Archives for posts with tag: Wii U


Splatoon, Wii U

Splatoon was grabbing attention right from its announcement. Coming as something of a surprise in Nintendo’s 2014 Digital Event, here was a new IP from the makers of Mario that looked like nothing else glimpsed at E3 that year. Looking like the bastard offspring of Jet Set Radio and Fur Fighters, Splatoon almost feels like a lost Dreamcast classic and sees Nintendo embracing the online shooter, yet doing so on its own terms. In Nintendo EAD’s latest game, you don’t shoot bullets, you fling brightly-coloured ink; you don’t die when you lose to an opponent, you simply get splatted. Where other shooters delight in the spray of claret, Splatoon sees you painting the world with glorious glossy globs of neon-coloured ink.

Of course, everyone knows what Splatoon‘s all about by now, right? Short, sharp three-minute rounds of 4-on-4 multiplayer madness where all that counts is how much territory you’ve claimed once the time is up. You claim that territory by pasting it in the aforementioned shiny goo, the coverage changing by the second as each team tries to paint as much ground as possible. Switching to a squid form allows you to swim through your own ink at speed, which can be used to evade or get the drop on opponents, and even swim up walls to reach higher ground if those walls have been splattered first. Usefully, the much-maligned GamePad shows a live, eagle’s eye view of the map, easily enabling you to see where your attention is needed and launch yourself to a team-mate’s side. The daily two-map rotation may irk, but those quick, fun matches (and the even quicker matchmaking), combined with the regular free content updates, keep the ‘one more go’ factor going until you’ve lost hours bringing life and colour to the world.

Splatoon Inkling Stay Fresh

When talking about the game, it’s generally these Turf War battles that take centre stage, but Splatoon‘s best kept secret is that it’s actually one of the year’s best platformers. Yes, Splatoon has a single player mode, and it’s really good! Set across five ‘worlds’, each with a small handful of separate levels and topped off with a fun boss fight, it’s not the longest game in the world, but it’s fantastically inventive despite its brevity, running at around five hours across its 27 levels and five boss stages.

Where multiplayer is all about inking territory to win, Splatoon‘s single player mode offers a set of platforming and combat challenges, with the odd bit of light puzzling thrown in. You’ll find yourself navigating narrow paths and making timed jumps across vertiginous platforms, often under fire from enemy octolings, and the designers delight in upping the complexity level-by-level, mixing up the formula by introducing new things to throw your ink at, like those pesky sponges that you can expand to create makeshift platforms, but will also shrink under enemy fire, often sending you plummeting to your doom.

All of this comes to a head in the boss battles. They’re of the typical ‘hit the weak spot three times’ template, but they manage to test your grasp of the mechanics introduced over the course of the proceeding stages and provide a decent challenge, at least until you figure out the rhythm to them. The game’s final boss though, certainly tests your reflexes and decision making, and it’s one of the most memorable encounters I can remember in recent years. In truth, it’s more of a boss stage, with the multipart battle taking place across a lengthy level, throwing all manner of mayhem at you and giving you precious little time to pick a target. It is intense. Seriously, when you finally beat that last boss, your hands are going to ache (and not just from gripping the GamePad).

Splatoon Sunken Scrolls

The game may not be all that long, but hunting down all the hidden Sunken Scrolls will take some time.

Looking back at that E3 2014 reveal, it’s interesting to see how Splatoon showcases a younger generation of talent at Nintendo. Its lengthy unveiling in that first Digital Event was led by the three young creators, Producer Nogami and dual Directors Amano and Sakaguchi, as they talked us through the design process behind the game. And if it feels like Splatoon has the punkish edge of a turn-of-the-millennium Dreamcast classic, it still retains all the hallmark polish and solidity that typifies the best of Nintendo.

In recent years, some have wondered whether the company’s reliance on development legend Shigeru Miyamoto may be stifling the creativity of young, up-and-coming developers, while others still have complained about the company’s reliance on well-established IP like Mario and Zelda. Splatoon seems purpose built to dispel such worries, showcasing what Nintendo’s younger talent can do when allowed the freedom to create what they want. Let’s hope it’s the start of a trend that we’ll see continued on NX.

Today marks the European release of Ubisoft’s gorgeous RPG/platformer hybrid Child of Light. Built on the UbiArt Framework, the same engine powering the recent 2D Rayman games, Child of Light is a downloadable fairytale-inspired title written by Far Cry 3 scribe Jeffrey Yohalem. The game stars Aurora, daughter of an Austrian duke who wakes in a dream-like world and must find her way back to her own reality, meeting up with a number of companions along the way, including the helpful blue firefly Igniculus.

I pre-ordered the Deluxe Edition, which contains a download code for the game, a 24-page art book packed with plenty of beautiful concept art, a light-up Igniculus keyring, some DLC extras, and, curiously, a poster by famed Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano. Aside from the development team possibly being influenced by his work, I’m not quite sure why it’s there – as far as I know he didn’t work on the game. I’m not complaining though, being something of an Amano fan (and an owner of this), and it’s an utterly glorious poster. Images of it don’t quite do it justice; it’s rich in both colour and detail, and printed on thick, high-quality stock. It’s just a shame that it’s been tightly folded to fit in the box as I’d love to frame it.

I decided to try out the PS4’s video recording features for the first time, and made a video of the first fifteen minutes of Aurora’s adventure, which you can see below. Curiously, the game seems to strip out audio during gameplay, making my video oddly silent. Considering that the intro cutscene features full audio, I can only imagine that this is a ‘design decision’ by Ubisoft – I tried making a few other videos from the game and sadly came up with the same results. It’s a strange decision on Ubisoft’s part – perhaps it’s to do with licensing issues surrounding Cœur de pirate‘s soundtrack. Either way, it means you can’t enjoy the game’s audio, but you can still get a look at the game’s lovely visuals, and read on below for my impressions from my brief time with the game.

I managed to play the first half-hour or so and thought I’d get some thoughts down on (virtual) paper. The first thing you’ll notice is the visuals. This is an exceptionally pretty game. Screenshots and videos don’t quite manage to communicate just how beautiful the hand-drawn art that makes up the environments Aurora must travel through is. You really need to see this in all it’s glory on your big screen to fully appreciate it. The soundtrack is nicely understated, allowing you to focus more on the visual side of the presentation, though I think I’ll have to pay a bit more attention to it next time I play it, as all I can remember now is that it didn’t get in the way.

In terms of gameplay, I was strongly reminded of two games, at least in the early stages. The first of these is Limbo, Playdead’s puzzle-platformer from 2010. I said at the top of the piece that Child of Light is something of a hybrid between two genres, with the platforming seeming to take up the majority of your time. It has a similar minimalist feel to Limbo, a similar pace of movement and a similar floaty jump. Just as in Limbo, one of the first things you’ll do is grab and push a block to reach a higher platform. There’s also some light puzzling to contend with, which I hope will continue through the game and provide some decent head-scratchers.

None of this is a bad thing, considering what a playable game Limbo is, but of course Child of Light doesn’t share the former game’s bleak, lonely tone. It’s not long before you stumble upon Igniculus, who you have to control with the right stick (or the DualShock 4’s touchpad) and right from your first meeting you’re gently taught how he can help you out. While platforming, Igniculus can whizz around the screen collecting glowing orbs (which can help to refill Aurora’s HP and MP) as well as holding enemies in place to allow Aurora to get in position for a back attack. Of course, Igniculus can also help you out in battle.

Fighting is a different proposition altogether, taking the form of a turn-based battle system in the grand old jRPG tradition. Aurora stands on the left of the screen, her enemies on the right, and at the bottom of the screen is the time bar, with icons moving along it representing both Aurora and her enemies. The last quarter of the bar is the casting bar; every action has its own cast time – the more powerful the attack, the longer the cast time, and anyone who takes a hit while casting may find their attack cancelled and be pushed back down the time bar. If you’re reading this and thinking, “Hmm, that sounds an awful lot like Grandia“, then you’re right. Because it’s lifted straight out of Grandia. Of course, in Child of Light, we also have Igniculus on our side, and using the right stick we can hinder enemies, slowing their progress along the time bar to give Aurora a chance to get an attack in.

It’s very rewarding to be able to get a strike in with Aurora, delaying an enemies attack, and then use Igniculus to hinder the same enemy, allowing Aurora to overtake them and strike again before your opponent has even had a chance to retaliate. Igniculus’ ability to slow an enemy isn’t unlimited however, as it’s governed by a meter (which can often be refilled by gathering blue orbs in the corners of the screen) meaning that rather than being a win button, it becomes a resource that you have to use effectively to gain the upper hand.

This being an RPG, there are of course level-ups and skill trees, though I’ve only levelled up once in my short time with the game, choosing a ‘Starlight’ ability that hits dark-aligned enemies hard. A few reviews I’ve read have mentioned that the game is very easy on the default normal difficulty, so I started the game on hard, hoping for a bit of a challenge. I want an RPG to expect me to make thoughtful, effective use of both my abilities and build, so hopefully the hard setting will offer that kind of experience.

I do have a couple of minor issues that I hope will ease as the game goes on though. Firstly, all of the game’s dialogue is told in rhyming couplets, and these can be quite forced at times, eliciting the odd groan. In general, the dialogue is solid enough (and I have no doubt that this is eased somewhat by the fact that none of it is voiced), but setting yourself the challenge of telling an entire story in rhyme pretty much ensures you’ll have to fudge it every now and then. For the most part, it manages to help sell the dreamy fairytale setting, but don’t expect it to be flawless.

Secondly, unless you’re playing in co-op, you’re expected to control both Aurora and Igniculus at the same time. Aurora is on the left stick, with Igniculus on the right, and it often means you’ll stop moving one so that you can control the other with greater ease. In battle, this isn’t much of an issue; when Aurora can take action, the game will pause, giving you time to move Igniculus near an enemy in case you need to slow them down and then choose an action for Aurora to carry out. In platforming, it can slow your pace somewhat – if you leave Igniculus in place and move Aurora he won’t follow, so you find yourself trying to move both at the same time so as not to leave him off-screen.

Hopefully, both of these issues will prove to be minor niggles that I’ll get used to, as I’m really enjoying the game so far. I can see myself flying through it over the next few days – reviews peg it in the range of 12-15 hours, which, while admittedly short for an RPG, is fine for a downloadable title. It’s genuinely surprising, not to mention encouraging, to see a huge, AAA-publisher like Ubisoft not just taking a punt on a smaller downloadable title like this, but actually getting behind it too, putting out plenty of ‘behind the scenes‘-type videos on Youtube to drum up interest in something that isn’t the usual huge-budget sequel. More like this please, games industry!

As a Wii U exclusive! Wait… what!?

Well… I was going to buy a Wii U eventually, for HD Metroid goodness… I guess this just accelerates the process. Still, it’s going to be a hard pill to swallow for those that enjoyed Platinum games first Witch-em-up on 360/PS3 that aren’t planning to buy a Wii U. There’s always the possibility it will be a timed exclusive, but Eurogamer notes that Nintendo are publishing the title, so that certainly reduces the chances. I’ll update when I know more.

Playstation Plus to offer cross-platfom discounts?
A survey, spotted by Digital Spy, has alluded to cross-platform discounts for Playstation Plus subscribers.

Respondents were asked how willing they would be to download a Vita version of a digital PS3 title if it were made available at a discount. The level of discount was offered in increments from £5 off all the way up to 100%, making Vita versions free downloads.

The survey also asked if respondents would be tempted to buy digital games rather than retail if they were £5 cheaper.

Nintendo considered dropping Wii U two-screen concept
Speaking to The Telegraph, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata admitted that the company considered dropping the GamePad’s screen late in development.

He told the paper that there were concerns the price of the tablet controller would drive up the RRP of the Wii U, saying, “Sometime during that final discussion we almost gave up on the idea of the additional screen. This was due to our concern over the expected high cost, it may not have been feasible to create this and sell it at a reasonable price point for the consumers.”

He added that their rivals’ E3 conferences acted as validation for their two-screen concept, as both also unveiled similar functionality; Sony showing Vita/PS3 Cross-Play, and Microsoft with their SmartGlass technology. “It’s quicker than before.” he said. “After our showing of motion control, it took three years for other companies to follow suit. But this time it’s just one year after our proposal, even before we brought out the actual product. I think that proves the great potential of what we showed last year.”

Journey developer raises $5.5m capital, plans multiplatform development
Thatgamecompany, the indie studio behind PSN gems flOw, Flower and Journey has raised $5.5 million dollars in venture capital after completing their three-game contract with Sony.

Now fully independent, the studio is planning to release its titles on multiple platforms. “We got so many emails from fans saying they wished they could play our games on other platforms,” studio boss Jenova Chen told VentureBeat. “We make games for human beings, not just gamers. Young, old, men, women, and from all countries. We want to change the concept of what a game is and show society what a game can be.”

The cash was raised with help from venture capitalist firm Benchmark Capital, whose Mitch Lasky said, “Jenova has a chance to be the John Lasseter of the video games business. I feel privileged to be riding shotgun with him. The ambitions for Thatgamecompany are very exciting to me.”

Wii U Zelda still a way off.
Despite showing an HD Zelda demo at last year’s E3, Shigeru Miyamoto has stated that a franchise title for the Wii U is currently only in the planning stages.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the legendary developer noted the HD demo garnered “a positive reaction” and reflected on Skyward Sword‘s motion controlled combat.

“With the last game, Skyward Sword, that was a game where you had motion control to use your weapons and a lot of different items, and I thought that was a lot of fun, but there were some people who weren’t able to do that or didn’t like it as much and stopped playing partway through it. So we’re in the phase where we’re looking back at what’s worked very well and what has been missing and how can we evolve it further.”

This shouldn’t come as much of surprise, given the series’ release schedule over the last decade; since The Wind Waker in 2003, we’ve had Twilight Princess in 2006 and last year’s Skyward Sword on home consoles. So an HD Zelda adventure is likely a few years away yet, but going by last year’s demo, it’ll be well worth the wait.

SCEE “very relaxed and confident” about Vita situation.
Despite Vita sales remaining flat in the months since launch, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe CEO Jim Ryan told C&VG they aren’t worried about its prospects.

After mostly ignoring their floundering handheld in their E3 keynote, some might see this as complacency. That decision was rendered even more bizarre given the existence of a sizzle reel trailer for the Vita that looks as though it was meant for the conference. Could they not have shaved three minutes from the bloated Wonderbook presentation to show this?

Ryan stated that Sony weren’t considering a price cut, and gave one reason for perhaps not showing much software support. “There’s a lot going on – a lot of very Japanese specific content that wouldn’t really resonate with the Western world,” he said, adding “there’s still a lot of content to come. We have Little Big Planet to come, and then on the third party side FIFA, BioShock, Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed. So, in my mind it’s a line-up of real quality – and a good balance across various genres.”

That’s all well and good, but you need to show the content. I adore my Vita, but if Sony want consumers to get behind the machine, first they need to get behind it themselves.

The next-gen pays E3 a visit.
Even though both Microsoft and Sony had categorically stated they would not be showing new consoles at E3, many believed this was just an elaborate smoke-screen designed to mask a surprise reveal.

