E3 2011 Coverage: Worth a Second Look

Juxtapoz // Thursday, 09 Jun 2011
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Sometimes new games fall victim to the same biased first impressions. Be it cover art, a particular companies style of gameplay, or simply word of mouth I have been guilty of this myself. However, if you take the time to play the game, and put aside those preconceived notions, you find a gem. The following games have changed my opinion once I gave them a try, some even making me a fan.

Swarm (Ignition Entertainment)
At first look, I thought this game was repetitious and simplistic, but I learned quickly that just because your abilities are limited, the ways in which you can utilize them does not have to be.  This action-platform game involves a "swarm" of 50 little blue creatures called "Swarmites". You control them as a group on their mission to collect DNA to save their race, and please a omnipresent being deemed "Momma".  You control the Swarmites as a group, but each one has their own mind, meaning that the interaction between the swarm and the player is always unique. As you cross through the levels, you are challenged to conquer different obstacles by coordinating your little blue blobs into various formations, including, a stacked tower, a tight circle, or even spreading them out to collect items in your surrounding area. Often, you have to sacrifice some of them to accomplish the task.

But do not fret, there are blue health platforms stationed around the level to restore your Swarmite count to 50. The game is simple enough to be enjoyed by pretty much anyone, while still being challenging enough to frustrate even the most dedicated gamer.  Available now on the Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network, this game is one that makes the most out of a simple concept.

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Luigi's Mansion 2 (Nintendo)
I wrote about this title in the Nintendo Press Conference post, and how it peeked my interest. But after playing it, this title alone is enough to make me want to purchase a 3DS.  The original was released on the GameCube 2001, and seemed like an over-glorified knock off of a superior brother. However, this could not be further from the truth, and this game definetly deserves its own place in the companies iconic line of games. 

Luigi is a vacumm packing ghost hunter, scouring assorted mansions in search of coins, ghosts, and of course Mario was supposed to meet you at the mansion. As you navigate from room to room, you are presented with ghosts who go in and out of visibility, similiar to the character Boo in earlier Mario titles. In order to complete a room, you must capture all the ghosts inside the room. To accomplish this you have to use assorted tools to first identify, stun, and then capture the ghost. The Game Boy Horror is a device created by Professor Elvin Gadd to help indentify how many and which type of ghosts are present inside the room. After you establish what and how many targets you have, you have to stun them with your handy dandy flashlight. Once stunned, the real fun begins. 

You must literally suck the ghosts into your vacuum, or Poltergeist 3000 as they have dubbed it, a la Ghostbusters style. Their is a number representing how many hit points the ghost has left before you will have captured them, but they are not giving up easy. You have to pull back on the control Joystick in the opposite direction that the ghost is pulling you in, and occasionally tap A in order to prevent them from escaping your clutches. Now this doesn't sound too difficult, but when there is both other ghosts attempting to attack you, as well as possessed books and other object flying around the room, the task becomes more difficult. Luigi is not the main character in many titles, often being over-shadowed by red-clothed brother. But if this game is any indication, I would have no problem with Mario handing over the reigns to the franchise.

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Rune Factory (Natsume)
This title had the unfortuanate luck to be lumped into "I don't like that style game" based on the other titles in its developers deck. I mean, when the companies signature title, Harvest Moon, is based around resolving differences between two rival towns fighting over food by farming and cooking, you can see where my opinion has drawn from. But this title was more hack and slash, and RPG then I expected.

 

 

Now to be fair, you still farm and cook, but in-between those tasks you are barreling through dungeons, collecting treasures, fighting dangerous monsters, and taming them to assist you in future battles. There are few things as satisfying as running around while dual wielding massive swords and slashing at anything that moves.  Also, there is a giant golem creature called Ymir (who is pretty much a living island but with feet, arms, and a head), which can be summoned upon to assist you when necessary. Coming to both the Wii and PS3 this Fall, I might be changing by opinion about these "Farm" styled games soon.

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