AM Show: Bandai Namco Games roundup
Trying out Nirin and staring intently at Razing Storm. And everything else.
My time in the Bandai Namco booth was limited because I just couldn't pull myself away from Sega's Hummer and Harley machines. However, it's the booth I visited first and last (actually, that's a lie... the last booth I visited, as always, is the prize area, which tends to be among the most enjoyable areas of any amusement machine show).
As soon as the event opened (promptly at 10:00), I first rushed in to get a glimpse of Tekken Bloodline Rebellion. Seeing as how I don't particularly care for Tekken's gameplay (or any fighter's gameplay for that matter) after getting a glimpse, I left the scene without playing and [a href=http://www.andriasang.com/e/blogs/anoop/2008/09/18/amshow_tekken_6_bloodline_detailed]uploaded lots of pics and preliminary details[/a] that I was able to discern from a video trailer of the game.
But before that, a Namco Bandai rep, perhaps noting that I was taking pictures of the screen (a no-no), grabbed me and offered a tour of some of the finer attractions from the booth. Taking highest priority was the latest in the Gundam Senjo no Kizuna series. The latest version of the game includes a new cabinet with speakers built into the seat, and a new type of communication system which converts your shouts into classic phrases from the anime. This was demonstrated live in front of a crowd, but I'm going to have to play myself to see if the game can put up with my thickly accented Japanese.
Later in the day, I returned to the Bandai Namco booth to play Nirin. This new four player motorbike game is apparently big enough to have gotten a two page pamphlet (most games get a single page). It even uses a board I'd never heard of before, System ES1. I'm not sure of the board's specs, but based off what I played, don't expect the highest quality in terms of visuals. It's HD-level, but most certainly below the PS3-powered board that runs Rizing Storm (see below). It was a bit tough to compare it to Sega's Lindbergh stuff because the game uses a relatively small 32-inch monitor (this is about half the size of the monitor used in the godly deluxe Harley units).
Nirin looks a bit like Wangan Midnight (see below for details on the latest version of that Namco street racer). It takes place on traffic-filled roads at night, although the tracks aren't necessarily highways. It even offers the feel of a street race, as it's possible for other players to challenge you while you're racing against the CPU.
The bike unit keeps your feet on the ground, but lets you tilt left and right quite a bit. Sure enough, leaning into corners is one of the main points of the game. While you learn into corners, your bike builds up a boost, which you can use for a burst of speed. You can also make use of opponent slip streams for speed. The game makes it quite clear when you're building up speed, with large on-screen prompts.
The demo unit included five courses along along with five bikes featuring such radical names as Naked Furious Dragon and Super Motard Funky Apes. A release is set for February 2009.
And finally, one of my most anticipated games of the show: Rizing Storm. I'd been wondering since the game's announcement (on the eve of the AM Show) what Namco would be able to do when it combines the PS3 hardware with gun shooting. Sadly, I was denied in my attempt to fight futuristic South American terrorists. Namco had the game available for play exclusively for business partners.
All I could do was watch, and I most assuredly like what I saw. Rizing Storm is easily the best looking gun shooting game ever made, with detailed enemies and environments. The tech is put to good use, filling the screen with gun-wielding terrorists. More impressively, the environments are totally destructible, with players able to chip away at walls and other sections.
Artistically, I kept on getting a Metal Gear Solid 4 vibe from the game. This could be some strange generalization I'm making due to the wild mechanical beasts that tower above the masked soldiers on the battlefield.
From what I've read (presumably from people who've played the game), Namco has implemented a somewhat peculiar firing system for the title. Controls include a large machine gun controller and a pedal. When you press the pedal, you go into attack stance and your gun automatically begins firing. When you let go of the pedal, you go into defense and reload mode. That's right -- no need to actually press a trigger. Apparently, the gun offers powerful rumbling, so this may not be a big deal.
As for the high level enemy AI Namco promised in its announcement of the game, I didn't get to experience this. In the very opening moments, terrorists seemed to just run out with their guns in the air.
Other games on display at the Bandai Namco booth included Gundam VS Gundam Next, Wangan Midnight and Taiko no Tatsujin 12 along with a bunch of medal games.
I haven't even played the first Gundam VS Gundam game, so I skipped out on the sequel since I probably wouldn't be able to tell what's so "Next" about it. For the record, the game continues to use the System 256 board (which pretty much guarantees a PSP port once the PSP version of the original sells hundreds of thousands of copies). Bandai has tapped into 16 Gundam properties for over 50 Mobile Suits. The game features a new "Next Dash System," which lets you cancel moves by pressing jump twice quickly, although you end up depleting much of your dash gauge. A release is set for Spring 2009.
Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 Deluxe is the latest in the line of racers inspired by both Tokyo Xtreme Racer and Michiharu Kusunoki's Wangan Midnight manga. This title has already made it out to location test (as reported [a href=http://www.andriasang.com/e/articles/2008/08/04/wangan_midnight_3_dx_location_test/]here in early August[/a]). The big update is the addition of a Nagoya highway, as well as new cars like the Lancer Revolution X and Impresa WRX STI. The game's story mode now numbers 100 chapters, with new chapters including Ishida Chapter, Chijou no Zero Chapter, and FD Master Chapter. The game's pamphlet also mentions something about some sort of 825 horse power vehicle being at last unlocked, but I don't know what that's supposed to mean. I suppose I should read this manga (or any manga, for that matter) at least once in my life.
As for Taiko no Tatsujin 12, my general policy is to not wait in line to play games with numbers seven and up, so I'll just pass on some of the features that were in the game's pamphlet, which is really just a colorful list of songs. The game will feature 112 songs in all. From the game genre comes Star Soldier Medley, Do Dai (from The Idol Master), Samurai Rocket (from Ridge Racer V), and a new medley from Super Mario Bros. Other features include character pics when selecting songs and new badges during two player mode.
Those of you who were reading the main channel when the site wasn't even live (and if so, get off my local network, ya bastad!) will recall a story about a developer blog posting noting that one of the big changes for the new title is the pronunciation of the number. Instead of the English "Twelve," it's read the proper Japanese "Jyuu-ni." Read [a href=http://www.andriasang.com/e/articles/2008/09/04/taiko_12_set_for_am_show/]the original story[/a] for further details.
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