I was able to get to Hyper Japan in London last weekend, a big convention hosted at Earl’s Court. The event was a general celebration of all things Japanese but the main reason I was there, was because of the games that were on show. Nintendo and Bandai Namco were the only two companies there to show off stuff but they brought quite a few games to show. Here are some impressions of the games I got a chance to play:
Super Smash Bros for 3DS
This was the main reason I came to the convention really. The queues just to play this were massive, I had to wait about an hour and a half just to play for two minutes. The problem was that Nintendo only had three stands of 4 consoles running the game on 3DS and seeing that most gamers were here to play this game, it would have been better if they had six or so stands so more people could play at once.
Anyway, my experience of the game was a couple of two-minute matches after queuing for a while and I have to say I was slightly underwhelmed. My main gripe was that we were playing on normal 3DSes so it was incredibly hard to keep track of my character on screen while so much stuff was flying about, as well as there being noticeable lag whilst playing the game with 3 other people. Besides that, the game felt like Smash, just a bit smaller. It felt faster than Brawl for sure but I would have to have more play time to discern more about the game. I played as Little Mac for the few goes I got and he was fun to play. He absolutely sucked in the air but he dominated on the ground, which made for some interesting fights against characters like Greninja, who were flipping all over the place. We were playing the same build that was at E3 so no doubt things have been changed up but from my very short experience, don’t get super pumped for Smash on 3DS.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go on Smash for Wii U because they were only letting people who won games at certain times to play (which seemed stupid to me) but the game looks gorgeous in motion. Most people in the queue, even those playing the game on 3DS stopped in order to watch Smash on Wii U. It’s just a shame it wasn’t available to everyone to play.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
For the Monster Hunter 4 demo, I was paired up with three other people to have a go at taking down the Tetsucabra, one of the monsters shown in the E3 demo. Luckily, everyone I was playing with was a Monster Hunter fan so we were able to complete the mission and set a good time on the leaderboard they set up for people who played. As for the game, it just felt like Monster Hunter 3. Again, due to the constraints of the demo, I didn’t get a chance to experiment with the new weapons or the climbing mechanics in fear of disappointing my team but the game controls exactly like the last one.
The monster itself was a mid difficulty one, throwing boulders at unsuspecting hunters and using a tail swipe if you lingered around the back of it for too long. The main strategy seemed to focus on the head to smash the tusks, so it couldn’t throw as many boulders and then wail on it if it flipped over. I don’t know if this was a glitch, but you could effectively trap the monster in one section of an area and stop it from moving, so that was helpful for my team to get a satisfying time. If you like Monster Hunter, you probably have your copy preordered.
Hyrule Warriors was hid around the back of the Nintendo area, kept behind a black curtain along with Bayonetta 2. I later learned this was because this area was for people who were 16 and over, not as an attempt to hide the game. Even though this game were behind the back, I still had to wait in a 2 hour line just to get a go on Hyrule Warriors. The demo itself was not the one shown at E3, it was a smaller demo based on the Hyrule Field level shown in the very first announcement trailer, with Link fighting King Dodongo. Again, due to the massive queues, I only got a chance to try out Link with the normal sword but the game was fun to play. Having never played a Dynasty Warriors game before, there was a basic thrill to be had in slicing through legions of enemies, with the added bonus this time of them all being Zelda characters.
The combat is fairly basic, with character having a light and strong attack to cut through weaker legions, with your special move button to deliver damage on a mass scale. The items which the Zelda franchise is known for also make an appearance, with the bombs being the item of choice in the demo. They could be used to clear away boulders and smaller enemies, as well as against the level’s boss, King Dodongo. For any long time Zelda fan, you knew exactly how to beat him and even if you didn’t, he wasn’t that difficult, requiring only two uses of the bomb to kill him. I suppose that Hyrule Warriors isn’t going for difficulty and intricate combat, more for the sheer spectacle of Link or Midna slaying hordes of evil and making the player feel like a badass.The game certainly won’t break any records for graphics however, but it all runs super smooth and the animations, especially for the special moves, look great at 60 fps. Don’t expect super intricate gameplay but if you are a Zelda fan, a Dynasty Warriors nut or just someone who enjoys carving through waves of enemies, Hyrule Warriors looks like the game for you.
