New York Comic Con. The comics; the panels; the many, MANY people. And in one corner of the Javits Center: videogames! In recent years, videogames have become less of a staple at Con, culminating in just a few being on display this year. However, Capcom, Namco Bandai, and Square Enix still bring some cool titles to the show floor every year, and this year was no exception. In addition to these companies, there were also a few surprises lying around NYC Comic Con, if you knew where to look…
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Only a demo?! I wanted to steal the whole game!
I had played 505 Games’ Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (the Castlevania-inspired title directed by former series director Koji Igarashi) back at E3, and was eager to see how this demo differed from the one I played months ago. The answer? They made it easier! Or I just got better at the game, which is probably the more accurate statement. I got to control protagonist Miriam using a PS4 controller, which was a little uncomfortable, seeing as how all the prompts in the game were based off the Xbox One controller. Regardless, I soldiered on.
Whip it good!
Bloodstained is a fun action/RPG game that consists of exploring, backtracking, gaining abilities, destroying candle sticks for cash, and stabbing/whipping the crap out of creatures of the night. Throughout the roughly fifteen minute demo, I guided Miriam around a castle-like setting, leveling up and opening chests in secret corners and behind breakable walls that I knew to check due to my Symphony of the Night training. Now and again, either from maiming a foe or smashing special statues, shards of giant ice would fly into Miriam dramatically, impaling her stomach while also granting her special abilities (double jump, summoning a familiar to follow you around, etc.). The art style is cel shaded and looks great in motion. Miriam controlled well, even though I found her to feel a little weighty. I discovered a good mix of weapons that were either strong and powerful but took a while to wind up, or slightly weaker but were quicker to use (hello, whip!).
Dear Lord, she pushes it INTO herself!
After opening up a shortcut, finding some health potions, and learning an ability that let me shoot fireballs in any direction, I came upon the boss of the demo. She was a sexy vampire who could attack me with a river of blood and summon a literal army of umbrellas. Immediately when the fight started, the most kickass boss music EVER started playing. Careful timing and placement was required to win this battle because the boss could cause pillars of blood to rain from the ceiling and you needed to be in a safe spot to avoid damage. Back at E3, I used up all my potions fighting this boss. Here at NYC Comic Con, however, I only used one. I think I was more careful with finding safe spots to avoid the blood attacks and made better use of my fireballs and familiars. I also used the whip like a true Belmont would, while I used a weightier sword back at E3. The boss vanquished, I obtained an ability from her, but the demo ended before I found out what it was.
Goddamn dripping blood pillars…
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night looks to be shaping up quite nicely, and feels like a genuine continuation of Metroidvania titles like Symphony of the Night and Aria of Sorrow. Hopefully a release date will be locked down soon (there’s only a vague 2018 window so far, but a demo will be released before the actual launch) so I can know when to throw my money at this spiritual successor to Castlevania. Lord knows Konami is never gonna resurrect the series!
BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle
What do you get when you mix BlazBlue, Persona 4, RWBY, and Under Night In-Birth? A cross-over fighting game with anime and RPG characters! I was shocked this title was at the convention because it wasn’t lumped in with the other games on display (it was tucked away at Rooster Teeth’s floor space). Gameplay-wise, Cross Tag Battle is a two-on-two tag fighting game a la Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite where you can tag in your partner at any point and also combine your attacks with them. Both characters on a team must be defeated in order to claim victory.
I got to play a match with another young man who immediately cursed me for picking the same characters he was going to use (I went with familiar old Ragna from BlazBlue and completely foreign to me Ruby from RWBY). I overheard from the surrounding crowd that the Persona characters have similar button inputs to the ones they have in Persona 4 Arena, so if you are familiar with that game, you should be able to adjust to the Persona peeps in this title quite nicely. Ragna was also pretty much the same as he plays in BlazBlue, while Ruby was a new experience entirely as she is from an anime and was never in a fighting game before.
The game is quite anime, as you can see in this character select screen
I know what you are wondering: did I win the match? Yes, but only due to my familiarity with Ragna and mashing the same inputs I used for him when I managed to tag in Ruby. I pulled off some special moves, combos, and supers, and managed to prevail without losing a single team member. When all was said and done, my opponent shook my hand and was a good sport about the whole “you picked the same people I wanted to use, you ass” thing. Gameplay was fluid, attacks were flashy, and the presentation was top notch. It’s still quite a weird mixture of intellectual properties, but it works, and I can’t wait to play Cross Tag Battle some more. Like Ritual of the Night, Cross Tag Battle is looking to release sometime in 2018.
Oh, and I also got this sweet poster thingee from the reps there!
I don’t know who dreamed about this mashup, but bless their soul for doing so
Dragon Ball FighterZ
If you look closely, you can see Krillin getting his ass beat, just like on the show!
Speaking of fighting games, Dragon Ball FighterZ was over at Bandai Namco’s floor space! I played this game over at E3 and ended up QUITE EXCITED for it. For the uninitiated, Dragon Ball FighterZ is a three-on-three fighting game where you can tag TWO other characters into the war you are waging against your opponent (so more like Marvel vs. Capcom 2 than Infinite). I stood on line for about fifteen minutes to play and fought against another convention goer. I asked him if he had played the game before and he said no. Advantage: me. Bwahaha!
