actually buy stuff with the coins he collects, primarily more hats, as well as additional costumes, with each one having their own benefits as well.

Another thing I noticed in my brief time with Super Mario Odyssey is that it seemed to address one of my biggest wishes for the 3D Mario games, and allows Mario to stay within a level after nabbing one of its prizes (this time being Moons, replacing Stars). Hopefully this feature makes it into the final game, because while I loved all of the previous 3D Mario titles to some degree, I felt that the “episodic” setup for the stages – with the selected objective dictating the direction the stage took – was better suited for the Galaxy titles, which were more linear. Super Mario 64 and Sunshine are still touted for being more “open-world” platformers that were built on exploration, so it kind of felt counterproductive to have a fixed objective for you as you picked which “episode” of a level to tackle. If Odyssey sticks with the direction it’s going, then being able to grab whatever Moon on a stage in whatever order is a step in the right direction for this style of 3D Mario.

That’s right, folks. I played Super Mario Odyssey. I even got the hat to prove it.

Obviously, I felt very highly about what Super Mario Odyssey has in store. In a gaming year that has been exceptionally generous in quality titles, and one that has seemingly changed Nintendo’s fortunes for the better, Super Mario Odyssey has a good chance to end up being one of the 2017’s best titles. It already feels like one of the freshest games Nintendo has made in a very long time, and any game where you can possess a T-Rex with a magic hat should be a great time.

On the downside of things, I didn’t get to do a whole lot else on my first day at this E3 (though I did walk by Danny Trejo before entering the building, so that was cool). I saw a number of games that I can’t wait to play, but the lines were all either really long, or just all over the place. I’m hoping that tomorrow and the day thereafter will be a little more calmed down, so that I can check off the games on my “to-play” list.

Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom certainly caught my eye, as did Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (apparently I like games with the word “kingdom” in the title). I also hope to check out the indie games, and even though it comes out pretty soon, I’m really tempted to have a go at Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane trilogy. Sonic Mania, Sonic Forces, Splatoon 2, and Arms are also on my radar. If I can somehow manage to get through the Sea of Thieves line, I definitely will do that as well. Finally, if that remake of Superstar Saga is playable (it was hard to tell with the mass of humanity at Nintendo’s booth for Mario Odyssey), I’ll definitely spend some time on that if I can. With how far the Mario & Luigi series has fallen with its last two entries, going back to its glorious beginning may be just what Nintendo needs to get the Mario RPGs back on track.

So perhaps not too eventful of a day for me when it came to playing a variety of games. But I got to play the game I’m most excited for, so that definitely counts for something. Plus, for someone like me who’s not there to write news reports and interview people, going to E3 is as much about the experience of it as anything. And despite the lines, I had a fun time. There are certainly a lot of great games to look forward to, and I may have already played the best of the bunch.