Ubi, EA, and the every-present "Big Three" first parties all held their conferences before the show, but Konami played their cards a bit more quietly, waiting until 3:00 PM on the second day of E3 to hold their press conference. They had a strong hand, indeed, with some pretty huge revelations, including the latest for Castlevania and Metal Gear. We knew these games were in the pipe, but we certainly didn't expect what we saw at the conference.
Castlevania: Lord of Shadows stole the show. The series has long struggled to make the leap to 3D, and it seems that Konami has finally lost faith in Koji Igarashi's ability to reinvent the series for modern consoles. Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness both copied the Devil May Cry template, but failed to keep up with better games in the genre. The trailer for the latest entry seems to once again imagine 3D Castlevania as a fast-paced whip-cracking beat-'em-up, but it looks leagues better than any previous attempt. Most surprising was the decision to place development in the hands of Kojima Productions, and Spanish developer Mercury Steam, a lesser know developer that has shown tremendous potential but has yet to deliver an A-list game.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker was the other big title revealed. Like the last PSP game, it's a prequel to main series, this time set in Columbia in 1974. What we saw looked intriguing, if familiar, telling the story of how Outer Heaven (the location of the original Metal Gear) came to be and, interestingly, how it was born out of idealism and a belief in peace, rather than a thirst for power. We also got a glimpse of four snake clones side by side, suggesting the possibility of co-op multiplayer.
The booth itself featured neither of these games, except for trailers playing on their large screen. One quarter of their floor space was dedicated to their new Dance Dance Revolution and Karaoke Revolution games as well as Pop'n Music. Having suffered an embarrassing defeat with Rock Revolution last year, it seems they're returning to their roots with the classic series that made them the name in rhythm games just a few years back. These titles seem to be targeting a western audience more than past iterations, with DDR sporting licensed tracks from Rihanna, Coldplay, and Gorillaz.
They also had a small survival-horror section featuring SAW and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. The movie-licensed SAW game is shaping up far better than I would have expected. The atmosphere is thick and it seems to capture the style of the movies well. It was refreshing to see that it focuses more on puzzle solving than action. Shattered Memories, a loose retelling of the original PlayStation game, goes so far as to remove combat entirely, forcing players to run from enemies. It could be quite terrifying.
There were a few surprises as well. Zephyr: Rise of the Elements seems to be Konami's answer to Katamari Damacy, but more geared toward the Western audience, with a destructive tornado theme. In the downloadable games section, the Smash TV-inspired Zombie Apocalypse stole the show, but it was the DSi game Reflections DS that most caught our eye. Its graphics were rough, but it's novel gameplay where players control two mirrored games (each with different level layouts) at the same time.
CCC Freelance Writer