E3 is known as the time when the big publishers show off their heavy hitters, but amongst the glitz and glamor of the triple A titles, we sometimes forget about the smaller games. E3 is also full of smaller indie titles, looking to make a name for themselves. In typical Source Gaming fashion, here are a few of the indie games we experienced at E3, straight from the source.
Exiles End: Exiles End was a fun Metroidvania titles I played on the Wii U. Currently available on PC, the title is coming to both Wii U and PS4 later this year thanks to XSEED. The game is a sprite based Metroid-Vania title, with proportions close to Samus’ in Super Metroid. The game takes place in a Sci-Fi setting, and the player character uses a variety of guns and grenades to combat his enemies. The enemies themselves, from what I played in the demo, see to be more of the monster variety and would have found themselves at home in a Castlevania title. This might not be indicative of the entire game, however, as the demo largely took place in what seemed to be the ruins of an ancient temple. I was greeted with a sprite based cut scene reminiscent of great cinematic platformers such as Flashback upon completing the demo, which was very nice touch that added a lot of polish to the product. The bottom line is that this a game that should definitely be on the radar of fans of exploratory platformers.
Cup Head: This game has been at a few E3s, but this time, the major feature was traditional side scrolling levels. The game play remains essentially the same. You can shot, dash and parry some attacks. The levels are incredibly hectic with flower men chasing you, giant plants that come up and bite you, à lathe Piranha Plants of Mario fame and some plants that shot explosive seeds. If take a lot of skill and finesse to make it through these levels. If you have a good partner, it’s doable, but it could be frustrating with a less skilled partner. This game is not for the feint of heart.
The graphics and sounds were very unique and reminiscent of the early 20th century cartoons. The music had that same feel of a classic Mickey Mouse cartoon. The sounds are a little softer than most games made today, but they work well for the theme of the game. And of course, the game looked like you were watching one of the animated classics, when with the same wrinkles that you’d see on an old screen. It definitely has a unique feel.
Overall, Cup Head will be an awesome game for fans of the classic side scrolling shooters for the NES era. Just be ready to die a lot.
Disk Jam: This game is basically an updated Pong. It’s also, hands down, one of the most fun multiplayer experiences I’ve ever had. The core of the game is insanely simple. You split up into two team of two on what is essentially a tennis court. The build we played had a handful of playable characters with slightly different stats, and the developers promised more before release. From there, you server a discus, Captain America style, to the opposing team, and have to volley it back and forth (using a few basic volley types) until you or your opponent scores a point. Remember, though, that these are discs, so they ricochet off the walls. Hence the Pong comparison. The game is a lot more fun than it sounds, and Smash Chu were on quite a roll against other players. We should go pro before the game gets big.
Azure Striker Gunvolt 2: The sequel to the original Azure Striker Gunvolt retains all of it’s fast and reactive gameplay, functioning very similar to the Mega Man Zero series. Challenge is the name of the game, but it all feels very fair. The demo build I got to try focused on the newest playable addition to the franchise, Gunvolt’s rival Copen, who plays much differently than what veterans may be used to. Gunvolt works by tagging enemies with his bullets which deal minimal damage, then using his lightning powers with the R button to pump a steady stream of electricity to deal the majority of his damage, while Copen is able to tag enemies by dashing into them, which then allows him to shoot homing shots with both his gun and his backpack system (similar to funnels from Gundam) to safely deal damage. Copen also has a much stronger shot by default so he can play more traditionally in his run and gun approach, but his near 8 way dash (it’s either 8 way or 7 way excluding straight up) allows him to bound and leap through stages with minimal effort, even bouncing off walls repeatedly as he’s in motion. Overall the game still retains the charm of the first game while continuing to expand and add new ideas to the formula.