Monday, November 12, 2012

3RM @ NYCC 2012: Post-Mortem

So last week we released the last two videos and articles pertaining to October's New York Comic Con 2012, and now here is our post-mortem video, complete with off-the-cuff impressions and commentary on the event itself.

Now that our New York Comic Con coverage has concluded, what is in store?  Well, for one, we will be covering the Wii U and all the things that come with it in the upcoming weeks, and we are continuing our Ocarina of Time playthrough, as well.  We also have a secret project to be released before the year is over, so keep an eye out for that, too!

Until then, stay hyped.  But not too hyped.  That can be unhealthy.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

3RM @ NYCC 2012: The Wonderful 101


When it was first announced at E3 2012, The Wonderful 101 – then known as Project P-100 – was an enigma to the gaming media.  It was not shown at Nintendo’s press conference, and all we knew was that it was being made by Platinum Games.  Months later, however, the game has crawled up to the top of many lists of anticipated launch window Wii U titles, and from its presence at New York Comic Con this year, I would say Nintendo has noticed.  Placed alongside large screens for ZombiU and Nintendo Land, it seems Nintendo wants this game to be seen, and after having played its demo, I can see where this interest has grown.

The Wonderful 101 is a superhero adventure starring the Wonderful 100, or at least some part of it.  An alien armada has approached Earth with the desire to wipe out humanity, but one hero is not enough to destroy the monstrosities.  Instead, a super hero crew known as the Wonderful 100 are called to defeat them, but only some of the team appears at the onset.  It will be up to the player to ensure the rest of the Wonderful 100 comes together and works to save the Earth from annihilation.

The demo available for play at NYCC happens to be the same as the demos shown before, from E3 and PAX Prime.  In it, players are given a three-segment demo through a neighborhood, across a crumbling city, and on top of a gigantic alien mech.  The game itself plays in short Missions, pitting the heroes against one or a group of alien enemies at a time.  Initially, the group of heroes can only attack as a swarm, rushing forth against the enemies, but as they attack in groups, a gauge fills on-screen, and when there is enough energy, one of the three lead heroes can create a group formation which can cause even more devastating attacks.  In order to use said formation, the player needs to draw a shape on the Wii U GamePad touch screen or via the right analog stick.  A circle creates the Unite Hand, whereas a line and L-shape create the Unite Sword and Unite Gun, respectively.  After a Unite Power has been assigned, Pressing A switches to the assigned power immediately, provided there is enough power to use it.

Attacks are not all the group can do together.  Pressing the triggers can cause the team to either dodge attacks in an arc motion or turn into a protective gel, sending back any massive projectiles in the process.  Outside of battle, members of the team can become ladders or chains on which the lead members climb to reach destinations high and far.  The team can even turn into a hang-glider to traverse over deep chasms in the distance.  Furthermore, more heroes can be recruited into the group by encircling the group around people encountered in the level.  The more heroes you have, the stronger your Unite Powers.

At one point in time, the game shifted its view to the GamePad controller.  Inside a building, the GamePad displays what the hero sees while the television still shows the outside camera angle.  This is helpful in opening doorways and potentially other things later in the game.  It was a brief break from more action-packed areas of the game, and hopefully it will not be used too repetitively.

The game itself felt very smooth, despite all of the action taking place in the game.  I had occasional issues with the buttons, but this may have had more to do with my being new to the Wii U GamePad layout than the game itself.  One issue I did have with the game was bridging a chain between the boss’s arms; I had to resort to using the right stick in order to reach long enough.  Hopefully long stretches like that are not too prevalent in the final game.  Otherwise, the game was a delight all the way through.  Attacking gigantic mechs with a large sword built out of other heroes was rewarding, and there was an especially great feeling when the defensive pose could send gigantic cannon balls straight into the face of the enemy.

The Wonderful 101 comes out sometime during the Wii U's launch window, and there are still many questions left to be answered.  Will there be multiplayer?  How many areas will there be?  Does MiiVerse play a big role in the game at all?  But most importantly, what is the fastest way to get my hands on this game?  I guess we will find out soon enough.

