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domingo, 5 de setembro de 2010

GamesCom 2010 - I was there!

GamesCom is the biggest videogame event of the world and in this year had 254 thousand visitors, 4400 journalists, more than 500 expositors from more than 30 countries, and also a very special presence: me (yeah, claps)… Ok, I know this is not something which makes people think about their roles in this planet, but I was there, I was walking, I was in the lines, I played a few games that will be out only in the future and that’s what I’m going to talk about.

Before I start, let me say that I chose what to play based on the rule “spend the life in a line to play one game or play many games and don’t get many lines?”. So, if I don’t talk about that game you wanted to know about, I’m terribly sorry, my sincere apologies *bow like a lord asking for apologies.

Cologne, the 4th biggest city of the land called Germany, the city where the event was held

the ticket

The first thing I saw when I got in was Microsoft’s both, very close to Nintendo’s both and the moving crowd going in my direction to suck me in the wave of people. With a slight movement of shoulder I moved my bag and it moved back, pushing me into the sea of people.

Batman – The Brave and the Bold

This is a 2D brawler, you what I mean, you go walking (usually left to right) pushing everyone who comes in your way, in the end of the stage you fight an especial enemy and then goes to another stage. The SNES and the Genesis had a billion of games like this one.

In the demo you could play through 4 stages. I had the chance to play 2 and in one you could control Green Lantern instead of Robin.

The graphics in this game are great, it looks like you are watching a cartoon. Click here to watch the trailer.

About the controls there is not much to say, since the game mechanics are so simple, there is no way to make things wrong. The only difference is the use of the motion sensor of the Wii to deliver some special moves.

This game won’t be a revolution, but it has the potential to be very fun, and that’s what matters the most, especially in the multiplayer mode. This game will be out now in Setember to Wii.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

It’s a great feeling when you know nothing about a game, then you see it in motion, it captures your attention, you play it and like very much.

In an apocalyptic future where the civilization as we know was destroyed in some stupid war the machines used during the war are crazy and trying to kill everyone who is left. The player controls a dude and a girl in a travel to the west (as the title may suggest hehehe) to find out what happened. It’s a action/plataformer with really nice graphics and good controllers. It was fun to play.

Later on I searched about the game, and find out it’s being created by the same team responsible for Heavenly Sword, who won a lot of prizes and is to many people one of the best games of this generation.

The two games seem to have some similarity, but Enslaved I think is more plataformer than action. Whatever is the case, the game is in good hands e for what I have played, if it doesn’t end up being repetitive it can be one of the great games of this year.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West will be released in October to XBox 360 and PS3.

A little break for a curiosity

In one of the corners of the event you could find a not so big both with more people than someone could expect it would have if this one knew what that both had. It wasn’t showing the games “from the future”, no, no, no, my friend, they were showing the games “from the past”.

There was a small line to play Mario Kart in the SNES and Nintendo 64, or Sonic in Master System. They had also other games running in the original consoles.

And, speaking of retro gaming, let’s go to the next game.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4
this was a true Sonic fan, look his hair

To be honest, when I saw the presentation of New Super Mario Bros to Wii at E3 2009 I liked, I was excited, but I haven’t imagined I was going to like the game as much as I did later when playing it. So, when I saw the video of Sonic 4, I was excited, I think I even wrote here something about it. Well, I’m saying all that just to say that I played this game with high expectations, hoping the same thing would happen… but it did not.

Don’t get me wrong, the game is ok, is pretty, is HD. But, the two stages I played and in the stages I saw other people playing the impression I had was that the game was… ahn… how can I say… old. Yeah, old.

New Super Mario Bros got a old formula, the same way Sonic 4 is doing, but something new was made, something that made the game relevant, something to bring the game to today and I could not feel that in this game.

Maybe the problem was my expectations. In the end the game was nice, was fun, but it had nothing new, the experience was not with me after playing, very different of what happened when I played the next game, which is also a retro game who get’s the old 2D formula, and also happened with another Sonic game I also played there and I will talk about later.

Sonic 4 will be released someday in the beginning of the next year to all the consoles, except the portables.

Donkey Kong Country: Returns

The first 2 Donkey Kong games to SNES I played a lot. I had the first one and some cousins had the second and it was an event, many hours playing to get everything, every coins and everything else. The third game I just played not much time ago through the Virtual Console.

So here again, there was me with high expectations, but… this time it worked! Just for fun, let me add that the guy who played with me (it was 2 player) was a half drunk German hehehe.

