I go to some daft lengths to play games, sometimes. It’s with this in mind that I set off at 4am on Saturday to check out the Hyper Japan event in West London. After a five hour drive, and an hour on the London Underground I excitedly ran up the station’s steps, anticipating a burst of noise, colour and cosplay. It turns out I was at the wrong station and the one I should have gotten off at was a mile to the left. Idiot.
Anyway, Hyper Japan; what’s it all about? Well, as one might expect from the title the event is a celebration of all things Japan. From art to food to games, if it’s Japanese it’ll have a stand there. It’s also one of the few places in the world where one can turn up wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt and still be the least geeky person there. Obviously, with TSA being a gaming site, I’ll be going through what was playable on the day.
Those expecting just Mario are going to be happy/sad to hear that there was much more than the moustached one on display.
Is this game for real? Surely it can’t be. Upon first starting the demo I was dead within 30 seconds. The main thing with Dark Souls is that, like Demon’s Souls, it doesn’t play how you might expect. Treat it like a hack and slash and you won’t make it past the minute mark; it’s all about timing and knowing the best time to attack.
Those worrying that Namco Bandai will have tamed the difficulty can sleep easy, as the game is as tough as old boots. At one point I was fending off several attackers when an archer, perched way above, decided he wanted to join the fight. Instead of taking the stairs he just jumped off the ledge onto my damn head. After many deaths I got quite far in, only to be attacked and brutalised by something the size of a semi-detached house. Mental…absolutely mental.
Ace Combat Assault Horizon[drop] Speaking of mental games, Ace Combat Assault Horizon was up next. The hype for this flight combat game has been growing steadily, with a stream of exciting looking trailers getting everyone all hot under the collar. Flying around normally is actually quite a sedate experience, with slick controls and even slicker graphics. It’s when things kick off that events become…intense.
Locking on to an enemy craft gives you the chance to enter dogfight mode. If you do this the camera zooms in close, the sense of speed increases and everything starts shaking as you try and lock on to the plane in front of you. To be honest it’s not an entirely pleasant experience, but it certainly is intense – after the first dogfight my heart was pounding! Also shown was the counter-attack option.
When being chased by the enemy, a button prompt may appear. Pressing the correct button will see you pull off a counter-attack; in this instance my plane shot up into the sky and did a loop to come up behind my pursuers. I then switched to my special weapon, which unleashed four missiles at once. When these missiles hit everything slowed down so I could check out the burning wreck as it whizzed past my cockpit. Flashy, if slightly nauseating.
NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations
This game was a difficult one to assess. As I understand it, Generations is focusing very heavily on the online side of things, but the demo shown was only a two player verses battle. Even so it looked really nice, with gorgeous cel-shaded graphics and enough flashy lights to paralyse an elephant.
In terms of gameplay, Generations is very much like the online portion of Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. I’m interested to see how they can make this new game stand out enough to warrant a purchase.
Mario Kart 3D
Many of you will instantly dismiss this game, brushing off any new additions and proclaiming it to be nothing more than a milking of an old franchise. That’s fine, but you might want to skip ahead a paragraph or two. Mario Kart 3D was easily my favourite game at Hyper Japan. First up is the kart customisation. Before starting a race you need to set your kart up using a number of options. Off-road wheels will work very well on uneven surfaces, whilst the smaller wheels will give you a good turn of speed, but are useless in the rough stuff. If you want you can play it safe and go for standards wheels.
There is also the option to add wings to your kart. Frustratingly there were a number of options underneath the wings, but they were locked out. Just what are Nintendo planning?
In terms of handling, Mario Kart 3D is spot on. Powersliding is as satisfying as ever, with the chance to build up a turbo boost as you slide. If you have wings equipped you can also glide after jumps, avoiding certain track-based obstacles (but putting you in the way of air-based ones). Going underwater will see your kart equip a propeller and turn into a half kart, half submarine combo.
Graphically the game looks fantastic, putting the first group of 3DS games to shame. The 3D is subtle, and used to show the undulations of the course. If this had been a launch title then I’m certain the 3DS wouldn’t be struggling to compete against the PSP in Japan.
Are you sitting down? Ok, I have some shocking news…I really didn’t get on with Super Mario. Graphically, as with Mario Kart, it looks absolutely brilliant, and the level design looks just as fresh as ever. My problem is with how sluggish Mario feels to control. In his previous 3D platformers Mario felt sprightly and you could pretty much chuck him around levels. In Super Mario he felt overly heavy, and slow.
If this is tweaked then there’s no doubt the game will be great. All the ingredients are there.
Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi[drop2] This fighting game, along with Naruto, was another tough one to judge. The graphics are definitely impressive, with some great lighting effects. Goku and company have never looked better! The two player verses mode shown looked fast paced, with some of the environment destruction being shown off.
The section of the story mode shown was much less impressive. It saw Goku facing off against Vegeta who was in Oozaru form, but it basically boiled down to one giant QTE. I wasn’t the only one disappointed by this, as I heard mutterings behind me in the vein of “where’s the actual game?”
Still, that’s just one potion of what’s bound to be a comprehensive story mode.
Star Fox 64 3D
“Do a barrel roll!” Ah, that didn’t fail to raise a little smile as I started the first world of Star Fox 64 3D. What’s amazing is that the game still feels surprisingly fresh, despite being originally released in the 90s. Whilst the ships and enemy units didn’t look as good as what was on display by the Mario games, the backgrounds look fantastic in 3D.
What I didn’t get on with was the control system. My brain is wired so that in a flight game you push down to go up, and up to go down. This is reversed in Star Fox, and whilst pressing up to go up sounds logical, I was having a devil of a job getting to grips with it.
Apart from that I can see this being a hit once again.
Kirby’s back in a new platformer, and he sucks! I should probably elaborate on that. Fresh off his yarn based adventures, Kirby is back to normal, which includes the power to suck up enemies and steal abilities. The first thing that springs to mind is that this new game isn’t a patch on Kirby’s Epic Yarn in terms of visuals. It’s not ugly, but it lacks the charm.
Even so, Kirby Wii still plays incredibly well. I got the chance to play co-op with three others, and it was an absolute riot of noise, explosions and jumping on the other players (in the game. I don’t just jump on strangers…much).
The highlight of the demo was when Kirby acquired a new power. First off he turned into Link from the Zelda series, and could unleash a screen-filling sword attack that destroyed everything in its path. The flashiest move was fire based, though, and turned the entire screen into fiery death! It reminded me of one of the super moves from Street Fighter.
This has the potential to be amazing. I wonder if it’ll sell more than ten copies this time.
I was impressed with what was on display at Hyper Japan. 3DS owners have a lot of quality content on the way, although perhaps the console’s release should have been pushed back to make these launch titles. Namco also has a strong line-up which will cater to all sorts of gamers.