3RM @ NYCC 2012: Game and Wario


Game and Wario, which is a play on Game and Watch, is fairly similar to Wario’s other mini-game-focused franchise, WarioWare. However, instead games in five-second lengths, Game and Wario focuses on longer mini-games which utilize the Wii U GamePad’s various features. Nintendo had the game playable at their NYCC booth so I decided to give it a go.

The demo had at least three different games playable: an arrow-shooting game, a skiing game, and a photography game. While I only played the latter of them, I did watch a number of other players try the other games. In the skiing game, aptly called Ski, the player controls Jimmy as he races down a ski slope filled with obstacles such as snow drifts and ski jumps to hinder his path. Holding the GamePad on its side, the player has to tilt the controller left and right to guide Jimmy safely and quickly to the end. Also, the player had to use the screen to accurately see what was going on, while the TV screen showed outlandish camera angles, making it impossible to know what was on the slope. At the end, the game tallies your score and awards metals. Out of the three games, this one was the weakest, in my opinion, particularly because it was so short.

The second game, Arrow, also has the player hold the GamePad on its side. The GamePad screen shows a bow with nose-pointed arrows along with four strawberries, and the television shows an open field filled with Wario robots trying to get their hands on the fruit. The idea is to aim the GamePad, pull back on the bow, and shoot the arrows at the robots. Sometimes when there are a large group of robots, the player can shoot an arrow at a landmine near them to take them all out at once, racking up points in the process. Even without landmines, there were special pepper-shakers that could power up the arrow. By rubbing the nose on the touch screen, the nose enlarges, and when that large nose-arrow hits its target, it explodes with sneeze-filled power. However, if any robots reach the front of the television screen, they quickly run onto the touch screen and must be squashed before they reached the strawberries. The wave of enemies changed over time, with some Warios wearing armor or flying around, but at the end of the battle, a massive Wario robot emerges to face off against the player.  In this final bout, it takes plenty of precision to take out specific parts of the robot before knocking its teeth in - literally!  This game was much longer than Ski, but I hope there are more levels than just the one shown.

Finally, the game that I played, Shutter, was about taking pictures of criminals in a crowed area within a limited timeframe and with limited film. The television screen shows out the window, showing the streets, buildings, parks, and apartment windows all filled with people. Meanwhile, the GamePad screen shows what is being seen through the camera, which can zoom into the scenery in order to take pictures of people far into the distance. Once the game began, I was shown a number of faces of the supposed criminals of whom I needed to take pictures. My boss also mentioned that there was a strange little creature hidden in town that could earn me extra points if I found it. Around the town, the civilian faces were varied with different head shapes, eyes formations, noses, lips, and hairstyles. It was important to study these faces carefully as some people in the town might share the same hairstyle or head shape. After taking a picture, I had to point the GamePad down to develop the photo, which was then evaluated based on the subject facing the camera, the subject's head fitting the photo, and the subject’s face being the right size. Finding the people through the camera was not easy, so I had to view the whole scene on the television to get a better look, then aim the camera at the person once I found them. As time counted down, my boss gave me some hints of where the people might be; these hints included "so-and-so likes high places" or "this guy likes feeding the ducks." Once everyone was photographed, I was given free time to search the area for Fronk, a strange character from the WarioWare series. Despite his small size, I managed to find him getting extra points and a special article in the game result’s newspaper screen. It was a fun experience, but I hope we are going to see more locales in the final version.

While the graphics and presentation of Game and Wario are updated from past Wario games, it still was simplistic and minimalistic like it predecessors. With the move into HD, the game looked a lot better despite retaining its signature strangeness and limited details. If someone was looking to be blown away with amazing graphics, Game and Wario is not going to be that game

Instead, this game is about various, experimental gameplay styles. However, my concern is that what made the WarioWare games special was their vast amount of fast-paced mircogames that kept things interesting, and Game and Wario instead focuses on large mini-games to play. With other mini-game collections already coming out for the Wii U especially with Nintendo Land coming out at launch, I worry this game will be redundant where the mircogame-design would have kept it fresh. I can only hope the other games in Game and Wario make up for the changes to the series.

Game and Wario is expected to release in the first quarter of next year for Wii U.