This year's MTV/Harmonix booth was all about one game: The Beatles: Rock Band. The booth itself was constructed to look like the iconic Abbey Road studios, where the Beatles recorded some of their most groundbreaking records. The entrance to the booth was standing room only, but once we got inside with other media outlets, we were treated to a special presentation letting us know all about The Beatles: Rock Band.
What we learned inside the booth was that this Rock Band will be unlike any other in the franchise's history. It will be the first to feature a genuine "story" mode, and will also be the first to support up to six players, including three vocals. They also talked about the background animations and how they would be split between iconic stage performances and "dreamscapes," which will be more like interpretive videos of each song.
As each feature was introduced, we were treated to a performance from the MTV/ Harmonix crew demonstrating it. However, once the presentation was over, we were able to get our hands on The Beatles: Rock Band just outside the Abbey Road studio setup. Taking the stage, I decided to try singing the much talked-about three-part harmonies on the iconic song "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Playing the game on the MTV/Harmonix stage was a lot of fun, and their booth was one of the most interesting at the show. Although The Beatles: Rock Band was the only game they were showing, it is definitely a big enough draw to warrant the attention. For more on The Beatles: Rock Band, you can check out our E3 2009 hands-on preview.
Namco Bandai's booth at E3 was almost completely devoted to the upcoming brawler, Tekken 6. Tekken 6 marks the first time the franchise will be coming to the current generation, and the folks at Namco Bandai were only too happy to show off playable versions of the newest entry in this blockbuster franchise. Although there were far too many people crowding Namco Bandai's booth, we were able to catch a glimpse of Tekken 6's new Scenario Campaign, which is a co-op centric mode that was announced on the first day of E3.
Although we weren't actually able to go hands-on with Tekken 6, we did mosey on over to the non-Tekken corner of the booth and were able to see SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny being shown off for the PSP. Although the SoulCalibur franchise doesn't have as much drawing power as Tekken, the recent announcement of Kratos as a playable character made this another hot ticket at the Namco Bandai booth.
But even though everyone was flocking to Tekken and SoulCalibur, we were able to find one corner of the booth that was not dedicated to these two mega-titles, and were able to get our hands on a few anime-inspired titles. First up, we tried the new Naruto Shippuden title: Akatsuki Rising. This game takes a different approach to the gameplay than the previous Naruto Ultimate Heroes titles on the PSP. Instead of featuring generic brawls, Akatsuki Rising has mission based levels where you must clear out enemies scattered around different environments to continue.
Next up, we were able to check out the latest Dragon Ball Z brawler, Raging Blast. This brawler has a lot of big differences from previous Dragon Ball Z games, including a much larger environment, and more combat options. Although the build we saw was pretty early, it is looking like it will shape up well closer to release.
The final game we got to check out at Namco Bandai's booth was Dragon Ball: Return of King Piccollo for the Wii. This title is based on the original Dragon Ball property (not Z) so you get to run around the game's 2D setting as young Goku, and will have to fight enemies as well as solve environment-based puzzles.
This year's Namco Bandai booth may have featured Tekken 6 mostly, but there were also quite a few other games present at their booth, especially if you are a fan of the Naruto or Dragon Ball franchises.
Although Natsume is best known as the house of Harvest Moon, it broke some interesting news right before E3 this year: that it would be publishing the long-awaited PS3-exclusive Afrika. Although this title was announced more than three years ago, the publishing rights for the game have been changing hands it seems ever since its 2006 announcement. But fortunately, Natsume had a very complete-feeling demo in their booth to show us. Although the format is not as close to Pokémon snap as I would have originally guessed, the game looks great and taking pictures of the animals is lots of fun.
After playing around with Afrika for a bit, I had to go and check out some of the Harvest Moon titles that Natsume had on display. Natsume had many different Harvest Moon franchise titles to show off, all for Nintendo consoles. First up, we checked out Harvest Moon: Sunshine Islands, which is the new DS Harvest Moon. This looks to be the next "full" Harvest Moon release, but expands the franchise past simple farming with themed islands for things like mining and gardening.
After going hands-on with Islands of Sunshine, we moved to Harvest Moon: My Little Shop for the Wii. This title is a mash-up between a business sim, a party game, and the job system from the Harvest Moon series. We played as a young boy who was currently running both an ice cream shop and a smoothie store, and we had to create recipes, and mix memorable meals for customers using the Wii-mote Cooking Mama-style.
We also saw Harvest Moon: Animal Paradise for the Wii, which looks like another full release for the bigger console. It looked very similar to Tree of Tranquility, which was the first Harvest Moon for the Wii, but since we weren't able to go hands-on with the title, I'm not entirely sure if any real improvements were made (especially in the realm of control).
Although there was much more to Natsume's booth than these titles, they certainly were the standouts among the bunch, and if you are a fan of Harvest Moon, there are definitely plenty of titles in the works for you!
This year PlayLogic decided not to grace the show floor and instead opted for a private meeting room above all the noise and commotion of the LA Convention Center. Once we got upstairs to their little booth, we were greeted with an interestingly-designed room full of what looked like psycho fairies. Needless to say, I was a little worried, but I was soon whisked away to a corner of the room where they were showing off the deliciously deranged Fairytale Fights.
Although I can't say too much about what was shown in this presentation, let's just say that this mash-up of cute and gore was more than a little disturbing, and it turns any idyllic vision you had of your favorite fairytale heroines on its head! Look for more on this title later!
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