Review: Why you should get the Humble Voxatron Debut indie game bundle

The Humble Voxatron Debut, a bundle of indie games, isn’t really all that humble, when you get down to it. For two weeks, users are able to name their own price for a bundle of top-tier indie games that includes the first-ever alpha release of Voxtatron along with the full versions of The Binding of Isaac and Blocks That Matter. And now that we’re entering the final weekend that the bundle’s on sale, we thought it might be time to tell you whether it’s worth it.

The best indie games of 2011

Indie games are officially in style. Amidst all the bundles that have been offered for so very little money all year, it can sometimes be hard to take a step back and gather one’s thoughts about which of the indie games released in 2011 really stood out among the crowd. We have taken the time to rifle through dozens of these games to find the very best, and the following list, presented in no particular order of quality, are the ten we have chosen. Feel free to suggest your own favorites in the comments below, or yell at your monitor for any startling omissions from the list.

Wizorb Review

Given the current industry climate, claiming a game is “a breath of fresh air” feels like an overused expression. More people are creating independent video games now than ever before, sharing their passion for the medium and introducing new ideas and insightful variations to routine genre themes. Wizorb, a Breakout-style arcade game from indie studio Tribute Games, is no such marriage of clever concepts or daring foray into uncharted territory. Although there are some light RPG trimmings added to the familiar block-breaking action, the basic three-part formula has evolved little since Arkanoid: there are blocks, there is a ball, and a pervading nihilistic credo to eliminate all of the former using the latter.

This Resort Is Worth The Price Of Admission

During the past few years, video game fans have grown accustomed to the terms ‘casual’ and ‘hardcore.’  Some gamers despise these terms, while others wear their badge with pride.  One company who is famous for its Italian plumbers is primarily responsible for this shift in gamer demographics.

E3 Through the Eyes of a Gamer

Greetings once again to the land of Bitmob! This year’s E3 was my first visit to the fabled paradise for gamers. You may have seen my recap over at 1UP.com, but I decided to share my experience with this growing mob, too. I’ll begin with a recap of my days at E3, and end with a large array of photos featuring the many sights of the expo. Yes, that includes booth babes. One last warning before the fun begins… I write seemingly endless but thorough convention reports and take way too many photos!   TUESDAYSince my trip to E3 was planned about two weeks prior to the actual event, all the hotels in the area had no vacancy. Luckily for me, my uncle happens to live in the area. Crashing at his place, I’d get dropped off each morning as he headed off to work. On Tuesday morning, I knew that I’d arrived at the convention center when I saw the giant Mafia 2 advertisement up above.Once I entered the massive complex, I picked up my badge and badge holder without needing to wait in line. I had quite a bit of time to kill before the exhibit halls opened for general attendees at noon, so I started to explore the convention center to get a feel of the place. One of the first things I noticed was a stage sponsored by Pepsi, where people could play Rock Band 2. If you created the best music video, you’d win a prize, which was an MTV VMA trophy.Heading towards the western hall, I noticed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 banners hanging from up above. Even though I enjoyed some of Call of Duty 2, the series has never really been my cup of tea. Still, I would have tried MW2 if it had been playable in the hall just to rub it in to my CoD-loving coworkers, but that wasn’t meant to be.Outside of the hall, I noticed a stall that was filled with free magazines. I made sure to load up my backpack with one of each issue so that I’d have something to read on the flight back home. I can finally say that I own a copy of Edge! I don’t think I’ll read all the magazines, mainly since the Hollywood Reporter and Dealerscope aren’t really the kind of publications that mesh with my interests. Oh yeah, around this point, I noticed a somewhat recognizable face walk by me in the opposite direction. It was Mr. Tony Hawk!Looking outside, I spotted a familiar vehicle near the west entrance of the convention center. It was Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters! I was somewhat excited when I saw some dude go inside the driver’s seat, but then learned that he was one of the workers. I’m sure the car would take some damage if thousands of nerds and geeks hopped in for photo ops.Since I didn’t have a chance to get breakfast, I stopped by a cafeteria for some concessions. I’ve enjoyed convention cuisine in the past, but I must say that this $16 meal was not very tasty. Note to self… never eat inside the LA Convention Center again!After throwing away the remnants of my gross meal, I joined the growing line outside of the west hall. I was fairly close to the beginning of the queue. Turning around to look back, I was thankful to be far from the end since the line started to stretch to one of the outer passageways. I played Puchi Puchi Virus on my DSi until the clock finally struck noon.IT HAS BEGUN! The large mob of gamers, media members, and businessmen started marching towards the entrance of the west hall. Many cameras went off to record the moment as we all officially entered E3, including my own.As a seasoned convention attendee, I knew that free swag should be top priority! After looking to the right and spying the Atlus booth, I