Coming from someone who hasn’t owned a handheld since the Game Gear, I was really impressed with Nintendo’s 3DS showing. One of the big things keeping me from picking up a current handheld is that I never saw how they could a gaming experience markedly different from the six game platforms I have hooked up in my family room. The 3DS looks like it could be a really unique device and I’m eager to see what else it can do. And hey, it’s supposed to have a new Paper Mario, so that’s a definite plus.
Final Fantasy XIV
The big takeaway for me from this game is the fact that you can change your class simply by selecting a corresponding piece of equipment. That’s the sort of elegantly simple design I’d expect from a Peter Molyneux game, not a JRPG developer.
The rest of FFXIV’s revealed features so far are similar to what most current MMO developers are promising – short quests, more accessible to new players, more solo options, everything needed to try and lure in a more casual crowd. Still, I’m curious to see where Square takes this game and if they can bring any more interesting ideas to the largely Western-dominated MMO genre.
Kirby: Epic Yarn
I heard about Epic Yarn a few days before I actually bothered to find out what it was. Another Kirby game? Pffft. Great, another Wii reskin of a decades-old Nintendo formula…Oh, WOW, that’s what it looks like? Can I play it now? Pretty, pretty please?
Dropping a franchise’s classic gameplay mechanics to toy around with a new style? This is the opposite of what I’ve come to expect from Nintendo. The mechanics look a bit simple in the trailer – jump, grab, swing repeat. But what it also shows is that the developers have really put thought into how this art style informs the way the player interacts with the environment – I especially love how you enter houses by unzipping them. I can’t wait to get my hands on this thing myself, and I can’t remember the last time I felt that way about a Kirby game.
And to wrap this up, the most important thing I can say about this list is that all these games are coming from Japanese developers. At last year’s E3, there was very little coming from the country that I cared about. For me, Nintendo’s Vitality Sensor was a sign that the homeland of modern gaming was growing out of touch with its audience. This year, however, I’ve got just as many Japanese games I’m looking forward to as Western ones. David Jaffe is right: it is nice to be surprised at E3 every once in a while.