Review Of Gaming At The MCM Expo 26th May 2012

As mentioned in yesterdays news update, today I had the pleasure of sharing the summer sun with thousands of other people at the MCM Expo in London (a very pleasant day, but one to make you thank the powers that be for the invention of air conditioning in buses and buildings). Alongside the ever strong contingent of anime fans, this Expo also enjoyed a boost in space dedicated to gaming affairs with the usual suspects such as Nintendo, Capcom, and Square Enix turning up to show off their latest wares. The following is a quick report on the highlights from my day

As a general overview, much like last year I didn’t manage to get a substantial amount of time with all the games on offer, due to some stupidly long queues that refused to dissipate during the day. As a result, anyone wanting to know how Lollipop Chainsaw or Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance play will be sorely disappointed by this article. Reading between the lines however, the constant demand for these games throughout the day would imply that they have done something right.

There were two games that really caught my eye during the day, and interestingly enough both of them were to be found nestled on the screen of a 3DS. First off we have Mario Tennis Open, which I’m happy to report is fantastic to play – straight from the get go it feels like a polished version of the excellent Mario Tennis of the Nintendo 64 era. Its simple to pick up and play – perhaps too simple, as like with a few other games that have been released on the 3DS (Street Fighter 4 comes to mind), the touch screen is filled with auto commands prompts that you can press with your stylus to activate the trickier shots like lobs and drop shots. I found myself largely ignoring the prompts and playing purely with the buttons, which didn’t impact at all upon the game experience. The abilities that the playable characters bring to the field could perhaps do with a bit of tweaking (King Boo’s ‘Weird’ style means he can add insane curve to spin shots for an easy win), but overall Mario Tennis Open looks like a solid, enjoyable game to have on the move. It was just released this last week, so if I’ve piqued your interest it’s available to buy.

The biggest surprise of the day however was Theatrhyhm, the musical rhythm involving the tunes and characters from Final Fantasy. When I first heard this game being announced I immediately disregarding it as a stupid idea, and decided to give it a go today to see if my fears were well founded. Turns out, it’s actually pretty good fun. Utilising the 3DS’ touch screen and stylus, you have to tap the screen at the correct moments to follow on screen prompts that let you play along to the music from the various games within the franchise. Multiple game scenarios and difficulties are featured in order to give a bit of variety to proceedings, including full FMV footage from the games rendered in 3D in some cases which was a very pleasant surprise to see. The combination of experience with handheld games in the form of the Dissidia titles, an artistic style that doesn’t take itself too seriously and the strong music the series is known for make this a game that stands out from being a bog standard rhythm game, and while I wouldn’t recommended it to non-Final Fantasy fans, fans with a 3DS should put their scorn aside and try it out; tapping out the rhythm to stuff like Clash On The Big Bridge on Ultimate difficulty is great fun.

Alongside being able to play a few titles, Gamespot UK were also on hand to present some media exclusives. In the short time I had the opportunity to sit down, I managed to get a hands on look at Sleeping Dogs (formerly called True Crime: Hong Kong) – the alpha build was shaky to say the least, messing up a few times during the demonstration, but the core ideas within the game, including environment sensitive finishing manoeuvres (some of which, including setting a mans head on fire using a cooker hob had members of the audience smiling sadistically) and a high emphasis on cinematic storytelling makes it an intriguing prospect; it won’t be winning any awards and won’t distract people from the shiny GTA V announcement that looms on the horizon, but it could be a potential mindless filler title to enjoy in August. Gamespot were also proud to announce ‘exclusively’ that Persona 4: Arena will be getting a European release this year…despite the fact that the news broke on the internet yesterday. Nothing more was revealed on gameplay, story or vocal talent, however we were handed bits of card and told to download the free ‘Teddie Vision’ app, which then turns an image on the card into a video when viewed on a phone via the app. Cool stuff.

And so there we have it; a quick and informal summary of the day. I apologise that I couldn’t report on much more, but I did want to see the rest of what was on offer while covering as much gaming as possible. Now if you will excuse me, a nice long sleep is in order.

P.S Honourable shouts on the cosplay front to the girl dressed as classic Pac Man, and the hulk of a man pulling off the angry village psycho from the start of Resident Evil 5.

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