It is that time of the year again already, Lusipundits. No, it is not time for Caspius.com’s Oliver Motok to take his annual bath in the creek outback, but rather for gamers to once again descend on the Washington State Convention & Trade Center for 2011’s Penny Arcade Expo! PAX 2011 sees intriguing offerings on the part of Caspius.com’s oft featured Japanese publishers, albeit with a surprising lack of Japanese software on their books.
The Eidos side of the Square Enix business is leading from the front this year with the largely well received Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which launched in North America this week. The theme of Western developed sandbox RPG goodness continues strongly with the first person zombie masher, Dead Island, which is fast approaching its impending release on the sixth of September. Square Enix’s high profile line-up is then further augmented by the inclusion of their own promising shot at redemption for the Final Fantasy XIII project, with Final Fantasy XIII-2 to see a Western release in the new year, whereupon players may enjoy such luxuries as towns, shops, and NPCs.
Square Enix will also be looking to showcase some of their lesser known titles with the presence of French developer Ankama’s MMORPG for PC and Mac, Wakfu, which is currently undergoing Beta testing. Wakfu will then be joined by American studio n-Space’s multiplayer-centric 3DS RPG, Heroes of Ruin, which will see release in the first quarter of 2012. Finally, Square Enix have indicated that PAX 2011 will see the announcement of a new title being developed in partnership with Airtight Games, during their exclusive panel on the 27th of August. The project is being headed by Creative Director Kim Swift, who has previously worked on Portal and both Left 4 Dead games. The new project is described by Square Enix as “quirky“.
There will also be plenty of Square Enix swag available at PAX 2011, with a release party of sorts being thrown for Deus Ex: Human Revolution in the Diller Room, where gamers may indulge in food and drink, win exclusive swag and prizes, and sample the game via Eyefinity stations set up in partnership with AMD. Additionally, Square Enix’s “Word to Your Moogle” tour is set to stop over at PAX for its duration. Gamers will be able to sample Final Fantasy XIII-2, and will subsequently receive an envelope containing an alphabetic letter which they will be able to combine with fellow attendees in order to win fabulous prizes including: “Word to Your Moogle” Tshirts, discounted merchandise at the Square Enix shop, and signed copies of Final Fantasy XIII-2!
If Square Enix’s internally developed content was scant, then Atlus’ output can best be described as nonexistent – unsurprising given the recent release of Catherine by the Persona team. Happily Atlus’ showing will be little weakened by this absence, given the publisher’s strong showing of niche titles, among which is ACE Team’s follow up to Zeno Clash, Rock of Ages. The game is described as a tower defense game with additional ball rolling mechanics (along the lines of Monkey Ball), and is fast approaching its August release date over PSN, XBLA, and Steam. Rock of Ages will be joined by Trine 2, the sequel to Frozenbyte’s well received platformer, which was recently enjoyed by Caspius.com’s own Ashley ‘Thea’ Polio, who gave it a glowing review. Finally, Atlus will be showcasing the latest entry in SNK’s venerable fighting series, King of Fighters XIII, a staple series of the ailing arcade scene for the last decade, and a title which looks set to release during October of this year on both the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles.
Speaking of relics from the arcade era, Sega is to be out in force for PAX 2011, showcasing a robust line-up of franchises both new and old! The biggest game on Sega’s floor this year is undoubtedly Gearbox’s sci-fi themed FPS,Aliens: Colonial Marines, which is set to launch in calendar year 2012 on virtually every system known to man. Fans of Sega’s Japanese development efforts are also to receive the sci-fi shooter treatment with the Yakuza Team’s forthcoming squad-shooter, Binary Domain, which is to be released on the Xbox 360 and PS3 in February 2012. Sega fans looking to mark Sonic’s 20th anniversary are also in luck with Sonic Team’s Sonic Generations, a game which will allow players to tackle stages using either ‘classic’ (2D) or ‘modern’ (3D) mechanics – the game is to see release on the PS3, Xbox 360, and 3DS in October of this year.
Fans of arcade style on-rails zombie shooters are to be well catered for with AM1’s Kinect exclusive, Rise of Nightmares – the title made by the same people responsible for House of the Dead 1-3 looks set to release in September. Not to be outdone, PS3 owners are also set to receive exclusive on-rails zombie goodness of their own with Headstrong Game’s House of the Dead: Overkill – Extended Cut, a HD port of the well received Wii title, featuring exclusive levels and Move support – it is to be released this October. Griptonite Games’ newest sequel to Sega’s long dormant Shinobi series is to make an appearance, providing some much needed action-adventure to Nintendo’s beleaguered 3DS handheld in November. Finally, rounding out the list is Avalanche Studios’ topdown vehicle shooter, Renegade Ops, which will see release over PSN, XBLA, and Steam in September.
For fans of Bethesda’s seminal Elder Scrolls series (not to be confused with Minecraft developer Mojang’s new game titled Scrolls) there is little question of what is going to be one’s personal highlight of the Penny Arcade Expo. Director Todd Howard will be taking to the stage of the Unicorn Theater in order to speak at length on his newest title, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which is to release in November 2011 – in time for the busy holiday period. Howard’s demonstration is to kick off at 3:30pm on Saturday the 27th of August, and attendees are to receive a horned plushie helmet, as featured on the large hulking brute seen in Skyrim’s public relations media. Also on show at Bethesda’s PAX booth will be id Software’s post-apocalyptic FPS with RPG and racing elements, Rage. The game will herald the long awaited debut of the id Tech 5 engine when it releases in October. Finally, Bethesda will be hosting a video demo of Human Head Studios’ interesting looking cyberpunk FPS, Prey 2 – the title will be releasing in March of next year.
Nintendo are making their way to PAX 2011 with their 3DS heavy-hitting holiday titles in tow! First on the menu is Super Mario 3D Land, a game which many Nintendo fans are tipping to reverse the fortunes of the ailing 3DS when it launches in November. Completing the one-two-punch is the ninth entry in Nintendo’s hallowed Mario Kart series, the illogically titled Mario Kart 7, which will be released in December. This line-up is bolstered by the classic N64 remake, Star Fox 64 3D, which is to be releasing in September. Also making an appearance will be Nintendo’s airborne TPS, Kid Icarus: Uprising, which has been given a vague holiday 2011 release date. Rounding off Nintendo’s 3DS showing will be The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and Pokedex 3D (both of which were released back in June) – along with the aforementioned Shinobi and Sonic Generations, both of which will also be present at Sega’s booth.
With Nintendo’s 3DS taking centre stage, things are beginning to slow a little on the DS front, with naught to show at PAX but Square Enix’s monster capture RPG, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2, along with Nintendo’s own sinister sounding stylus based franchise outing, Kirby Mass Attack. Both games are due out in September.
Finally, on the Wii front Nintendo will obviously be leading with the highly anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which will finally be seeing release in November. They will also be featuring their follow-up to the well-received Kirby’s Epic Yarn, known simply as Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, due out in the Autumn of 2011. Nintendo will be showcasing the long-running Japanese electronic board-game/game-mascot crossover series, Fortune Street, which will be making its Western debut during the fourth quarter of the gaming calendar. Finally, the last ‘game’ on Nintendo’s PAX list is an unnamed entry in their Rhythm Heaven series, so look forward to that making a big impact at the expo! Beyond this there is no mention of the Operation Rainfall titles which began making their European debut during this past week. While PAX would no doubt make for a perfect venue wherein to stage a surprise announcement of Monolith Soft’s popular Xenoblade Chronicles or even Mistwalker’s The Last Story, one would nevertheless be ill-advised to hold one’s breath while waiting for Nintendo of America to listen to their fans.