As I look over my notes from the big E3 show in L.A. earlier this month, three games stand out that I wanted to be sure to praise. I’m eager to play more of all of them.
Chibi Robo: Zip Lash
This one is for the Nintendo 3DS and comes out in early October. It’s a sidescrolling platformer, which was initially a disappointment for me. I really like the original GameCube Chibi Robo that...oh my god, it just turned 10 years old last week! That game was, mechanically, a 3D platformer. It was also a sweet and sometimes sad adventure involving a little robot who is trying his best to help a family that is falling apart due to all-too-real domestic strife.
As I wrote back in 2007, “the first Chibi-Robo ultimately was about getting Chibi to patch the wounds of a family on the verge of break-up. It’s one thing to have to run Chibi Robo around with a toothbrush in his arms so he can clean dirty paw prints left by the family dog. It’s another to have Mom pick Chibi Robo up, place him on the table, and cry to him about how she’s struggling to pay her bills.”
I’m not expecting a heart-wrenching story from this new one.
I am, however, now excited about Zip Lash, because I played it for a few minutes and realized it’s got something special of its own. Nintendo calls the game a “whipping platformer.” Really!
I’d called it a “geometric platformer,” because it seems to be all about lines and angles. Our hero has his electrical cord of a tail that he can use as a whip, and he’s able to use it to both grab at things or attack them. What’s neat is that the length of his reach for these moves increases as you collect power-ups in the level. Areas that were unreachable become reachable once you grab some items that make his cord-tail longer. You also learn moves that let you bounce the cord off walls so that you can zig-zag to remote spots.
Watch the game’s E3 trailer and you’ll see what I’m talking about:
Halo 5: Warzone multiplayer
I suck at competitive first-person shooters, as I just don’t have the time to put into them to get good at them (I did just have 35 hours to play through all the sidequests in Assassin’s Creed Rogue, but that’s another story).
Given that I’m always getting slaughtered by human players in these games, I welcome the addition of more computer-controlled enemies into multiplayer fights. I liked it in Titanfall, and I love what development studio 343 is doing with it in Halo’s new 12v12 competitive multiplayer mode Warzone.
When a match begins, as I understood it, you start in a base just with your teammates. At first you’re just going to clear that base of computer-controlled enemies. As soon as you do that, the base opens up and you can run around in the map. There’s an instant-win victory option or you can win by having your team hit a certain score threshold. For example:
You can gain points from defeating the human-controlled players on the other team or by taking over buildings on the map by doing the standard stand-there-until-your-team-controls-the-territory-thing. Once you do that, the controlled territory will get populated with friendly artificial-intelligence-controlled grunts.
When I played a match of Warzone at E3, I largely avoided fighting human-controlled opponents and just ran over to enemy-controlled zones and killed the AI grunts there so I could begin taking the zone back over. As I was doing that, the players on the other team were alerted and came in to reinforce their grunts. At least I was winning for a time!
While Warzone is a skirmish between red and blue Spartans, there’s a third alien faction that also shows up on the map. These aliens are AI-controlled and serve as optional mini-bosses that players can attack solo or with friends. The most powerful of them may require coordinated teamwork. Again, this is a way of getting some PvE into what you’d think is a PVP mode.
As all this is happening, you are also leveling up, which gains you access to better and better weapons and vehicles. So as a battle goes on, players can use more and more potent gear. Here, for example, are most of the weapons being unlocked, though each has an energy cost that limits players from loading up with too many uber items. You regain energy over time, as the match continues.
Eventually, you’re stomping around in mechs.
To some people Warzone may seem overly convoluted, but I see it as a mode that gives me a few ways to play that don’t immediately involve me getting trounced and victory-crouched. So hooray for that.
This game’s out for Xbox One in the fall.
This is an Xbox One game (also coming to PC) from indie Capybara Games and slated for late 2015 or early 2016. Kotaku UK EiC Keza MacDonald raved about the game last October. There’s not much new that I could say about it. It’s meant to be a tough, mysterious game, a Dark Souls-ish experience with a fair amount of procedural level generation and not much by the way of helpful tooltips.
You are an explorer, you have a torch and a sword, you explore and try not to die. You will die. You then play as a new explorer, you have a torch and a sword, you explore and try not to die. Etc.
The game is a lovely sight. See?
There you go. Three games that I want to play more of that I think you’d enjoy, too.
I did mean to tell you about them last week, but other things came up.
As a consolation, here’s a poem I spontaneously composed with my colleagues last week, as my plans fell apart:
Oh, and, yeah, that means I’ll have something about Patrice Desilets later this week. Count on it!