Konami’s pre-E3 gathering showcases indie games, wackiness

Slime, go-karts and scantily clad women with bad attitudes all had a part in the event Konami called its first-annual pre-E3 show.

E3, of course, is gaming’s annual convention in Los Angeles. It’s a time for big companies to host big events for big ideas like new consoles and AAA-titles all in hopes of making big money.

Konami’s event, however, was smaller in scale. The publisher’s pre-E3 show took place Thursday at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City and gave attendees a chance to sample some lower profile titles.

Games included:

  • Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With an Engine: The game’s developers credit NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson for helping out the game’s design, but there’s no way for an observer to miss Mario Kart’s strong influence. “Anything” puts players in crazy vehicles and racers get to shoot pizzas (instead of turtle shells) at each other. That said, I raced around a barnyard-themed track and it seemed fun. The game is set for a fall release “for all three major home consoles,” which I assume are not the Neo-Geo, Intellivision nor Atari 2600.
  • Puddle: This is a rather clever – and insanely difficult – game based on fluid dynamics. I tried the PlayStation Move version and had a chance to fail at the challenge of guiding a puddle of water through a maze filled with flaming obstacles that evaporated my puddle character. The idea is to twist the Move from side to side and let simulated gravity do the rest. Another level on display featured a slimy puddle, instead of a watery one. The title is set for a summer release via PlayStation Network and XBox Live, although the XBox version won’t have motion controls.
  • Skullgirls: Like “Anything,” this one comes from an indie house called Autumn Development. The title is a three-on-three “Marvel vs. Capcom” styled fighter with cartoony – and jiggly – female characters. The exception, however, is Peacock, a crazy woman designed like an old Looney Toons character with a ridiculous amount of weapons at her disposal. She may have cult potential if the game catches on.


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E3: Konami pre-conference brief

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It wasn’t so much of a press event as it was a pre-recorded briefing on what Konami is excited about in 2011. A few games were shown, such as NeverDead, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011, Silent Hill Downpour, MGS Snake Eater for the 3DS, and a teaser for the next Contra at the very end.

Anyone hoping to see Hideo Kojima reveal what his next game is going to be are going to be disappointed, however, as the cagey designer revealed only tidbits of what he was working on including a new “lifestyle” regarding save games.

The briefing started off with a look at the 3DS version of Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater, the PS2 classic that explored the origins of Solid Snake. For the handheld, players will be able to use the motion sensor to help keep Snake’s balance and even utilize photos taken as camouflage.

Next up was the 3rd person action game, NeverDead, with a MegaDeth scored video to show off some of its action. The Japanese and European developed title will have players star as Bryce, a heroic demon hunter that challenges the demon king 500 years ago but loses with his wife getting murdered in the process. Cursed with immortality by his enemy, Bryce can be blown apart but never die as you try to get him back together should that happen. One shot revealed a rolling head on the floor, probably manipulated by the player, trying to get back to the rest of its body.

Some information was revealed on a new Silent Hill film in production and a small tease for Silent Hill Downpour, the next game in the series, but little else other than that it was coming.

Later, Mark MacDonald of 8-4 visited Hideo Kojima at his studio. “Transfarring” was shown off, a save transfer mechanism that would allow players on the PS3 use the same save for the same game (such as the upcoming Peace Walker) with the portable version, and vice versa so that you don’t miss a beat. Kojima hopes to extend this capability to the PS2/PS3 level, and eventually to the PS3 and NGP.

Kojima didn’t show off a new game so much as he did the new engine that will be running it. Called the “Fox Engine”, it will be used in Kojima’s projects going forward as a multiplatform engine. Development for it started shortly after MGS4 and a jungle scene was displayed as a test environment, though it has nothing to do with the next game whatever it might be.

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Lastly, it was revealed that MGS Peace Walker, Sons of Liberty, and Snake Eater are going to be together in an HD collection in November this year for the PS3 and the Xbox 360. Later in 2012, that will be followed by both Zone of the Enders titles. Far from being tweaked graphically, they’ll also sport new interfaces and a few more tweaks to keep them from feeling like a simple port dumped onto a disc.

