This is exceptionally late, so details and nuances have been lost to many nights’ sleep.
Friday, as you might imagine, started a lot smoother than the previous day, though not entirely without issue with the super pass advanced access. It wasn’t access. But that’s by the by.
The important question of the morning was which game to pick first. This question dominated the previous evening’s meal and time spent in the queue. Finally, it was settled: Mario Kart 8. I’m a big fan of the original Super Mario Kart and the GameCube’s Double Dash, but beyond those games I’ve not played that many so I was looking forward to seeing it all in fancyvision. It really does look great in HD.
Due to the weirdness that is the Wii U’s input options, one of the two players had the U’s gamepad which features either tilt or analogue stick control, while the second player had a Wiimote on tilt control only. M’colleague Matthew had far more experience with Mario Kart Wii so was far more comfortable with with the tilt controls while I much favoured the more typical analogue nub. The game itself plays out like more Mario Kart, which is far from a complaint. The new features like flying and turning upside down keep it fresh along with the shiny.
While we were at the Nintendo booth, we decided to get another stamp and thus get a spin on the swag wheel. Rather than pick the nearest game that had minimal queues, we picked something genuinely interesting and that game was Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Notch up number two on the list of Zelda games I’ve played. Was it a match for Wind Waker
? No. It was frustrating. There’s a 3D-2D switch thing that I failed to understand and some buttons that didn’t look like buttons that you were supposed hit. Which I didn’t.
After having my t-shirt questioned, I departed to spin the wheel. The result? Zelda stickers. Oh well, you can’t win all the plushies all the time.
Despite the new generation of consoles being the stars of the show, one game I was really excited to try was Sir, You Are Being Hunted by the dapper chaps over at Big Robot. It’s a survival game that pits you in randomly generated landscapes where robots (presumably big ones) are trying to hunt you. I played for 15 or so minutes and eventually got shot while ineffectually hiding in some marshland. Even after I was recognised as an inverter and helped to set the controls.
My brief and ultimately tragic play on the game put it into my “must buy, but when I’m not overwhelmed by unfinished and new games” list, the chat afterwards with head (and only) programmer of the game afterwards really impressed me. A lot of the booths at the expo were staffed by PR people or (apparently) hired hands, this was the entire company showing off its creation and happy to give you a hand, explain the game in great depth or just chat about games in general.
They even posed for a lovely photo. Thanks, Big Robot. Thobot.
I dragged the party back to GT6 after that and made them both drive the Silverstone National circuit in the competition. Nick, who it turns out is a natural racer, did a very respectable time of a 1:02 never having, to my knowledge, driven the track before and certainly with no prior practice. Impressed doesn’t begin to cover it. Matthew also did a very decent time, around the 1:08 mark. Personally, I improved on my previous time on the first lap, but overdid it on the second and didn’t get close to the hotting pace.
Obligatory racing stuff done, it was time for more hardware. Oculus Rift, the fancy VR headset like we had in the 90s only better, had a very well hidden stand off in the corner somewhere, so we ended up queueing for quite a while to try it out an independent stand that just had it there. Thankfully it was set up with short-sighted lenses so I could use it without my glasses. It was lower-resolution than I was expecting but the effect was amazing and definitely immersive. At one point in the demo I walked into a wall and felt a distinct feeling of embarrassment like you would if you’d done it in real life.
Afterwards I did feel a bit woozy like I’d just stepped off a boat. Matthew cut his demo short as he’s susceptible to motion sickness and these symptoms are related to that, so I suspect it’s something you get used to.
By this point we’d seen most of what we wanted to see, so a change of pace was decided upon. We had a stroll around the retro zone, seeing and playing some obscure and classic games of times past. Popular titles included RoboCop on the Spectrum, Super Sprint on the Atari ST and some SNK beat ‘em up in Japanese. However, some joker decided to do this:
You may need to be well into your 30s to notice the extreme insult present in that picture.
The rest of the day was spent in the board game section of the show. We played two games: a snap-like card game that I was terrible at and found deeply frustrating; I can’t remember what it was called and I never want to find out.
Much better was Settlers of Catan. I’d heard of this before, but never tried it out. With the three of us plus a woman from the company, we had the ideal number to play. It’s is an empire building/resource management/trading game where you take turns, gain resources, build roads, argue over resources and eventually declare a winner. I won’t go into the games details too much, but we all declared it our game of the show and has inspired us to investigate more board games.
The photo above is a fake. We’d finished the game and our host was packing away when I asked to get the picture so the board was quickly reassembled and acting took place. Result.