No More E3: Now that’s what I call a duck!

Wow, yes. This is a good thing! Both Tim and I have been arguing for a while that this circus should have been behind us years ago. That it still existed was a symbol of sorts of the whole inward-tuned wankathon that has been the game industry for a number of years. Sort of an embarassment, really. And it’s not the booth babes that were the problem, either.

It seemed clear that the changes this past year were a sign of desperation: either clean things up and change, or the expo will become completely irrelevent. The industry has actually started to move again, the last couple of years, and E3 really didn’t seem necessary anymore in its current form. The basic conclusion, from the people I’ve talked to, is that E3 really wasn’t any different this year. Maybe a little less annoying — and yet without the most ridiculous excess to distract a person, it became clear just how tedious and ill-conceived the whole thing was. It seemed clear that E3 was on its way down.

That they should have pulled out so abruptly is a surprise, though. Not an unwelcome one, mind! I just expected a more gradual, kicking, screaming, choking death until nobody cared anymore. I’m impressed, frankly. This is one of the more heartening things I’ve heard in a while, in regards to the industry in general — not just the “death” of E3; the boldness in simply pulling the plug like this, rather than clinging. The whole change in attitude that this suggests — well. It’s good! I like it!

The Art of Selling Out

by Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh

Originally published by Next Generation.

Katamari Damacy ends with the player roaming the Earth, ripping up all of its nations and rolling them into a ball. Hard to follow up on that.

The sequel is, therefore, the exact same game as the first. It had to be, really; that’s how sequels work. You capitalize on the investment of the first game by recycling your work and cashing in on the good will the first game bought you. The curious detail is that this sequel knows what it is; it was made with knowledge of the first game, and of the success of that game – for without that success, there would have been no sequel. And more to the point, it was made knowing just what people expect in a sequel. Continue reading “The Art of Selling Out”

Devils in the Details

by Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh

Originally published by Next Generation.

All right, so Lament of Innocence wasn’t so hot; the next game would be the real clincher. Lament did have a good engine. And Leon controlled just right. There just wasn’t much to do with him, was all.

So what does Igarashi have to show this time? As it turns out, not much — yet. As of E3, Curse of Darkness strongly resembles its predecessor: another 3D Castlevania that feels nice to play, but has the level structure of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That in itself would be fine; Castlevania began as an action game, and it worked then. What is worrisome is that Igarashi wants to make this game nonlinear. Continue reading “Devils in the Details”

Wonder of Wonders

by Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh

Originally published by Next Generation.

Yuji Hori’s Dragon Quest was the first console RPG. It established the template that every other Japanese RPG has followed, and none of its sequels have fundamentally strayed from that form. It’s the unchanging grandfather of console culture. In Japan, it’s an institution. Here, it’s been a dud.

Maybe it was the name. Thanks to TSR’s lawyers, we knew the series as Dragon Warrior. On the cover, we saw a man who might as well have been Captain America, battling a huge, leering wyrm. Instead of a game where we took the role of this warrior, we got an introverted little quest where straying too far, too quickly was suicide.

Dragon Quest VIII is much the same; the only real change is in presentation. That might just be enough, though. Continue reading “Wonder of Wonders”

Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance

by Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh

Originally published by Next Generation.

With the public rehabilitation of the shooter in games like Ikaruga and Gradius V, the industry is apparently looking to the brawler for its next miracle; this year we can expect to see at least three significant attempts to remodel the genre into something people might want to play again. Of these, Cavia’s Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance can claim both the worst title and the oddest implementation. Continue reading “Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance”