While I spent hours upon hours either in Hall H or waiting in line to be assured a seat, I did manage to make my rounds around the SDCC gaming scene. As Nintendo and Xbox have for the past few years, each had a lounge set up away from the convention center for leisure gaming. These venues provide short lines for their titles and a reprieve from the cramped sidewalks and floor that infect the rest of the convention.
The Nintendo lounge in the Marriott was a bit of a disappointment. Following a pretty substandard E3 showing, the coming year looks pretty bleak for the big N. I did enjoy playing the new Zelda installment. Tri Force Heroes takes the Four Sword multiplayer approach but makes it feel like a solid, coherent game. Even with two strangers I manage to get through the short dungeon with relative ease. It seems your costume choice powers up different items (archer outfit = triple arrows/classic tunic = spin attack/etc.) and victory hinges on each person pulling their weight especially with certain items. There are a few things that are making me hesitate purchasing this new Zelda day one. You tackle this game either solo or with two others. You can’t play with just one friend and have an AI. Also, there were many times in the game where you stack your Links totem style. When the totem is comprised of all three players, the bottom character moves the totem and the top character uses different weaponry. The middle character is stuck watching the other two. It is a horrible design choice to take a player out of active play and have them as a glorified spectator. I wasn’t impressed with anything else on the Nintendo side of things and didn’t feel the need to earn the tickets for a free t-shirt.
The Xbox lounge in the Hyatt was a little more refreshing. Cuphead, baby! It was there, ready to go, and coop to boot. The game looked beautiful from what I had seen before playing and it held that beauty throughout my sessions. On charm and aesthetics alone, I am head over heels. If I had to compare it to anything gameplay-wise, I’d have to put Contra at the top of the list. You are constantly firing and have to jump with a purpose. Stray jumps will only leave you susceptible to enemy attacks. My only complaint is that there was no headset to really hear the music which I can only imagine would have made me not want to leave the station.
I also tried my hand at the new Guitar Hero Live. I’ve played expert and have 100% a few ditties in my day, but this was a whole new beast. Instead of the GRYBO I’ve been accustomed to since the beginning, we had two rows of three buttons. I found myself concentrating on a whole new level and was well into the song before I even began to get a grasp of it. On one hand, I could see myself really liking relearning how to play the plastic guitar. On the other, the most joy I ever got out of these music games was playing with friends. This new Guitar Hero just doesn’t lend itself to that multiplayer blast that I’ve come to love with fake instruments.
Xbox had some other interesting titles like Fable Legends, Transformers, and a few others. However, I couldn’t resist the draw of Nerd HQ a few blocks away. Within those walls held a game for which I have been waiting quite some time: Star Wars Battlefront.
My friend and I pick our load outs and begin our mission on Tatooine. I’ve wanted to play in 3rd person, but was worried that it would impede my gameplay. My worries were for naught. Stormtroopers were dropping as they rounded corners, and we fended off the first few waves until we met our first walker. I had chosen the offensive loadout and I activated the ion charge. My assumption that this would be more effective on the machine was proven correct as the cockpit was obliterated. Many vocal cheers were shared with my teammate. We giggled every time our jetpacks were off cooldown as we zoomed either toward the next objective or away from incoming fire. Wave based modes are not my cup of tea, but the combination of Star Wars, tight controls, and, well, STAR WARS had me asking for seconds. This one game was the shining star of SDCC, and I cannot wait for November.
Sources: Xbox, Nintendo, EA