E3 2008: SouthPeak Games

We checked out SouthPeak's E3 showcase and had a closer look at X-Blades, Monster Madness: Grave Danger, Raven Squad, Ninja Town, Big Bang Mini, Brave: Shaman's Challenge and Mister Slime.

X-Blades (X360, PS3, PC)

This action game caught my eye from a distance because of the main character, a very anime-like girl with long blonde hair swinging swords at anything that moved. Sure, she was underdressed for the occasion, but it all looked impressive.

We learned more about it from Bert Jennings, of Topware Entertainment. The main character, Ayumi, is armed with gunblades, which means you can play the game as a third person shooter or a pure hack and slash. But it's not just a simple button-masher, since this girl has some interesting powers such as teleporting a short distance, spells and special attacks that use rage (it fills up as you kill monsters).

Stages are filled with interesting enemy designs and usually a boss character. Enemies also have vulnerabilities, so you must play with your magic abilities and skills to find what works best for each type. The RPG component of the game is in the skill tree.

The level design is fantastic, one particular area had an old ruins look, with several archways and pillars. Parts of the environment and some objects can be destroyed, and sometimes hide collectibles under them. Plenty of collectibles are spread out, you can pick up crystals (your currency unit, used to purchase new skills and upgrades) and artifact pieces that improve your spells' effectiveness. It's also pretty easy to just pick up and play.

X-Blades is coming out this Fall for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.


Monster Madness: Grave Danger (PS3)

Last year, Xbox 360 users got to experience Monster Madness: Battle For Suburbia. Now, the same team is bringing the samekind of fun to the PS3 user base.

Monster Madness: Grave Danger is an adventure game that has players taking the role of four teens out to save their town from evil monsters.

The game is presented in a top-down view, with varied elements of gameplay: adventure, action, racing, combat, shooter, all depending on the character you use and the different stages. There are new power-ups, more interactive environments with destructible elements, more than 100 power-up items and over 70 different kinds of monsters. Tool chests' contents are now shared between party members in multiplayer mode, so that everyone can get something to help build their weapons.

With a local co-op story mode for up to four players (where anyone can join or leave at any time), and online play for up to 16 in Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, Monster Madness: Grave Danger is packed with 18 levels of funny action, about 25 mini-games and quite a bit of replay value. Expect it in the beginning of August.


Raven Squad (X360, PC)

We talked to Lee Perez to find out more about Raven Squad, which is basically a mix of FPS with RTS. As the story goes, a group of mercenaries is travelling on a plane, which gets shot down over the Amazon jungle, a case of being on the wrong place at the wrong time.

You control a squad of 8 unique characters, each at with different weapon proficiencies, and you can swap between them at any time during gameplay.

Controlling the squad member of your choice is presented in typical FPS fashion and can be used to your advantage, for example, while a character reloads his weapon (ammo is infinite though), you can jump to another and control that one.

A third-person satellite map view lets you control the game as if it were an RTS.

You can accept optional quests from villagers. Say you come across a village being overrun by say, gorillas. They ask for your help, and if you do help them, they will help you in return. You don't have to help them, but the choice is there.

The single-player campaign should last you at least 10 hours, alone or in co-op mode. Raven Squad should be available this holiday season.


Ninja Town (DS)

The first and pretty much only thing I saw about Ninja Town was a cute little ninja that seemed like a crossing of Bomberman with some amazingly cute japanese plushie. I had no idea what the game was about (except for ninjas) until we had a nice chat with creator Shawn Smith.

Ninja Town is an action/strategy game for the DS, mixing Tower Defense with RTS elements, but it's also very story driven and centered on character development. Basically, you have enemies attacking Ninja Town in waves, and your goal is to protect the town and either kill all enemies or stop them from leaving.

You will have melee and ranged units, each with their own unique special skills. The combat is done on the touch screen, and defeating enemies gives you happiness points. These points will slowly fill up Old Master Ninja's powers, who can help you out from his balloon, for example with the “Get off my lawn!” move, where you blow on the microphone to sweep enemies away. On the top screen, you will see Old Master Ninja, the area map with enemy locations, and the number of waves left to survive. After each wave, you can rebuild whatever was destroyed in your town or upgrade your buildings, much like in any RTS you may know.

Ninja Town is a very cute game (I must have said "So cute!!" about a dozen times during the demo), but don't let the cuteness turn you off if that's not your thing. This is a pretty entertaining strategy title with over 35 maps and 9 town districts to protect, coming this Fall to a Nintendo DS near you.


Big Bang Mini (DS)

An interesting shooter game that initially seems like just random fireworks detonating, Big Bang Mini gets a little more complext that than. Basically, what you do is shoot fireworks from the touch screen and watch them detonate on the top screen, with a flick of the stylus in the direction you want it to go.

Soon enough you will be doing target practice with large colorful targets, and you will eventually move on to actually shooting enemies. It's not as easy as it sounds though, since you have to dodge falling debris and pick up stardust.

This music and fireworks display can be strangely addictive as you progress through the 9 different worlds and several unique stages, with the leaderboards and versus gameplay keeping replayability high. Big Bang Mini should be out in January 2009.


Brave: Shaman's Challenge (DS)

At Grrlgamer, we are already familiar with Brave due to his 3D platforming adventures in Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer. This time he returns in a puzzle adventure similar to Puzzle Quest. He walks around on a world map and gets into puzzle battles.

The game is played with the DS sideways, holding it like a book. The touch screen is your puzzle field, and the gameplay is similar to Columns. The goal is to group up four or more pieces of the same color to clear them. The status screen on the left will show the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent, each represented by a symbol. By doing color combos of the enemy's weakness symbol, you deal damage, while color combos done with the strength symbol will heal your opponent.

The stylus is used to both move and rotate pieces as they come down, which can be prone to mistakes, but this is something that can still be polished by the time of its release in September 2008.


Mister Slime (DS)

It was about all the time we had for SouthPeak, but still, I managed to check out how Mister Slime worked with a couple of minutes of hands-on gameplay. You control an adorable green slime blob in a 2D side-scrolling (horizontal and vertical scrolling, really) environment.

Since you're a blob, you can't really just roll around, so what you do is tap Mister Slime and drag the stylus away from the mass that is his head and body to create an arm. You can have up fo four arms simultaneously, and you move around by stretching the arms out to grab onto pegs that are scattered all over the stages. Enemies will eventually cross your way, and since this is a game to suit all ages, there is no violence. Instead, the bugs will tickle little Slimey and you will see him jiggle and laughing. Slimey gets rid of the pesky bugs by shooing them with one of his free arms. If you get hit, down you go!

This slimey DS title expected to release this Summer.