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The Brian J's PAX 2011 Roundup!

The Brian J

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So I spent 3 days head-deep in the culture of Video Games at Penny Arcade Expo 2011, and I thought I'd take some time to review the games I played. Please note that all the most heavily hyped games there....Borderlands 2, Bioshock INfinite, etc...had lines that stretched, at a conservative estimate, until the end of time, and even with a 3 day pass I didn't feel like waiting that long to play a game. Here, enjoy this list, that has been carefully arranged in no particular order.

Asura's Wrath!

This was at the Capcom area, and next to it was a big soundproof box. They asked people to step inside and scream as loud as they could...if they hit a certain level, they were entered to win $300. Sadly, I wasn't able to hit that level, but I still went on to play the game...and found it to be a fairly generic God of War clone with the only real innovation being a unique art style. Not really something you should go out of your way to buy, but if you like the God of War games, maybe give the demo a try.

Rayman Origins!

The fact that I just had to look up what company makes Rayman (Ubisoft) should tell you that I'm not a fan. Rayman Origins is a New Super Mario Brothers Wii-style 4 person platformer, the big difference being that there is absolutely so much going on in this game in terms of art and enemies that I died every 3 nanoseconds. If I had more time to figure it out I think I could have done better, but I don't see this being a big deal.

Kirby Mass Attack!

I love me some Kirby, and this one seems awesome. Basically an evil wizard has turned Kirby into 10 mini-kirbies, so you start off as a single kirby and after you eat enough food, another kirby shows up, with a maximum of 10. It's a platformer controlled entirely with the stylus, and controlling the kirbies is shockingly intuitive and fun. Plus, watching a herd of Kirbies swarm on an unsuspecting enemy has a delightful charm about it. Definitely picking this one up when it comes out.

Fortune Street!

This Wii title appears to be a Monopoly-like virtual game that involves a lot of property owning and stock market playing. I find it odd that the 2 games characters are taken from are Mario and Dragon Quest, but there you go. This one seems a little...tedious is the word I'd use, but it still has something appealing about it. Seems like a nice little game to play on a lazy afternoon with friends, or a family friendly interactive board game. Doubt I'll pick it up, though, unless it suddenly gets amazing reviews.

Dead Rising 2: Off The Record!

It's DR2, but with a new story, improved gameplay, and Frank West as the main character, setup as a parallel to the normal DR2, being sold at a discount price. I started the sandbox mode by dropping out of a helicopter, and 10 minutes later, I was in full scuba gear punching at zombies with MMA gloves covered in nails. Exactly the stuff that makes the Dead Rising series so much fun. I still have to pick up Dead Rising 2, but after I do, and beat it, OTR is next on my zombie killing list.

Dead Island!

This feels a lot like Dead Rising, but with a 1st Person view. It works, and the frantic melee combat is made more frantic when the zombie in question is directly in your face shrieking. The story is non-existant in the demo, basically saying "You are in a small cabin with a few survivors, and outside in this tropical island paradise there are zombies. Go kill them." The demo was all about gameplay, and said gameplay is really fun...there aren't nearly enough melee-based First Person games out there.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword!

This may come as a shock to you, but even though I'm big into gaming, I've never been into the Zelda series. Don't know why, just never got into them. I didn't play this one but watched gameplay, and I just have to say....it doesn't seem much different from the last installment. Then again I'm not the person to talk to about Zelda, so if you like the Zelda games, you'll most likely want to pick up this one.


Standard indy-style exploring 2D platformer. I only mention this one because of an experience I had in it...I had gotten used to whipping anything that got into my way, so when I came across something I whipped it, only to discover it was a woman I was supposed to rescue. With her unconscious, I picked her up, took 2 steps, and fell directly into a pit of spiders where we both got bitten and died. And any game where that happens is probably worth your time. It seems like it's very heavily focused on exploration and treasure hunting (as is sort of implied by the name).

Super Mario 3D!

This game was actually my first time using a 3DS, and I was pleasantly surprised with how the 3D looks...with the recent price drop, I might finally invest in one. This basically just looks like your standard 3D Mario game, but with the addition of the Tanooki Suit, and that's always a major, major plus. Controls were basically what you'd expect from a 3D Mario game, and one thing I liked was the inclusion of Fake Goombas...if you have 3D off, they look like normal Goombas, but turning the 3D on shows that they're just cardboard cutouts. They encouraged players to test out the 3D on the console, although I do question if they would work in the full release of the game.

Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix And Her Nightmare!

Fuck Yeah Indy Puzzle Platformers! in this one you play as Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix, a little girl who's entire town is sucked into a magical box. Each level is laid out on a cube, and you press a button to rotate the side of the cube that Vanessa is on to either get to the next side (matching up the exit on your side with the entrance there) or getting a red cube into a red hole to move on. With a beautiful victorian/gothic presentation, amazing soundtrack, and truly innovative gameplay, this is up there as one of my favorites at PAX. They said they're working on distributing it on XBLA (either through Indie Games or it's own release), and on smartphones soon, and you owe it to yourself to play something this unique.