decided to make them my first stop since they were handing things out. I took a free Atlus swag bag to store the first of my goods, which was a Neo Steam t-shirt that I obtained by signing up for free membership.Rushing further into the hall, I spied a woman handing out a special stylus to people who sampled the upcoming Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks on the DS. The portion that I was in didn’t feature any combat, but a puzzle that I needed to solve by controlling both Link and a knight. I honestly didn’t play enough of it to give a fair evaluation, but I did find the dual character aspect to be somewhat intriguing. I received my gift and was a bit sad to see that it was just the Phantom Hourglass feather stylus in a different box. Oh well, free is free!I stumbled upon a demo setup for Real Heroes: Firefighter on the Wii, which happened to be handing out reusable shopping bags sporting the game’s logo. I took some time to hear about the game from the rep, learning that it features the voice of Jamie Kennedy, would be priced at $29.99, and part of the proceeds will go to help firefighters. Watching him play it, the game basically worked like the arcade game Brave Firefighters, except with more exploration. I thanked the man, received my bag, and headed off to the next booth.My next destination, Ignition Entertainment, ended up becoming one of my favorites at E3. With cool games to play, sweet swag, and lovely models, we had a winner on three fronts! I picked up a bunch of nice postcards and portfolios featuring artwork from Ignition’s games, plus a drawstring bag sporting several game logos.I’ve been eager to get my hands on King of Fighters XII for quite some time, so I rushed over and joined the growing line. Using my team of Terry Bogard, Iori Yagami, and Kim Kaphwan, I won the roughly three matches that I played. I’m a huge Terry fan, so I was kind of sad to see him lose the Buster Wolf. At least he regained Rising Tackle and his classic costume. Iori’s new set of special moves surprised me, so I’ll definitely need to rethink some of my tactics. Kim seemed to be the least changed out of my trio. I probably should have substituted Raiden in as a team member for a game since I enjoyed using him in Capcom VS SNK 2, but I guess I’ll have to wait for July before I do that.Next up at Ignition was Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny. I didn’t really like it at first since it wasn’t like a normal Samurai Shodown, but the changes are starting to grow on me. The selection of characters is quite broad, with a lot of new faces. I somehow glitched the game and made it lock up when executing a deadly attack on my opponent with Galford, which was kind of funny. Switching over to the new American Indian warrior known as Black Hawk when the demo finished rebooting, I defeated a Kyoshiro, severing his hand with a geyser of blood. My last fight was as the hulking viking Garros, who was quite a beast! I’ll definitely buy a copy upon release, and hope that the demo version’s lengthy load times will be reduced in the final product.The last game that I tried at Ignition’s booth was one of my top E3 titles. It was the Wii’s Muramasa: The Demon Blade! I’ve never actually played my copy of Odin Sphere, so this was my first time seeing Vanillaware’s beautiful 2D artwork in motion. Playing as Momohime, I battled several ninjas in a forest, samurai warriors in a field, and if I remember correctly, flying eyes. The battles were quick and addictive, with special slashes causing neat attack animations that were fun to watch. I’ve heard about slowdown issues plaguing Odin Sphere, and a rep assured us that this game would not have that problem. I’m inclined to believe him after seeing no interruptions in the animation during my time with it. I’ll gladly dust off my Wii to play Muramasa this fall!Since I’d made a lap around the west hall, I left and made a trek for the southern exhibits. Partially as a favor to my friend Michael, I made Konami’s Saw the first game I played in the other hall. Putting on the demo station’s headphones, I started a new game on the default difficulty. My first task was attempting to free my character from a bear trap that was attached to his mouth. I failed on my first go since I didn’t try to press any buttons until it was too late. Restarting, I cleared the trap and solved a combination lock puzzle. Escaping in the darkness, I reached another room where my character helped another victim by sticking his hand in a toilet full of syringes to hunt for an item. My thanks for saving the dude was betrayal, but Jigsaw took care of him with a door trap that blew the poor guy’s head off. I fought one battle before leaving to play another something else, which felt a bit unnecessary in a game like this. Overall, Saw was better than I anticipated, but still nothing I’d like to buy.My walking soon led me to a display showcasing the Batman: Arkham Asylum Collector’s Edition. I’ve already committed myself to buying it since I’m a big fan of the goddamn Batman. Still, I was disappointed to see that the batarang was made of plastic. How am I supposed to fight crime with that?!I soon approached one of the booths I really wanted to see at E3, which was Koei’s. I was kind of bummed out when I looked around and noticed that Warriors: Legends of Troy and Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires weren’t playable. After picking up a free Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce magnet and PSP wrist strap, I played against the dude in the above picture in Monster Racers. The full release will have some sort of Pokemon-ish RPG elements, but the trial only featured the sidescrolling races. Using my white cat creature, I ran to the finish line before my opponent, grabbing turbo boosts power-ups along the