While popular FPS and action-adventure genres populate the majority of E3's show floor, there are still other types of games that remain well hidden and well loved among their smaller subcultures. I took a look at one of those subcultures when I ventured towards the rhythm games of E3. While there are some both old and new to be discovered, they each added hints of character behind their musical goals.
With Disney putting a daydreaming-worthy song into video game form, Final Fantasy capitalizing on their epic music soundtracks, and Hatsune Miku finally making her U.S. video game debut, there's a fair amount to talk about.
Disney's Fantasia: Music Evolved
Tucked adjacent to the far wall of Microsoft's lound and vibrant booth lies the surprisingly pleasing Disney game: Fantasia: Music Evolved. It looks intimidatingly foolish upon first look, with the player before me flailing about in serene confusion. The two tiny lights he's required to follow don't seem to warrant the constant flailing.
I realize that this feeling completely changes when you're in front of the Kinect yourself.
The game first asks you to select from three different styles of drums, vocals and melodies to create a well synced version of your song selection. "The motions are designed to be as if you were an orchestra conductor," the attendant explains while I wait for my song to load.
At first, the timing appears tricky, since you're not sure if the Kinect isn't syncing properly or of you do in fact, lack rhythm.
But there's a soothing appreciation you gain for the different styles of music you play. Some styles add to the original song, so while I'm singing the lyrics I'm also gracefully dancing to the games required movements. Which might have just looked like flailing to those waiting in line behind me.
I began to feel myself mellow and flow with the rhythm. The movements made sense and only occasionally felt confusing and arm-twisting, which I'm sure will increase with difficulty.
Disney tried to harness the daydreaming zone you enter when you listen to your favorite songs, and pretty successfully transferred that feeling into a video game. The different styles highlighted your feeling towards that song as you played, and didn't feel nearly as tacky as many originally thought.
I left with a new-found respect for Fantasia: Music Evolved. I'm surprised they didn't include the original fantasia alums track, but the synchronized song genres add a fun flow to songs you normally wouldn't expect behind such a brand. This game will fit well with casual gamers alongside anyone with a well-versed appreciation for music.
Fantasia: Music Evolved will release on October 21, 2014 for the Xbox One and Xbox 360.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call
We're continuing to see the Final Fantasy series capitalize on their musical empire in their sequel to Theatrhythm Final Fantasy . They're still drawing in their songs from all games, including the often forgotten Final Fantasy XI.
The most entertaining aspect of Curtain Call places four adorable little final fantasy characters in a fake battle against a signature final fantasy monster. As you do well, you successfully fight off the monsters, while failing forces attacks from the monster. The games three difficulty modes -- basic, expert and ultimate -- appeared relatively easy to pick up, since your skill depends on the songs' rhythm and melodies.
Users can play single player and play against the campaign, or battle against others in their multiplayer feature. Nearly sixty playable chibi characters are available in Curtain Call, but must be earned through their "Quest Medley Mode"
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call will be out for the Nintendo 3DS on September 16th of this year.
Hatsune Mitsu: Project DIVA F
Although it's already a released game, Hatsune Mitsu: Project DIVA F stole a bit of the Sega's E3 show floor. This is the first Hatsune Mitsu game to be released both North and South America, although many fans in the U.S. are already familiar with the outrageously popular vocaloid. "People are mostly comparing it to DDR," said the attendant, who continued to explain to the buyers behind me how popular vocaloid actually is in Japan.
This rhythm game, played on a PS3 controller, similarly requires players to hit buttons in time with the music. The game's directions shoot at the center from all directions of the screen, which was a nice addition of difficulty.
Project DIVA F also follows beats and rhythms not always blatantly audible, so similar to DDR, getting to know some of the songs is key to improving your DIVA F skills.
The three demo songs were amiable to my DDR tastes, but the overly vibrant flashes of light behind Hatsune make it occasionally difficult to see where your commands are coming from.
This game has been out since March 7th, available exclusively for PlayStation 3.