EB Expo – The Back Page

This final Expo writeup features all the games that weren’t good enough for their own page. That’s right, GET EXCITED!

New Super Mario Bros U doesn’t look as good as that picture. “Obviously dickhead, that’s artwork”. I don’t have much to say about it, it’s a fun game but it didn’t get me excited. There were 3 levels in the demo and none of them were very interesting. It’s very standard and the tablet use isn’t great. The player with the tablet doesn’t get to play, they just stand there creating platforms. With extremely co-ordinated communication you can do something really special with this, but that didn’t happen at the Expo. Mostly it was people spamming platforms over peoples heads in a “hilarious” attempt to slightly slow down our progress for half a second. The Yoshi power-up is exaggerated beyond reason, you can float absolutely anywhere and collect a million coins. I don’t get it. The game was still fun, but I’m usually frothing at the mouth over a new Nintendo game, and this was underwhelming with a capital U.

Rayman Legends, much better. Is that artwork? NO, IT’S GAMEPLAY. It looks amazing and runs as smooth as butter with legs. The controls were responsive and there was a good variety of platforming including rapid wall jumps. The player with the GamePad uses it to interact with the environment to help out other players. It’s pretty damn robust unlike Mario U, you can cut ropes, lift up terrain, rotate spikes and platforms, punch music notes and stun enemies. It’s full of ideas that can only be done with the GamePad.  The only thing that left me scratching my head was how the tablet gameplay works in single player, it’s so involved that I can’t see how you could control a character at the same time.

F1 Rape Stars surprised me, and not just because of the creepy intro. As the race begins, the camera pans across the grid from the back, and all the drivers wink at each other like they’re off to a sexy party. It’s a very basic kart racer but unlike every game Codemasters has released this generation, it didn’t run like shit. The graphics are nice, it’s full of colour and the framerate held up. It was pleasant but the physics model is EXTREMELY basic, there’s no drifting, no hop, no brakes or handbrake needed. It makes Mario Kart Wii feel like a simulator. The items weren’t that special either, and there was nothing to indicate what item you actually picked up. All I could make out were green and brown blobs that acted like missiles. I hope this demo was a very early version, because it has potential. There’s some things unique to F1 like pitstops and Safety Cars that could make this game stand out. The Safety Car came out once when I was playing, but it glitched and somehow Kimi Raikkonen overtook everyone while we were in formation and zoomed off to win.

LittleBigPlanet Karting has a very similar primitive handling model with no sliding at all, but this was more floaty and very unresponsive. It feels like you’re hovering above the ground. I used the Move steering wheel and it feels as ridiculous as it looks. Pure garbage.

Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed was the best of the three Mario Kart clones. I played the 360 version and the Wii U version but they both had the same track. It was OK, but the framerate was bad. I’ve heard that Sega acknowledges this problem and it will be fixed in the full game, but it still gave me a bad impression and I’ll believe it when I see it. Driving through the water section in the Wii U version almost made the console explode as the frame rate plunged into a slide show. Despite that I was impressed by the level design, lots of different paths and some great detail in the background. When I tried to explore these paths the PR lady at the kiosk panicked “no, you CANT do that! follow the arrows! OMG!”. I’M A JOURNALIST, YOU CAN’T STOP ME! The GamePad showed the map but motion steering wasn’t available, I really wanted to try this because I loved it in Mario Kart Wii. The highlight was when Shadow the Hedgehog approached me from behind halfway through the race and shook my hand. What an honour.

Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale was about as interesting as this guys head. There was quite a lot of interest in this game, and I was only excited enough to play once. I mistakenly picked Evil Cole (he’s so much cooler than Link) and it gave me a pretty bad indication of the gameplay. Two of his three attacks were long range, and he felt really slow and laggy. I won’t say anymore because I have a feeling other characters might handle better. The stage had some angry dude in the background who just stood there being angry, and never did anything that affected the battle. I think it’s safe to say the game is exactly what you expect, good or bad.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is brutally awesome. The movement is fast, the controls are clever, and slashing enemies to pieces with the right analog stick is immensely satisfying. My eyes were wide open the entire time. There’s a lot of buttons to press in combat but somehow it all felt natural, the learning process was seamless and I was using R1 or L1 to finish dudes off depending on the situation. I felt like a Pro in 5 minutes, and the game looks amazing too. The right analog stick is deadly, the slash happens so quick when you smash it at any angle. It’s so fast and accurate and created a feeling I’ve never experienced on an analog stick.

