Well, last time here on TR we covered Twelve Memorable Moments From E3 and highlighted a bunch of the show's biggest games (as we've also been doing this past week), but even then it still feels a little like scratching the surface...this was my first E3, and despite some hassles that caused me to miss some of the show and made me wish for the fiery deaths of some 7-Eleven employees (you know who you are), it was still an awe-inspiring display, and probably one of the biggest highlights of my life. Though yeah, it still would've been sweet to have the time to officially set up a Paras/Sly "Best Of" collaboration (it was like yin and yang, we could have been gods!!).
But yeah, consider this a "Part Two" if you want. One that covers some of the show's relatively lesser-known games, or just ones that haven't been talked about as much as the big guns, but deserve the same amount of attention. And boy, was there a lot to go through...you try and pack in as much as possible, but you can still be shocked sometimes at what you can miss. Hell, Sony's booth alone could've filled out the three days worth of gaming. So there are still quite a lot of gems to get through, so let's just get right to it...
Kicking off Sony's dominance of E3 and their recent desires to support indie games even more, we have Hohokum, and despite having a title that I am almost positive will be snickered at in several different ways, it made for quite the damn intriguing game indeed. Hohokum is one of those games billed as a bit more of an experience, where the goal is to relax and explore the various colorful abstract worlds the game presents you. They're full of whimsy and glorious bits of surreal-yet-calming nature...but that alone wouldn't be much of a game, so thankfully there's also a ton of puzzle solving to be had.
Every area has its own objectives, and your little rainbow snake creature (*snicker*) will be free to traverse every inch, encounter every adorable little being, and just have fun interacting with everything and figuring out what everything does and what to do with it. It's an adventure with an emphasis on exploration at your preferred place, and brings to mind other surreal PlayStation titles such as Flower, Patapon, LocoRoco and such, and if Hohokum is even half as fun as those, it's a clear winner all the way.
9. Charlie Murder
This is where I'd normally attempt to come up with some sort of clever intro that ties into the game so that I introduce it in a proper and witty way, but I've got nothing this time, so I'll just say that Charlie Murder is a really fucking good brawler. Playing as the titular punk rocker, your goal is to fight your way into the Punk Rock Hall of Fame, a journey that just happens to involve you fighting your way through chainsaw-wielding lunatics, demons from Hell, insane asylums full of creepy little girls, and similar annoyances, because anything less wouldn't be all that punk-worthy, right?
An unsurprisingly simple yet addictive beat-'em-up with a lovely mix of River City Ransom-style RPG elements and a hefty dose of terrific punk rock influences, Charlie Murder looks to join Castle Crashers and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World among the best old-school-style brawlers XBLA has to offer, so chalk up another winning notch on James Silva's belt and prepare to take a cement saw to a few ROUS in his honor. As usual.
8. Secret Ponchos
One notable story to come out of E3 concerned a group of games that some have dubbed "The Indie Eight", a selection of eight indie games used during Sony's press conference to help promote the multitude of independent games that the PS4 will have. And leading the charge is Secret Ponchos, a mix of online deathmatches and old-school top-down dual-stick shooters with a spaghetti western makeover, which is basically one of those combinations second only to peanut butter and chocolate in terms of sheer awesomeness. Step into the shoes of a colorful bounty hunter and attempt to mow down your friends for fame and fortune in the old West...all of which will increase your own bounty, mind you, so don't be surprised when that entire gang of chaingun-wielding heavies decides to gang up and puree you into a delicious desert smoothie.
Throw in some simple and fun combat that still has a lot of depth and strategy along with the usual holy-crap-that-looks-awesome art style, and hopefully you'll be sold on this little indie gem...although if you have a PlayStation Plus subscription, you get Secret Ponchos for free with a PS4, so you're probably sold on this anyway, then! Huzzah! But for those of you wanting a more cerebral PS4 indie game, there's always...
7. Ray's The Dead
Well, odds are we couldn't get through another E3 these games without at least one zombie-focused game, and thankfully that niche was filled by some quality stuff this year. And amongst our niche-filling brain-consumers is Ray's The Dead, where you control a zombie named Ray (duh) who's on a journey to learn about the circumstances behind his death, his resurrection and his newly-gained giant freaking bulb. And naturally, the perfect way to traverse said journey is to convert everyone he can into part of his shambling undead army.
Described by the game's developers as a mix of Pikmin, Stubbs The Zombie, stealth gameplay, and 1980s zombie films (damn, peanut butter and chocolate is up against some tough competition this year), Ray's is a cartoony little breath of fresh air with a nice variety of puzzle scenarios (so it is cerebral! Yay wordplay!) that's definitely going to appeal to all of our zombie-loving asses. Of course, for those of us who still prefer our zombie games a little more hardcore...
6. Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z
You know, I could honestly imagine that Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z started out as Keiji Inafune simply signing on to do a Ninja Gaiden game, but after doing so he started to hear the rumors about the directions Capcom was going to take his Dead Rising series in, and thus he felt he had to do one last attempt to show everyone how a killer tongue-in-cheek zombie action game is really done (FYI, Dead Rising 3 still looks fun, but the tone shift is just awkward). Playing as the titular Yaiba, a ninja killed by regular Ninja Gaiden protagonist Ryu Hayabusa and resurrected as a cyborg, your goal is to help a mysterious organization destroy a zombie plague because hey, why the hell not?
As you might have guessed, Yaiba is noticeably more light-hearted than its predecessors, with some killer cel-shaded graphics, a grindhouse feel, and over-the-top special moves executed quite nicely, creating a ninjas versus zombie battle full of challenging, eclectic and smooth gameplay designed to appeal to the distinguished gamer seeking a touch of class. Also, at one point you can shove a zombie into a fuel truck and have them drive between two giant prop legs advertising a porno store and make the whole thing blow up. Heh heh, that was cool.
Being debuted alongside such titles as inFamous: Second Son and Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack was already tending to get overshadowed right out of the gate. And that's pretty sad, because the end result looks to be a terrific platform/brawler hybrid that seeks to make perfect use of the PS4's ability to cram in as many in-game objects on-screen at once, to say the least. Because when a goblin horde begins to invade the modern-day world, our only hope is a construct of ancient relics known as Knack, who can absorb several other relics to grow to whatever appropriate size is needed to shove some cars up a few goblin asses and whatnot.
Because Knack has a skill for adapting to any situation (ohhh, I get it now), this means gameplay nicely alternates between small-scale stealth infiltration and full-scale kaiju-style rampages, each one feeling like a complete blast to play through. Platforming and combat skills are executed perfectly simply, and the end result is a kid-friendly and awesome title with a lovable character whom will hopefully join Jak, Ratchet, Sly, Sackboy, and many more in the PS Mascot Hall of Fame (that said, if he starts overshadowing Sly too much, I'm going for the throat).