way. I wouldn’t call it one of my favorite E3 games, but I’ll still pick up a copy due to my blatant Koei fanboyism.Moving over a few feet, I reached NIS America’s rather plain setup. I was hoping to see some Prinnys! Anyway, the only game I ended up trying at their booth was A Witch’s Tale on the DS. The game had NIS’s trademark witty humor, but I wasn’t too fond of the gameplay. Everything was pretty much controlled by the stylus, and the turn-based battle engine didn’t seem to have any really innovative bells and whistles. I hope the battle I fought was against a boss since the enemies felt like they endured too much damage for a simple random encounter.Going further south, I made a stop at E3’s IndieCade. This exhibit featured a variety of independent video games. The one that caught my eye was called Pluff. Using a stuffed animal as a controller, he would react to your kindness or abuse on-screen. If he liked you, he would even do tricks!Next up was Natsume, where I wanted to have some serious fun. The first two titles that I tried were Adventures to Go on the PSP and Squishy Tank on the DS. In the RPG Adventures to Go, you would order a customized quest and complete it with your hero. Options included the landscape and types of enemies, plus you could use items to spice things up with random events. I fought some insects in a desert land, and was fairly entertained by the turn-based grid combat used in the battle engine. My only complaint was something that would probably go away after time, which was the fact that the isometric angle made using the directional pad slightly confusing. I’d accidently hit the wrong direction, making my character face another way and lose a few action points. I’ll be brief about Squishy Tank. I was expecting some sort of cutesy shooter, but it was a puzzle game. The character designs were generally amusing, but I grew tired of the game really quickly since all I had to really do was tap on different groups of colored blocks until a certain amount disappeared.Two more DS games from Natsume were Cheer We Go and Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming. I tried out Cheer We Go first since Frantic Farming was in use. It was the more amusing game of the pair, basically being a simplified Elite Beat Agents/Ouendan without licensed tracks. Frantic Farming was a puzzle game where your farmer would move around tiles shaped like crops so that an elf could harvest them. It boggled my mind when I first tried to understand the rules, but the tutorial gradually broke down the correct way to play the game. Still, I’ll pass on the retail release.Namco Bandai’s booth was nearby, so I wandered over there. The Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny demo units were surprisingly empty, probably due to the masses playing Tekken 6. The rep revealed that the ugly Kratos was in the game, which was news to me since I hadn’t had a chance to catch up on the latest topics at NeoGAF. Both Kratos and his fellow freak Dampierre were on the character select screen, but could not be used. Man, I was hoping to use them as practice dummies for Mitsurugi! Selecting the samurai, I battled Cassandra. Mitsurugi seemed to retain his Soul Calibur 4 move set, but if there were any changes, I didn’t notice. The game ran at a smooth 60 FPS, which is always a joy to see in portable fighters. Maybe this will top Tekken: Dark Resurrection as my favorite PSP game!Up next on my list of things to play was Katamari Forever on the PS Triple. The graphics are slightly different and you can now jump, but other than that, it’s basically more of the same. That’s not necessarily a horrible thing since I’d rather have the Katamari series stick with the formula instead of branching out to weird offshoots like Korogashi Puzzle Katamari Damacy on the DSi. My session ended with a score of 100 and praise from the King of All Cosmos. That’s just how I roll.Since my friend Ryan wants info on the new Dead to Rights: Retribution, I stood in the small line to play it. My impressions won’t be too favorable! The guy in front of me left after he cleared the Jack Slate section, so I was playing as Shadow the dog for the first few minutes. While I’ll admit that seeing Shadow taking out evil-doers was kind of cool, you had to play with more of a stealth focus, which I do not like. You also had to protect an injured Jack, so I restarted the demo in order to avoid the nightmarish gameplay combo of escorting and sneaking. Even then, Mr. Slate’s action sequences weren’t that great in my humble opinion. The mix of hand-to-hand fighting with gunplay just seemed dull since you could only perform the somewhat cool moves at context sensitive points. Thanks Namco, but I’ll stick with the Musou series for my action fix!I made a stop at Konami’s booth since I caught sight of the new Karaoke Revolution! I’d read that this version would feature tracks performed by the original artists, so I wanted to take a look at the current build’s soundtrack. I snapped the photo above which shows most of the songs from the demo. That portion was enough to warrant a purchase from me and a few of my buddies, so I look forward to the final list.Returning to the west hall, I saw a large crowd forming around part of Nintendo’s booth and went to investigate. I soon saw Reggie Fils-Aime and Geoff Keighly from Game Trailers playing against each other in Wii Sports Resort. I don’t know who won, but Reggie gave Geoff a frisbee after their bout. I snapped that photo like a paparazzo and moved on.DC Universe Online was my next game. Using some generic hero, I helped several Justice League members take on the Joker, Lex Luthor, and Sinestro. It was certainly more appealing to me than Champions Online, and the inclusion of lesser known characters like Blue Beetle, Ambush Bug, and Deathstroke