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That’s not a typo – the two coolest games that kicked their waning brands in the ass also happened to start with the letter K. First up, Kirby’s Epic Yarn drops the fluffball’s standard suck-n-steal power and instead dreams him into a world made of fabric. We covered some of these details earlier in the week, but if you missed it then, just know that Epic Yarn is equal parts gorgeous, relaxing, innovative, old-school and unquestionably charming. Sure, games like Medal of Honor restarted this year too, but from a distance the average person couldn’t tell it apart from a dozen other shooters.
Runner up: Mortal Kombat
Another game we detailed elsewhere. The fresh combo system and intense violence will surely please anyone who used to care, and the pieces nicked from other fighters (Street Fighter IV, Marvel vs Capcom, Killer Instinct) may be enough to bring in others.
So there we were, huddled around a monitor with a bunch of beer, trying desperately to gain some enjoyment from the Microsoft conference in spite of the generally bland content and the man with the really loud hoover hovering behind us. It was not going well. But then Raiden cut half a street in two and dropped it on a bunch of bad guys. And then he launched a mook into the air, stopped time, and precision diced him into fajita meat. And we leapt, and we bellowed, and we air-punched, and we swore creatively. And the man with the hoover got scared and buggered off.
Runner up: Kid Icarus: Uprising
Kirby could fit right here again, but for the sake of variety, Nintendo’s years-in-the-making reveal of Kid Icarus left more than one editor tingling, reacquainting our jaded hearts with this emotion called “joy.”
LittleBigPlanet 2 may be cute, but as anyone who’s played the first game (or read our hands-on preview) knows, saying there’s a lot more to it than that doesn’t begin to do it justice. Compared to its predecessor, LBP2 offers so many options for customizing and building levels as to be intimidatingly huge. After a brief sit-down with the game (and about an hour of detailed explanation from its creators at Media Molecule), however, we realized that it presents those options in a very streamlined, accessible, easy-to-understand way. The possibilities aren’t quite limitless, but going by what we’ve already seen, all it’s going to take is a little cleverness and trickery on the part of level-creating players to make it seem that way.
Runner up: Epic Mickey
Coming off like a family-ready knock-off of deBlob or Blinx the Cat at a screenshot’s glance, Epic Mickey’s platforming façade is incredibly deceiving. Underneath lies a complex morality system where comic mischief and adventure unspool dynamic cause-and-effect consequences too grey to fall under right or wrong. 2010’s most philosophically challenging title may very well star an 80-year-old rodent in red underwear!
After years of very public mistrust, Sony finally had Valve’s Gabe Newell on-side. It had him on-stage too, announcing that Portal 2 on the PS3 would be the best version on any console. He talked long and hard about the openness and player connectivity of the PS3 as a service, and then dropped the megaton that Steam – Valve’s bastion of open, connected player service – was coming too. To a console. For the first time. Which could be a game-changer. But everyone was too busy yelling about cake to notice the real focus of his speech.
Runner-up: The full 3DS launch line-up
Okay, so Nintendo blew everyone’s mind with the raft of fantastic, AAA stuff coming for the 3DS, but in truth there’s a whole lot more hardcore wonderment on the release list that you don’t even know about.
Our approach to Microsoft Kinect ranged from cautiously skeptical to crudely cynical, but the game we least expected to like, let alone love, managed to wash all the angst away. Perhaps we should’ve had more faith in the audiophiles at Harmonix, ‘cause Dance Central not only had GameRadar’s longstanding wallflowers cutting the digital rug; the scaling UI was incredibly approachable while the movement recognition tech came off as flawlessly as promised. Hell, even motion controlling through the menu felt like the future promised to us by a century’s worth of science fiction. Who knew that when consumers finally caught up to Minority Report, it would have a soundtrack provided by Lady Gaga?
Runner up: Child of Eden
All you really need to know about this one is that it should be called Rez 2. A lushly psychedelic, stylish techno-shooter with a (which can also be controlled with a normal 360 pad if desired), it pulses with both sound and life in a way only one other game has before.
Without a second’s hesitation, we can easily say that Nintendo’s new handheld was the most impressive anything on display at E3 this year. And it wasn’t just the hardware and its bafflingly crisp, totally glasses-free 3D screen – it was also the functional games on display, the staggering list of third party support and the demos running of upcoming games that will make the 3DS a major hit in 2011.
It’s extremely difficult to accurately describe the 3D sensation – by that we mean it’s just flabbergasting how smooth and “yep, that’s in 3D” it is. There isn’t even room for argument here. Between the tech, the games and the near-Wii hardware power, we don’t see how the PSP has a chance. Fully expect Microsoft and Sony to follow suit soon – likely at next year’s E3.
Runner up: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
On one hand, we expected something totally different from Nintendo when they revealed Skyward Sword. It’s been nearly four years since the last console Zelda, and in all that time this was the result? What was so different about it, other than motion controls that didn’t seem to work all that well in the live demo?
Turns out, after playing it for ourselves, the motion controls work better than Twilight Princess, the art design is unlike anything we’ve seen in recent memory and the various gameplay tweaks could turn this into the fresh-but-familiar Zelda experience we’ve wanted for years. There’s more to this than a 20 minute hands-on, but from what we played, if Wii had played and looked like this from the beginning, we’d probably have a far different opinion of the machine.
Next page: The rest of the crap!
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