I have a lot of game. By that, I do not mean I have the charisma and style to get a bunch of phone numbers from attractive women on a nightly basis. No, I mean I game. A lot. My time at San Diego Comic-Con 2013 was no exception.
Even though I tried several game demos throughout my SDCC experience, I selected only a handful of games for writing my impressions. Sorry for not going into detail for games like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinities at the Capcom Booth, Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter at Nerd HQ, and the Freeplay Arcade with a selection of classic arcade games.
Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag: Arms Spread Wide on the Starboard Bow
The playable demo I was looking forward to the most leading up to SDCC was the Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag demo. I had already pre-ordered the game and a PlayStation 4 console to play it on, so I wanted the demo to make me feel good about my early pre-order.
Ubisoft had a ship decked out at the marina just behind the convention center, and I was able to board the ship on one of my badge-less days. The ship was set up with game demos, shops to buy game-related swag, an area to dress like a pirate for pictures, and a lineup for autographs from Todd McFarlane. One would also find many people making references to The Lonely Island’s hit song I’m on a Boat. Furthermore, an area on the deck of the ship was for a Schick booth allowing you to shave like a pirate. Due to my facial hair deficiencies as an Asian man, I did not even bother going to that Schick area.
Two people working on the game showed off a single-player demo. The single-player demo, unavailable to be played by the audience, showcased the beautiful environments on land and in the water. In this game, the player owns a ship and is in charge of a crew. You can recruit crew members throughout the game, and you can send them off to do quests for you. During one instance in their demo, the characters in the game were at sea and a severe storm began. The graphics were gorgeous during this sequence, and you could see a couple crew members falling overboard during the storm and dying. It was tragic, yet beautiful. I loved it. Throughout the single-player demo, the staff kept emphasizing the lack of loading screens and the seamless transitions between land and sea. The disappearance of loading screens was awesome to see. Woo, next-gen technology!
After that showcase, I was able to play a multiplayer demo and finally get my hands on a PlayStation 4 controller. The controller felt natural in my hands. The increase in size and weight was not noticeable to me. In the multiplayer demo, we were all supposed to kill one another with each player having one target at a time indicated by a portrait on the bottom of the screen as well as a hot/cold indicator to show how close you are to your current target. I predictably picked a female character with big breasts, and that was to my disadvantage. My character was easy to spot in a crowd from a distance. In spite of my breasts-related disadvantage, I had a lot of fun during the demo. I was surprised that I managed to place 2nd in that session. After finally getting a chance to play the game and enjoying it, I was at peace with my previous decision to preorder a PS4 and this game.
Nintendo Gaming Lounge: Where Hundreds Go to Play Their Own Handhelds
Nintendo organized a gaming lounge inside the hotel adjacent to the convention center, and I was able to enter on my badge-less days. The lounge was packed with demos for recently-released games and games that have yet to be released. Many people lined up to try out the games available. Shout outs to the cute red-head who was with me at the lineup to play Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. She explained how to determine the value of Magic cards, since I got a free deck earlier that day in the same hotel. Even with demos for unreleased content, there were many people just sitting in the lounge area playing their own Nintendo 3DS handhelds. I found that amusing.
After seeing that Bayonetta 2 had a playable demo in this lounge, I lined up to play the game because I enjoyed the first Bayonetta game, and I wanted to report back to my friends who like the first game even more than I do. The demo was about ten minutes long, and had very little exploration. The only movement I had to make during the demo was moving from one enemy to the next. The graphics are slightly improved by being on the Wii U, but I did notice in some close-ups that the textures for Bayonetta’s back could use an increase in resolution. The hair on Bayonetta and Jeanne looked as fabulous as ever. Overall, the game played very similar to the first game when using the classic control option. The alternate option is to use the touchscreen on the Wii U tablet. My unfamiliarity with the Wii U tablet regarding the positioning of all the buttons did cause some minor frustrations during the demo even with classic controls, as I screwed up on some quick-time events – most notably the boss fight at the end of the demo. Ah well, I had fun.
