All About Timstuff
Microsoftdidn't really show us anything we hadn't heard about. The most interesting news from their show was Smartglass, and everything else was either related to multiplatform games or Gears of Halo (Microsoft's only remaining exclusive IP), assuming it was related to gaming at all (ESPN? ZOMG GO SPORTS GO WOOO!!!!!!!!).
Sonydid not bring their A-game. Their show was boring (just like last year), it looks like the Vita is already on it's way to the clearance bin, and they spent way too much time on that Harry Potter book (it looks like a fun toy for kids, but it is not a game and should have only been a quick announcement and trailer). Sony Smash Bros. looks like it might be fun, but since it's just a clone of another game it was not a big announcement. The real savior of the show was The Last of Us, and at least they announced something new with Beyond. Overall this show reeked of "we're saving everything good for when we announce the PS4, and the PS4 is not ready yet," and even a last-minute PS4 announcement wouldn't have changed how badly paced the show was. Also, where the heck is The Last Guardian?
Nintendoshowed off the Wii U in all of it's glory, and as I predicted it's not looking so glorious. They announced a lot of new games, but only a handful actually excited me-- a lot of Wii-U's launch lineup will be ports, and amongst the new games I can't say I was impressed with Nintendo Land (which came across as a glorified tech demo), and New Super Mario Bros Wii U is basically just NSMB in HD and nothing else. Reggie was a tool as usual, pointing out that "it's the first Mario launch game since Mario 64", which is a crime since it's the exact opposite of Mario 64. Mario 64 changed everything, and NSMBWU is going to change nothing. The announcement of the Wii U's battery life was also terrible. I was at least excited for Pikmin 3 and Lego City, and surprised by Zombie U though, so overall it was a passable show, even the Wii U hardware and first party lineup leaves a lot to be desired.
EA was pretty much an embarassment. So they've announced their own $50 a year premium service for their version of "First Person Army Shooter Man 3D?" Oh joy, I can die happy. Dead Space 3 looks like it will be the final nail in the franchise's coffin, having completely abandoned any pretense of being survival horror. Other than that it was a dull show with barely anything worth mentioning, other than announcing yet another new version of that"First Person Army Shooter Man 3D" game that every publisher keeps remaking.
Ubisoftactually got their act together this year, and in a huge way. They showed us more Rayman, lots of Assassin's Creed 3 footage (I don't care for the franchise, but good for the people who like it), they announced a brand new Splinter Cell with plenty of gameplay footage, showed one of the more promising concepts for the Wii U control pad with Zombie U, and of course they dropped the motherload of game announcements with Watch Dogs. It was beautiful, intriguing, edgy, and exciting-- everything that you could want out of a new game announcement. After their laughably bad show last year, it's quite suprising (and refreshing) to see them coming out of the savior of the show. If not for Ubisoft's show, this would probably be one of the worst E3's ever.
Konami, for their strong showing of Metal Gear Rising and the announcement of two new Castlevanias. And thankfully, they chose not to embarass themselves with a live press conference this year.
Square, for their incredible next-generation graphics tech demo, and good showings for Hitman and Tomb Raider. No idea if there was smoke and mirrors at play, or how much of it will actually be doable on the PS4 and Xbox 720, but at least they gave us something new to look at that is wetting our appetites for the future, instead of dwelling in the past. Also, I'm happy to see they are working hard to fix Final Fantasy XIV, instead of just giving up on it. They fell really badly these past few years, and they really needed some good press. (I'm just mad that Final Fantasy Versus XIII was no-where to be seen, and I wish they'd announced a Kingdom Hearts HD collection).
Lucas Arts, because even though they're kind of an industry boogie man right now for all their layoffs and game cancellations, like Square they showed us glimpse at the nex generation of games with Star Wars 1313, and it looks amazing. I'm quite pleased to see they have the balls to make an M-rated Star Wars game, and that it focuses on the gritty, Jedi-less side of the Star Wars galaxy that was featured more prominantly in the original Trilogy. It looked amazing, and it actually gave us something to look forward to at the next big trade show.
Why is it that even though some Japanese Anime-styIe art looks like this
most of it ends up looking like this
Japan is capable of producing some very beautiful artwork and cool character designs-- I know this, because I've seen quite a lot of it-- however, anime-styIe art has turned into a contest to make boys look like girls, and to make girls look like younger girls, all the while throwing out any sense of logic, reason, or functionality to any of the designs (character or otherwise) to the point where everything becomes a tedious chore to look at (if not downright disturbing). It's the same problem that hit the styIeUS animation industry-- certain cliches became popular, and then it became a contest to see who could stretch those cliches the furthest, and whenever someone gets a new job they always take all their favorite cliches from their last job with them. Why do you think every character in a Dreamworks movie makes that stupid face?
Someone drew that face when they were working at Disney, and then they got hired by Dreamworks. Then, all the people at Dreamworks started copying him, and before you know it that stupid face was everywhere and no-one even stopped to question "why?" They keep copying it because it's what people expect, just like how in Japan people expect men to look like women and women to look like pre-pubescent girls with large breasts, and that the main character has to be an unlikeable emo git who wears too many belts and zippers, just like how in American animated movies they expect them to regurgitate Joseph Campbell's "The Hero's Journey" where the main character is a boring schmo whose destiny is to be the best at something, and there's usually some stupid prophecy to explain the plot before it happens. It's creative inbreeding, and unfortunately they never realize it's a problem until it's too late and most people have tuned out.
2011 is the 25th anniversary of the Metroid franchise. What began as a humble little project for the NES disk drive at Nintendo of Japan has since grown into one of the oldest and most respected sci-fi series in gaming. Not only was Metroid one of the first games to eschew the typical level-based design of most 8-bit games in favor of exploring a single large world, but it also introduced us to one of the first, and most badass action heroines of the gaming medium: Samus Aran, the most infamous bounty hunter in the galaxy.
The series has it's fair share of ups and downs over the years-- it's most notable down being the tragic, untimely death of creator Gunpei Yokoi in a car accident in 1997 at age 56. Yokoi also made the NES cult-favorite Kid Icarus (which shared the same engine as Metroid), and was also the father of the portable game system, responsible for the creation of the Gameboy, Virtual Boy, and the Bandai Wonder Swan. Many people actually attribute the lack of a Metroid installment on the N64 to Yokoi's death, which is certainly a possibility.
One of the most notable highs for the franchise in my opinion was its triumphant return on the Nintendo Gamecube with Metroid Prime. People had been asking for a new Metroid for years, and its return through Texas game developer Retro Studios under the guidance of Shigeru Miyamoto (replacing Gunpei Yokoi as producer) managed to successfully bring the series' iconic gameplay into 3D, and it was nothing short of spectacular. The huntress was finally back-- Metroid Prime went on to sell millions of copies and win numerous Game of the Year awards, and is regarded by many as one of the best 3D games of all time.
As far as I know, Nintendo has no official celebration for Metroid's 25th anniversary planned (at least, no-where near the extent that Mario and Zelda have gotten), however that has not stopped the fans from throwing Samus a party. One such example is a rather handsome remixed Metroid series soundtrack made by a group of dedicated audio artists collectively referring to themselves as "Shinesparkers." Like the Metroid Metal album by Stemage, it's a celebration of the iconic and memorable music composed by Hirokazu Tanaka and Kenji Yamamoto, and it can be downloaded for free at their website (they also have a very nice CD set which you can purchase, if you're hardcore). It covers a wide range of different musical genres from piano techno to symphonic to chiptunes, and it's quite a treat for the ears that does justice to 25 years of Metroid music.
Happy birthday, Samus. See you next mission!
My Recent Reviews
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