Co-Op Critics Podcast: NYCC 2015 Wrap-Up

In the latest episode of the Co-Op Critics podcast, Brian and Nick recap their trip to New York Comic Con, and discuss some of the games that were on the show floor at this year’s show, including Dark Souls 3 and Just Cause 3. They also talk about what big games they’re gearing up for this holiday season.

You can listen to the episode right here in the player above, and check out our SoundCloud page for all the back episodes!

NOTE: The game of the month for November on Co-Op Critics will be Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. We’ll be featuring videos all month and a podcast at the end of November to discuss our thoughts on the game.



We spent the past four days roaming the halls of the Javits Center at New York Comic Con. We have plenty of games to discuss over the coming weeks, including our hands-on time with both JUST CAUSE 3 and DARK SOULS III, but first, we wanted to share come of the amazing gaming cosplay that was present at this year’s show. So enjoy these pics and stay tuned for much more to come!







NYCC 2013: Super Mario 3D World Impressions

Despite the fact that the Nintendo booth at NYCC was jam packed for four straight days, I got a couple of chances to play Super Mario 3D World. The game is coming out on November 22nd, and it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a Nintendo Mario game–that is to say, it’s awesome.

One of the bigger additions to gameplay in this new Mario iteration is the Cat Suit. By grabbing a bell-shaped power-up, you gain the ability to scale walls and pounce on enemies. I love the scaling ability, as the level I played was wide open, and there were several ways to navigate it. There is a certain chaos to four players running around a 3D level, and the cat suit contributes to that chaos in a fun way.

And although it’s not unique to this Mario game, there’s so much to be said for the “pick up and play” accessibility of the game. Both times I played, I was with complete strangers, but the ability to just pick up a Mario game and know what to do seems ingrained into our DNA at this point. There’s really nothing else like it.

In my first play session I went through a standard level, but the second time was a boss fight. We faced off against a snake-like monster and his minions in a large arena. The boss battle was a combination of avoiding falling objects and platforming, and it was a ton of fun.

There’s really not much else to say except that Super Mario 3D world looks and plays great, and it should be a blast for the whole family when it comes out for WiiU in late November.


NYCC 2013: Dark Souls 2 Demo Impressions

I finally got a chance to play Dark Souls II at New York Comic Con this past weekend, and my anticipation for this game is now at a fever pitch.

The demo I played was the same one that was at TGS and SDCC, which featured the Mirror Knight as the area boss. The area begins at a bonfire and you quickly descend a ladder into what appears to be some sort of crypt or catacombs.

While I didn’t get a ton of time with it, I found Dark Souls II to be a great blend of familiar and new. Basic movement combat and item selection was the same, so I had little trouble jumping in and navigating the game. Where I found things to be pleasantly different however, was in the enemy encounters.

There are still plenty of enemies that you can take on one at a time, but Dark Souls II seems to take a more mixed approach in general. I found that most of my encounters involved two or more enemies, and frequently enemies of different types. Enemies also came from different directions, so I couldn’t take the same slow, plodding approach that most early playthroughs of Souls games required. The enemies were more cleverly designed as well, like the tortoise-armored brutes that would fall backwards on top of you if you tries to backstab them.

Another great addition is the torch mechanic. Dark Souls featured an area (Tomb of the Giants) where you needed to switch out your shield for a lantern in order to see (unless you had the Cast Light spell). In Dark Souls II, you carry a torch that you can light in certain places, as there are areas that are completely dark. This seems to be much more of a core feature in Dark Souls II, so the choice of using the torch or going in blind with a shield will be one you have to make more often. It adds a new layer to encounters, which also adds more tension.

Sadly, I didn’t make it to the Mirror Knight in my playthrough, as I had to step aside and let someone else play. But, in my short time with Dark Souls II, it was clear that the game still has everything I’ve loved about the series, as well as a new level of complexity to deal with. I cannot wait to sink hundreds of hours into this one come March.


Video Games New York–Love at First Sight

When I was in NY for New York Comic Con this past October, I visited an amazing game store that I’ve been meaning to post about for some time now. Video Games New York is a store in the East Village that is exactly the type of place that every gamer wishes they had in their own neighborhood.

From the Mario statue out front, to the shelves full of cartridges, to the console-filled display cabinets, Video Games New York feels like a shop and a museum at the same time. Not only do they have every console known to man, but they have tons of imports, rare collectibles, old store displays, standups and everything else you could imagine.

Check out the pics below, and if you’re ever in the East Village, you have to stop by Video Games New York.


Finally! A New Co-Op Critics Podcast!

After much too long of an absence, Co-Op Critics has returned!

In this episode, our good friend Max Saltonstall stopped by to talk AnonyCon and a bunch of games both he and I have been playing. We also have two interviews–the first with Fernando Bustamante of D3 about the new Adventure Time game, and the second with our good friend Antony Johnston, writer of the upcoming WiiU launch title ZombiU. Here’s the show notes for the episode:

Games Rundown with Brian and Max

AnonyCon (www.anonycon.com)
Niantic Project (www.nianticproject.com)
Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn
Silent Hill: Book of Memories
Knights of Pen & Paper
Team Fortress 2 / Left 4 Dead 2
Angry Birds Star Wars

Interview: Fernando Bustamante–D3 Publisher
Brian spoke with the Senior Marketing Manager of D3 about the upcoming 3DS game Adventure Time: Hey Ice King, Why’d You Steal Our Garbage? The game arrives on November 20, 2012, and you can find out more about it at www.d3p.us.

Interview: Antony Johnston (www.antonyjohnston.com)
Brian spoke with the writer of ZombiU at NYCC 2012. ZombiU will launch alongside the new WiiU on November 18, 2012. You can find out more about the game at zombiu.ubi.com.

