A3 2015: Alice’s Annual Analysis
So, this E3 thing continues happening, and it’s as wildly inconsistent as ever. 2013 seemed pretty exciting, because new consoles were announced. 2014 proved that 2013 wasn’t that exciting, because tons of interesting games were announced; a new console is fun, but only if you get the chance to play it once in a while. This year… well, I have to apologize for the lack of content that I have to bring you all, but I was multitasking while watching, as well as skipping ahead, and I still almost fell asleep watching most of the press conferences. Seriously, I would’ve settled for most of the content being updates of last year’s stuff, but I didn’t even get that; it’s like E3 2014 never even happened, unless you actively seek things for specific games, which defeats the purpose, if you ask me. I have only four new games this year that piqued my interest, as well as a few others that I’d just like to address. So, since there’s so little new, I’d like to follow up on the old from last year’s event.
Since last year, I’ve had the chance to play the Wii U for the first time, trying out Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and the new Super Smash Bros. game, and after that, I can say without a doubt that I have no interest in ever owning a Wii U. I hate the controller – and yes, that means the pro controllers, too; who puts the sticks at the top of the thing!? – and if you can’t sell me Smash Bros. with The Blue Bomber as a playable character, you’re probably not going to be able to sell me anything. So, that knocks Alphadia Genesis, Captain Toad, and Yoshi’s Wooly World off of the list, and upon further inspection, Alphadia Genesis doesn’t look that great, anyway. INSIDE faces a similar problem of being exclusive to a system that’s going to have to work a lot harder to sell itself to me… at least for now; this whole timed exclusive thing is easily the most pointless marketing strategy I’ve seen in gaming in recent years. Abyss Odyssey turned out not to be what I’d hoped, and apparently, you have to not suck at Shooters to be any good at Destiny; so much for that. Having seen some actual gameplay of Shadow of the Beast, I was shocked to hear that the developer actually had played the original games; it’s trying a lot harder to be 2D God of War than Shadow of the Beast. Then, there’s Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed, and we all know how that turned out.
On the positive side, I also got to play End of Serenity, which is nothing more than an overly polished faux-16-bit comfort food RPG, and that’s exactly what I wanted it to be; it’s nobody’s masterpiece, but I did enjoy it a great deal. The only real snag with it is that you have to pay more to access all of the areas in the game, lest you spend hours tediously catching 850 fish, and I most certainly did, because it gave me something to do on my lunch breaks. I’ve also gotten my hands on Hohokum, but it’s still in its digital shrink wrap for now, so I can’t speak to that; I’m going to savor it when my backlog is almost gone. Both ABZÛ and No Man’s Sky got a follow-up from last year, and while very little new was said about either, they did say the most important thing: they’re not going to be a total disappointment; now that I’ve seen more, I’m still pretty excited to play them some day. While it wasn’t addressed at E3, I’ve seen some demos for Final Fantasy 15, and it still looks incredible; if that stuff is even just most of the game, I’m totally sold. The protagonist has this dark-haired, punk, femme boy – anyone aside from Adult Contemporary stations remember Adam Lambert? – thing going on that I find very attractive; that’s how you make the Squenix aesthetic work for your character design! Rime still looks good, too, but no real news on that one. Now, for the new stuff.
Perhaps the most interesting game of E3 this year was Dreams, which is a program that allows you to easily create dreams for other players to watch. As you can imagine, my dreams are pretty strange, so I have an odd fascination with them. The ability to transition easily between them is a huge draw for me, too, since my dreams are like if someone consumed more LSD-covered ‘shrooms than anyone ever should, and started channel surfing. Most games with user-generated content fall flat for me, because I’m not always good at creating it, but I have so much material here that it could be my proverbial “stuck on an island with only one game to play for the rest of my life” game. I’m a little put off by some of the visuals, but there might be a wider array available for use.
Remember how Child of Eden used synaesthesia as a basis for a game? Well, Beyond Eyes seems to do that as well, but as a means to an end. You play as a blind girl finding her way through the world. This alone fascinates me to no end – yes, I enjoy Lifetime movies; what of it? – but since it is a video game, the player needs some sort of visual feedback. The way it looks is that she doesn’t see anything, but her other senses are conveyed to the player visually, which is how insert sense here-to-sight synaesthesia works. This one seems highly experimental – though not entirely unlike Where Am I? – but in a good way, rather than being different for its own sake. While it relies on the old cliche that blind people always have their eyes closed, it still looks pretty interesting.
