On Day Two of Sony’s Spring Preview (you did catch the first one, didn’t you?), indie developers were highlighted and their games shown off. While it’s one thing to see a portable Resistance or a new take on the LittleBigPlanet franchise, events like these highlight just how special and unique independent developers are. We experienced games that played with our minds, others that tickled our ears, and even a few that stabbed our souls with cuteness.
Retro City Rampage: This was the first game we played at the event and it set the bar high for the rest of the afternoon. Now, when you see the visuals through our lens, they don’t look anything close to how spectacular they look on the PlayStation Vita itself. We mean phenomenal. The demo area we played around in let us take on a Grand Theft Auto-like gameplay scheme, whereby we would get into cars, run over police officers, get out and shoot at them, steal school buses, and cause havoc to millions of pixels. We didn’t get a great sense of just what to do in the game, but we’re more than excited to figure it all out as we can’t wait to get our hands on an actual copy of the game. The other beauty of this game is that it actually pays homage to (by making fun of) other classic titles like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and of course, the Grand Theft Auto series. Retro City Rampage goes wild sometime in May not only on the PlayStation Network but also via Xbox Live, on WiiWare, as well as Windows-based PCs.
Lights, Camera, Party: Starring the Funzini family, Lights, Camera, Party is – you guessed it – a PlayStation Move-based party game. It’s not just another mini-game collation, however. You follow a family through a game show and have to compete against each other in games lest aliens take over and you are snatched from the very TV show you were competing on. Okay, we didn’t say the game makes a lot of sense, but trust us, it’s probably the best party game we’ve ever played since the original Mario Party games on the Nintendo64. And that’s saying quite a bit. The Move controller is very precise, so it lets you do a lot of interesting things with it, including moving blocks around, singing, throwing, whipping, and any other arm motion, really. Look for this one this holiday season, but check your download queue and retail shelves because developer Frima isn’t quite sure how they’re planning to release it just yet.
Sound Shapes: We got a glimpse of this one back at E3 2011, and while it didn’t blow our socks clean off that time (it was our first glimpse of a PS Vita, and Uncharted was right beside it for the whole show), this game has come a long way and it is impressive. The premise of the game is unique, you have to bounce through some objects, stick to others, and climb across others which make unique sounds as you do so. Going through it is a bit of a different experience than we’re used to having, and while the game isn’t much to look at graphically, if you’re into puzzles and unique challenges, you’ll have some fun with Sound Shapes.
Dyad: Okay, now this is one of those games that should have a seizure warning taking up half the packaging. Dyad is largely the work of one man, Shawn McGrath, with some assistance from a fellow audio engineer. The game takes place in a never-ending tube, where the goals of each level vary from grabbing on to enemies, to shooting them, to grazing them, and using them as your acceleration. It is an interesting dynamic whereby there is no braking or accelerating, but the enemies which impede your progress actually become speed boosts for your character. Speaking of your character, it is named after a dyad, which in biology, is a part of DNA crucial during cell division. Interesting concept, as you’ll see how the connection was made between the look of your character and the real-life counterpart.
Papo & Yo: This game was easily the most unexpected, mind-blowing games at Sony’s event. First off, it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The graphics are mildly cel-shaded (but not really), and it all has a dark grey tone to it. It feels like we’re looking at another version of a Jet Set Radio Future level that takes place in the swamps. The premise of the game is weird, to say the least. You move around miniature boxes and models in the game to move the actual real-life counterparts right in front of you. For example, you pick up a small cardboard box and move it around, and at the same time you see a massive house moving in front of you. It’s hard to describe without a visual example, so we’ve included a video below courtesy of Gamespot.
That was most of the goodies from the Spring Showcase. Sony also had Mutant Blobs Attack!!! on display, and while it was a unique concept that we’d like to check out, we fear that it was overshadowed by the excellent showing of Retro City Rampage and Papo & Yo.
Stay tuned for more coverage from Sony as well as Nintendo and Microsoft as we get closer and closer to E3 2012! And remember to take a look at our predictions in our latest E3: What Will, What Might, and What Won’t.