Well, another gaming expo is in the books, people, and another enormous amount of information is being jammed into the database of every site on the web. Lots of strong games made an impressive showing on the E3 show floor, and there is a lot to look forward to in the not too-distant future. But you look at most of the websites and you watch G4 and, for the most part, all you see is Splinter Cell: Conviction and Final Fantasy XIII. But really, the A-List sequels were only the tip of the Awesomeness Iceberg. There were plenty of great games on the show floor, or behind closed doors, that you didn’t see covered. So I’m going to do you all the service of pointing out some of the upcoming games that didn’t get the coverage they deserve.
Unbound Saga – Maybe it’s the comic fan in me, but I really like the look of Vogster’s Unbound Saga. This PSP beat ’em up handles like the ol’ X-Men, Simpsons and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade titles, but adds a unique twist in the form of comic book-themed presentation. The game focuses on a surly, hulking brute by the name of Rick Ajax, a gruff, one-liner-spouting, ass-kicking, fourth wall-breaking badass. Rick’s problem? He knows he is a comic book character. Naturally, he isn’t a fan of this and decides to punch, kick and body slam his way into the real world, much to the chagrin of the comic’s writer, The Maker. The game really capitalizes on the comic-in-a-game concept with bits of fanservice like fights taking place in a comic frame, unique cutscenes, and satirical interjections from the characters. On top of all this, it will have an actual comic book made by Dark Horse, with well-known artists like Leinel Yu (New Avengers, Secret Invasion) and J. Michael Linsner (Dawn) contributing. Look for it later this month.
Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 – Naruto Clash of Ninja Revolution 2 is actually one of my favorite Wii games, believe it or not. The reason is fairly obvious…it was a good game, despite the relatively low rating found in my review. The Clash of Ninja titles on the Gamecube were both full of promise and, in a lot of ways, Clash of Ninja Revolution 2 ended up capitalizing on the series’ underlying potential. Clash of Ninja 3 looks to go even further. The game was playable behind closed doors, and was genuinely impressive. The fighting engine itself remains largely the same, coupling together accessibility and a bit of depth. There were only six to choose from at the show, being Naruto, Sakura, Neji, Tenten, Sasori and Deidara, but the level of care put into the characters was noteworthy, and made me a believer that this could actually encroach into “great game” territory. Naruto fans can look forward to the Shippuden (that is, grown up) versions of the characters, who pack some slick new moves. Fighting game fans can look forward to Tomy’s continued focus on balancing the game’s sizable cast. Oh, and there will be online play. That’s pretty awesome too. Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 is currently slated for Holiday release. Make sure to keep an eye out for it.
Afrika – Remember back in the day when a game about taking pictures was cool? Well, those days are back, thanks to Natsume’s Afrika. The game as a whole is fairly straightforward. You’re in Africa. You take pictures. But this PS3 exclusive has lots of little things that make it genuinely appealing. Firstly, the graphics are pretty impressive, with very well-crafted levels and nicely-rendered animals. Secondly, your character uses genuine, licensed Sony-made, cameras in the game with an assortment of real-life lenses to choose from, which really helps to make the game feel realistic. Third, the camera itself is actually mapped to the Sixaxis controller (that is, you hold the camera horizontally for a landscape, vertically for portrait). Fourth, National Geographic actually worked together with Natsume to make the animals’ interactions with each other, and with the player, as true-to-life as possible. Fifthly, there are lots of animals (seventy) to take photos of, and objective-based missions look to keep things fresh (for example, take a picture of a yawning hippo, or a gazelle silhouetted against the sunset) in a game that would seem to be painfully redundant. There is a great deal of care put into Afrika, so check it out this August.
King of Fighters XII – The fact that this isn’t on the front page of every major gaming site is, perhaps, the single most telling example of all the problems with modern-day society. Really, this is a game that looks better, and was just plain more fun, than a lot of the A-Listers that have been gushed over by G4 and Gamespot. On the plane home, I didn’t think I would be able to put this title on this list. I thought to myself “nah, there was no way a game this good could slip through the cracks.” Read my full preview for an extended rant on why you should buy this game in July.