Saturday, June 14, 2014

Your Show of Shows: A Brief, Biased E3 Recap

Why do 90% of today's games look like they
were designed by Beavis and Butthead?
(image from
I'll be honest with you guys... I wanted to cover the Electronic Entertainment Expo, but I found my mind wandering during much of the coverage on Twitch. Far too much of what was shown was, to quote a reader of Huffington Post's UK branch, "grey and miserable." I literally got angry after watching gameplay footage of Far Cry "Who Gives a" 4 and the teaser clip for Dead Island 2: You'll Fight More Zombies and LIKE It. More Assassin's Creed games are also on the way, and while I like the series, I think the Madden approach of releasing at least one game a year is threatening to strip the luster from the series. I haven't even played Black Flag yet! Do we really need more of these so soon?

The colors, Duke! The COLORS!
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Luckily, Nintendo came to the rescue late in the show with a handful of great games for the Wii U. I had doubts about purchasing the system in January, but believe me, those doubts no longer exist. Splatoon is the antithesis of every brown-grey shooter planned for the Xbox One and Playstation 4, with elfin tweens spraying each other and their surroundings with paint. You can explore each stage on foot, but it's faster and sneakier to transform into a squid and swim through the paint you've laid down. It's familiar PvP gameplay served with a fresh Nintendo twist, and it's got the potential to keep gamers glued to their Wii Us after they've lost interest in Mario Kart 8.

And speaking of Captain N...
(image from
The latest Super Smash Bros. is packed with promise as well. With Pac-Man added to the cast, it's got more famous video game heroes than an entire season of Captain N: The Video Master, and there's even an option to send your Mii (essentially a Fisher Price version of yourself) into battle, complete with a customized move set. I've never been able to get a feel for the Smash Bros. games, but the more personalized experience in this one makes it tempting to give the franchise another shot.

What else? There's Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker, with the hapless mushroom retainer collecting gems in small, sadistically designed environments. Since Toad can't jump, you'll have to move sections of the stage around with your stylus to clear his path and guide him to victory. Then there's Yoshi's Woolly World, which gives the green dinosaur an arts and crafts makeover, and Kirby's Rainbow Curse, a revival of the DS game where the pink puffball rode on lines drawn by the player, and Mario Maker, which lets you design your own Super Mario Bros. stages, and the bat guano-crazy Bayonetta 2, and a Legend of Zelda game with a vast, fully explorable Hyrule, and, and...!

There's a lot of stuff planned for the Wii U, let's just put it that way. Two years after the Saturn was released in the United States, Sega abandoned the system, claiming that it had no future and that further support would be pointless. Two years after the Wii U's troubled debut, Nintendo is shouting "damn the torpedoes!" and fighting valiantly to keep the system afloat. Kudos to them for this... not every company is so eager to reward the loyalty of a small but vocal fanbase.

All right, enough of that. I recently bought a Playstation Vita and plan to review that right here, as soon as I've gotten familiar with it. Stay tuned!

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