New York Comic-Con 2012
The X Button at the New York Comic-Con: Saturday, October 13

by Todd Ciolek,
Soul Sacrifice got attention in two ways upon its announcement. One came from it being another new project from Mega Man co-creator Keiji Inafune, who's been quite busy since he walked away from Capcom in 2010. Another is the game's attempt at taking gruesome action games to invasive new levels. Not only are you hacking through disturbingly humanoid monsters, but your sorcerer avatars can rip out their own spines and internal organs to fashion new weapons and spells.

There was no spine-ripping to be seen in the Comic Con demo of Soul Sacrifice, tucked alongside more imminent games at Sony's well-stocked Vita booth. Yet that demo still presented a game heading beyond the usual fare. The player could choose from customizeable male and female avatars, and up to six different spells could be equipped from a gallery of several dozen. The demo's stage presented a straightfoward battle against various horrors, leading up to a towering boss Cerberus-ish demon who, like most of the game's chief monsters, was once human. One other creature awaited to be summoned; a sorcerer could hurl some incantation at the ground, and a plantlike golem would rise up to attack.

It was all a compact introduction. The spells I chose proved useful enough, including a healing move and a suit of defense-boosting armor. Defeated enemies left behind little geysers of energy, and standing near one gave my ninja-like sorceress avatar the option to refill her health or increase her attacking power. This proved inadequate to defeat the stage's primary threat; while she could heal and protect herself, my avatar ran dry when it came to attack spells, and the essence of felled creatures did little to help her. She eventually won by summoning her plant-golem repeatedly, and it was enough to make me wonder how the final game will handle players who don't choose their spells carefully.

Upon defeat, the boss shrank into a human knight, who apparently pleaded for his life. Here's where the game's morality system comes into play: you can sacrifice allies and downed foes for more potent magic, but that'll hurt you later in the game. The knight's dialogue was, like the rest of the demo, in Japanese, so I decided to spare him just in case he was making a really persuasive case for turning himself into a rampaging nightmare-made-real. The entire sample didn't stand too far from most action titles of this day (and could've used a sprint feature), but if the selection of spells is large enough and the morality system vital enough, Soul Sacrifice might be one of the Vita's best when it arrives here next year.

The Nintendo booth had much the same Wii U lineup that the San Diego Comic Con had hosted, but the Namco Bandai booth had a few surprises in the form of Tank! Tank! Tank! and Tekken Tag Tournament 2. The former's been in arcades since 2009 and the latter just arrived for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but both seemed to work well on Nintendo's new system.

Tank! Tank! Tank! may well be a highlight of the Wii U launch this November. It preserves the chaos of the arcade game's four-tank tournaments, and the colorful, completely destroyable environments and player-photo icons are intact. The real issue lies with the game's multiplayer. It's a game that shines when four tanks are gunning for each other all once or attacking some mutual enemy. The demo station at Comic Con was limited to two controllers, but the game still put together an impressive boss battle where a multi-headed dragon snatched up tanks. It's both cartoonish and sobering to be told that a tank piloted by a photo of a real cat was “devoured” in battle. Good thing the tanks respawn quickly.

One of the largest arcades on the floor didn't have anything new, and that worked out just fine. ShiftyLook brought a booth full of arcade machines running the same games that inspire ShiftyLook's comics: Xevious, Mappy, The Legend of Valkyrie, Bravoman, Wonder Momo. Pac-Man was naturally there in abundance, and the four-player Pac-Man Battle Royale cocktail cabinet was frequently crowded.

Particularly notable were the cabinets for Bravoman, The Legend of Valkyrie, and Wonder Momo, none of which was released in North America during the arcade heyday (an English version of Valkyrie can be found on the PlayStation's Namco Museum Vol. 5, if you care). While Bravoman and Wonder Momo are hardly paragons of good design, The Legend of Valkyrie's a sharp little action-RPG, and it's good to see it here in some capacity.

One of the more interesting sights at Capcom's booth was a largely bare corner dedicated to Remember Me, a new action game in which a revolutionary named Nilin warps the memories of her targets. It looked quite promising when Capcom and developer Dontnod Entertainment showed it off this August: Nilin's memory-mixing powers play out like a point-and-click adventure game, while she's capable of roof-running and martial-arts combat on par with an Assassin's Creed protagonist.

Unfortunately, Remember Me wasn't far enough along for an actual demo. Capcom had a panel for the game, but the booth itself featured only a trailer and a woman in a Nilin costume, plus a few promotional buttons if you asked. We'll likely see more of Remember Me in the coming year, and a new property at a booth full of remakes and sequels is a comforting sight.

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