It is still that same idea of walking until the end of the stage, get some letters through the stage to form the name “KONG”, the bananas, the animals to ride and everything else. However, in here, just the same way it happened with New Super Mario Bros, I could see a intention to make the experience feels new, something of today. I could see it in the changes of perspective with barrels throwing you to the front and to the back of the screen, in the audio, in the graphical details, the changes in the gameplay. The picture bellow gives a good example of this, look how the sunset affects the view and everything.

The enemies also have received an update, just the same way it was done in New Super Mario Bros with the gombas and the turtles.

Another change, which you can also see in the picture above is that now the monkeys have energy and when some of the monkeys dies, if he still have lives, a barrel with the “dk” written shows up, flying attached to a balloon. Very similar to the bubble in New Super Mario Bros, the player who is still alive needs to break the barrel.

The game will be out in 21 October.

Epic Mickey

Seen this game live, with the people from Disney explaining the concept and the possibilities it has, I could see why the game is called “Epic Mickey” and not “Making easy Money with Mickey”.

The game has let’s say… “two layers”. In one the game is an action and plataformer game, where you jump, explore, solve puzzles and have as a tool a magic ink with the power to make things of the world appear, disappear or transform. All that is very well done, with great controls and everything.

The second layer is how you pass through the game. The presentation is great, the art direction and all that, but the game is not just a bunch of stages you have to go from the beginning to the end and only that. There is a world where you can interact with other characters and the way you do it changes the game experience and the story of the game.

To give an example, in the demo you had to find 3 masks which were somewhere in the scenario and then give them to the owner of a shop. In this case you had 3 ways to make it happen:

1 - Do it the right way, jump around, explore, get the 3 masks and deliver to the guy of the shop and everything was fine.
2 - Find only 2 masks, deliver to the guy and then get in the shop from behind erasing one of the walls using the magic ink. In the shop you could steal one of the masks you already gave to him and the give it to him again, as if it was the third mask.
3 – Do again the same thing about get only 2 masks and get inside of the shop, but this time stealing not only 1 mask but both. So, when you try do deliver the mask to the guy from the shop he will realize you robbed him and because of this little “incident” he will sell things to you at a higher price.

This is just an example, in the demo itself there were other things. To make it simple, there is a lot of characters in the world and is up to you help, ignore or make fun of then (yeah!). Your choices will make a unique game experience changing aspects of the story and everything.

Based on what I saw and heard, I think this can really be an epic adventure of the black mouse.

Epic Mickey will be released exclusively for Wii some day in the last quarter of this year.

The so well spoken “3D World” of 3D Games

Sony had some games being shown in 3D TVs, one of then was Killzone 3, which I didn’t played because it’s line was monstrous huge and I had only that day in GamesCom to see things, like I just said.

What I played in 3D, with that very… ahn… unobtrusive glasses, was a compilation of all the Sly Cooper games, which were originally launched to PS2, and now Sony is doing the same thing made with the first and second God of War, converting it to HD and in this case also adding the option to play in 3D.

Going straight to the point, the 3D effect is very interesting, add something to the experience, but it was not something that gives you a mental click like “holy f*cking sh*t I need to buy one of these TVs now!!!”. No, not at all, in fact when you take off the glasses and play a normal game, your eyes feel some kind of relieve. I don’t know what is the exactly problem, maybe the colors becoming less alive, or the glasses itself that are not as big as a scuba diving mask, but big enough to remember you they are there. It’s a weird experience which can be fun for a few minutes, and We can definitely see the potential, but I really didn’t feel it as a “natural evolution”.

On the other hand, the same way it happens with movies, use the 3D is not so simple, there a lot of movies using 3d, but just a small number really doing a relevant job. So, maybe, if I had been waiting 3 hours in a line to play Killzone 3 I could have left the event crazy to buy a 3D TV… or not hehehe. In any case, I believe in 3D, but with no glasses, with nice crisp colors, with no pain in the eyes, in nice HD, and since I’m dreaming, with the ability to bring world peace (hahaha).

What about the Kinect?

I saw people playing, I saw there was big lines only to some games, but what captured more my attention was the expression of the people who was playing.

look how much fun he is having... or maybe not
Many people from the game world says that a good way to find out if your game is good is pay attention to the face of the people while they are playing your game without know what they are doing in the game, just trying to find out what your game is making people feel. Well, the emotion in the face of the people trying to play some Kinect games was frustration, sometimes even anger. I only saw people really having fun in the dancing games and also in that game where there is a boat going down a river and you jump and get pins.

I played a bowling game and it didn’t worked quite well because of 3 problems.

The first one is that is not so simple throw an imaginary ball against the television. When you need to move in menus, point and click here and there, like you were using a gigantic and expensive mouse it’s ok, the problem is when you need to make a movement for the game. I think this maybe a matter of getting used, but the point is that it’s hard to get used when al the time the second problem is happening.