Darksiders 2 Wii U was at an extremely early stage, to the point where the Xbox 360 buttons were still mapped to the screen. A was B and B was A. Apart from that the game ran well, it looked the same as the existing versions and the frame rate was solid. The tablet was basically a map, but you could scroll around menus with it really fast, and the weapon and items screens could all be touched and dragged around like Zombi U. The game crashed on me too. Not much else to say, I’m not a huge fan of the first game.

Batman Wii U is another game that crashed on me, and this one crashed twice! “Haha, it’s been on all day, must be hot! IT’S BEEN FINE UNTIL NOW” OK dude it happens, it’s not your fault. I was still really impressed by the game, the GamePad use was phenomenal. I used it to scan around, find clues, activate powers, switch weapons, and fly a boomerang around with the motion sensor. Hilariously, the motion sensor was set to inverted so it was VERY hard to aim properly. Inverted works fine with a STICK, but with motion it’s a very strange thing to wrap your head around. Holding the tablet left would make the boomerang go right, and I’m looking at it ON the GamePad screen while it’s moving in the opposite direction. It was extremely responsive but that just made it even more difficult. I eventually hit the target by closing my eyes and getting lucky.

It sounds like I’m mocking the game but I’m not, just the demo. It really goes all out to take full advantage of the Wii U features, looks great, and feels great. The GamePad felt comfortable in my hands the whole time, and I was punching bad guys while rotating the camera and moving with both analog sticks, just like I would on a standard controller. This game is what convinced me that the Wii U GamePad is the real deal. It felt like a game that was built from the ground up for Wii U.

Wonderbook was one of the last games I played. There were always kids sitting around it, and they were genuinely having fun so I felt bad pushing them out of the way. In the night session the PR girl was playing by herself, and this was my chance. I sat down with my legs crossed and opened the book of spells. The Playstation Eye isn’t very smart so this game is dependent on a giant book with coded shapes on it, with a different spell on each page. The first spell I tried was levitating and it was a disaster. Before I could use the ability I had to cast the spell by drawing a generic V shape, much like the battle system in Cursed Mountain. I lifted up a glass bottle very slowly and it bobbed around, it felt pretty cool. I decided to wave it around and for some reason the levitation effect stopped and it smashed on the ground.

Another spell inflated a mushroom by itself, apparently I tapped it but I didn’t even move my hand. That was over quickly, next page! The last spell has you shoot fireballs to kill bugs, it looked cool but it didn’t matter where I aimed, the bullets homed in on each bug and it was very hard to miss. I purposefully cocked my aim to the side but the fireball had a mind of its own and went straight anyway. GAME OVER, EVERYONE WINS!

I think it’s a cool idea and the execution is about as good as it can be, considering the hardware. The best thing about it was seeing all the objects that appeared, it looked like they were in the room. Kids will love it but I don’t want to play it ever again.

Scribblenauts looks amazing. There were missions to do, but pretty much everyone who played just spammed the screen with Zombies and Tanks. I typed Scribblenauts and a DS cartridge appeared, I couldn’t find a use for it. The big difference between this and the handheld ones is how much bigger the area is. You can fit a lot of objects and move them around, and the Nintendo Rep said nobody had yet exceeded the item limit. Unfortunately the game didn’t recognise “Pietriot”, maybe in the final version.

Well damn, that was a long page! Hope you enjoyed our EB Expo coverage, that’s about everything that happened ever. I didn’t play Black Ops 2 because the line was too long. Next year we’ll be back with a media pass, better photos, videos and possibly interviews. Who knows what kind of adventures await next year, will Gangnam style still be a thing? Will fanboys hold protests around the Bayonetta 2 booth? Will Unannounced Vita Game be announced? I don’t know and I’m not going to think about it any further. I’m getting on with my life before Post-Expo depression sets in. Thank you everyone who read this far, GAME ON!

2 thoughts on “EB Expo – The Back Page

  1. Lawl, can think the only reason NSMBU is underwhelming is because Nintendo is trying to give third parties a chance with this launch.

    And that doesn’t make me laugh, it makes me very upset. Oh well, hopefully Rayman Legends gets a better chance then its predecessor did since its only on one console this time. It does look good and I’m glad to hear it plays well too. Still confused about single player though…


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