made the comic fan within me happy. I’ll keep an eye on this since it was somewhat entertaining, but if there’s a monthly fee, that will be enough to push away my interest.The last major thing I did on Tuesday was stop by the 1UP booth. Well, it was more of a work room for them when compared to the booths they’ve had at PAX. Several staffers were there, including a tired Sam Kennedy and Tina Sanchez. Despite their weariness from the day’s excitement, they were still very friendly and even recognized me from the site, which was cool. They posed for a quick photo before I let ‘em get back to work and headed out of the convention center.WEDNESDAYAfter arriving at the convention center on Wednesday, I soon met up with 1UP community members Bob Morgan (Naked BoB) and Wayne Sung (Gaian). Since we needed breakfast and had an hour to pass before everything opened, Wayne led us to the Original Panty Cafe so we could grab a bite to eat. On the way there, we saw these beautiful Final Fantasy XIII ads on buildings outside of the expo.Inside and outside of the restaurant, we had a few more gamer celebrity sightings! I saw 1UP editor Jeremy Parish walking across the street and former 1UP staffer Jeff Green dining on breakfast. While some of the service was kind of questionable at the restaurant, the grub was more satisfying than anything that the convention center had to offer. Before we left, I asked Bob and Wayne to pose for a photo, which is shown up above.Returning to E3, I showed Wayne and Bob the Atlus booth so they could get themselves some t-shirts and swag bags. While they did that, I went over to a PSP to examine the remake of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona. It has been over a decade since I played the original on PlayStation, but I will gladly pick up this enhanced port due to the improvements. From what I recall, movement speed in the first-person dungeons has been increased. The world map is no longer shown from a rotatable 3D overhead view, which was the only change I didn’t like. The translation has been redone, and the cast is once again a bunch of Japanese students, which is a love it or hate it thing. I did see mentions of the Snow Queen quest, which made me pleased since this alternate path was cut from the original US release. My only other issue with the game was that they kept the stupid ellipsis that appears whenever you try to run away, making you wait a few extra seconds each time you attempt an escape. Get rid of those damn things!Right next to Persona was Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. My overall impression was that the game combined aspects from Final Fantasy Tactics and DemiKids. Battles were fought on a turn-based grid. When you attacked, the game shifted to a first-person scene like in DemiKids or several other SMT titles. Each attack lasted a single turn, well, two if you used an attack that the enemy was weak against. You’d return to the grid regardless of whether the target died or lived through the encounter so that the next character could make their move. As long as their are a bunch of cool demons to find and train, I’ll like the final product.An Atlus rep in a straw hat showed me how to play Shiren the Wanderer on the Wii. I’ve played roguelikes before, so his assistance was primarily for translating the menu commands since the demo was actually the Japanese version of Shiren. The game had some nice in-game artwork, and I didn’t really have any complaints about the way things played. I’ll need to see how the companion system works before giving a proper verdict.I’d say my least favorite game at the Atlus booth was Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This?. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still pick it up once it’s released, but the game felt extremely overwhelming for a demo. In order to properly play it, you’d have to go through a ton of tutorials to learn all the little nuances required to play and win. I’ll save all that time and efffort for when the game hits retail!I was ready to pass it up since it was only a downloadable game, but after watching Trine in motion on the 360, I was intrigued. After playing it to form an opinion, I’m impressed! Up to three local players are thrust into a puzzle/platforming adventure starring a knight, thief, and a wizard. Each member of the trio has different talents and skills that will be necessary to survive. If you’re going it alone, you can simply press LB and RB to switch between characters. I teamed up with another E3 attendee to defeat a few skeletons and bypass several cliffs, but our journey came to an end when we died in a pit of spikes.Splitting up from Wayne and Bob, I returned to the south hall. I saw a line forming at Alienware’s booth, figuring some freebie was waiting to be mine. Asking another person what was up, I learned that the line ended with a quick survey about the booth from the two women in black shown above. After you take it, a staff member would give you a free 8 GB flash drive. I can finally retire the 512 MB drive I bought back around 2003!I remember reading about a cool Adventure Island t-shirt that was handed out as swag during the Tokyo Game Show, so I dropped by Hudson’s booth to see if they had any of those for Americans. They did not. However, they did have the first game from Victor Ireland’s Gaijinworks, Miami Law! I’ll still buy it to support the man who gave us Working Designs, but I felt that the demo needed some work. I basically played through a bunch of the investigation portion of the game and never reached any of the shooting or driving scenes. I did encounter a few simple puzzle minigames, but other than that I basically got to read a bunch of jibberjabber for 15 minutes. No offense intended, as the story was interesting, but I felt a demo that easily