This game was in the same area as Hyrule Warriors but for some reason, there was no queue and you could just walk up and play it. The demo itself was very extensive, offering you three levels to play with, one being the game’s prologue, another being from the first act while the last one being the lead up and boss fight of act 4. Being a Platinum Games fan and big spectacle fighter enthusiast, I went for the boss fight and was pleased that the insanity Platinum is known for has not gone away. The game controls just like the original Bayonetta, with players dodging blows from giant angelic enemies to get into Witch Time to start a combo, or toggling subweapons mid combo to do the most damage.
The boss itself was a big standout, with you starting with a basic fight on the ground, before transitioning to a dual layered fight, with Bayonetta and her hair demon fighting this masked boss and his angel monster, with the beasts in the background reacting and gaining the upper hand based on how well each combatant is doing in the fight. The fight then changed to a Dragonball-esque battle in the sky, with Bayonetta and her opponent flying through the air whilst exchanging blows with the final stage of the fight becoming a Punch-Out style fight, with Bayonetta in her giant demon form, punching the face off this giant angel. The combat was satisfying as always, the fights themselves looked amazing and it keeps the bombastic action of the Bayonetta series intact. One interesting thing the Nintendo rep told me while I was playing was that Bayonetta 2 will have online co-op, in the form of a battle arena, very similar to the Bloody Palace in Devil May Cry. Two players will team up and fight through waves of enemies and no doubt bosses to see if they can get the highest score, which sounds like a fun new addition to the game.
While all the games I had played previous to this one had been pretty good, this one confirmed to me that Sonic isn’t going to be making a glorious comeback any time soon. After coming off the incredibly satisfying combat of Bayonetta 2, Sonic Boom brought me down faster than the Space Colony Ark hurtling towards the Earth. The game seemed as dated as a launch title for the Xbox 360, with its awkward looking character models and dull, repetitive combat. The camera was obsessed with being pointed at the ground, making it hard to see oncoming enemies and the fighting itself was just you mashing the attack button, waiting for the slow combo strings to just end. The platforming was as basic as they come, the sections where you actually get up to speed have so much motion blur that it hurts your eyes.
Why the speed the Sonic franchise is known for, has been replaced with lacklustre combat and weird energy lassos is beyond me. It was just an all-round unpleasant experience. Stay far away from this one.
Naruto Shippudden Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution
The Ultimate Ninja Storm series has been my way of catching up on the Naruto series, without having to keep up with the anime or manga and based on some of the moves being pulled off in the demo, I’d have thought that I was playing a DBZ fighter. As for the game itself, the fighting mechanics seem to have not changed at all since Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. You still have Ultimate Justus, the Substitution technique which people spam until someone runs out, items which no-one actually uses and the same arenas that have been in the game since the first one. The only big change was the fact that you can pick between three character types at the start of each match: Drive, Awakening and Ultimate Justu. From my watching and playtime, Drive seems the most overpowered as it basically gave you a free block on dashing players in Defence Mode and then gives you the ability to fight back in Attack Mode with increased damage. Also, you could play as a robot version of Naruto which seemed incredibly out of place.
The bottom line is that it is the same, unbalanced fighter that it has always been and if you are like me and just want to catch up on the story whilst pulling out ridiculous Justus and easy combos, this is the game for you, even though it is exactly the same game as the last one. I have no idea how Bandai Namco are going to make the STORM League work, as the game seems super unbalanced and not built for proper high level play, but I could be proven wrong.
So, there are my impressions of the games I played at Hyper Japan. The convention could have been better if they just had more demo stations for the games that people were solely coming to play i.e. Smash Bros and made it available to play on Wii U, as that is what most people want to play it on. If I had to give my favourite game that I played, it would have to be Bayonetta 2 as the fighting was super fun, the demo was nice and long so I really got a feel for the game and I didn’t have to queue for 2 hours to play it so that was a plus! Look out for follow up coverage of all the games mentioned in the future and tell us your thoughts on the convention, if you went, in the comments below.