Missing in Action | The forgotten games of E3 2018

E3 is finally here. The excitement of learning what companies have been working on behind the scenes is palpable. Everyone in the industry stops what they’re doing and takes in this week-long celebration of interactive entertainment. It’s surely a rush, something that washes over you and leaves a lasting impression. However, even with the current show being smaller than past years, some things still fall through the cracks. Some games shown at E3 just go right back into obscurity without cause or reason. As we prepare for all the big reveals, let’s look back at a few games last year that haven’t made a peep since premiering in Los Angeles’ big gaming event.

The Forgotten Games of E3 2018 | Hyper Sports R

Konami has been out of the big business of making games for quite some time now, but it still regularly produces a handful of titles each year. There’s the yearly Pro Evolution Soccer as well as retro throwbacks and remasters. It’s rare for Konami to deviate from this, but E3 2018 saw the announcement of something new. Starting from the tradition of its Track and Field series from the NES days, Hyper Sports R is a Switch minigame compilation that trades in the Power Pad for the JoyCon.

Depicting athletes in a cartoonish fashion, Hyper Sports seems to be an Olympics tie-in without all that pesty licensing. Countries aren’t being represented, but players can partake in everything from running events to swimming laps to volleyball. The official website is still up, showcasing a good set of screenshots as well as a single update featuring the game’s debut trailer from a year ago. While press did get to demo the game on the show floor (Editor’s note: I was one of those people), there hasn’t been a word about it since then, and Konami will not be showcasing the game again this year. Will we see this NES update ever again? Only time will tell.

The Forgotten Games of E3 2018 | Ninjala

There were a few games following in Splatoon‘s footsteps at last year’s show. One, a licensed game based around Crayola, came out without a hitch. The other, arguably more interesting title, has been delayed. Ninjala is an online multiplayer title where players battle it out with pastel bubble guns and foam weaponry. You play as the descendants of ninjas, which explains your effortless wall climbing abilities and your general athleticism.

Ninjala dominated a big corner of the E3 show floor last year, with playable demos and a huge statue depicting the main characters. However, just a few days ago, GungHo executive producer Kazuki Morishita put out a video announcing a delay. Promising more content and a needed layer of polish, the Switch title is now expected to debut in spring 2020. This also means that the title won’t be at E3 this year, and GungHo itself has a much smaller presence this year in general.  Hopefully, the extra development time will produce something that Splatoon fans can get behind.

The Forgotten Games of E3 2018 | Black Future ’88

There’s nothing quite like ’80s nostalgia. If you’ve got the bug for neon lights and heavy synths, you already know that you want to play Black Future ’88. A hardcore side-scrolling roguelike shooter, the SuperScarySnakes team debuted the game last year at E3 2018. While the studio was off the main show floor, it was one of the best games of the show and well worth some attention.

A year later, the game continues to make the rounds with a planned 2019 release. The developers have been doing regular Twitch Q&As, tweaking the game based on feedback from a dedicated group of beta testers. This kind of process can be slow, but it’s usually worth it in the long run. Publisher Good Shepherd isn’t bringing Black Future to E3, but it is bringing something thematically similar in John Wick: Hex. With offerings like this, it’s certainly a publisher to keep an eye on in the future.

The Forgotten Games of E3 2018 | 3 Minutes to Midnight

Inspired by the classic LucasArts style, 3 Minutes to Midnight is a sci-fi adventure game by indie outfit Scarecrow Studio. Taking place in New Mexico in the 1940s, you can imagine the type of conspiracy nonsense you’ll be delving into here. The game debuted at PAX 2018 and has continued to appear at various conventions, most recently at PAX East. The distinct modern art style has impressed many, although there is some question as to when the game will be prepared for a final release.

The FAQ on the official website lists an “Early 2019” window, but that seems out of date. The Steam page lists a Kickstarter campaign for this summer, which presumably is to bring the game to the finish line. It’s certainly not the normal way of doing things, but work does seem to be continuing as best it can. Will this be another standout 2D adventure on PC and console? Or will it end up as little more than a trailer and a piece of trivia? Only time will tell, for this and any game hoping to make a splash at E3.