E3 2012 Lightning Previews: Platformer Edition

Welcome to Leviathyn at E3 2012: The Lightning Previews! During my time on the show floor, I saw a TON of games (over 40), and I didn’t think I’d be able to share my experiences with this fast enough. With Lightning Previews, I can do just that.

Today is the Platformer Edition, a piece that will look at one of the oldest genres in gaming. Platformers are still going strong (at least if Nintendo has anything to say about it), but this isn’t just about Mario and his pals. Five games at the show proved that platformers, especially 2D versions, are still very much alive in the gaming world. The more the industry changes, the more it stays the same, right?

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate

Ah, classic Castlevania! It’s good to have you back.

Mirror of Fate should have long-time Castlevania fans salivating. The 3D visuals may look modern, and the four separate playable characters is a unique angle for the story, but everything about this game SCREAMS Symphony of the Night. The stages and battles I saw took me back to the PS1 era, controlling Alucard, that miserable pile of secrets, as he waged war on Dracula and his minions.  Any Castlevania game that can invoke that type of reaction of those playing it is certainly a welcome entry in my book. The floor demo wasn’t long, but it was enough to impress me.

Classic Castlevania returns when Mirror of Fate launches on the 3DS this fall.

Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two

Epic Mickey 2 feels like a whole new game.

Gone is the frustrating camera, replaced with one that always centers behind Mickey. Oswald joins Mickey in his quest, with drop-in/drop-out split-screen co-op whenever another player walks into the room. The team dynamic actually allows the duo to access hard-to-reach areas, as Oswald can spin his ears to fly while carrying Mickey. Think of Sonic and Tails, only more Disney.

The E3 demo had three parts, showing off the game’s 2D and 3D platforming capabilities and ending with a boss fight. The paint and paint thinner mechanics are still here, and the Wasteland is still as chock-full of Disney lore as it was in the first game. My only hope is that Epic Mickey 2 includes some of Disney’s classic cartoons, especially when I’m collecting film reels. I’d love the chance to re-live those classic shorts.

Oh, and while I didn’t get to see it on the show floor, the 3DS throwback to Castle of Illusion looks INCREDIBLE in the trailers. Here’s to hoping Power of Illusion emulates the quality of the old Genesis game as well as its look.

Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two provides a Disney double dose on November 18th.

New Super Mario Bros.U

Mario is actually getting two New Super Mario games, and while the 3DS’s New Super Mario Bros 2 is turning Mario into Goldmember, New Super Mario Bros U is the main attraction.

On-screen is the same 2D Mario platforming we’ve been playing since 2006, with the same four-player co-op as New Super Mario Bros Wii. The Wii U GamePad, however, adds a whole new wrinkle to the tried-and-true formula. Whoever is in charge of the GamePad sees all of the action on the screen in his or her hand. That player can create item boxes, stun enemies, and place platform bridging large gaps. This new addition can really change the way Mario is played, especially if the guy in charge of the Wii U GamePad is a jerk. Imagine if someone put a platform just above your head as you jumped, causing you to lose a life…that could end some friendships.

New Super Mario Bros. U will launch…well, either with the Wii U or afterward. We don’t know yet.


Rayman Legends

Rayman Origins was one of the biggest surprises of 2011. Excellent platforming infused with color and humor served as a return to the PS1 days of Rayman, when he was known more for his excellent games than messing with Rabbids. Rayman Legends looks to continue the excellence, now with the power of the Wii U to make it even better.

The Wii U GamePad controls Murfy, a new character that flies around the screen and acts as support for Rayman and Globox. He, and by extension the player using the Wii U GamePad, will work with the stage to clear paths for the characters on-screen. In the demos shown, Murfy had cut logs to create a bridge, rotate obstacles and spike traps so Rayman didn’t get hurt, and raise and lower platforms so Rayman could access them. He can even remove some enemies from the stage so the other players have one less obstacle to worry about. Judging by what I saw, Murfy will be essential to completing some stages, which could mean that players flying solo will have to control Rayman and Murfy at the same time using the GamePad.

I want to highlight the best part of the demo, the speed run through a stage that kept in rhythm with a rock song. Rhythm-based platforming is something I’d be very interested in exploring more, so I hope that Rayman Legends will have many more stages like this.

Rayman Legends, like New Super Mario Bros. U, will not see release until at least the same day as the Wii U, and as we don’t know that yet, all we can do is wait…impatiently.

Scribblenauts Unlimited

Scribblenauts Unlimited may have been the coolest game I saw at the entire show.

I love the Scribblenauts games on the DS and their unique “generate any object you want” gameplay, but Unlimited takes it to a whole new level. This game gives the player free reign to customize their own objects and insert them into the playing field. Objects are created by combining known objects and giving them unique traits, which can produce hilarious results. How about a dog that attacks cats…with fire spewing from its mouth? Or a raptor with a monocle and top hat that explodes when attacked? The possibilities are endless, and those possibilities give Scribblenauts another addicting aspect.

Another great new feature of Scribblenauts Unlimited is its new open-world format. No longer will players just choose stages on a menu, as they can now travel to different environments and access puzzles from there. This allows for more messing around with objects, a feature that was far more appealing in the previous games than actually solving the puzzles. Also new is the ability to add an adjective to already existing objects, allowing for much more fluid and adaptable environments.

Scribblenauts Unlimited joins Rayman and Mario in its unknown final release date, but the game is also due to 3DS and PC this holiday season.