MCM October 2016 Coverage | Unbox, Birthdays the Beginning & Shu

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The games on the floor was varied again with a big lean to the next crop of anime inspired games and adaptations. Again, I didn’t play them as I have no familiarity with the source material and that’s pretty much the core to sole audience they’re going for. This biggest of those there was a game called “Berserk and the Band of the Hawk”, an adaption of the anime “Berserk”, an anime I’ve never heard of. It’s seemed ok as a gory, horde slasher but hell if I know if it’s anywhere faithful. Surprisingly, the next biggest game there was “Tekken 7” who had an audience driven competition stage that was loud (to the point of annoying the indie dev’s as it was directly next to the Go Indie section) that brought in some crowds. Their presenters were a bit too combative in my opinion at times (even to cosplayers who were just near by) but it just seemed like they were trying to be esports commentators way to hard.

Anyway, actual game preview reviews;

“Unbox”, Prospect Games. (Self-published)

Available on PC.

It’s ones of those multiplayer games that has little premise to keep it simple to bring players in. You are sentient box that races other boxes to deliver themselves of fight for supremacy (for some reason). It has a single player story mode but it’s built for 4 player local multiplayer and that’s were it shines. It has a simple design to go with the simple set up. The box is a cube (obviously) which can make it a pain to maneuver but it’s helped but having a limited sextuple jump. The way it works is you can double jump in the air six times (consecutive as one sextuple jump or up to six separate double jumps) but you have to refill your jumps as a pick-up. It means that you have a decent amount of control but you have to consider were your going and how you use your double jumps.

The game as a whole has a party game feel from the music to the game modes. It makes it a good games for gatherings and drunken nights in. But with no online multiplayer that pretty much were it’s remit ends. A great party game. After that, not sure how much appeal it has.

“Birthdays the Beginning”, ARC System Works/ToyBox (Publisher: NIS America)

Available on PC and PS4 Early 2017

This one I found very interesting. More for my own personal interest then anything. The game centres around a life spirit (the player) looking after a cube world and bringing birthdays to new creatures, plants and animals. When they say ‘birthdays’ they mean ‘evolve’. They call it evolving in the game so I guess the whole birthdays thing was just so they could have a unique title.

The game is very relaxed. The cube world can be edited by raising and lowering the ground with a midpoint being sea level. By raising and lowing the land, you can raise and lower the planets temperature as well as other levels like moisture. As these stats change, new creatures evolve while other go extinct.

This is why I said it was personally interesting. It has the same kind of appeal that some have for simulator or micro-management games. The interactions you have with the creatures is very limited as the only way you can effect them is by affecting their environment. Otherwise, your just an observer to their evolution. I found it very interesting but others will just find the game slow and a little repetitive. A recommendation for this comes more down to your personal preference.

“Shu”, Coatsink/Secret Lunch (Self-published)

Available for PS4/Vita and PC.

Shu is much like the platformers of old. It’s a 2D, side on platformer in the style of old Sonic and new Rayman. The Rayman comparison is kind of apt as it is designed with much the same visual style. But while Rayman has a style that’s anime crossed with the Gorillaz, a design with sharp edges and exaggerated features, Shu looks more Hanna Barbara inspired with simpler colouring and shapes over finer details. Even the background goes for a more simple 3D rendered aesthetic.

The game itself is normal platformer fare. You platform from left to right dodging death traps and enemies as well as solving platforming puzzles. How it gets mixed up is through it’s partner system.

As the game goes on, you save and unlock more partners who join you on your travels. Each partner gives you special abilities that change how you go through the level and find collectables. In the demo that was on the floor, you have had a ground smash ability and an ability to open and close blue flowers that act as platforms. Their are other partners with other abilities including a double jump and slow-mo. The limiter to the mechanic is that you can only have two partners in a level at a time so you have to choose wisely.

Shu has a charm and an appealing visual style. Combined with easy to pick up gameplay style makes the whole experience fun. An added, time trial mode for second play-throughs gives it replay-ability.

That’s it for now. In part two, things move into the realms of horror.

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