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6 Biggest Surprises At Gamescom

6 Biggest Surprises At Gamescom

Sometimes, there are good games (Uncharted 3) and there are bad games (Jurassic Park) and it’s not a surprise when they prove to be either good (erm, Uncharted 3) or bad (go on, guess). So here’s our own shout out to the games that rose above expectations and put a song in our hearts and a skip in our step for Gamescom.

Or at least until we got crushed by the mob forming at the Ski Region Simulator stand by the hall exit when all we wanted to do was leave. Germany, eh?

6. Frobisher Says

Lazy journalists will likely say “look, it’s Wario Ware for Vita!” And I’m writing this on Sunday, which is the official Lazy Day, so hey – Frobisher Says is Wario Ware for Vita! That’s almost certainly what they were going for though with a quickfire series of mini-games which last seconds, the challenge being to figure out what you’re required to do as much as it is actually doing it. The mini-games on show including shouting Frobisher in a Spanish/French/Japanese accent, plugging four pipe-leaks at the same time with your fingers and using the tilt function to slow down a dog so you can poke it with a stick. Yes, really.

The final game could be something Sony bundles with Vita, to show off what its handheld can do. There’s even a mini-game using the GPS function. Then again, Frobisher Says could be little more than a tech-demo doomed to fail should it cost too much. We really don’t know until details of its release date and price emerge. But even so, it’s got potential and it really is a game that’s only possible on PS Vita.

5. Asura’s Wrath

We always knew Asura’s Wrath would be good. The Naruto games have been criminally under-rated for years despite the fact they’ve always had some of the best boss battles on this generation of gaming. That CyberConnect2 is using that same template for Asura’s Wrath is a good thing – hopefully without the Naruto license chasing some potential customers away, a wider audience can now see the boss battles for themselves.

But now that Asura’s Wrath has developed a sense of humour too, it has the potential to be something really special. CyberConnect2 has always seemed mildly aware of how ridiculous and over-the-top Asura’s Wrath is, probably a good thing given one of the bosses is a Buddha towering off the Earth who fights Asura with his finger, but Gamescom has shown it’s cranked the madness up to astonishing levels. Cue a boss fight, on the moon, with an extending sword thrusting Asura back to Earth, impaling him to the ground, while the sword continues to extend through the Earth and comes out the other side. The developers were jumping around and shouting in excitement while demoing the fight. No wonder. This looks completely, utterly insane.

4. Skullgirls

Without getting into too much technical detail because technical detail is BORING, fighting games are one of the hardest genres for publishers to market to the hardcore. Mostly because you need the skill and knowledge of the dedicated/insane to know what you’re talking about and show off the best of the game’s features. Sometimes, even the developers themselves can’t play or explain their own fighting games properly. We’ve seen more producers who are awful at their own fighting games than we want to remember.

So kudos to whoever got The World’s Best Skullgirls Player to demo the game at Gamescom. Not only did he routinely got through dazzling combos with each of the characters on show, featuring artwork contributions by Scott Pilgrim artist Alex Ahad by the way, but he batted away all our of questions with not only a response but proof by performing the moves in-game. Does it have snapbacks? Yes it does. Alpha counters? Yes. Assists? Yes. Pushblock? Yes. This might sound like gibberish for now, and we’ll explain in gentler terms what everything means in a future issue of Play, but for now just know that Skullgirls is being put together by a very, very competent team. Definitely one to watch.

3. Ibb And Obb

So at one point, Play found itself wandering through the consumer halls – more on the exact breakdown of how things work at Gamescom in a blog tomorrow – helping NowGamer film some footage of the madness. We stopped momentarily to pack our things away when two guys came up to us, laptop in hand, asking if we had time to try out their game. Tired, stressed and in danger of missing our next appointment, it was too tempting to say no… but still, we gave them a chance. “Alright, you’ve got two minutes.”

It was almost ten minutes before we gave the laptop back. An incredibly simple co-op platformer starring the titular Ibb and Obb, it has the analogue stick to move, a button for jump and that’s it. Further complexity comes from the gravity switching, coloured gates and puzzles to get past. It’s easy, it’s accessible, it’s fun. It’s also due for release on PSN come the end of this year so look out for it.

2. Sine Mora/Black Knight Sword

The project between Hungarian studio Digital Reality and Japanese industry darlings Grasshopper Manufacture has garnered interest due to the latter’s involvement. So the surprise here is who should really get the credit – while Grasshopper Manufacture has contributed character designs and art (with former Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka contributing the tunes), it’s really the gameplay from the Digital Reality side that should elevate these PSN titles to greatness.

Sine Mora is a side-scrolling shooter that drops health in favour of a constant battle against time. You can slow time down but it shaves a few seconds off how long you have left to complete the level. If you get hit, you bleed time, not hit points. It’s all constructed really well and the Insane difficulty is MONSTROUSLY hard. Black Knight Sword, in the meantime, is an old-school 2D platformer that looks and feels like a gothic puppet show nightmare. It’s really distinct but the point is, here, this is an actual old-school 2D platformer. Everyone describes any platformer nowadays as ‘old school’ but the likes of Ms. Splosion Man and Super Meat Boy aren’t old school. Black Knight Sword is because you’re finding hidden items and battling enemies to an insanely gorgeous backdrop of dark, gothic artwork. Is Digital Reality the best new studio of recent times? Hmmm.

1. Amy

It’s not that much of a surprise given we’ve already said Amy will be PlayStation3’s scariest game. The real surprise here is just how good it’s looking and just how scary it is. Rather than go for the route of giving you a pistol, then shotgun, then triple rocket launcher with airstrike support, you have no weapons. At all. Maybe the odd pipe lying around, which eventually breaks. But for the most part, monsters means hiding, as you’re vulnerable.

Your character, Lana, is slowly turning into a zombie. The world warps, distorts and breaks up as she slowly turns and the effect of human Lara morphing and turning is incredible. Protecting Amy, the young child with you, means you stop turning into a zombie, have access to a flashlight and also you can feel her heartbeat, which quickens when monsters are nearby. It works like Silent Hill’s radio, and what’s brilliant is what happens when Amy isn’t around. You lose the flashlight, the monster detection and you slowly start turning into a zombie yourself. It’s a brilliant shift that takes away the crutch you’ve been relying on and induces panic. There’s a lot more I could write about it here but this really is how survival horror should have been done in the past few years and hasn’t, as the genre has shifted towards an action slant. Genuinely terrifying and definitely one of the best games on show at Gamescom.

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  • kouotsu

    Hey just a note, Skullgirls is not drawn by the same artist as Scott Pilgrim. He just did a guest illustration or something. The creator of Scott Pilgrim is not involved with Skullgirls at all as far as I know.

  • Ryan King

    Yup, my mistake, I misunderstood what I heard on the showfloor – changed it now 🙂