gave you an option to try each of the gameplay modes would have been a better way to present the game at E3.Looking at my iPhone, I noticed that it was almost time for Ignition’s autograph session with George Kamitani, the artist responsible for the visuals in Odin Sphere and Muramasa: The Demon Blade. I texted my colleagues to let them know about the event, and ran back to the west hall to get in line. No photos were allowed at the event, so I can’t give you a glimpse of George at the signing, but I did get a swell autographed poster. You’ll definitely see that in the upcoming swag post!I was chatting with a nice guy behind me in the autograph line who happened to have a Tekken 6 faceplate and skin. He told me that he got them by participating in one of Namco’s Tekken 6 tournaments and that everyone got them regardless of whether they won or lost. They were gorgeous, so I swore right then and there that I would get one for myself at all costs! I told Bob and Wayne, who were also up for the challenge. Running back to the south hall, we signed up on a list for one of the tournaments later in the day.We probably should have practiced to get a shot at the grand prize, which was a PlayStation 3 and an Xbox 360, but as usual my desire to get more swag led us away. We ended up at Microsoft’s large exhibit since Major Nelson’s Twitter page mentioned that we could score a free E3 trophy for our Avatars. It took us a while to find the laptop that was used for sign-ups, which happened to be obstructed by a camera filming an interview with Epic’s Cliff Bleszinski. Sneaking by, the three of us put in our info. Later on, Mr. Bleszinski stood next to me and used his iPhone to call someone. OMG!!!While Bob and Wayne went to watch a presentation on Halo: ODST, I went off so I could play the demo of Left 4 Dead 2. God, I always hate waiting in Valve’s lines! The queue for L4D2 was the longest wait I had at all 3 days of E3. In a way, I wish they trimmed the demo down to a single act or had more than four demo kiosks so that things would move along faster. Sidetracking for a bit, guess who kind of bumped into me as she tried to get past the L4D2 line? None other than Jade Raymond of Assassin’s Creed fame! Anyway, when my turn finally came up, I was cast in the role of Ellis the mechanic. Man, I was hoping to play as the James Avery-esque Coach!I grabbed a shotgun and made it a point to try to find one of the new melee weapons as soon as possible. I intended on trying to stick with one of those till the end of the act just to give them a fair try. I found an axe, and after using it for a few minutes, I cast it away for good. Yeah, they give you more power than a normal melee swing and did more damage than a pistol, but I found them to be rather pointless since you’re still better off with just about any other gun due to the range. I would not want to try taking on a Tank with one of those! My team soon encountered a Charger, who is basically a smaller Tank with one shriveled arm. He charged through and pounced on a teammate, but was put down with little effort. Once we reached the safehouse, I’d had enough. Left 4 Dead 2 offers slight tweaks for a formula that still works fairly well, so I’ll probably pick it up.Wayne had informed me that you could get a free Harvest Moon drawstring bag at Natsume’s booth for trying out one of their games. I didn’t even notice since I was busy playing several of the DS and PSP offerings that they had on Tuesday, so I made sure to get one today. I picked Animal Kingdom: Wildlife Expedition since the strange lion and burger-ish robot looked cool. This kiosk didn’t have any information on the button configuration, so I had to figure out the game on my own. I’d drive around in a jeep, looking for anything that rustled the plantlife. Once you spotted movement, you’d go on foot and try to take photos of animals in their natural habitat. I’m honestly not sure if I was supposed to acquire photos of a certain quality or take them just for fun, like in Endless Ocean. I’ll find out someday, but for the time being, I took my new bag and went off to pursue the flora and fauna of E3.I never really got into the Devil May Cry series, but I still wanted to give Bayonetta a try. The graphics were great, everything ran at a smooth 60 FPS. The heroine seemed to have a wide variety of moves at her disposal, most of them being quite over the top. The Climax Action she used to finish off a giant monster with a statue’s face looked kind of stupid. It had her standing around with some of her hair swirling over her privates while the rest of it formed a dragon that took a bite out of the enemy creature. I didn’t feel like trying more of the game since I’d seen another guy go through the rest of the demo, so I set the controller down and walked away.I soon regrouped with Bob and Wayne since it was time to get our asses kicked in Tekken 6! Or so we thought. Looks like we accidentally signed up for the alternate list since the main one had been full. ARGH! My uncle gave me a call, saying he was on his way, so I told Wayne I’d see him tomorrow and said farewell to Bob since he was only here for a single day. On the way out, I stopped by the registration desk at Namco’s booth and noticed a free spot on the main list for Thursday’s 4 PM Tekken tournament. Miracles happen, eh?Turns out my uncle got stuck in traffic, so I ended up running back to the west hall for another 45 minutes. I certainly didn’t mind the chance to play some more games! Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 was open at Sony’s booth, so I hopped on. I would have liked to try out one of the new playable characters like Ayane, but the demo had me playing as Ryu. Maybe I’m imagining things, but the game did not seem as gory and the load times felt worse than the 360. Since I wasn’t a big fan of NG2 in the first place, I’ll pass on this remake unless I get a really good reason to buy it, like the new cooperative mode.I was going to pass through the Nintendo booth to reach Capcom when I saw some guys begging for someone to be the fourth player in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I planned on playing the game on Thursday due to the lines, but looks like I arrived at the nick of time! Yeah, it’s not the truly 2D sprite-based Super Mario World sequel I dream of, but I’ll gladly take this over any 3D Mario garbage. I had a good time playing through the level, which was more chaotic than I imagined since you’d bounce off other players and they could also pick you up. I was the first to die since some cloud thingie killed me when I tried to grab a mushroom. My character eventually floated by in a bubble and was rescued by another player. I didn’t personally try any of the new power-ups, which looked nifty from what I observed on the screen. The main flaw I saw with the current build was the fact that the game would stutter for a second whenever someone would die, which would usually throw everyone else off. Hopefully that will be corrected whenever this comes out. Oh, and two Toads? C’mon, I like the guy but that’s just lazy, there are plenty of other faces in the Mario franchise!The last game I tried on Thursday was Capcom’s Lost Planet 2. Right away, I was sad to see it running at 30 FPS. At least the actual demo was pretty entertaining. I’m glad that I don’t have to worry about my energy draining like in the original LP! Three other players and I battled a giant monster. After damaging it with a Vital Suit, I attempted to jump in the weakened behemoth’s mouth like another player before me. Unfortunately, he recovered before I could do that. My uncle gave me another call letting me know it was time to head out, so I had to depart before we could finish off the beast.THURSDAYOnce my ride dropped me off outside of the convention center on Thursday morning, I grabbed the E3 Show Daily and eventually went into the west hall. Since this was my last day at E3, I had spent the previous night typinig up a brief to-do list on my iPhone. I began to work my way down the list, starting at the west hall.First up was playing Sin & Punishment 2 on the Wii. After playing the demo, I had found another one of my favorite games at the show! Playing as the male lead Isa, I flew through a futuristic city blasting away at baddies in a manner similar to Panzer Dragoon and Gamera 2000. Everything flowed well at 60 FPS, which was great since frame rate is always one of the first things that I notice in a game. Dodge rolls and charged shots were part of the hero’s useful repertoire, and they were all easy to perform on the remote and nunchuck. I defeated a few choppers and a boss that resembled an eagle, but met my demise thanks to a tank. Due to this title and Muramasa, I can honestly say that the Wii had my two favorite titles at E3, which is surprising.Treading further into Nintendo’s booth, I looked around to see if I could find Wario Ware DIY in the DS area. If it was there, I sure didn’t see it! I did see a station with a non-interactive demo of Golden Sun DS, so I gave that a glance. The sign kind of lied to me since I did have to move Isaac with the stylus at one point, but that was the only interaction I had with the demo. The graphics on the map and battle were both fine for the DS. Maybe I’ll make this the first Golden Sun I actually play.To the right of Golden Sun DS was another RPG, Glory of Heracles. I’ve been researching the series on NeoGAF and liked what I had read, so I went over to give the latest version a try. Using the stylus, I lead the hero around town. None of the shops were available in the demo, so I couldn’t see what they had to offer. I eventually made it to a boat, where I battled a giant crab boss. The battle system in GoH is turn-based, and really reminded me of the classic PS1 RPG Beyond the Beyond. Not just due to the look, but due to the fact that you could rapidly tap with the stylus at times to power up some attacks, kind of like the button mashing in BtB. I can see myself buying the final version, but whether or not I’ll be totally motivated to start it up is another story.I’m several months behind everybody else, but the next item on my to-do list was finally playing Tatsunoko VS Capcom. While waiting in line for my turn, Reggie Fils-Aime and several Nintendo executives walked by to observe the game. Before Reggie left, I got a handshake with the man himself! I’m glad that he left, otherwise he would have got to witness me getting my ass kicked at TVC. I knew that I was going to use Alex no matter what, and randomly decided on Soki from Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams as his partner. I knew that the game only used four buttons, but I couldn’t figure out how to tag out. Combine that with the change in Alex’s normal moves from Third Strike and the fact that my enemy was an experienced player, the results weren’t pretty!Another item on my list of games to see was Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. I knew that I was going to be in for disappointment when I noticed the 30 FPS animation. At least the game used motion blurring, so it doesn’t look as bad as other titles running at that frame rate. Anyway, their were four selectable racers in the demo. I skipped Amy Rose and AiAi and decided between Sonic and Amigo, with the former winning out. The game’s your typical Mario Kart clone. The character roster is what’s going to make or break it for me, and right now, I’m saddened by the overuse of Sonic franchise characters. I know he’s in the title, but anyone beyond Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, or Robotnik is too much for me! I think