With the benefit of hindsight, we know this was merely wishful thinking, but we’re now late in the current generation of console tech and we know that new machines are coming at some point. With this in mind, two industry heavyweights chose E3 to show off their new rendering middleware.

First up, Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 successor, cleverly named Unreal Engine 4. We’ve seen stills from this ‘Elemental Knight’ demo in a Wired article a short while ago, but it’s much more impressive in motion, showcasing some fantastic lighting and particle effects.

We also have a new video from Square-Enix, who took the opportunity to announce Final Fantasy: Modern Warfare! Oh no, wait. It says here that it’s a tech demo for their new Luminous Studio engine.

The demo, called Agni’s Philosophy, is a teasing peak at what a future Final Fantasy might look like. So… not much like Final Fantasy at all? It’s incredibly impressive stuff though, especially in character’s hair and the level of environmental detail. Perhaps it’s the less fantastical environments and character models, but I find Square-Enix’s demo the more impressive of the two.

Will games look as good as these two demos on our next-gen consoles? I can’t help but think they won’t, but it certainly gives us something to look forward to.

With both hardware rivals having spotty conferences, many expected Nintendo to steal the show at E3, especially as we were promised a look at final hardware and a greater understanding of what Wii U brings to gaming. The general consensus now seems to be that they blew their chance. Like many others, I was very excited to see what Nintendo had in-store for us; unfortunately, I can’t help but feel like I’m moving with the traffic on this one.

It started off pretty well, with a short video of Shigeru Miyamoto making his way on-stage while a number of Pikmin tried to avoid his gaze, one managing to sneak into his breast pocket to act as a leafy pocket square. He arrived on-stage to show off the long-awaited Pikmin 3, and the game did indeed look gorgeous, benefitting from the Wii U’s extra horsepower to render some clean, naturalistic visuals; the water in general looked very nice. We were introduced to the new rock pikmin, and saw how the Wii U GamePad is used to show a zoomed-out map, allowing us to get closer into the action on the big screen.

With Miyamoto-san’s departure came NoA president Reggie Fils-Aime, and he wanted to talk about the Wii U GamePad. Possibly the biggest news in Nintendo’s entire conference was the confirmation that the Wii U can support two GamePads (like the NES, Reggie assured us…), as after last year’s E3, rumours were rife that the console would only support one. TheGamePads also support rumble, have stereo speakers, and sport mics and cameras for video conferencing.

Nintendo really wanted to show us their unique controller, and indeed much of their conference was turned over to showing what it could be used for, even in specific game showcases; we see it used to steer batarangs in Arkham City, select activities in Wii Fit U and present lyrics for karaoke singers in SiNG.

Much of the functionality seemed somewhat gimmicky to me, presenting little that couldn’t be done on a standard controller. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if the GamePad allows those things to be done in an easier or more immersive way, but I wanted to see something new, something that absolutely cannot be done on a standard controller.

We did see a couple of things that fit that bill, but exactly how compelling they are isn’t really something that can be objectively reviewed, given how specific they are. First off, during a Wii Fit U trailer, we see one player switch channels on the TV while the other continues their workout solely on the GamePad. This is the functionality that originally got me excited in the Wii U at last year’s E3, and it still has the potential to be Wii U’s killer feature. Say you’re halfway through a temple on Zelda, but your room-mate’s favourite program is coming on. You can switch to the tablet, stick some earphones in your lugholes and away you go, continuing on uninterrupted.

For me, this would be a much-used feature. Others may never use it all. And with Sony showing similar functionality with the Vita at E3, many would say the shine has been taken off this feature somewhat. But these people are forgetting one important factor; every Wii U owner will have at least one GamePad. Not every PS3 owner will have a PS Vita.