You can find the episode here, or just click on the player for the episode on the right sidebar of the page.



StreetPass Has Made Me Fall in Love With My 3DS All Over Again

As much as I love my 3DS, I had rarely used one of its major features since I purchased the handheld at launch. After taking my 3DS to New York Comic Con this past weekend however, I am now completely addicted to StreetPass.

For those unfamiliar, StreetPass is a passive wifi feature that communicates with other 3DS consoles when you are in range of them. As long as your 3DS is on (even in sleep mode), whenever you pass another 3DS, that person’s Mii will show up in your Mii Plaza. You get a greeting from the Mii, and you also can see what the most recent game a person played was. More importantly though, you can play mini games with the other Miis, as well as collect gifts and unlock content in 3DS games like Resident Evil: Revelations and Super Mario 3D Land. For example, in Super Mario 3D Land, other players leave gifts for you in the form of power-ups and Star Coins, which you need to unlock later levels in the game.

Built into Mii Plaza software itself is a game called Find Mii. It’s an rpg-like game where your Mii is being held captive in a tower, and the Miis you meet act as hired heroes that must battle their way through the tower to save you. They face off against ghosts and demons in turn-based combat, and can use spells and weapons to attack their enemies. After clearing certain areas, you unlock treasure chests which contain new hats for your Mii to wear.

Also in Mii Plaza is Puzzle Swap, sort of a jigsaw puzzle game where you try to assemble pictures of 3DS games and characters by trading pieces with other Miis. When you complete a picture, you’re able to view a live version of it in 3D. It’s not really a game, but it is fun getting new pieces and unlocking new screens from different Nintendo franchises.

Both of these games require meeting a lot of new Miis, and that’s why I hadn’t really gotten into them before. I had about 5 StreetPass connections on my 3DS before bringing it to New York Comic Con. Over the course of the weekend though, I met over 170 new players! Not only did I make it all the way through the Find Mii game (it took 166 characters to fight all the way through), but I completed several screens in Puzzle Swap as well.

Now, I’m taking the 3DS everywhere I go. You can play through Find Mii several times to unlock new hats from various Nintendo franchises, and I still have plenty of screens to unlock, in Puzzle Swap. What’s even cooler though, is that my Mii Plaza is filled with almost 200 people I’ve StreetPassed with during my time in NY. There’s almost a Pokemon-esque quality to the StreetPass feature, as I find myself wanting to collect as many Miis as I can.

StreetPass is a great feature that just adds to overall great experience of the 3DS. With all the games coming out over the next few months, as well as the recent release of the 3DS XL (which I have), there’s never been a better time to own a 3DS.

Here’s me in the food court of the Javits StreetPassing the living daylights out of people:


NYCC 2012–Quick Impressions From the Nintendo Booth

There was a significant gaming presence at this year’s New York Comic Con, and no booth was as packed as the Nintendo booth during all four days of the show. Even with a press pass, I was only able to get hands on with two games, but both were great. Here’s a quick rundown:

WiiU–Nintendoland (Luigi’s Ghost Mansion)
In the Luigi’s Ghost Mansion game, there were five of us playing together. Four were using Wii controllers, turned sideways like the old NES controllers. The fifth person was using the WiiU GamePad. The four of us on Wii controllers were Miis dressed as characters from the Mario universe (Mario, Luigi, Wario and Waluigi). The person on the GamePad was a ghost, whose objective was to incapacitate the four of us. The ghost can see the entire level and all the other characters on the GamePad’s touch screen, while the other four players can’t see the ghost on the main screen. Players are armed with a flashlight that has a limited battery, and they can only see the ghost when they catch it in the flashlight’s beam. Catching the ghost in your beam for a certain period will destroy it, until it respawns. If a player is incapacitated, they can be revived by another player. The goal is to outlast the ghost for five minutes.

I had a blast with this game, and so did the rest of the people playing–it was couch co-op at its best. The mechanics are very simple, but the tension of not being able to see the ghost makes for a panic-filled moment to moment experience. This is a fun one for kids and adults alike.

3DS–Epic Mickey 2: Power of Illusion
If you have fond memories of the Sega Genesis-era Illusion games, be prepared to love this game. A side-scrolling platformer, Power of Illusion also uses the touch screen to affect environments by tracing, painting and erasing objects that Mickey runs into. I played this one for a solid twenty minutes, and loved everything about it. The mechanics are great, and the use of the touch screen fits perfectly into the flow of the game. In addition to the standard jump and shoot mechanics (mickey use the paintbrush like a gun, shooting blotches at enemies), there is another level of depth to the mechanics, ranging from spin attacks to bounce attacks and more. All of the mechanics are introduced and explained well, and the game is just a joy to play overall.

It seems like the WiiU version of Epic Mickey 2 will be more co-op based, so if you’re looking for a pure platformer that captures the feel of the old Disney games, the 3DS version is the one to go with. It’s a definite buy for me.

Sadly, I did not get to play ZombiU, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. Despite there being more than one kiosk set up for the game, there was a sea of people packed around each one all weekend. In a surreal moment, I was interviewing the game’s writer Antony Johnston, while right over his shoulder there were scores of people clamoring for a chance to play the game. From everything I saw and spoke with Antony about, this game is the real deal–survival horror that does not cater to the casual game or the faint of heart. ZombiU is shaping up to be the killer app for the WiiU launch.

Don’t sleep on Nintendoland, though. That game looks much deeper than people are giving it credit for, and I think that old school Nintendo fans will be surprised how much love and detail went into bringing beloved franchises together into one big package. Nintendoland is no mere tech demo, and it’s much bigger than Wii Sports.

Stay tuned to Secret Identity in the coming weeks for my interview with Antony Johnston about ZombiU. For 3DS fans, I will also have an interview with D3 about the Adventure Time game coming soon as well.