Street Fighter x Tekken!

Not into Tekken, but I am into Street Fighter, and the gameplay of this is based on SFIV, with the ability to tag out to a partner, link moves, and other innovations. Seeing Hugo back in a game is badass, and seeing Poison playable is fun too (in all her Chick-Who-is-Quite-Possibly-A-Dude Glory), although the mechanic wherein you only have to KO one of your opponents to win rather than both sorta threw me. Probably gonna have to brush up on my Tekken characters to know who half the guys are but there's a fucking BEAR playable and that's the true selling point of any game.

Rise Of Nightmares!

Again, didn't play this one, but watched people play it. It's a 1st person melee-focused horror game where you fight zombies....exclusive to the XBox Kinnect of all things. Watching people play, it seems like it picks up movement quite well, but I do question how immersive a horror game can be if you're going to be flailing your arms around at all times. I just can't help but feel that the game would be better suited with a standard controller, but it still does look like fun. The horror skews more towards things jumping at you very suddenly shouting WAGALABAGALA rather than more subtle slow building horror but that sort of works in this case.

Pokedex 3D!

This is for all you 3DS owners who have been wondering "Just what does a Sigilyph look like...FROM THE SIDE?" Using cards and the Nintendo 3DS' AR feature, you can look at Pokemon from every side, and you also have a database containing info for every Pokemon of the most recent generation. Considering it's a free program for download on the 3DS I can only assume it's going to be updated with the full Pokedex at some point.

Kirby: Return To Dream Land!

4 Player Co-Op Kirby game, featuring Kirby, King DeDeDe, Meta Knight, and that Waddle Dee who wears a do-rag. Looks like other Kirby platformers, but with Wii graphics and the ability to play as 4 people, but I just have to say...seeing Meta-Knight do the end of level classic Kirby Victory Dance is just....so....wrong.

Batman: Gotham City Impostors!

Team Fortress 2-like game, but without classes (instead you customize your Batman Impostor or Joker Impostor how you want...bigger takes more damage but moves slower, smaller can jump higher and run faster but is weak, etc), and lots of different game modes (at least, that's what the host said) make this one look like a fun game. I love the art style of the game, the weapons have a lot of creativity behind them, and there is enough variety to keep it pretty much infinitely replayable, so I'm looking forward to this one being released.

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3!

Oh fuck yes, this one I played about 500 times during PAX. I loved MVC3, and this update brings more awesome stuff to the series. Of course the main selling point are the 12 new characters, 6 of whom were playable at PAX, so I tried them all out...Hawkeye is entirely projectile based (his normal heavy attack is a projectile), so he's all about keep-away-play...Ghost Rider has massive range on his attacks thanks to his chain, along with a nice variety of supers....Doctor Strange seems to be more about setting up combos than anything as his special moves are done once to lay them down and again to activate them...Firebrand is Glass Cannon-esque in that he does good damage and has tons of combos, but doesn't have good health...Strider Hiryu plays similar to he did in MVC2, specializing in quick close range attacks...and Nemesis is a Big Fuckin' Tank that deals TONS of damage, but is by far the biggest and slowest target. Sad that Phoenix Wright isn't playable yet, but this game is awesome.

Lollipop Chainsaw!

In this game, you play as a cheerleader by day/demon hunter by night, who is in a High School overrun by zonmbies, who she takes out either with cheerleading moves or with a giant pink chainsaw, splitting the zombies in half and sending pink hearts and rainbows spilling out. In other words, exactly the kind of game you'd expect from its creator, Suda51. There is also a severed head hanging off her skirt. When I asked about it, the worker there said "That's Nick...and that is all I can say about it". The boss battle was with a punk rocker who would scream out things like "VANILLACUNT" and "PUNKBITCH", and the letters would appear and shoot at you, forcing you to dodge them. Yeah, classic Suda51. This game absolutely ruled, I love how bizarre the aesthetic was, while the gameplay itself was simple to learn, while being a real treat to look at. This is a definite pickup as soon as the game comes out.

And finally...

Twisted Metal!

Twisted Metal has a special place in my heart. TM2 was the first game I ever owned for the Playstation, and the game that made me realize that gaming really was an art form rather than just electronic games. Sadly I don't own a PS3 (not now, at least), but I had to get in to try this game out. I first got the chance to meet the creator of the game, Dave Jaffe, which was legitimately an honor for me. To be able to tell the man how much I appreciated what he's done for gaming, and how important the TM series was to me, was remarkable. Not only that, but I got a signed Sweet Tooth mask out of it, which I am going to frame the shit out of.