The second unique feature the GamePad allows for is asymmetric multiplayer, allowing one player to have a different view (or indeed entirely different experience) to those playing on the main screen. I’m not sure what to make of this; it’s a compelling idea, but the execution seems somewhat lacking in the games we have seen so far, including Nintendo Land, which I’ll talk about briefly later.

So far, so undecided.

Nintendo have mentioned their desire to win back the ‘core’ a few times since last year’s unveiling, so you’ll forgive me when I found my resolve start to waver through the more casual end of the spectrum (Wii Fit U, SiNG). In the end, much of the more ‘core’ gaming highlights were demoted to appearing in a couple of sizzle reel trailers, including the fairly large news that Mass Effect 3 is being brought to the system. The one ‘core’-oriented game we got a decent look at was Zombi U, announced at Ubisoft’s conference with a trailer on the 4th.

At Nintendo’s conference, we saw gameplay footage for the first time and it appears to be a survival-FPS, which allows you to do multiple things with the GamePad. Some of these seem very gimmicky, such as raising the tablet in front of your face to use as a sniper scope or shaking it vigourously to free yourself from a zombie’s grip. Door hacking, at least, seemed like a good use for the second screen, bringing up an alphanumeric pad for you to punch in combinations, while allowing the main screen to show the hungry undead closing in on your location.

Towards the end of the conference, we’re introduced to Nintendo Land, something that seems to be, on some level at least, Nintendo’s version of Playstation Home. It’s a multiplayer social theme park, with minigames themed around Nintendo games or franchises. The one we’re shown is based on Luigi’s mansion, and offers a glimpse of the aforementioned asymmetric multiplayer. We’re presented with a top down view of a floor of a haunted mansion, and there are four Miis running around with flashlights. A fifth players wields a GamePad and plays as the ghost, which goes unseen on the TV. The goal for the Miis is to search out and shine their flashlights on the ghost to cause it damage. The ghost must isolate players and frighten them, causing them to faint.

I’m not sure how convinced I am that features like this will sway me into buying a Wii U. After last year’s E3, I was excited, but somewhat undecided on the Wii U, and after this year’s conference, I’m left feeling much the same. Perhaps the concept of the Wii U can’t be accurately communicated in videos? Before leaving the stage, Reggie seems to concede as much, stating, “Just as with Wii, start playing Nintendo Land and you start understanding Wii U.”

Going by the polite applause that follows his exit from the stage, it seems the audience is similarly undecided. If you scour internet forums for reactions to the conference, many predict the Wii U will fail, and fail hard. I certainly won’t go that far. And besides, videogame history has taught us one thing – it’s often foolish to bet against Nintendo.

Besides, I’ll probably drop my cash at the first sniff of a new Metroid…

E3 is almost upon us, so today, in lieu of the usual ‘Sunday Soapbox’ piece, I’ve decided to list some of the things I’ll be looking forward to or blindly hoping for. Because everybody loves a good list, don’t they?

The 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo starts on Tuesday June 5th at the Los Angeles Convention Centre, though Microsoft will be jumping ahead of the competition by having their press conference the day before. Yup, that means tomorrow!

So what am I looking forward to? I’ll try and group my thoughts by publisher or developer, so read on to find out, and then leave a comment to let me know what you’re looking forward to.

Seeing as they’re first off the blocks, I’ll get straight onto the Xbox 360 manufacturer, and the obvious starting point is Halo 4.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a massive, massive Halo fanboy, so I’m predictably overexcited about the prospect of seeing some single-player footage, learning more about the setting and figuring out just what in the name of Sergeant Johnson is going on. I’ve read a few previews that have all described the beginning of the game (which unfortunately doesn’t answer any of the above questions), and I have a feeling that this is what we’ll be seeing as an on-stage demo. Not that this would disappoint me of course – I really want to see what 343i have achieved with their first entry into the franchise.

It’ll also be interesting to see what the devs have to say about multiplayer; fans have been worrying that Halo 4 seems to be going the Call of Duty route, with perks and other xp-based unlockables. Halo has always been an open playing field – if you win, it’s because you’re better than the opposition, not because you have better equipment. Hopefully 343 will be on-hand to allay fans’ fears.

