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E3 2009 Day Two Coverage - Featuring Project Cube, Dissidia Final Fantasy, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10
Posted on Wednesday, June 3 2009 @ 21:15:49 PST

Contents: Mini-Ninjas, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-Up, Project Cube, Dissidia Final Fantasy, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, Marvel Super Hero Squad

Publisher: Eidos, Rating: Pending (likely 'E10'), Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Release Date: Holiday Season

Ever since the success of the Lego franchise, what with Lego Batman, Lego Star Wars, and Lego Batman, I've been seeing more and more cutesy, cartoony, casual titles that have just enough collectibles to make the beat-em-up adventure formula work.And Mini-Ninjas, which plays like a Lego Ninja MySims adventure, is no exception. The Evil Samurai Warlord as awoken from his slumber to create terrible storms across the land and the Ninja Master, in charge of maintaining the balance of nature in the world, has sent his swiftest ninja to uncover the source of the evil, but none has returned. Only a spare few ninja remain - they are the world's last hope.

The world doesn't seem that frightening, though, with its bright,colorful palette painted across the light Japanese landscape. But as you and your team of ninja - including the classic Hiro, the Kunoichi Suzume, and the large, hammer-wielding Futo (as well as room for three more) - travel along the countryside, you witness some evil minions firing burning arrows onto the straw huts in the village, and it's up to you save the day. You will sneak through the tall grass, embue your soul into nearby enemies, learn new spells from shrines, collect items and money for healing and recipes, and even use your white bowl hat as a boat in rivers and water rapids. Meanwhile, there are plenty of collectibles scattered about like Jizu Statues for completionists (no word on what they give you). At any rate, Mini-Ninjas looks like a simple but solid outing for Eidos and should be a breezy adventure that anyone can enjoy.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smaeh-Up
Publisher: Ubisoft, Rating: Pending (likely 'E10'), Platforms: Wii, Release Date: Holiday Season

TMNT: Smash-Up is what happens when you combine Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Pizza baked in pure "Cowabunga, Dude!" No, really. The differences aren't that great, other than perhaps some production values, though it's still work in progress. The demo shown was a 4-player battle royale, each player picking either Shredder, Master Splinter, April, or one of the four Turtles (all designed after the more recent TMNT artistic style) and each beating the crap out of each other (for mindless fun, of course). Fighting in stages like an enclosed dojo, a treetop branch, and the Foot Soldier clan headquarters, each character has to beat down opponents before their own three lives (or three health gauges run out). You will have to use regular combos, blocks, super jumps, and the wiggling of the Wii-mote if you ever get stunned. Sometimes you'll have to avoid obstacles like crocodiles that pop out of the water and even a roulette wheel if it happens to land on your picture. How the single-player campaign, if there is one, pans out remains to be seen, but so far, it might be one of the more successful recent TMNT titles to date.

Project Cube
Publisher: Square Enix, Rating: Pending (likely 'E'), Platforms: Xbox 360, Release Date: Pending

I wasn't that balled over Square Enix this year, mostly because I knew all about Final Fantasy XIII (which they displayed on the hugest screen I have ever seen at a game convention (I wantz ones), and Dissidia and Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy Crystal series and blah, blah, blah, it's Square. Then, all of a sudden, tucked away in a corner along with Final Fantasy VIII on PSP and Final Fantasy IV The After Years for WiiWare, I encountered Project Cube. Likely a Xbox Live Arcade title, it is a robotic, technologically interpretation (in a Portal kind of way) of the twitch favorite Geometry Wars. Of course, there is more than just shooting enemies (in this case, black cubes with spider legs that burst into blood when they die) while avoiding them like the plague. Your robot avatar have a catch shield that can halt lasers for a limited time and then release them back in the direction they came in by releasing the shield, as well as a dash ability that confuses enemies. As you circle and strafe on the square grid, you can pick up power-ups that level up your abilities. With the female robotic voice-over (who says "What happened?" every time you die), it has a quirky, space-trippy vibe that attaches oddity with frantic shmuping and has that "feels right" quality that doesn't come around very often.

Dissidia Final Fantasy
Publisher: Square Enix, Rating: T, Platforms: PSP, Release Date: August 25, 2009

Labelled as "that Final Fantasy fighting title" by my colleagues, Dissidia Final Fantasy takes the principal lead characters from its franchises and pits them against each other in a fight to the death, similar to another fighter that includes Final Fantasy characters, Ehrgeiz. Whether you are the Onion Knight, Cecil (FFIV), Terra (FFVI), Cloud (FFVII), and his villainous counterpart Sephiroth, you will face off in a 3-D environment in a one-on-one battle like the over-the-shoulder Dragonball titles. There is a large variety of moves: two standard attacks, one that drains HP and another that drains bravery (more on that later); a dash; a dodge attack; a block; an EX mode that activates when you collect EX cores littered on the stage (Cloud can use his limit break Omnislash); a wall run; a rail grind; and a super jump. Many times, you'll be caught not knowing what moves to do since you're there are so many option available, but the basic plan of attack seems to be dodging your enemy's attacks and draining your enemy's bravery meter. When a character's bravery meter reaches zero, that character gets hit with a 'break' status that allows the opponent deal obscene amounts of damage. Though Dissidia Final Fantasy seems to be fairly straightforward interpretation of the fighting genre, it's an innovative spin on the Final Fantasy brand that should captivate fans.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10
Publisher: EA Sports, Rating: E, Platforms: Wii (only one showing), Release Date: June 8th, 2009

The Tiger Woods sports franchise continually delivers every year, and for the Wii version, the upgrade is phenomenal. Just the graphics alone are enough for Wii golfers to slip this game into their bag - where the Tiger Woods 09 for the Wii looked like a PS2 title, Tiger Woods 10 looks like a launch title for the Xbox 360 title... on the Wii. Another touted feature is that it's compatible with the new Wii Motion Plus, which comes in limited bundle with the Wii version of the game for $10 more (the game itself is $49.99 RSVP). The added precious means that draws and fades can be done with more precision, determined by the rotation of the Wii-mote around its length (z-axis), and that the putter can now be more realistic. Called Precision Putting, how far you pull the Wii-mote back and how fast you swing your imaginary club towards the imaginary hole reflects how fast the ball will roll toward the hall. The Wii-mote sensing is still a bit too sensitive, particularly for the draw and fade, but it still looks to be the best Wii iteration of the franchise yet. Oh, and there's frisbee golf too.

Marvel Super Hero Squad
Publisher: THQ, Rating: Pending (likely "E-10"), Platforms: Wii, Release Date: October 2009

Again, another one of those Lego-inspired titles, instead this time we have Marvel characters like Captain America, Juggernaut, Hulk, and Wolverine turned into pint-sized superheroes who battle soldiers that spew out coins... I mean, shards. The up-to-two-player adventure mode plays similar to the simple beat-em-up action in titles as far back as Captain America and the Avengers, hitting enemies with physical attacks over and over again until you move onto the next area full of more enemies. The shards you collect unlock more content, power-ups, and characters, whom you can also use in the PvP battle royales. One stage takes place atop a circular wooden platform where players can try knocking each other around, scoring points for either draining the opponent's health gauge to zero or knocking opponents off the ledge (this last method is much easier... much, much easier). Only nine characters were in the demo, but there will be twenty characters in total, including the Fantastic Four and more X-Men characters. Like Mini-Ninjas, it should be another casual fix that should be suitable for quick family-friendly fun.

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