As much fun as the E3 show floor is, there is something peaceful about the off-floor meeting rooms. One might even call it a zen experience after the chaos and cacophony of 20 booths all playing dubstep. One of these pleasant meetings was with our friends at Zen Studios to take a look at two of their upcoming titles.
The first was KickBeat, which tasks players with fighting off opponents attacking from four sides. You’ll be able to direct your kicks, punches and other cool martial arts moves with the touchscreen, d-pad or face buttons (or any in combination) in time with the music. The game, which ships between three and six months from now, will launch with 18 tracks spanning drum and bass, hip hop and metal. The team from Zen put together a setlist of tunes that are “good for fighting.” They’ve even been working with an indie artist to create music specifically for the game, creating a synergy of independent passions. Should you decide to change it up a bit, you’ll be able import music from your library and kick a little butt to the beat.
The art is entirely hand drawn. Whenentered production, they idea was to use motion capture, but it simply wasn’t precise enough for a rhythm title. I had the opportunity to see exactly why, as Creative Director Neil Sorens took on a fast song at the highest difficulty. Powerups were used to shield himself, increase his multiplier and restore life while an unending, blindingly fast onslaught of foes rushed in. He often had little warning when attacks were coming and, frequently, multiple button presses were required at once.
We also had a chance to look at Castle Storm, a “2D archery RTS physics-based destruction game.” As much as I loved what I saw, I think we’ll hold off on adding that as a permanent category here at RipTen. That’s a good thing, though. What Zen had on display borrowed a lot from a number of different genres, but was entirely unique. You’ll build your castle with a variety of different rooms that spawn different troops and provide unique bonuses. Once things get started, you’ll be tasked with survival, destroying the other castle or a clever take on Capture the Flag. The beauty is that, if you destroy part of your opponent’s castle, the affected rooms no longer function. Since the game is physics based, you’ll be able to do significant damage by taking out lower floors. Gravity is a bitch.
As you manually spawn AI units to break down the gates of the opposing fortress, you’ll have control over a huge ballista located at the front of your encampment. You’ll earn coins for killing enemy troops (similar to a tower defense game), fueling your forces or magic spells. We didn’t get a chance to see any of these in action, but you’ll be able to configure your loadout to support five of these special abilities during a match.
While I didn’t get to play either title myself, I was extremely impressed with both the concepts and execution of what I saw. I wanted to grab the controller for Sorens and try my hand at both engaging and amusing games. KickBeat can’t get here fast enough, especially with the Vita’s limping performance and floundering lineup. Castle Storm looks to be the perfect game to elicit moans of despair from a friend online or on the couch. I expect there will be nothing like forcing him or her to watch the most important room in the castle turn into rubble.
Both titles will be available later this year, with KickBeat on Vita and Castle Storm on consoles (downloadable), PC, portables and mobile devices.