The new Gears of War game, titled Judgment, will also be a big draw for Microsoft’s conference, and again, I’m looking forward to find out what’s going on. It appears to be a prequel, given the existence of Locust forces and the fact that Cole looks very young, and it’ll also be interesting to see how deep Bulletstorm creator People Can Fly’s involvement goes. Essentially nothing is known about this title yet, so hopefully a full reveal will help to ground it somewhere in the existing Gears canon.

I’m also wondering whether we’ll see more of Crytek’s Kinect action game Ryse this year. It’s been awfully quiet of late regarding the former Codename: Kingdoms, so perhaps E3 is the perfect time to show it off. Sticking with the Kinect theme, I’m hoping to get a good long look at Yukio Futatsugi’s Crimson Dragon. As a big, big fan of Sega’s Panzer Dragoon (all four games still proudly grace my shelf), the spiritual successor to that series is one of my most highly anticipated games this year. An on-stage demo would be great, as would a release date.

Yukio Futatsugi’s Crimson Dragon.

What I really want to see from Sony at this year’s E3 is massive support for their new handheld. I absolutely love my Vita (I’m currently making my way through Resistance: Burning Skies), but most wouldn’t argue the point that it’s floundering in the marketplace at the moment. Some big new franchise announcements specifically for the Vita would certainly help alleviate the perception that it has no games. Seeing Ken Levine walk on-stage to demo BioShock Vita would certainly be a good start, and perhaps we’ll hear more about Killzone and Call of Duty. Aside from shooters, I’m hoping we’ll hear about some good RPGs coming to the handheld in the next year.

Besides the Vita, some gameplay footage of The Last of Us would be great to see. The trailers so far have got mouths watering, but we know nothing of how the game will play. Will it be a post-apocalyptic Uncharted, or will Naughty Dog pull out all the stops and head in a completely new direction? I can’t wait to find out.

Joel and Ellie, wondering what they’ll be doing for the next ten hours.

The Tokyo-based company recently announced their list of games they will be showcasing at E3, and all I can say is I hope they’re planning to hit us with a load of surprises. On the list were Hitman: Absolution, Tomb Raider, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Heroes of Ruin and Kingdom Hearts 3D for the 3DS. The rest are mostly mobile phone games.

Seriously Square-Enix? It’s Final Fantasy‘s 25th anniversary! Come on! They have to have something up their sleeves, don’t they? Final Fantasy Versus XIII is apparently not being shown at E3, although recent rumours have claimed it’ll be renamed Final Fantasy XV and will in fact be unveiled at the trade show… I’m taking that one with a barge-full of salt, but I am blindly hoping for some kind of big FF news at the Expo, considering the 25-year milestone. At the very least I want to see the PS3/PSV re-release of Final Fantasy X that we’ve heard absolutely nothing about in God knows how long. If Square-Enix’s conference holds no surprises, I’ll be very disappointed.

The house of Mario are expected to unveil their final Wii U hardware and, more than anything, I’m hoping to see a gorgeous HD Metroid adventure (hopefully from Retro Studios please!). Despite last year’s HD Zelda demonstration, I don’t expect to be seeing anything from Link and friends this year, though I imagine we’ll get a proper glimpse of a new Mario game. I think Nintendo will keep Wii U game reveals to a minimum and focus on the console and tablet and what they can do together, allowing third parties to take up the slack, as they did with their E3 2011 showreel.

Hopefully we’ll see some great new 3DS titles announced (perhaps a new handheld Zelda?) as well as get a good look at New Super Mario Bros 2, and I’d love to see more of Luigi’s Mansion 2.