The second problem is that the sensor from time to time was crazy, not answering the way it should or even not answering at all. When it happened I had to step away from the front of the TV, wait some seconds, go back and then the sensor was working, but not for a very long time. I saw it happening with other people, so perhaps we could say this is just a temporary issue, it will be fixed before Kinect launch at November. Or maybe not.

The third problem is about the visual identity being to much something like “we don’t have a visual identity on our own and our identity is a shameless copy of the casual games from Wii”. I think be similar is acceptable and is actually a good marketing tool to make the consumer recognize and feel some familiarity with your product. The problem is when the result looks too much as a generic copy, like they were afraid to build a path on their own, the charisma goes down. Is weird because, Microsoft sure has money to hire designers able to get the idea and evolve that into something unique. Or is it really so hard?

Still talking about the Kinect, there were no much time ago rumors saying this version which will be released in November is a simplified version to make the final product cheaper. In theory the original product would have some kind of internal processor what would allow more possibilities and that’s why, as an example, Milo (the “boy” who was a “game” from Peter Molinux) died.

I just hope the version which will be released bring less faces of frustration. The concept of Kinect is very interesting e it would not be good to see it being throw away because of rushed decisions, megalomaniacs, to make everything as fast as possible, copying instead of creating and giving a final product that will be much less than it could be. I just noticed something, this is all the typical behavior from Microsoft: Rush, copy, marketing and let’s go. I hope I’m wrong.


The event had a few gigantic lines, Moder Warfare Black Ops, Assassins Creed, Michael Jackson Experience, Crisys 2, Final Fantasy XIV, Zelda Skyward Sword, just to name a few.

What these people were doing in this lines sometimes for hours? Many were playing DS, or eating, or talking, or just finding a way to distract. And it’s very nice in this kind of situation how easy is to talk to strangers because people do have what to talk since they do have similar tastes.

However, the booths where not only populated by people in the line to play the game. There were many people just looking the booth, taking pictures with let’s say… and Darth Vader as I did in the Star Wars: The Old Republic booth and thing like that. Oh, and talking about this game, that booth had many big TVs showing the trailers for this game, which are around 5 minutes each. Was very fun to watch that with other people around getting excited and reacting and everything.

If you never heard about this game and never saw the trailers, there is one bellow and more in YouTube.

Sonic Colors

Yes, another Sonic, but this time I will try to be short. I played, I liked and it was not a revolution, but was fun and not old (yeah! \o/).

I already said here in the site many times and I will say it again: I still believe is possible to make 3D Sonic game without the need to came up with things, simply being a fast plataformer where you go from the beginning to the end of the stages. No running “in rails”, no sword, no “play the same stage again but now be faster than this withe light”, with no werewolves or anything like that. Just Sonic, just running.

So, before anything, I won’t lie, this game also tries to make something weird to get out of the “pure” formula. The “colors” in the title is about some weird creatures you find through the stages and then they give you a special ability for a few seconds.

It’s not something completely insane and it end up working as a “spice” to rhythm of the game, at least that’s what happened in the stages in the demo. Just to give you an example, I one of the stages, one of the abilities was to drill through the floor or anything else in the way, you get the color creature, use the power do get through that part and go back running. In other stage, as other example, the power was like a rocket taking you up, like a big jump straight up.

Sonic in a "drill" moment with 2D perspective
As I said the cool thing is that it was only 10 seconds of bizarre things and the rest was Sonic running, jumping, killing some enemies here and there, getting rings from the beginning to the end of the stage and once in a while the perspective changed from 3D to 2D. It was great.

If all the game end being like this, this can finally be the Sonic we were all waiting for. And just to be picky, there were more people in the line for this game than there was to play Sonic 4 hehehe.

Sonic Colors will be released in this November exclusively for Wii. There is also a version to DS, but all in 2D, which will be released in November as well.

And that is it

I got out happy from the Koelnmesse (that’s the name of the convention center where the event was held), not only because in the exit I won a free can of coke and a 50% discount coupon to eat in Burger King, I was happy because it was really a great experience.

Some Germans from work made fun of me because to them it was an absurd go to the beautiful city of Cologne just to because of a video game event. Anyway, who really enjoy playing videogame is already used to this kind of comment and knows, especially if you came from Brasil like I do, where we don’t have this big events, how much is worth to go in such a event, with 250 thousand people who understands why is do good to be there. If I could I would be there more than one day.

If anyone wants to sponsor me, or if I make millions with my crazy projects, next year, for sure, I will be there again.