Ni no Kuni
Roughly translated as “The Other World,” Ni no Kuni is an upcoming title for the DS and PS3 with beautiful visuals from Studio Ghibli, the animation studio behind Ponyo and Howl’s Moving Castle. Every background and character looks as if it were pulled right out of a Hayao Miyazaki film. The gameplay is reminiscent of Pokemon—that is if Ash actually bothered to fight along side his Pokemon instead of kicking back and sipping mojitos. Spell casting is an important aspect of the game, especially on the DS, which requires symbols to be drawn with the stylus. And your spell book? It is a real, hardbound behemoth of several hundred pages which you will constantly reference as you progress through the game. In fact, it’s impossible to play the game for more than a few minutes without the book on hand, which makes it the single most epic example of DRM in gaming history.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
The greatest stigma facing Castlevania: Lords of Shadow occurs before the controller is ever picked up – it’s not a 2D Castlevania game. I know it seems impossible, but if you can get past the expanding dimensions of space, you’ll find that Lords of Shadow walks the fine line between groan-inducing camp and over-the-top awesome. The demo featured a cast of villagers wielding torches and pitch forks, mystical ghost horses, and a group of werewolves riding werewolves. Now I’ll just let that sink in. Werewolves riding other werewolves. Your mind reels with questions.
Why aren’t they just all running together as a pack? Why are some werewolves so much bigger? Are the bigger werewolves the females? If so what does it say about a species that actively rides its women as beasts of burden? Or are we actually seeing some sort of mating ritual/foreplay?
Valkyria Chronicles 3
After the clichéd high school drama of Valkyria Chronicles 2, Valkyria Chronicles 3 returns to form by taking us back in time to the middle of the Second European War. All the key points of awesome from the first game are there: the magic blue rock that can heal wounds or power tanks, a giant army of Nazi-Romans, and a diverse cast. But now, instead of a ragtag militia, we focus on a black ops squad whose members have only one thing in common: they’re all slated to be executed. That’s right. This is The Dirty Dozen—The Video Game. Of course, without solid gameplay this concept alone wouldn’t be able to carry the game. Luckily, the battle system has never been anything less than stellar and the graphics look much better than the last iteration on PSP.
Shadow of the Colossus HD
While up until now “awesome” has meant “so ridiculous its good” or “imagination unfettered by logic,” this time we’re going with another definition. Shadow of the Colossus HD is “awesome” because Shadow of the Colossus HD “causes awe.” At TGS, I and several other journalists were able to see a Sony staff member play the first Colossus fight in glorious HD. Now at a steady 30 frames per second with various filters being used to preserve the original aesthetic, the game looks stunning, beautiful, smooth, lifelike and a billion other synonyms for the word “awesome.”
I’ll be the first to admit, if this game was judged solely by its gameplay style—a rail shooter lacking a light gun— alone, I wouldn’t even give it a second glance, if not for the amazingly absurd concept. In Gal Gun, you shoot schoolgirls with a special gun causing them to collapse in moans of pleasure. What?! It’s in self defense! If you don’t, the girls will confess their feelings to you or try to give you a love letter. Oh, the horror! Occasionally you’ll be able to enter “dokidoki mode” where you shoot a girl in her undefended pleasure zones until she reaches maximum ecstasy. This nets you her personal information. At the end of the first level, you face off against a tentacle monster who is holding your girlfriend as a shield. You shoot his tentacles, expose his weak point and save the girl. And that’s just the first level. So basically I’m saying that in the demo at TGS, I left 100 girls in a post-coital afterglow and then went on to rescue my girlfriend from a giant tentacle monster.
There is nothing in that last sentence that is not both ridiculous and awesome.