E3, the legendary annual gaming convention, was so much bigger and crazier this year than ever before! That’s because, for the first time ever, fans were able to buy tickets to the show.
Amid the wall-to-wall crowds, I found seven exciting games that showed serious promise. Keep an eye out for these!
Super Mario Odyssey
Aside from Zelda (in stores now), it’s Nintendo’s biggest game this year. And it’s one of the most creative Mario endeavors ever introduced to fans. You even get to use Mario’s hat to jump high and defeat enemies in New Donk City, kind of like Manhattan — done Mario style. And no, Mario isn’t bald. He has dark brown hair under his hat. Another high point? In the Sand Kingdom with its red sand, the game turns briefly into an 8-bit Mario Bros.-style game. How amazingly inventive!
Hands down, this was the most charming game of E3 for me. With PSVR glasses on, you guide Quill, a stalwart mouse, through a magical, witchy forest. But Quill is so proud, cute and strong, this game had more joyous moments in the 10 minutes I played than some 20-hour games I’ve experienced. And there were no dizzy moments at all. What a well-balanced, sweet experience. You even see yourself in the game. But you’re not exactly you.
When it was released as a PS4 launch title, Knack became a generally engaging platformer for brand, new system. But in the experience, I felt I needed more things to do, better puzzles and snappier dialog. That’s that whole point of Knack 2. In this world created by the legendary designer Mark Cerny, you’ll find more secrets to discover, more ways to control Knack and a generally bigger world to explore and fight enemies. And, oh, the artwork. The waterfall-filled environments really pop.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Remember Ori and the Blind Forest, the graphically breathtaking game that featured owls and lush locales? In 2015, it won a Boysie Award for best Xbox One game. If you can believe it, this new installment looks even better than Blind Forest. The gorgeous game will have more mystery, seductive graphics and, hurray, more owls. I wanted it to be available immediately. But no release date was announced.
The Artful Escape
Here’s the recipe. Combine a rhythm-based music platformer game with cool graphics to get a slightly comedic story of a teen boy trying to get inspiration for his songs. You use his guitar to kind of ski jump your way through levels — and to deal with monsters. If the Beatles were around today, they might not make movie musicals. They might make a game like The Artful Escape (but without the hard rock riffing).
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Mario in the world of cranky Rabbids? Yes, please! When I played this Ubisoft cornucopia of surprises, I kept thinking, Why didn’t they make this unusual mash up before? It’s hilarious, and the fresh ideas for strategy gaming are brilliant. You can even use those famous Nintendo pipes to run from or sneak up on your enemies. There’s a Rabbid Mario, a Rabbid Peach and more. The game won’t be easy, but it sure will be fun.
Starlink: Battle for Atlas
If you thought the toys-to-life genre died with the end of Skylanders, think again. Starlink will be a space-fighting adventure based on or near seven strange planets. Before you blast off, you add customization to a cool, plastic spaceship. Depending upon the situation in space, you’ll add certain rays or blasters to your physical vehicle. With these upgrades in place, you’ll battle more powerfully. And you’ll add a plastic human figure, too. Will it be the next, great toys-to-life game? We’ll have to wait until 2018 to find out.