OCC E3 2013 AwardsClayMeow - July 2, 2013
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Best Platforming Game
Winner: Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee: New 'n Tasty! (PC, PS3, PS4, 360, XBO, Wii U, Vita)
The Oddworld series is one of those franchises that has been around for a while, but the later games left the 2D side-scrolling nature behind for a more 3D look. Luckily, Abe's Oddysee: New 'n Tasty changes all that, as this is an HD version keeping that 2D feel in a 3D engine while introducing some new elements. One of the benefits of a 3D engine is that the faster Abe moves, the more the world shifts to give a better view of what's ahead. Maybe there's a Slig that just enters the screen, and instead of running head first into it, you can slow down and work your way around it. The 3D engine also means any flip screen scrolling elements from the original are gone, since there's no longer a need for them.
Calling New 'n Tasty an HD remake isn't entirely accurate, as the entire game is being built from the ground up in 3D. Many of the puzzles and levels are kept intact, but all the original FMVs are now redone in the new engine. Some modern gaming elements have been added too, like a quicksave system that is rather nice to see. Actually, Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee making a return is nice to see, as I think a platformer with puzzles to solve is a good break from the typical games. Plus it's coming out on pretty much every platform available, so there's no reason to not pick this game up and experience it.
Runners-Up: Knack (PS4), Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate (Vita, 3DS)
Knack is a platformer that we haven't really seen much of, not just because it's a new game but also in terms of what the platforming genre has become. In many ways, Knack is a throwback to the likes of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon (most likely because designer Mark Cerny worked on those games), with an almost animated movie feel to its visual design. That's not to say the game doesn't look amazing, because it does, and it also means this is a platformer for everyone. It doesn't look like it relies on a complicated control scheme or even feature sweeping cinematics. Knack just looks like a game where you can kick back and have some fun, regardless of age.
The Batman: Arkham series has proven that a truly great Batman game can actually exist, with the third game, Arkham Origins, due out later this year. We're also going to be getting Arkham Origins Blackgate at the same time, but this isn't like the other members of the series. Blackgate is a 2.5D platformer for the Vita and 3DS, with the action taking place after Arkham Origins. Many of the mechanics and items from the big versions are making their way to Blackgate, just with some tweaks. The combat system is being entirely reworked, while Batman can move not just left to right, but also in the background or foreground. Blackgate includes the detective/predator vision too, but now Batman can see the sightlines of the enemies in order to stay hidden better. The game looks impressive on the handhelds, and with a story introducing Catwoman for the first time and further developing Batman's working relationship with a young Captain Gordon, this is definitely a game you won't want to miss if you own either a Vita or 3DS.
Winner: Puppeteer (PS3)
If we had a Most Unique category, Sony's Puppeteer would certainly be in the running. Puppeteer tells the story of a boy name Kutaro, who was turned into a puppet and had his dead torn off by the evil Moon Bear King. Kutaro steals the Moon Bear King's magical scissors, Calibrus, and then sets out on a dangerous quest to retrieve his head. Howeve, you'll not be playing as a headless puppet boy – Kutaro has the ability to pick up heads along the way, each granting him different powers, such throwing bombs or deploying a hook. According to Creative Director Gavin Moore, there are 100 heads throughout the game and your heads act as life – you can have three heads at a time and if you get hit and lose a head, you have three seconds to recover it before you die. You can also switch heads on-the-fly, which is quite essential during boss battles.
What sets Puppeteer apart from other 2.5D platformers is its setting – a magical theater. The theater changes every five to ten minutes, with the sets rotating and moving in and out. The characters in the game also frequently break the fourth wall, talking to the audience and narrator. If Tim Burton created a video game, it would look very much like Puppeteer – a dark fairy tale with vibrant colors.
Runners-Up: Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate (Vita, 3DS), CounterSpy (PS3, Vita, Mobile), Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee: New 'n Tasty! (PC, PS3, PS4, 360, XBO, Wii U, Vita)
While Batman: Arkham Origins is getting the majority of the spotlight, there's a spin-off in the works for handheld devices that is equally exciting. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is a 2.5D side-scrolling platformer coming to PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS on the same day as its big brother. Transforming the Batman Arkham series into a 2.5D platformer is a huge risk, but if the gameplay demo shown at E3 is any indication, it's going to pay off. Blackgate takes place after the events of Origins with Batman investigating Blackgate Prison in the wake of a prison riot. It also happens to tell the story of how Batman first met Catwoman. A demo of the game was playable on the Vita at E3 and from what I saw, it captures the essence of the Batman Arkham series perfectly. I didn't see the 3DS version, but I can tell you the game looks gorgeous on the Vita's OLED display. If you're a fan of the Batman Arkham games and own one of the handhelds, Blackgate is shaping up to be a must-have companion.
CounterSpy is an action espionage game set during the Cold War that tasks you with infiltrating a base to prevent a missile from launching. While CounterSpy looks like your typical 2.5D platformer on the surface, when the player goes into cover, the camera swivels around to provide a 3D view, giving the game quite a lot of depth during firefights. I guess you can consider it the first 2.75D platformer. The art style itself is very stylized, giving a blocky, paint-like look. If you haven't heard of the game before, I advise you check out the gameplay demo.
Oddworld: New 'N Tasty! is an HD remake of 1997's Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, a 2D side-scrolling platformer. What's really appealing about New 'N Tasty is seeing the series go back to its side-scrolling platformer beginnings, unlike the most recent titles that were 3D platformers and shooters. Based on what was shown at E3, New 'N Tasty seems to capture the feel of original game while pouring on a nice new fresh coat of paint. If side-scrolling platformers aren't your thing and you enjoy 3D platformers more, Knack, Tearaway, and Super Mario 3D World were all very impressive.