When I sat down for the game (14 players in a 7 on 7 deathmatch), a switch snapped back in my head and I was right back to the late 90s, effortlessly dodging and weaving through the chaos, following and stalking opponents....it was everything right about games. I played for 10 minutes, and those 10 minutes legit made me consider getting a PS3. Twisted Metal is just as fun as it's always been, and with a new take on the story (apparently 3 gangs....Sweet Tooth, Dollface, and a third I don't know), this could be something to bring the series right back to the forefront of gaming again. Hopefully by the time it comes out, I'll have a PS3.

So that's the roundup of stuff I saw at PAX. Looks like there's a LOT coming out to be excited about. And everyone has to pick up Lollipop Chainsaw. Seriously , that game fucking rules.

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Yeah, like I said on status I am really really kicking myself for not finding Lollipop Chainsaw. I love Suda51 (even if I haven't bought No More Heroes 2 yet), and I know it's pretty much a guaranteed buy for me anyway.

As for the severed head, I believe I actually know part of the answer to that because it was in a Kotaku post;

supposedly it's the severed head of her boyfriend. But that's all I really know. This was probably a waste of a spoiler cut.

I guess a couple of brief thoughts on the games I played too.

Dead Island;

I didn't like it as much as you did! Like I said in the Dead Island thread, I thought the movement controls were sort of clumsy and I didn't really have the time to adjust my play for it to go smoother. I do like that the zombies feel like way more of an individual threat than in, say, L4D, and when I ended up fighting a group of four or so (I saw multiple people try and fail to make any headway storywise so I just decided to run around and beat zombies up and save some dude) it was an absolute bitch and I think ended up killing me. I think the game has a ton of good ideas but I'm going to wait a while before getting it.

Super Mario Land 3D;

Played it twice. I've barely used a 3DS before and for some reason the controls were difficult for me. They're good, I just didn't have a handle on it and so that really fucked me over on the moving stage. The 3D looked great and not distracting, and I love the way they've played with stage layouts in response. Didn't catch the fake Goombas, but that's an awesome idea.

Mario Kart 7;

It's a Mario Kart game. 3D looked great in it and just served to enhance the visuals. Hang-gliding was fun and offered a little bit of new strategy to racing (I noticed on one level I was gaining ground by staying in glide mode longer than some of the CPUs were). If I had a 3DS I'd buy this immediately.

Dance Central 2;

Flailed like a moron on it so I could get the scarf to complete my PAX swag hipster ensemble (along with a Dance Central medallion I got from the Harmonix panel, and a Plants vs. Zombies-brand set of Kanye West shades). I bet it's incredibly fun if you know what you're doing and have a Kinect, but fuck knows if I'm ever getting a Kinect. Funny thing was I still almost won because I actually did better than my opponent on the "do one of these four moves we're offering to you" sections, but I still didn't know what I was doing otherwise.

Sonic Generations (on 3DS);

3D looked terrible here, and the controls felt off. Get this for 360 instead.

The Old Republic;

I did PvE for a second year running because the PvP line was way longer. And, like... it's an MMO. Everything BioWare talks about in terms of hyping it up is stuff I can't really get from playing PvE for like ten minutes. But I'm still excited for it and I had fun (I was able to take down pretty decently-sized mobs of enemies whilst soloing, and that's awesome because I could do that in CoH and hated having to always pull off one or two in WoW), and I preordered it last night. I'm somewhere between BioWare's "THIS IS SO GREAT AND REVOLUTIONARY OMG" and Kotaku's "this is just an MMO and it's dumb and the animation isn't good and whatever, man" in terms of my opinion on it, and seeing as I only had to spend like $30 on the game I'm cool with being in that place.

What events did you end up going to?

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I went to the Dave Jaffe Keynote, a panel about Competitive Gaming (which I left 2 minutes in because none of the guests could show up, so they were there via audio-only skype...just a huge mess), Retro Game Roadshow (wanted to get my PSX copy of Legend of Legaia appraised...turns out, it's worth all of like $4), the MVC3 Tournament on Saturday (Eliminated first round wooooo), Fat Ugly Or Slutty (both funny and informative panel, their site is hilarious), the screening of I Got Next (good movie, interesting to see them all talk about Daigo Umehara like he's GOD), and Making Art From Art (got to ask MegaRan about the time TNA stole his music). Really wasn't too big on many of the panels there this year, I was more about just wandering the floor playing demos.

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"We could socialize but eh" = the Seattle way.

I actually went to the Gameworks afterparty on Saturday, though. Didn't actually do anything there but I got a two-hour card that I can use sometime within the next couple months!

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Apparently Gearbox gave out a voucher to everyone who waited to play Borderlands 2 that entitled them to a free copy of...Borderlands 2. How awesome is that.

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