So, Squenix revealed an interesting set of paintings that seem to take their inspiration from Vanillaware’s games, specifically Odin Sphere. Oh, but this is supposed to be a game; I swear that these plot twists just keep getting earlier and lazier. I can’t really say much about it, because it was only mentioned that this is going to be a thing. Nothing about gameplay, nothing about story, not anything other than some landscapes. In fact, it might not even be called Project Setsuna. You know those newscasts that should have subtitles saying, “Well, Tom, we’re reporting that we have nothing to report,”? Picture that in E3 press conference form, though the artwork does look kind of neat, so I will be following this one as it develops.
World of Final Fantasy
Recently, there was a Final Fantasy game released for mobile devices that was an oldschoool Final Fantasy game with characters from all over the series, and it looks awesome. The problem is that I can’t operate a touchscreen, because they go by thermal technology, and my body temperature runs at about 92.4 degrees Fahrenheit. That and I have an EM field that destroys clocks, and often disables touchscreens even if I’m just standing too close. Well, World of Final Fantasy seems to be a very similar idea, but on actual consoles. I’m not sold on the cutesy aesthetic that started with the Playstation remakes of the old Final Fantasy games and has become a full-blown visual convention for spin-offs ever since Theatrhythm came out, but the actual gameplay looks pretty solid. Even if it’s just average, the smashing together of worlds alone should make for something interesting; it’s like Kingdom Hearts without all of that Disney nonsense (I’ve always been more of a Looney Tunes gal; burn me at the stake).
As with last year, there are a few games that don’t interest me as a player, but I do feel as though I should address them. First up is Rare Replay, which is interesting, because to my knowledge, it’s the only one of these kinds of compilations that has games as new as the Fifth Generation, not to mention Kameo: Elements of Power. It has games that everyone knows, like Banjo-Kazooie, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and Battletoads; games that the older crowds will know, like R.C. Pro-am, Solar Jetman, Cobra Triangle, and Snake Rattle & Roll; and games that nobody’s heard of, but name me a compilation that doesn’t have those. I should be interested in something like this, but it’s mostly the old games that interest me, and I still have those. It is kind of interesting, though, that the have the Battletoads Arcade game; I hadn’t even known that it existed until a few months ago.
Now, to point out the Neo Garula in the room, since this particular world doesn’t have elephants. Yes, they’re finally remaking Final Fantasy 7, so I guess I have to talk about it. Overall, I’m pretty indifferent to it. I’d love to play a version that has a translation that isn’t a horrible broken mess. Sure, there are translations out there that seem worse, but you can at least figure out what’s going on when you’re playing something like Suikoden 2, Breath of Fire 2, or even Zero Wing. On the other hand, remember the other remakes? Squenix is extremely fond of revisionism; just look at how Cloud in Kingdom Hearts was changed from his Final Fantasy 7 incarnation to be more like how he shows up in fan fiction. The narration in the trailer almost made it sound like a sequel, detailing the game’s events – pretty major ones, too – in the past tense. So, this remake could be a really great thing or a trainwreck to rival the failure outcome in the Mt. Corel scenario, but one thing remains certain: Squenix is going to make more money from this one game than most of us will see in our lifetime.
As I’ve said, this year’s E3 was a pretty big snooze for someone who doesn’t care about endless reboots of outdated franchises and continuations of franchises that are part of the uninspired legion that give the term AAA gaming the negative connotation that it has among most gamers. Where was Final Fantasy 15? Where was the NX? That said, some interesting things are happening. Nintendo is finally releasing Star Fox 2, no matter how hard they’re working to hide that fact by naming it something else. The X-Bone is introducing backwards compatibility, which, as desperate as it may seem, is a pretty impressive accomplishment for the post-production stage of a console, and may cause other systems to allow you to do that with games from even older generations. Sony is… well, Sony is getting very close to selling me an Eighth Generation console much closer to its launch than anything has since the N64, and that might be the most impressive feat of all, even if they are “cheating” by using actual games to do it. Here’s to a much more exciting 2016! Please?