THE LAST GUARDIAN
ZB: Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. Right off the fucking bat. Hazy, sepia Icocore shit. I don’t care that the demo was kinda limp. How well would Ico demo in this setting? I want to curl up with this game for hours and build a beautiful relationship with my griffin until that inevitably-tragic turn, revealing that every time he helps me it drains a little more of his lifeforce until he eventually withers away with one final, pained coo. Or maybe while navigating a physics puzzle he puts one foot wrong and disappears into the abyss without a sound. In this way I will come a step closer toward reckoning with the looming spectre of death.
ZK: They got us hook, line, and sinker, dude. They could do anything and we’d be on board. They could have that chihuahua dragon sitting there licking its butthole and we’d all be tearing our faces off in excitement like that nerd in Poltergeist. Instead, we got to watch a few minutes of material that can be best summarized as “run you idiot” and we’re willing to sell our firstborn children for it.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
ZB: What the hell! Where’d this come from? A Margaret Atwood book with super-lush hair technology and robot dinosaurs? Sign me up!
ZK: Somewhere out there, Michael Bay is cursing that somebody beat him to the plot of Transformers 18: Shadow of the Beasites.
ZB: I want to cover myself in furs and carve out a meager existence among deadly robodinos, watching a new world bloom from the ashes of the apocalypse. Also: explosions.
ZK: Just do me a favour and don’t grow dreadlocks. We have enough white people with dreadlocks in videogames, and far too many in the real world.
ZB: Snappy trailer. Editing team did a bang-up job there. This man’s name is Asad Qizilbash, which is immediately better than Hitman.
ZB: Regardless of his value to Hitman, he’ll always be worth a fortune in Scrabble.
ZK: I don’t know, do I want the world to know about my dreams? I once dreamed that I was responsible for the Titanic sinking, being manipulated by a sockpuppet I was wearing. As a kid I had real Kafka shit going down, dreamt my mom turned into a cricket, my brother into a wolf, and we battled the Addams Family. On a good day I’m an X-Man, on a bad day I’m a xenomorph. Now Media Molecule wants me to show the world about my inner fluffy puppet demons.
ZB: Motherfuck me this is gorgeous. It reminds me of that weird-ass mixed media comic art trend in the 90s, when Dave McKean was king. If this is just an animation studio, cool, but I’m not 100% what it is? I suppose anything is possible … in Dreams.
ZK: How many people do you think are just going to be upfront and recreate dreams that they thought were just the boring ass day they were having? I never even finished my LittleBigPlanet level: In The Mouth of Madness recreated with kittens.
Destiny: The Taken King
ZB: If there’s one thing I know about Destiny, it’s how story-driven it all is, right? Listen to this voiceover. Positively Shakespearean. A gigantic glowing skeleton appears onscreen right as the words “You killed his son” are spoken. I’m sorry, what? I killed whose son? The fucking magic skeleton? How did he procreate, exactly? Is he even capable of love?
ZK: I took a strategic pee break during this but I got back in time to see that the final boss is Diablo.
ZB: Oh, and here’s Assassin’s Creed again. Bet ya thought ya saw the last of us, eh mate? YA DEAD FOOKIN WRONG.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
ZB: I tried playing this game as a child. I will not try playing this game as an adult.
ZK: I remember being intimidated by it because it was the game the cool kids in the schoolyard talked about and I wasn’t a cool kid. God, am I cool enough to play Final Fantasy VII? This could be some closure. Cloosure. Coolsure… No, no I’m not cool enough am I?
ZK: “Yes, it would be so great to have this game funded. Amazing, we’re very glad that SONY invited us on the SONY stage to tell you that we’re crowdsourcing our game. Boy, oh, oh geez it sure would be nice if someone just threw a bunch of money at us to make this game, that’d be real dandy, anyways thank you SONY for having us here. Like, someone who usually funds games, with lots of money, neato, right SONY? Just make a game happen by snapping its fingers. Oh well, this is really great, thank you SONY. So much, SONY. Totally appreciate it. Those free sandwiches back stage were to die for.”