The same developers of Bayonetta 2 showed off another new game exclusive to the Wii U – The Wonderful 101. It is a modern beat-em-up game that can support up to five players. In this game, I was able to choose my weapon by drawing on the screen with the right analog stick of the controller. Drawing a straight line would make my character wield a sword. An ‘S’ shape would yield a whip for my character. A circle would result in your character using his or her fists. The volunteer teased that there were other weapons that the players would have to discover themselves. I took that as a challenge, and proceeded to draw random things with the right analog stick. It eventually made me start acting like a child, and drawing stupid shit on the screen. Apparently drawing a pair of breasts with the right analog stick made my character start using bombs as his weapon. Anyway, a five-player demo consisting of strangers was very chaotic, yet still enjoyable. This game seems like a perfect game to play with my nephews. The Wonderful 101 gaming area was also where they had daily raffles for people to win a new Wii U console. Too bad I did not win any of their raffles.
The game at the Nintendo gaming lounge that surprised me the most in a positive way was Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U. I lined up to play this game several times, partly because the wait to play was the shortest among all the games in the lounge, and partly because I wanted to try out all the stages available for the demo. All demo stages supported up to four players. The game plays like a multiplayer Super Mario 3D Land with the character selection of Super Mario Bros. 2. Toad runs the fastest. Peach runs the slowest, but she can float in the air. The new addition to this game is the cat costume that allows you to climb walls, flag poles, and other objects. The cat costume also enables you to do a swiping flip to attack Goombas and other enemies. Some stages required coordination between the different players, especially one demo stage where all four players rode and controlled the same dinosaur creature. The four-player group I was in had to navigate that creature down a river, collecting coins and 1-ups along the way, while avoiding obstacles and not falling off edges. The group I was playing with for this stage had a hard time agreeing on what path to take and when to jump. I had a blast just from the stupidity of our failure to coordinate with each other. The volunteer at the station actually let our group keep retrying that stage a few times until we finally completed it. It felt great to finally beat a silly demo.
There were several other games to be played in the Nintendo gaming lounge and I spent many hours there. There was a floor area to play the Just Dance 2014 with PSY’s Gentleman as one of the songs avaialble. There were long lineups to try games like The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD for the Wii U, Yoshi’s Island 2 for the 3DS, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for the Wii U. The best part about this gaming lounge was the ability to enter without having a badge for that day. Learning this made me happy to know that there was somewhere for me to go on my badge-less days that weekend.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Hulk Just Wants to Smash
At the gaming area inside the convention center was a booth where you could try out LEGO Marvel Super Heroes on the Xbox 360. The demo supported two players, so I was teamed up with a random child. I basically acted like I was playing previous LEGO games with my nephews. I would let the child do most of the work, and I would just fool around. If the child seemed to have trouble progressing in the stage, then I would actually try to help. The child I was playing with was fairly decent, so I spent most of the time just smashing objects as the Hulk. Other times, I was just flying around in circles as Iron Man. Then there were the times I was web-swinging around in circles as Spider-Man. I hope the child I was playing with didn’t get too annoyed by me going in circles and my general foolishness. The volunteer at the booth told me that there will be over 100 playable Marvel characters in this game, and that number astounded me. I am excited for this game. Not excited enough to buy this game for myself, but excited for my nephews to eventually get the game so I can play the game with them when I visit.
SEGA Arcade: Featuring the Original Hologram that Tupac Copied
At the time I explored the SEGA arcade, I was hungry and did not really want to spend a lot of time there. The highlight of the arcade was a playable demo of the next game in the Hatsune Miku: Project Diva series, and the first in the series to be released in North America. If you are unfamiliar with the series, it involves a fictional pop star named Hatsune Miku. She is popular in Japan and has performed in concerts as a hologram long before Tupac did it at Coachella last year.
Xbox Lounge: Screw You, Microsoft
Even though the Xbox lounge was at a hotel outside the convention center, the volunteers at the door checked to see that I had a SDCC badge for that specific day. After being turned away on one of my badge-less days, I came back once later that weekend just to enter the raffle to win an Xbox One. I am assuming I did not win the raffle based on the lack of emails from Microsoft. Being rejected from entering the lounge the first time I tried left me in a sour mood, and I did not even want to play any of their demos. Thanks Microsoft for pissing me off again with your closed policies.
If you are in one of the photographs I have taken and would like the image to be removed from this article, do not hesitate to contact me.
Login with your Facebook or Twitter account to post a comment below. Relax, I have no way of stealing your passwords.