Having recently watched a Namco-Bandai presentation (at last week’s London Expo), I’m not foaming at the mouth (quite as much) to see Ni No Kuni and Tales of Graces f, though more on both would certainly be welcome. I’d love to get confirmation of a European release date for Tales of Xillia though, and I’d imagine we’ll be seeing more of the recently-announced Xillia 2. Tying into my earlier words about Vita games, I’m also hoping we’ll get a Western release announcement for the handheld’s version of Tales of Innocence R, too.

Electronic Arts will no doubt have a strong presence at the show, and I’m looking forward to a full-on Dead Space 3 reveal, though I am worried about how far co-op will permeate the core experience of the game; let’s hope it’s entirely optional, though I’d prefer it if co-op was a separate side-story entirely. Crysis 3 will most likely also be a focus for EA, and I’ll be hoping it’s more like the first than the second, with large, open environments with flowing objectives and tactical options that allow you to feel like the Predator.

I’m hoping to get a good look at both Zone of the Enders HD Collection and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance from Konami, and it seems they’ll also be tearing the veil from two new Castlevania games – a direct sequel to 2010’s Lords of Shadow and a 3DS spin-off.

Ubisoft are expected to show off tropical shooter Far Cry 3 and colonial stab-’em-up Assassin’s Creed 3, and I’ll be looking to THQ to show us how Metro: Last Light is coming along. Last but by absolutely no means least, I’m hoping for a solid release date for Jet Set Radio HD. And while you’re at it Sega, how about some Shenmue news?

Yeah, I’ll keep dreaming…

Kojima teases new ZoE title

A full-fledged sequel to 2003’s Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner has been outed by creator Hideo Kojima.

At a Japanese event to showcase the series’ upcoming HD collection, the audience was treated to artwork and a scale model from the as-yet untitled ‘Enders Project’. The game is apparently still in an “experimental” phase, and Kojima is looking to use the Fox Engine to power it. In the meantime, we have the aforementioned Zone of the Enders HD Collection, due some time this year, to look forward to.

Platinum announce Anarchy Reigns delayed in the west

Sega has delayed the Western release of Platinum Games’ brawler Anarchy Reigns, even though the game is ready to go.

A note on Platinum’s website confirmed Sega has changed the date to TBC (to be confirmed), and added: “While our work on the game is finished, localised, and ready to go, as publisher, Sega gets to make the final decision as to when it is released. The Japanese release date, however, remains unchanged for 5th July 2012.”

In a video, a Platinum rep noted: “The game is fully localised. If you buy the Japanese version or any version, it’s going to have all the languages in it.” So if you’re planning to import, at least language won’t be a barrier.

Persona 4 Arena confirmed for Europe

Atlus has announced that PS3/360 fighting spin-off Persona 4 Arena will be released in Europe.

The game, which is a collaboration between Atlus and BlazBlue developer Arc System works, features characters from Personas 3 and 4 and is set after the latter game. The characters are drawn in Arc System Work’s trademark hand-drawn style, and we can presumably expect it some time after its August US release.

Sony developing Shadow of the Colossus movie

Much-loved Team Ico classic Shadow of the Colossus is to be adapted into a feature film at Sony Pictures.

According to a report on, Chronicle director Josh Trank will helm the film. He apparently sought out the project, having been a fan of the game. There are no details yet regarding script-writer, cast or release date.

Wii U controller undergoes subtle redesign

An image posted to Twitter has shown a subtly different Wii U tablet to the one we saw at last year’s E3.

The photo came from the Twitter feed of a quality assurance tester at Traveller’s Tales, developer of the Lego “insert-franchise-here” games (and Sonic R! Come on!), and shows that the pad now has actual analogue sticks, rather than the 3DS-style slide pads it previously sported. The start and select buttons have also shifted position.

Personally, I think this is a positive change. As much as I like the 3DS’s sliders, they’re good for a handheld. On a home console, I think they’d feel inadequate.

Are these the only changes we’ll see? We’ll no doubt find out for sure at E3.