ZB: This seems sort of … gross? All it needed was a little Sarah McLachlan to really tie things off. Yu Suzuki all cowed and doe-eyed in a cage. “In the United States, a Shenmue goes unmade every five minutes. They need your help.”
ZK: I expect to see Shawn Layden chained to a tree at the next Enbridge pipeline demonstration. “Sony PlayStation is very proud to be here,” he’ll say. Ah well, there will be a new Shenmue out of it. And more importantly, this guy:
Batman: Arkham Knight
ZK: An officer of the law shooting at innocent people? What a fictional nightmare!
ZB: Doesn’t this come out in like a week? Obviously the spirit of All-Star Batman inspired this … daring long take of Joker’s corpse being cremated. And yeah, I need a little more context before I get dropped into whatever the hell happened in that diner.
ZB: Not giving a particularly hard sell on Morpheus, despite having the most deliciously allusive name of any VR contraption.
ZK: That’s where you’re wrong, Zach. Take it off. You’ve been wearing one for the last seven months!
Call of Duty: Black Ops III
ZB: Hello Playstation nation!!! This man is obviously a little tipsy. Call of Duty multiplayer has gotten deviously fast. Is this the true power of 60 frames per second? I feel like my OT level isn’t high enough to keep up. This shit is like Unreal Tournament-fast, kills happening offscreen because you’ve already moved on to the next guy, and the next guy after him. Solid gunfeel, good shootcrunch.
ZK: I sleep safer at night knowing America is defended by covert black operatives such as these.
Star Wars Infinity
ZB: Disney’s hype man has the elocution skills of a king. He’s bellowing like Brian Blessed on that stage. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he’s not even miked up. Dude has probably been killing it in all-company meetings for 20 years, and if you think he can’t sell a playset you’re dead wrong.
ZK: Any excuse to hit Billy Crystal with a lightsaber is a good one.
Star Wars Battlefront
ZB: The explosions in this game are next-fucking-level. They’re stunning. I can’t say enough about the particle effects. And the sounds on the blaster! That bass kicks, dude. One might say the production value is … out of this world, no?
ZK: I wonder how much it’ll cost to download the Gungan DLC.
Uncharted 4: Not Silent Hills
ZB: This, the Final Reveal, the One More Thing, is not Silent Hills, and like a parent who secretly wishes their son was a daughter, I will always despise it for what it is not. I’ll see it on the PlayStation Store and be reminded that the curtains of my desperate hope were drawn back to reveal Uncharted 4 and not my sweet baby Silent Hills.
ZK: Maybe this is the long game—maybe this was P.T. Go back, scan the crowd during that part where Drake is just standing frozen in the market. Maybe it wasn’t a glitch, maybe it wasn’t an accident, maybe the world was wrong, maybe something was… ~off~ You see the driving sequence? Sully fucking pats Drake on the shoulder during the casual car escape conversation. This is a game about details. I’m sure we’ve missed a clue, and I’m sure the internet will find it for us.
ZB: The demo came to a hard stop immediately upon entering gameplay when Nathan Drake refused to move forward, visibly resisting the controller inputs. He strained, sweating, but held his ground. They would not make him move, no, not this time. Those bastards, Drake thought, as his whole body tensed and twitched with the effort. His teeth ground against each other. He could feel them up there, snapping their little sticks and tapping their buttons, but he knew he’d already won. He would not dance for them. Not tonight. Let them play their video. Tonight he would rest.
ZK: Is there anything more “uncharted” than the shadows of the human mind?
Star Fox Zero
ZK: I think a good Star Fox needs to chug under its own weight: nothing made the first Andross fight more intense than the fact the game could barely process what was happening and I could die at any moment without seeing what hit me.
ZB: Platinum Games are involved, but dang this looks rough. I have no love for the Fox, which gets at the weirdness of Nintendo announcements: it’s more about Your Favorite Characters than the game they’re starring in.
ZK: Congrats, really specific fanfic writers, Reggie turned into a bird.
ZB: Not to get political here, guys, but maybe a Japanese game about flying planes into combat should not be called “zero?”
ZK: It’s fine, Miyamoto based the games off those Thunderbird puppets, which are more traumatising to our generation anyway.
