The Average Gamer

EToo London: Day Three

With the games industry event of the year in full-swing across the pond, droves of eager gamers have piled into Loading Bar in Soho for the UK’s answer to E3: EToo London. And with the third day comes a new offering of both indie and mainstream titles alike to captivate the cramped masses.

The biggest news of the day is that the rift has landed, with a playable version of Strike Suit Zero (January’s kickstarted space-mech dogfighter) on a devkit headset. Despite some minor resolution problems, which have been vastly improved in the past couple of days, the East-meets-West starfighter seems a perfect bedfellow for the VR revolution. Though still in development at their Guildford HQ, Born Ready’s 16-strong team have been hard at work implementing new cockpit designs to give the full immersive experience the Rift boasts, with a floating HUD and the possibility of outsourcing information onto instrument panels. There was also a small hint that a new game related to Strike Suit Zero could be announced very soon so keep an eye on them.

Other big name brands on the show floor today included Ubisoft, showing off Rayman Legends on the Wii U. While still as beautiful, playful and downright charismatic as the recent generation’s predecessors, the failure to capitalise on the second screen mechanic (as well as the loss of Nintendo exclusivity) makes for a disappointing end to a much-hyped release. Joining Ubi on their mainstream crashing romp today was Sega, showing off an Alpha build of the HD remake of Castle of Illusion. Mickey’s first adventure with Sega, on the Mega Drive, was a fond childhood memory of many here today, and despite Disney’s recent run of bad luck with cashing in on Mickey’s good name, Illusion appeared to keep to at least a stylised 2D-but-3D platformer aesthetic. We’ll see how this foray into the magical kingdom pans out sometime this summer.

Now, back to our scheduled programming: indies! The lifeblood of EToo, small studio developers, were out in force today with a plethora of iOS titles. Simon Read, BAFTA-winning creator of New Star Soccer, was in to show off the critically and commercially acclaimed football game on the iPad. True to the spirit of EToo, at the screen next to the award-winning champion of mobile indie development, was new studio nyamyam. Consisting of 3 ex-Rare devs, their intro into the world of self-publishing is Tengami, a beautiful Japanese themed pop-up book adventure for the iPad. Jennifer, Phil and Ryo decided to drop out of the mainstream studio shortly after working on Kinect Sports and seeing the release of the iPad 1.

“We wanted to do something very different,” said Phil. “Something where we would be able to have our own aesthetic and ideals.” Tengami is scheduled to be out on iOS devices later this year, with the team excited to see if they can reimagine the story for other platforms to take advantage of their unique inputs (possibly Wii U related) in the future.

And finally, today’s almost-heard-of Exhibitor of the Day award goes to Simian Squared’s Giuseppe Landolina for the upcoming The Other Brothers. With more than a hint of Mario about them, this startling modern-but-retro platformer has you jump, double-jump and baddie-stomp your way through a series of levels, each with multiple paths and hidden secret collectibles. The collectibles (sweet, sweet collectibles) take the form of golden doves, different from the regular white doves which exist as health pickups and point-givers. The health system is very Sonic as getting hit by an enemy causes the doves to explode out from wherever you were hiding them and fly off in a sight not out of place in any John Woo film. Controls are wonderful when paired up with the iCade 8-bitty gamepad, and you could easily find worse ways to waste a train journey or stockholder meeting.

A great show today, superbusy too, can only dream of what the final day tomorrow brings. Luckily, before then, there’s interviews with most of today’s exhibitors and commentary on the news from the E3 show floor on the EToo livestream