I played a lot of games at E3 this year. There were so many games there that, despite my initial plans to play everything, I quickly had to prioritize and pick and choose what was worth my time. I felt like a kid going to Disneyland for the first time… But despite thoroughly enjoying myself and being overwhelmed at the selection of games before me, there were definitely some games I had hoped to see at this year’s E3 that sadly didn’t seem to make it.
While Nintendo dominated the headlines with the Wii U, they seemed eager to push games for the original Wii onto the backburner: while Skyward Sword still obviously got lots of attention (and deservedly so,) other Wii games, like the new 4-player Kirby Wii and the Mario Party-meets-Dragon Quest party game Fortune Street simply appeared at Nintendo’s floor booth with no formal announcement… But while those games are nice, rumors were circulating that Nintendo was going to finally localize 3 of their oft-requested, Japan-only titles: Hironobu Sakaguchi’s (creator of Final Fantasy) new and apparently very innovative RPG “The Last Story,” as well as Japanese open-world RPG (!) “Xenoblade” and the very God of War-esque third person action game “Pandora’s Tower.”
But E3 has come and gone, and Nintendo remains hesitant to release these games outside of their home territory. All 3 of these games were well received both critically and commercially in Japan, which makes Nintendo’s decision to deprive starved Wii owners of these potential hits even more perplexing. I was hoping for the announcement of The Last Story in particular; people who’ve played it only have extremely positive things to say about it, and if there was any game out there that could restore public interest in the now woefully unpopular J-RPG genre, it would be The Last Story. The truly frustrating thing about this situation is that one of the before mentioned games, Xenoblade (which also got very good reviews in Japan,) is actually coming out in Europe and in English, meaning that Nintendo has already allocated the resources needed to localize the game, but they still stubbornly refuse to release it in America. With Nintendo hesitant to release these 3 games in the US, it’s starting to seem like Skyward Sword is going to be the first and only reason to dust off your Wii this year, and depressingly enough, it could possibly the last high-profile Nintendo console game until the Wii U’s launch.
Likewise, with the Playstation Vita set to succeed the aging PSP, it seems like Americans are set to miss out on the last generation of great PSP games as well; while Japanese gamers continue to enjoy a steady stream of releases for Sony’s embattled handheld, including high profile sequels like Valkyria Chronicles 3 and Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, the PSP remains, to put it bluntly, dead in the West: outside of some (great) releases by niche publisher Xseed, it seems that publishers are just as eager to abandon the PSP as they are the original Wii, and we may miss out on some great games as a result. At the very least, we can hope that some of these games will be localized and brought over to the US as part of Sony’s “PSP Remasters” line of PSP-to-PS3 ports, but, as much as it pains me to say it, I wouldn’t hold my breath for Monster Hunter Portable 3rd: the series has never been a big seller in the US, and Capcom only brought over the Wii version of 3 because Nintendo helped shoulder some of the costs… With Capcom now attempting to make a more Western-centric version of Monster Hunter in the form of “Dragon’s Dogma,” I don’t think we’ll be seeing much more of Monster Hunter on Western shores anytime soon.
Moving onto HD games, Ubisoft continues to remain silent regarding the status of Beyond Good and Evil 2; the sequel to the 2003 cult-classic was announced 2 years ago via a short CG trailer, and nothing about the game has surfaced since. As someone who’s a huge fan of the original game (download it for $10 on XBLA or PSN, its definitely worth it,) I hope that Ubisoft is still producing a sequel, but usually when a game drops off the face of the Earth like this, with no status updates or previews for over 2 years, it means that the game has been quietly cancelled.
But while we may never see Beyond Good and Evil 2, there was a big no-show at this year’s E3 that we will probably get to play, the only question now is when: Grand Theft Auto 5. The next entry in Rockstar’s flagship franchise was rumored to be unveiled at this year’s E3 (rumored to appear as a launch title for the Wii U, no less,) but obviously that announcement didn’t happen. Everyone knows that a new GTA is inevitable, the only question now is when and on what platform. GTA5 will obviously be a huge deal when it’s announced, and the fact that Rockstar choose to skip E3 entirely this year leads me to believe they’re saving the big news for their own press event, probably sometime later this year, when they won’t have to compete for attention against all the other big E3 news.
The final big E3 rumor that was circulating around the internet before the start of this year’s big show was that Microsoft was going to tease their next console, but like the other rumors in this article, that too turned out to be false, but this is one rumor that was better left unfulfilled: Microsoft has no reason to want to see this console generation end: the 360 still dominates in terms of software sales, the Kinect has made in-roads into cannibalizing Nintendo’s casual market (not to mention gladly accepting some of the Wii’s shovelware, ‘sup Kinect Star Wars and Kinect Carnival Games,) and 360 consoles are still selling briskly; while fanboys may lament the system’s lack of exclusives this year or big surprise announcements, in terms of financials, Microsoft is in a good place with their current system. While we may hear some more concrete details about the Next Xbox in 2012, I wouldn’t expect more than a logo or a pre-rendered tech demo at most, and I wouldn’t expect to see the actual system go on sale until 2013 or 2014 at the absolute earliest.