The Ghost of Metroid Primes Past
ZB: I have to contradict my high-horse statement from two seconds ago, because I love Metroid and this bizarre cutesy 3DS chaff looks like no one’s idea of a fun Metroid game. What the fuck is this, honestly.
ZK: Do you think they came up with this overnight to sell us on Blastball?
Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer
ZK: Now we can finally stop the gentrification of Dogsbuttsville.
ZB: My home will be so goddamn happy. This is a HAPPY. HOME.
ZK: We’re happy here, in the happy house. Oh, it’s such fun, fun, fun.
ZB: Imagine Animal Crossing: Broken Home. Amityville Crossing.
Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival
ZB: Goddamn, another strange husk of a game. I don’t think the bar for an Animal Crossing title is particularly high. Picking apples, talking to Boots, digging up sacks of money. I guess turning it into an Amiibo incentive is inevitable in hindsight.
ZK: Oh sure, but if it was turned into a tabletop game it’d be a pick of the year.
Yoshi’s Woolly World
ZB: Mario rides Yoshi, Yoshi rides his dog. The cycle continues unabated.
ZK: If this gets as popular here as it is in Japan we’re in trouuuble. I was there with my parents, they were in every 7-11, on every transit ad. My Dad kept asking if they were Pokemon, and I told him yes, because it’d be splitting hairs to say anything else.
ZB: Don’t forget to Use Parental Controls to restrict 3D mode for children 6 and under. Nintendo knows there’s a Fatal Frame coming for the Wii U, right? Let’s juice this thing up a little.
Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash
ZK: Anyone who thinks Mario Tennis isn’t fun should go smell a fart. I lived across from a tennis court for a year and didn’t bat an eye except for the time the fire alarm went off at 2am and it sounded like a UFO was landing, but you put a racket in a skeleton turtle’s hand and you have my attention.
ZB: Anyone who doesn’t like Mario Tennis is already smelling a fart as they open their fetid fart mouths to express such an awful opinion. This seems like Nintendo tossing a bone to their equivalent of a “core gamer” audience, like Call of Duty at the PS4 event.
Super Mario Maker
ZB: Nintendo’s most exciting showing is just them saying “fuck it, make your own Mario game” while old-hand company men salivate over tiny frictive details of level design. Nintendo does not fucking care about what we want from them. This impression is bolstered by their closing footage, a victory lap of people liking Mario, a popular Nintendo character. As Mario waves his stout Italian dick around for a good five minutes I can’t help but wonder: why do we care so much about this small man?
ZK: As long as it includes those dogs that sang the Mario theme.
ZB: Those dogs learned to sing by playing Wii Music.
Just Cause 3
ZB: In the spirit of this game: sure, why not. The man from Square Enix is speaking very much from the heart right now. Square have made mistakes; we all have. But they’re learning. They want you to know that they’re learning and they’re listening and they will do better. Also, guys, thanks for making that Just Cause 2 mod.
ZK: I was a very picky Just Cause player. I would replay missions over and over to ensure I was destroying property in a meticulous, effective and arranged manner so I wouldn’t miss anything by mistake. I’m really great at not getting the point of things.
ZB: Just Cause 3 takes place in a “Mediterranean-inspired world” … so, Olive Garden? It will be out December 1st and the audience clapped for the recitation of that date. To be fair, this is basically a Fast & Furious game, so I’m clapping too.
ZK: They couldn’t even wait for the car to hit the ground before exploding it, these guys are dangerous. The Fast directors should be nervous.
ZB: They got a guy to read gameplay features over this footage in a tremendously stentorian baritone. I assume he fit this recording session in during a run as Falstaff at the local community theater.
Nier New Project
ZB: This guy is from Business Division 6, which is very foreboding. Nier is interesting, but Business Division 6 sounds more interesting.
ZK: We don’t talk about Business Division 6. Someone at Square Enix isn’t going to see the sunrise.
ZB: “So how was that,” the man from Business Division 6 asks, though he is uninterested in your opinion. Then he brings onstage a creature with awful peeled-back lips and a fixed rictus grin, its eyes milky-white and dead. “I hope you enjoyed it.” He does not mean this.