Is that….is that Trunks, I see?!
I immediately noticed that there were more characters to choose from than at the E3 demo: namely, Trunks and Android 18 (and Krillin, but I didn’t bother with him because I wanted to pick at least one person I had used before). Choosing the aforementioned son of Vegeta, lady cyborg, and Gohan for some familiarity, I graciously asked my opponent if he’d like to pick the stage. He went with Cell’s tournament arena, and the fight got underway.
Peep those character move lists underneath the screen!
Our fight started off evenly enough. Using Trunks, I got some good hits in and used some super moves, which I had committed to memory by glancing at his move list while waiting in line. I did notice some of his moves were automatic combos, which might irk some hardcore fighting game enthusiasts, but I didn’t mind them. I managed to defeat one of my opponent’s characters, switched to 18, and promptly got beaten. 18 is an interesting character to use because she calls in her twin, Android 17, for assistance with attacks. However, she’s weaker than other characters on the roster, even though she’s quite powerful in the anime, and her high damage intake combined with my inexperience with her lead to my losing her. Thankfully, I really took to Trunks and used him to destroy my opponent’s other two fighters, not needing to use Gohan at all.
It’s like watching an episode in motion
Dragon Ball FighterZ is my most anticipated title at the moment. It’s gorgeous, fast, controls well, and hits me with so many nostalgia feels, I need a Senzu Bean to recover. It releases on January 26th, 2018, right around my birthday, so you know I’m asking for it as a present.
By the way, I got this awesome keychain for winning my match that I gave to my loving partner. Hooray for con swag!
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
I was worried that Revenant Kingdom would have the same demo that I saw at E3, but luckily there was a mission to play that I had not seen before. Main character Evan, along with his buddy Roland, had to rescue the young pirate girl Tani from evil wyverns. I set out from the main pirate base to the cavern where she was being held. While on the overworld map, Evan and Roland turned into cute chibi characters, and enemies appeared along the way that you could either avoid or engage in battle.
I fought as many enemies as I could before reaching Tani so I could gain experience points. As I mentioned in my E3 coverage, Revenant Kingdom is an action RPG, so you are free to wail away on foes by mashing buttons while AI like Roland fight automatically. This is quite different than the original Ni no Kuni because that game used a turn-based system. Personally, I prefer the real time system because it feels faster paced. The supportive Higgledies made an appearance, providing assistance with buffs and healing spells when you joined their circles, which turn out to be necessities when you have strong adversaries to conquer. Evan could also dodge and block, which I constantly switched between because I like to play defensively.
Battles are fun and thrilling
When I got to the wyvern warlord, I wore him down with strong attacks and spells until he was weakened and I could provide the finishing blow. This was not so easy, since the warlord continually called upon other wyverns to come help him and make my life a living hell. Once the warlord was defeated, I was able to rescue Tani and complete the demo.
This guy wasn’t so tough!
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is a fun button mashy RPG that reminds me of the Kingdom Hearts series. It’s also quite beautiful and looks like a Studio Ghibli cartoon, which makes sense because some of their former staff are working on the title. I’m looking forward to the game’s release on January 19th, 2018, and not only because I have a sweet carrying case to put the game in:
Secret of Mana
The game does not look this nice
Oh, my poor beloved Secret of Mana. I played this remake of the SNES classic for five minutes before putting down the controller. The game’s visuals look like they came from an early PS2-era title. While graphics aren’t everything, the SNES version’s sprites have withstood the test of time and are still a delight to look at. This? Not so much. Music and sound effects were similar to the SNES game, but the voice acting was grating and a chore to listen to. The remade Secret of Mana can be yours on February 15th, 2018, but I’d track down a SNES Classic and play the original on there. Trust me on this.
I’m already a fan of this studio’s work
Lost Sphear‘s demo was short and sweet, just how I like it. I ran around town controlling main protagonist Kanata, with his buddy Lumina trailing behind. We had to ring the town bell due to a reported monster sighting. While on the way there, we searched for our friend Locke, who we found lying face down on the ground. He had collapsed due to a case of the munchies, which makes him the most over dramatic RPG character of all time. After ringing the bell, a townswoman pointed out the monster she had seen, who Locke took care of effortlessly. Our work done, we went to the village elder, who had forgotten to make a meal due to the whole confusion caused by the monster. After much whining from Locke, who I wanted to strangle dead, Kanata suggested we all fish for food. Like a moron, Locke ran on ahead to the nearby grove, and we followed.
Once Kanata and Lumina located the lake in the grove, I attempted to catch a fish. I managed to lure in a huge catch who turned out to be…Locke. He had tried to catch a fish with his bare hands but slipped inside the lake and almost drowned. Clearly, an RPG character for the ages. After luring in a real fish, my party attempted to leave but were ambushed by some tree/penguin hybrids. I got a chance to try out the combat, which was fun! Special skills weren’t available to use, but I got to move around and attack the enemy from any position around them. Lumina is able to punch foes to death, Kanata can whack them with a sword, and Locke can line them up and pierce all evildoers with arrows from his crossbow. What a great individual to grant this wonderful ability!
