The international game developer and publisher Bandai Namco recently showcased a number of upcoming games that cover the platform spectrum, from mobile to console. We take a quick look at the event and our impressions of the games we saw and played. Ready, set, go!
Bandai Namco hosted the all-day event at a hotel in San Francisco, where waves of a couple dozen press every couple hours explored on their own rows of stations for each game. Each station was aided by a helpful Bandai Namco staffer or two. In the middle of the room was Shinobi Striker, with eight stations to play capture the flag in 4v4 multiplayer. At the ends of the rooms, Tekken 7 was featured and, on the far end, the upcoming Soul Caliber.
Playing big name games from a big name company can be thirsty work for anyone, press included, so tea, coffee and even adult beverages after noon were on tap. Oh, and a BBQ lunch was made available too, to get the media over the mid-day hump.
Arguably this much-anticipated installment in the long-running Soul Calibur franchise was the star of the show. Offering six characters — Sophitia, Mitsurugi, Nightmare, Kilik, Xianghua and the new eye-patched character Grøh — the first five characters felt very familiar and the game play did to me too. The moves felt like the original Soul Calibur, while the bumped-up speed of the game was more akin to the first Soul Calibur sequel.
The “flow” of the matches, however, are affected by a cinematic and game-changing “reverse edge” mechanic. This mechanic is charged and then kicked in by charging a slow-motion sequence that allows players to select a move that has a rock-scissors-paper function. In that brief moment, players can make an impact on the momentum of the game with a single move. It not only looks slick when you see it in action, it gives everyone a shot at staying in their match.
Take a look at the new official character reveal trailer to get a taste of those six characters and the game visuals in action.
NARUTO TO BORUTO: SHINOBI STRIKER:
Shinobi Striker was one of my favorite games to play, based on how much fun I had playing the 4v4 capture the flag mode, with a mix of media and Bandai Namco folks. It came as a bit of a surprise to me, since I’ve never really been a huge Naruto fan, but I know some of the lore and the look and feel of the anime, so I could appreciate the work that went into the smaller visual touches that made the game, during my time playing it, feel authentic to the source material.
With a range of cel-shaded characters from the Naruto series to pick from, with characters defined by Attack, Defense, Range and Healer roles. Kakashi-sensei was my (Attack type) tank go-getter character. Matched against some twisted and turning rugged scenery, which was as much of a hazard as the players I was matched against, I occasionally found myself plummeting to my doom after jumping from a perspective-bending wall run into the void. But, the characters can also charge jumps to leap across broad spans (and opponents), which was helpful. Still, it doesn’t hurt at all to coordinate with your fellow teammates, rather than tying to be a hero. Speaking of that, the sense of comradery was instant, with commands and call-outs, even if we were scattered at different parts of the 4×4 table set-up.
I found it a very accessible game to pick up and play, whether one is familiar with multiplayer games or not. I can also see this game turning up in competitive games tournaments after it’s released later this year.