ZK: “I feel I don’t have anything to do here,” says the man in a death mask.
ZB: Aren’t Platinum also doing a Transformers game, Scalebound, and the Star Fox game?
ZK: You’ll be a busy bee too when the skeleton man of Business Division 6 rings the little bell.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
ZB: This game is afraid of ever taking a breath. Go go go run run run jump duck shoot do not explore do not solve puzzles. Enjoy sprinting through those “massive gameplay spaces.”
ZK: Shooting bears makes for great pathos.
ZB: They’re ostensibly putting the “tombs” back into “tomb raider.” Can you siphon out the rest of the game while you’re at it? Reading Hieroglyphs by Torchlight With Lara Croft coming early 2016.
Lara Croft Go
ZB: Okay, this is what I’m looking for. Very ambient. And that dragon let out a Godzilla roar at the end there, I know it.
ZK: Eh, wake me up when we have Gex Go.
Kingdom Hearts III
ZB: I can sense the nostalgia trigger points in this FF7 video, being played here again, but they are foreign to me.
ZK: Sorry for all the lead-up. Now, without any further ado—oh HEY it’s Roy!
ZB: Roy! You son of a bitch! How’s your wife, you piece of shit!
ZK: Damn Roy, damn, been too long Roy. Ah, ahhh we gotta catch up some time Roy, we gotta get a beer Roy. Ah, I love ya Roy. I fucking love ya. This guy, Roy. Christ.
ZB: Jesus, the voice acting in this game. Top-shelf anime-ass pseudophilosophical portent. Two impossibly-coiffed men reenacting scenes from The Seventh Seal over a glittering chessboard. Some other interesting things here include a magic rainbow train and Goofy.
ZK: You got attacks based on the tea cups, the swinging ship, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, $15 pizza slices, hats shaped like the Aristocats. The Haunted Mansion attack is flashing a hanging corpse in front of only the youngest, most impressionable minions. And why stop at The Seventh Seal? If we’re really lucky, Sora and friends will hit up the universe of Scenes from a Marriage.
ZB: Someone pitch Bergman Hearts, quick!
ZK: Oh Sora, my little Sora, what voyages await you this night.
Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness
ZB: I wasn’t going to say anything about this game, but that’s a hell of a subtitle. The developer also appears to be raiding Dracula’s wardrobe.
ZK: That’s why you gotta name your games while doing a crossword puzzle. Two birds, one stone.
ZB: Star Ocean just unwittingly named the next Pallbearer record. Also, this game appears to be about a nightmare where you can’t escape from an anime. Every time you think you’ve neared the end of the anime it just keeps stretching forward into a terrible infinity. Kinda like Attack on Titan!
ZK: Or my friend circles in grade 9! A whirlpool of anime you just want to claw your way out of.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
ZB: “Mechanical apartheid,” huh? I’m not sure District 9 was that airtight an allegory, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. That last Deus Ex was kind of an aesthetic in search of a game, but this seems like Videogame Dystopia 101, all thematically-relevant graffiti and riot cops and government panopticons.
ZK: “Adam Jensen, your first mission is to hack the Houston Astros’ database.”
ZB: “It’s not a spinoff or remake but a completely new series.” The man presenting this is a hair’s breadth from just launching into a blistering recitation of Square’s financials, complete with Powerpoint, laser pointing, and brow sweat. Now everyone is onstage as a sizzle reel plays, clapping and shaking hands. The creature in a mask has returned as well, clapping with his fingers splayed bizarrely, and I’m beginning to think I’m the only person that can see him. Is this the last episode of Evangelion?
ZK: Maybe this is also Ghost Recon.
ZK: Oh my god there’s another livestream? For personal computers? I’m going outside. I’m going to play the ultimate game, it’s called life. It’s called getting a hot dog. It’s called haggling the bulk store clerk for a fistful of chocolate covered almonds.
ZB: We’ll be back tomorrow to round up new software for your Personal Computer and any stray junk that seems interesting. Goodbye for now, and don’t forget to say hello to Roy.