E3 2008: SouthPeak Interactive
In the back of the show floor, a bit away from the noise of the obnoxious Rock Band 2 display and the buzz of the Sony demos, was SouthPeak Interactive. For the past couple days I had sat through too many self-congratulatory press conferences from big companies and hardly had a chance to actually play any of the games. SouthPeak Interactive was one of my first chances to get my hands dirty with some actual gaming instead of hearing executives blather on about changing paradigms and effective marketing strategies.
Ninja Town for the DS is an adorable strategy game that takes its inspiration from the simpler days in the genre. The characters originated as toys designed by Shawn Smith, who pitched the game to Southpeak Interactive. Every ninja, such as Business Ninja and Ninja Dropping, all look like they need to be immediately hugged. The colorful, vibrant graphics aren’t off-putting at all since they are so charming. The fact that the gameplay is compelling also helps.
The bearded Master Ninja is shown at the top of the DS floating on a balloon. This wizened master is the commander of the battle to protect Ninja Town. By using the stylus, I set up ninja houses that created different types of warriors. The top-down view and colorful graphics reminded me of Sim City on a much smaller scale. There were a number of grids where I could set up the houses, which provide ninja soldiers. Also on the top of the screen was a display showing the upcoming wave of Wee Devils, who want to destroy the village. The invasion can be repelled by using resources to create the proper ninjas. When the invaders are destroyed, more resources are obtained to build more advanced ninja units.
Brave: A Shaman’s Challenge I didn’t get to play this game, but I saw it in action for a while. It takes levels from its predecessor, adds a few new stages and changes the chronology a bit. There are also some graphical upgrades. Think of it as something like George Lucas reimagining his Star Wars movies. It comes out this fall for the Wii, Xbox 360 and PSP.
The level I played was extremely basic, but things will become much more complicated further in the game. Much like Lego Batman, this is a delightful game that looks like it was made for children and adults alike. After all, ninjas are for all ages. It comes out this fall in the U.S.
I also had some hands-on time with X-Blades, an action game for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. The first thing I noticed about the game was the main character Ayumi. More specifically: her butt. This anime-inspired heroine only has a thong on while she cuts down all sorts of enemies. I found it all a little bizarre, but at the same time it was also strangely hypnotic. She makes Lara Croft look like a total prude.
The gameplay was somewhat similar to Devil May Cry since the lead character can use a gun and a sword. The difference is that she uses gunblades, which harkens to another curiously dressed character . Ayumi doesn’t slow down while shooting, so she can charge enemies with guns blazing and then cut them down when they’re near. She could also light her sword on fire, and one especially stylish move involved leaping in the air. The camera would slow down Matrix-style and then she would pound the ground in an earthquake attack. The game will also use some ever-popular RPG elements to develop her skills in combat. It ships this fall for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.