I’ll borrow the game, unless Sega magically adds some characters from my wishlist, which will make me pre-order a copy. I really don’t think they’re crazy enough to put Lan Di, Domingo, Psycho Fox, Candy/Honey from Fighting Vipers, and other obscure Sega stars in the kart racing mix.Since I’ve appreciated SouthPeak’s previous titles like Two Worlds and Monster Madness, I visited their booth to see what was cooking. Sure enough, they had several restaurant-themed games for me to try out. The first one was Fast Food Panic on the Wii. I had to use the remote and nunchuck to flip burgers, assemble food, input bills, and greet customers at a restaurant. I liked the character designs, but I’ll pass on the actual game until it’s dirt cheap.Next up was Sushi Go Round on the DS. I had a little more fun with this one, mainly since the gameplay seemed more focused than the previous game. All you had to do was use the stylus to hand customers menus, assemble their sushi, restock supplies, and clear the tables when a customer was finished. Once again, it’s nothing I’ll buy right away, but it was a mildly interesting distraction.I soon approached the Lips: Number One Hits and played with another E3 visitor. I was curious about which songs were on the demo, and saw that there were only a couple tracks, and they’d already been revealed in the first press release. My duet partner ask if I knew the song Apologize, which I did, so we made our choice. I noticed a few differences in this new version of Lips. You no longer had to strike poses to start earning stars, you just shake the mic. There were also specific points where you were supposed to rattle the mic, kind of like the tamborine in Rock Band. I’m not sure if it was because the Microsoft guy accidently hit the controller at one point, but we easily earned the Party medal without having to press buttons to the rhythm like on the previous version. The other player had the higher score at the end, so I congratulated him as we each received a prize, which was a set of Lips earbuds.Venturing back to Konami’s exhibit, I tried out the new Xbox Live Arcade version of Vandal Hearts. Despite the fact that the new heroes looked rather childish, the game still had it’s share of blood, so I’m sure it will be M-rated like the originals. I never played those two games, so I’m not sure if spellcasters took slight damage when casting spells like they do in this iteration. I can’t say I really liked that since it makes frail mages even weaker. Other than that, the game plays like a traditional turn-based strategy RPG. I’ll probably end up downloading VH once it is uploaded to the Marketplace.I returned to the west hall and meandered over to Sony’s booth in order to look for the PSP Go!. While there, I was distracted by the portable version of Army of Two: The 40th Day. This port basically changed the game to a shooter kind of like Smash TV, except without the constant flow of enemies. Your partner tagged along and could be set to passive or aggressive behaviour. I think I encountered a glitch when a bomb fell from the sky, making a giant hole appear on the building my character was on. Rios disappeared, and I couldn’t get Salem to do anything. It didn’t lock up since I could still switch between AI settings. Regardless of whether or not that was a glitch, it’s so different from the original Army of Two that my verdict is skip it!My pursuit of the PSP Go! continued. Perhaps I wasn’t searching hard enough, but I couldn’t find it in any of Sony’s game areas. I know Wayne ended up seeing it somewhere, so I’m assuming it was available to people other than the media. This gigantic display mock-up was as close as I got to seeing the Go! in person.White Knight Chronicles was setup in one of the PlayStation 3 demo sections, so I headed over to see how the game was shaping up. Wandering around the overworld felt a lot like World of Warcraft, where you’d see random mobs going about their business. I didn’t really like the battle system too much since it reminded me of Final Fantasy XII, which wasn’t my thing. Unlike what I remember from XII, you have to hit a button to execute your action whenever it’s charged up. I eventually filled up enough of my character’s bar to transform. The transformation looked cool, but it seemed to reduce the number of moves I had available. At the time, I was fighting a giant troll. I noticed I’ve mentioned this quite a bit over the past few blogs, but that thing had too much HP! I kept swinging away and taking hits that did negligible amounts of damage, but he kept asking for more. Maybe I’m just not used to modern RPG mechanics, but I grew weary of fighting him and left before the troll met his demise. I’ll still pick up WKC since I really like the character designs, but I don’t think I’ll go through and play it.You know what PS3 RPG was better than White Knight Chronicles? Demon’s Souls! Okay, I know some of this may be old news to PS3 importers, but I’ve been lagging behind on that front. I really liked how you could leave cryptic notes to warn people about upcoming danger and see the final fates of those who went ahead. Since I’m a hack and slash fan, the battle system was more appealing than WKC since I could strike at an enemy on a more regular basis. I died when I reached the Vanguard, which the rep informed me was a natural part of the game. I was ready to move on, and will definitely pick up the domestic release once it arrives in stores.Going back to my list, I wanted to spend some time with Red Steel 2. The original sounded interesting in previews, but the bad reviews and overall look of the game made me skip it. I thought the design of the sequel’s hero looked awesome when he was unveiled, and the style used to render the world looked more to my liking. The gameplay has lived up to my hopes, too. The