So I went to EGX yesterday. It had moved from Earl's Court to Birmingham's NEC but was more or less the same kind of format. This will be the third year I've gone to the show - first time around a few friends talked me into going with them and we mainly just wandered around the smaller stands and the retro gaming areas, then in 2014 it was just me and so I took some time to look at Bloodborne (sadly, as good as the game is, the queueing took up nearly all of my time at the show.) This time around it was just me again, and I decided to go back to my 2013 plan and look at a number of things. I had a few games mentally noted down that I wanted to see first, but my plans changed after I noticed the layout and the queues.
For instance, I was going to make time to see Rock Band 4 - I still don't know if I'll be picking up the game yet as I've moved from 360 to PS4 and I doubt they'll let people migrate their song libraries from MS to Sony, but I thought I could at least get some hands-on time. Unfortunately the setup of the game had groups of people being picked out from the crowd, getting on a small stage and playing in front of the others, and I was kind of hoping there would be a small set of demo units not on a stage for solo play, but no dice. Similarly, I wanted to see the updated version of Shadow of the Beast but that was in the over-18s area and bundled in with a few other games, so you had exactly the same problem that people wanting to play Bloodborne last year were faced with - one mega-queue filled with people wanting to play one of three or four games. Boo.
The only other game I actually wanted to try and find (before going around random stands elsewhere and just filling time) was Mighty No. 9, the new game from the creator of Mega Man who left Capcom and started his own studio. It was a game that originally got launched on Kickstarter and raised $3.8m (I had no idea that 2D platform shooters needed that much funding, but still) and it played a lot like Mega Man - 2D, jumping and shooting, evil enemy robots, neo-future city backdrops, etc. The game has ground dashing and air dashing and the gameplay twist is that you're supposed to weaken enemies with bullets and dash through them when they are stunned, and the sooner you dash through them, the better your score and end-of level rating. It gives the game a nice rhythm, and everyone likes air-dashing anyway, so I might have a look at the full game when it's eventually released. My one issue with the demo was that it was running on a WiiU, and I've only played on a WiiU about twice so I wasn't that familiar with the gamepad. I'm not sure why they chose to use the gamepad rather than a pro controller though, and jump/shot/dash controls were spread across face buttons and shoulders which was a little weird.
Mighty No. 9 was about the most modern game I played at the show - afterwards I headed around the retro area and played things like Sonic 3, Jet Set Radio and Super Star Soldier (oh, I also played some 2D skating game on iOS which I forget the name of.) But yeah, EGX is a game of queueing - do you want to spend the whole day waiting to play the one big game, or go and look at indie titles and retro games? Anyway, before I left I went around the merch area and bought a Blanka t-shirt and a copy of Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist (webseries turned physical release and one of the closest attempts at a decent live-action Street Fighter "thing".) So yeah, that was my EGX - old games, shopping, queues and Mighty No. 9. Wheeee
EDIT: oh, they also had the new Guitar Hero there. I was actually kind of interested in trying it because it's got some novel gameplay features (like a 3x2 button fretboard - compared to the old 5x1 layout - letting you do basic chord shapes) but again it was queue city. Bah.
Last edited by qazimod on Sun Sep 25, 2016 2:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ekona wrote:Nice write up, thanks man I've always wondered about going to one of these things, but the queuing thing keeps getting mentioned. How come it's so bad? Not enough units, too many people, not enough space?
How did RB4 look? I do want this, but you can't migrate RB3 songs over at all right now which is putting me off as the current batch of new songs doesn't really interest me at all.
Reasons for bad queues - all of the above. Often the times I've had to queue are because there will be one unit hosting the game (certainly that was the case with MN9 this year and Bloodborne in 2014.) To be fair I'm not sure how you could make the situation better if you can't get extra units - maybe make a demo end after a set time (rather than when you reach the end) but that would require everyone making demos to do that. Other reasons for queues would probably be that I bought a regular ticket and went on a Saturday - I imagine things are quieter on a weekday and/or with an early entry pass.
Rock Band looked like Rock Band - the new-gen console treatment was nice but from my brief time watching it looked familiar enough to be enjoyable. I think it's coming out around October 6th so it must have been a nearly-complete build; it certainly looked polished enough.
Yep, one machine with the game running, rather than several machines running the same game. It's understandable for smaller games because they want to use the floor space for more important stuff, but it can still lead to waiting for the people wanting to play.
This came around again yesterday and I was there for a little while. I had a handful of games I wanted to try and see but some weren't really suited to the showfloor so I wasn't going to try and play them, just have a look at what they're like. For instance, I played through FFXII for the first time earlier this year and so I thought I'd get a look at the remake, but I wasn't about to sit down and get into a big JRPG at the NEC. Still, it looks nice enough - movement seems a little faster and the visuals benefit from a lack of PS2 blur-o-vision.
I did get to play a couple of newer titles before heading off to the retro zone The first thing I saw was Sonic Mania, a new 2D Sonic game that feels a lot like the 16-bit classics but isn't spoiled by unnecessary gimmicks or voiced cutscenes. Modern Sonic games have often promised a lot and disappointed on release, so I don't want to get my hopes up too much, but what I saw was promising, and it just felt good to play. The demo had two stages to try, one from Green Hill Zone and one from the new Studiopolis Zone. I tried the latter for the sake of wanting something new, and it looks great and plays well. And the music is cheesy and catchy in equal amounts.
The other thing I wanted to see was a unique 3D game called Snake Pass - it's from Sumo, who did the Outrun 2 and 2006 games, and it has you moving a snake around collecting items and negotiating the environment. It's a simple concept that's made more interesting by the snake movement itself; you have to wiggle left and right to maintain speed and momentum, and you can lift yourself a bit in order to slither up poles. Once you know all this it can be fun just moving around the environment, and I had a few amusing mishaps where I fell back down to earth after messing up my momentum. Anyway, I think the straightforward concept could be good for younger players, but the stage targets and high score chasing will be fun for everyone..
Besides all of that, I went to the Retro area and played Tempest 2000 on an Atari Jaguar with one of the most horrendous controllers imaginable, I watched some competitive Street Fighter that was happening live and being shown on the big screen, and I picked up a few bits of games merch. The queues were also a lot better this time - the Sonic demo is quite short so queues move fast, and when I got there I was only behind a small handful of people. With Snake Pass and the retro and indie stuff I hardly had to worry about queues at all. That being said, getting information about the games that will be at the show beforehand helps a lot, as you can prioritise and have backup plans before you get there and see how bad it is.
Last edited by qazimod on Sun Sep 25, 2016 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The retro zone's a regular fixture in EGX and has a bunch of old consoles and things; I remember one year I played on a PC-Engine, they have Mega Drives and Nintendo machines, there are some old vs. fighters and some platformers, and it's all authentic hardware rather than emulation*. Like the indie area, it's less busy than the main show floor and if you don't want to spend a day queueing it's worth a visit.
*unless it's all an elaborate illusion and the CRTs and joypads are actually going to desktop PCs under the table or something...