It’s always hectic. Getting up at 6am, getting to London for 9, getting in the line, waiting for the pass (in this case, press pass), but to be honest, after the first time you’ve done it, it is kind of like riding a bike. After the hectic beginnings, Eurogamer Expo tends to set in at around 11… it is also when the venue tends to get crowded. I got to see conferences, I got to see some old friends I hadn’t seen in a while but most importantly (and the focal-point of this article) I got to see some games. Some real cool games, some games I’m on the fence with and some games I have no intention of buying when released. As is usual, I’ll mostly be focusing on the Nintendo side of Eurogamer with a few exceptions and a handy opinion of a certain game from a reliable source. Compared to my first time at Eurogamer as a simple observer and player, writing about the event seems counter-intuitive to how I actually feel about the expo. I was tired, I hadn’t eaten anything, I had a bottle of Pepsi-Diet for the journey, by the end of it I felt like I was in some surreal Alice in Wonderland setting, hardly able to stay on my feet. The event was crowded and humid, but mostly it was welcoming. I had some really great conversations with people whom I’d never even talked to before, it’s definitely an event for the people. My true feelings of the event stands at this: It’s something I don’t get to do every day and I want to be there every year. A place where for one day, everyone who is as excited about this medium that you love as you are, are in the same place as you. Count me in.
On to the games, as I corner my endless digressing. I will discuss the games I played separately and then give them a score. The first game I got to experience on the show floor (which was a relief, as this booth became increasingly crowded as the day went on) was Super Mario 3D World, the sequel to Nintendo’s critically acclaimed Super Mario 3D Land for the 3DS.
Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
I loved Super Mario 3D Land, I loved its Lego-esque graphical presentation, I loved the depth of the 3D (it is still one of the only games I use the 3D with), I loved the level-structure, in essence, I loved the freshness it brought Mario, after being smacked down with a Donkey-Kong sledge hammer by New Super Mario Bros. constant sequels. Is Super Mario 3D World the same fare? Not so much. The game is essentially a mash-up of Super Mario 3D Land and New Super Mario Bros. (Wii version, to be specific). Now you can play with three other people! That’s what you wanted, right guys? Guys? Like, I understand some people really love this addition, but I just don’t play Mario games like this. Also (and yes, I am aware this is another issue of whether you’re into it or not) I’m just not into the hectic nature of battling for power-ups and trying to not hit each other down holes. As much as I tend to disagree with Nintendo’s liberal use of old Mario tropes, one that I did enjoy in this game however, was the ability to choose between Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstall and Toad, in the same vein as Super Mario Bros. 2, Mario is the all rounder, Luigi is loose and can jump higher, Toadstall can levitate for a short amount of time and Toad runs faster, however can’t jump as high, exactly like Mario 2. It was a nice call-back.
I should point out that depth-perception in this game is a problem. Two levels of the game in total I got to play, both of them harder than they should have been simply because without the 3D from the Nintendo 3DS, it was pretty hard to determine where I needed to land to actually reach the platforms. I’m sure this won’t bother too many people and this could be corrected by the time it comes out, but as it stands this was a major problem for me and the two people I was playing with, as we discussed later. On the show floor you could play with either the Wii U Gamepad, or the Wii remote. I played both, but playing with the Wii remote felt incredibly unnatural. I don’t think I’d ever felt so uncomfortable controlling something in a Mario game. If the nunchuck is easily usable in the final version of the game this is instantly no longer an issue, but because the Wii remote is more designed for simplistic, 2D platforming, having to move around in all directions with the Wii remote just feels harder than it should be. As a small critical gripe, the new cat-suit works fine but just feels uninspired. Super Mario 3D World has its issues and just feels lacking in creativity, but this is an issue I have with Nintendo as a whole right now and for the most part, plays pretty great and I’m sure if Mario sub-sequels don’t bother you, this might satisfy your itch but it’s not something I am interested in as of now, finally being able to say I’ve tried it out.
Sonic Lost World (Wii U)
Sonic Lost World is a game I have been pessimistically anticipating. I think it’s pretty safe to take that mindset when anticipating a Sonic game, because it’s never really predictable. I really liked Sonic Colors, but not Sonic Unleashed. I liked Sonic Generations, but not Sonic the Hedgehog 4 (part one or two). But I think what’s most telling and hopeful, is that the newer Sonic games have been getting better and better. Sonic Lost World seemed to have shaken up the feel of the Sonic series by saying “Hey, you know how we made Sonic so fast that you essentially didn’t have to control him at all? Nuts to that, lets flip the script” now, it seems to be a lot more about platforming. Sure you can still run and curl into a ball, but it seems like exploration (even in its most minor role) is a bigger part of this game than in previous iterations of the 3D series, being able to move around the world like some mix between past Sonic games and Super Mario Galaxy, planet-structure included.
However, this new way of moving around the world also raised one problem to the forefront of my experience: the control was a little loose. There was a level I was able to play which included moving around the world so that you could fit through these holes in the wall, avoiding a face-first smash into said wall. The problem being that the control was loose enough to where you could easily fall of the face of the earth, or miss the hole mark. It wasn’t game breaking but I do hope that they fix this before the release. The visuals of the game actually look really great and it seems to really want to saturate the color palette as much as possible, very nice to look at and almost looks like a Nickelodeon CGI-cartoon at times. The levels that were playable were essentially four levels of the Green Hill Zone, which actually didn’t feel like some soulless call-back and actually worked in the games favor. A lot of people’s favorite levels from Sonic games are the beginning levels and this took full advantage of that, a great choice for the show floor.
Sonic Lost World is harder to analyze because we haven’t really seen much more than a couple of world levels yet. It seems to play decently enough but (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) the absence of the break-neck pace of Generations and Colors actually does leave something missing. The platforming does tend to be the direction the fans want the series to go, but I think it might come at a cost: the speed. Couple that with the controls feeling a little too loose and I’m not sure where I am with this game at this point. I’m still excited, but as always with Sonic, I’m cautious.
Stick around for part two where we discuss the Developer Conference for Beyond Two Souls, brief show floor gameplay of Beyond Two Souls and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.