Wii Motion Plus accurately rendered my sword swings on the TV screen. Using power attacks took some time for me since I wasn’t letting my wrists move freely, but I mastered them as soon as I did. I couldn’t swing constantly like a lunatic swordsman since it would decalibrate the Wii Motion Plus, which was I slight bummer. The Ubisoft rep mentioned something about that being due to another demo station being next to it, so I’ll find out if I can go nuts when I buy my own copy.It was almost 4 PM, so I returned to the south hall to get ready for the Tekken 6 tournament. On the way to Namco Bandai’s booth, I saw several people with cameras snapping photos of Mario and Sonic. I politely asked someone to take my picture with the famous pair of video game heroes.At 4 PM, I officially joined the King of Iron Fist tournament! I got a picture with the girl above before the tournament bracket was filled out. She ended up being my first opponent! She went by the name Princess and is supposedly the #1 ranked female player in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. She asked if I was any good, and I told her not really since even though I play all the Tekken games, I wouldn’t qualify myself as a tournament-caliber player. She soon told me the first time she played the game was yesterday, wuh oh! I was in one of those tough situations… go easy on her and lose face by being defeated or show no mercy and look bad for beating up a girl! I went with the latter option, since a girl is just as worthy of a competitor as any man. Still, I was booed by the crowd when I won, haha. Sorry Princess, but at least you managed to hit me! I won the first round of my next fight against a Bob user, but he recovered and scored two Perfects against me. How embarassing! I got my precious faceplate and skin, which is all I really wanted, so all’s well that ends well.I soon returned to the Sony exhibit in the west hall and met up with Wayne one final time. We tried out the upcoming PSN game PixelJunk Shooter. I liked the overall aesthetic style, but the gameplay was just okay in my opinion. I’d rather go around shooting everything with my ship instead of rescuing people and solving puzzles. After that, I said bye to Wayne and returned to the southern hall for one last look.Before the show ended, I decided to play a round of Dance Dance Revolution for old time’s sake. Looking at the song list, I wasn’t too impressed, just like with other modern DDR mixes. When the girl on the left finally got off the pad, I went on and played Daft Punk is Playing at My House with the dude. We were both on Difficult, but I was the only one who made it to the end of the song with energy in my bar. I didn’t full combo the song and had too many Greats, so I do need some practice! I eventually left the convention center to meet my uncle and his family for sushi, saying a fond farewell to my first E3.SWAGEver wonder about what kinds of freebies are being handed out at E3? Well, here’s a look at the bag of goodies I picked up at the expo. My two favorites will be up near the top.My precious Tekken 6 faceplate and skin that I received at the tournamentThe signed Muramasa poster I received at the George Kamitani autograph sessionCan’t hold your swag without a bagT-shirts and a pair of briefsA poster from Bethesda’s WETFashionable accessoriesGame-related accessoriesComic booksA King of Fighters XII portfolio and postcardsA Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny portfolio and postcardsA Muramasa: The Demon Blade portfolio and postcardsA Nostalgia portfolio and postcardsSkins, stckers, temporary tattoos, and magnetsMiscellaneous trinketsIncredible ediblesBetas, download keys, and codesMagazines and other periodicalsFlyers, business cards, and adverts of all shapes and sizesI’d call that a decent sized haul, eh? I’ll admit that I usually gather up a better crop at Penny Arcade Expo, but overall I scored some fairly nice stuff. I also missed out on a few sweet items, like one of the rare Tatsunoko VS Capcom t-shirts. I guess there’s always eBay…PHOTO GALLERYYou’re almost to the end. From here on out, it’s pretty much just pictures and captions. Keep going, you can do it!  The signs outside of the south hall  A giant banner sporting Assassin’s Creed 2’s Ezio  The Ghostbusters, but where’s Winston?A pile of junk that was promoting the new Rayman gameThe official E3 merchandise boothKoei’s trio of lovely ladiesFlare from Koei’s Monster RacersA DJ performing at Activision’s boothA giant samurai at the Mini Ninjas exhibitMagna Carta 2The Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny demo areaMomiji and Rachel from the Ninja Gaiden seriesNeed For Speed: Shift’s demo stationA Darksiders advertisementThis Battlefield 1943 booth gave out 100 download codes each hourThe VMA prize from Pepsi’s Rock Band 2 contestThese pirates arrrr from Tales of Monkey IslandToss the football in the goals to win prizesA wide shot of Natsume’s boothA gigantic plush Harvest Moon cowA mech from Ubisoft’s boothPoison Ivy art at a Batman: Arkham Asylum exhibitKiller CrocHarley QuinnBaneThe gates to the asylumOne of E3’s Lego Rock Band stagesBooth babes playing DDRWalk all over Final Fantasy XIIILook Ma, I’m a firefighter!The slightly dirty Stay Puft Marshmallow ManFiriona Vie from EverquestBethesda’s booth babesRatchet gets interviewedOne of Sony’s demo stations, where people can rest in plastic bubblesAlexei Pajitnov, the creator of Tetris, at a panelKoei’s boothPart of Microsoft’s exhibitThe IndieCadeWaSaBi, who sold fancy carrying cases with Japanese artworkThe stage where Steve Wiebe failed to reclaim the Donkey Kong world recordHalf of the Square Enix boothThe other halfTwo of Nyko’s redheadsMore of Nyko’s artificial gingersPeople waiting to try out New Super Mario Bros. WiiGame Outlet sold PAL g