As the briefing ended, a gout of flame filled the screen soon forming into a burning “C” with words hinting at the return of a classic series – Contra. As for what Konami has planned, your guess is as good as mine.

Konami announces new DLC for “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow”

Konami announced today that two downloadable add-ons for “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” are scheduled to be released early next year.

From Konami’s press release:

In “Castlevania Lords of Shadow: Reverie,” players will return to the Castle as Gabriel to help Laura, the former servant to the vampire Carmilla, in destroying the unruly evil that was previously kept in check by the recently slain Queen. 


Once completed, fans of the series can download the second DLC entitled “Resurrection,” which continues the story directly after the end of the original game and gives some insight into the dramatic epilogue seen by players upon completion and Gabriel’s ultimate destiny. 


Tech Out contributor Reggie Carolipio gave Lords of Shadow a favorable review in October. The game is available for PS3 and XBox 360, but it would be hard to find an NES fan who did not enjoy the really, really hard original from 1987.


Review: Castlevania – Lords of Shadow (X360)

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It’s been five years since Castlevania’s last big outing on consoles, Curse of Darkness, whipped its way to shelves for the Xbox and PS2 – two years if anyone wants to count the wish-we-could-forget Wii-only fighting game, Judgement. While portables like the Nintendo DS and Sony’s PSP kept Konami’s storied franchise alive with hits such as Dawn of Sorrow, console fans have been left to wait for their own vampire killer. Now Lords of Shadow has finally arrived, complete with a Shakespearean read-along.
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Recruit Hideo Kojima

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The upcoming MGS game on the PSP, Peace Walker, will allow players to capture and recruit mercs they encounter in the game. And according to Andriasang, one of them will be series creator, Hideo Kojima, who is apparently called a “god” by other NPCs in the game.

According to his stats, he’s a god that’s really good at intelligence gathering and healing, but not so much at cooking or fighting. The article also notes that his profile states “”My body is made up 70% of movies. You can decide what to do with the remaining 30%.”

That actually makes sense given Kojima’s love for film early in his career and the influence it has had on his work, not to mention the heavy emphasis on technical geekery that his titles love to inject into their dialogues.

It also makes me wonder what other games would be like if their designers did the same thing. For example, would John Carmack moonlight as a secret designer of uberweapons in Rage? Or would the discovery of Shigeru Miyamoto in Mario Galaxy 2 unlock a galaxy containing all of his games as a bonus? We can always hope.

Train up for Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker…

…by watching these “instructional” videos from Hamaru Gear Solid, a site over in Japan created to introduce beginners to the series. Don’t know what Hamaru Gear is? Neither do I, but it has stuff that you can watch.

Spotted over at Japanese-gaming news site, Andriasang, these are goofy but humorous videos that break down the basics of Peace Walker’s sneak-flavored gameplay. Andriasang does a good job in letting you know what’s going on in each since they’re in Japanese, although just watching them is enough as they show off just how they relate to Peace Walker.

One thing that was also noted is that “Hamaru Gear Solid” could also be a play off of the name of Hirokazu Hamamura, the CEO of the publisher, Enterbrain, which owns Japanese gaming mag, Famitsu, and which Kotaku has recently questioned just what that means when they award a perfect score to the game.

But whatever you might think of that, with Hideo Kojima still at the helm of Peace Walker, the follow-up to Snake Eater looks like it could deliver the MGS fix for its hardcore fans on the PSP when it officially arrives in North America.

Konami Nixes Publishing Six Days in Fallujah

The controversy following Atomic Games’ FPS based off of the Second Battle of Fallujah in Iraq has made Konami think twice about publishing the game under its label according to Japanese newspaper, Asahi, MCV reports. Development on the game hasn’t officially ended, however, and Atomic Games has yet to issue their own response to the news as well as answer questions regarding the future of the title.

On a more personal note, was it too soon or is this another case of where games have run into the transparent wall separating them from the respectability that film and books enjoy?
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