Those blue after images indicate where you can move your character for an attack
After vanquishing the leafy birds, my party was attacked by a giant yeti. While fighting this boss, a special prompt popped up that indicated I could use the Setsuna System, which was first introduced in I Am Setsuna. This meant my attack option turned blue and I could power up my strikes by pressing the square button when I saw a blue flash come onscreen. Using this technique, I was able to destroy the boss quite handily. Then, the town bell rang, and when I ventured back to the overworld map, a majority of the world had turned to white. This is where the demo ended.
Lost Sphear is turning out to be a fun title so far. I like the Setsuna System because it emphasizes timing and reminds me of another title that utilized something similar: Super Mario RPG. And while it can be said that the graphics look dated, they have a certain charm to them and do not make characters look like lifeless husks, as Secret of Mana does. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for this RPG when it releases on January 23rd, 2018.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT
Not pictured: the almighty Sephiroth
I had tried out Dissidia Final Fantasy NT‘s Beta on my PS4, but the demo at NYC Comic Con had more characters to play as. I selected someone not available in the Beta, FFVII‘s Sephiroth, and joined a three-on-three battle. After selecting our characters, each person voted on a summon to use in battle, and the one with the most votes won the right to be used (ice goddess Shiva was our chosen summon). Then, the battle commenced!
My girl Terra doing some damage!
Dissidia is a bit of a weird experience to play. The game uses this weird 3D perspective where you attack your opponents in a diagonal line, which I don’t like at all because it’s confusing to navigate. You can dash towards foes, create a barrier to protect yourself, and use Ex skills (three per character) to cause huge damage to your adversaries. Combat is button mashy: you basically wail on the x button to bring an enemy’s Bravery (basically hit points) down, then use the square button to deploy your special move to defeat them. It’s simple and fun with a group of friends that communicate well with each other.
Once the fight started, everyone ran around the map looking for summon spheres to attack. Whoever broke the summon sphere got to use the selected summon to wreck the opposing team. Shiva ended up getting summoned twice by our rivals, and I personally kept getting my butt kicked with attacks. Regardless of the constant ice shards and various strikes that kept connecting to my beloved Sephiroth, our team managed to win due to my teammates being more competent at the game than me AND the fact that Sephiroth is quite overpowered/has high defense. I also pulled off some fancy sword combos and poisoned the three characters on the other team with my Ex skill, which certainly helped!
Dissidia is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s great to see so many FF characters together in one game and the title can be thrilling in short bursts, but the controls and perspective are too awkward for me to really recommend. You’ll be able to give Dissidia a whirl when it launches January 30th, 2018.
Monster Hunter World
This Capcom joint had a line to play every day of the convention
I had heard about the popular Monster Hunter franchise, but never played a game in the series. The Monster Hunter World demo was my first time with the franchise, and I ended up enjoying the game quite a bit. I played with three other peeps on the line in a circle of four televisions. We accepted our bounty together and set off to hunt some monsters!
The game is stylish as all hell
I followed my teammates and stuck close to them with my pre-set hunter. Though we had headsets, we managed to converse with each other through actions. We kept scooping up these scents that helped us track our prey. There were also scout flies around that pointed towards our main objective. We found some smaller monsters before our main bounty that we practiced our attacks on. I learned how to dodge out of the way from a charging beast; a helpful technique to learn early. I also found out that my hunter had a giant rail gun with different types of ammo. I unloaded my regular bullets on the small monsters; combined with the might of my pals, they all fell pretty quickly. The main prey, however, proved quite difficult. My bullets barely did any damage to its tough skin, so I switched to armor piercing rounds to make some headway. He fell after an intense battle full of dodging, combining attacks with my friends, and waiting impatiently for my bullets to replenish, and we all collected our bounty as the demo ended.
I hope you get that sick sword early on
Monster Hunter World is a fun game to play, provided you have a team of up to four players to hunt with you. Though the game will contain a single player component, I can’t imagine World being much of an enjoyment without friends. Indeed, the whole thrill of hunting monsters comes from teamwork and thinking of strategies together; at least, that was the impression I got from this more open world title in the series. If you have friends that will ride and die with you, then I’d easily nominate Monster Hunter World as your next purchase when it releases on January 26th, 2018.
New York Comic Con 2017 was a good time, though it was quite obvious there were only three main publishers showing off videogames there. I didn’t play everything on offer, either: some games had already come out, while main draw Code Vein had a boss battle you could try to beat within a fifteen minute time limit. Since every person that tried out the demo had this time limit and could retry over and over again, regardless of how many times they died, I never managed to pierce through the never ending line for it. I’ll leave you with a sweet poster Namco Bandai gave me for Code Vein out of the goodness of their heart, as well as some pictures of me (including one with Senior Author Derek Bartnett). Until next year!