Dance of the Demos

Opinion, Video Games

By William Chandler

I really enjoy game demos because they bring me back to a time in my life when I played video games all day because I had precious little else that needed doing, whereas I now have to knowingly neglect real world things in order to get in a decent amount of game time. They remind me of a time when my primary concern was how I could manage to stay up later than my mother wished and still be able to wake up in time for the super early episodes of Dragon Ball before school.

Before I was allowed to play M rated games, I would always try to get my hands on the demo discs that came with magazines. One I remember in particular was the Metal Gear Solid demo for the PlayStation. I must’ve played through that damned intro sequence fifteen fucking times, merely imagining what could possibly come next and unknowingly committing those first couple in game hours to memory where they will undoubtedly remain.

Demos have fallen out of favor since the latter half of the last console generation, particularly pre release ones. Perhaps they are too much work in a world where the rising costs of game development have caused even some of the most storied game development companies to collapse under the financial burden. That said, I’ve noticed a few pre release demons popping up here and there recently and I’ve decided to talk about them here.

Let’s start out with the big one.

Super Smash Bros 3DS

I’ve always been alright with Smash Bros. I mean, I think it’s a fun little party game and definitely played a ton of it growing up but I never really took it too seriously beyond that. By the time of Brawl’s release in 2008, I really didn’t care at all about the franchise, particularly due to the fact that I definitely didn’t care about the Wii. So, I’ve not played a Smash game in quite some time aside from various drunken rendezvous with the N64 version at house parties. When the demo for the newest iteration of Smash Bros dropped on the 3DS Nintendo Store last Friday I decided to go ahead and grab it.

I think we all know that Nintendo sucks at naming things at this point but this is definitely their best work yet. Super Smash Bros for 3DS is legit the title. I understand they want to keep things straight and to the point but that shit is just dull.

Anyway, regardless of the naming fiasco, I’m actually having quite a bit of fun with the game, even as someone who really doesn’t care or know anything about Smash Bros. There’s only five characters and a single stage available in the demo but I’ve enjoyed cranking the NPC difficulty way up and training myself to get better while commuting on the train. That said, it is definitely annoying that the match timer is locked at two minutes, which is hardly enough time to learn a character’s moves and how they control. Also, I could not figure out for the life of me how to do one of those super powerful special moves, called a Smash I believe. The game is also super pretty and the frame rate is nice and solid, making for an enjoyable and satisfying fighting experience.

Ultimately, I think the fact that this is a handheld game really sold me on it. I think that while Super Smash Bros still certainly holds a place as a living room party game for many people, my 3DS has been hungering for something this easy and addictive that you can pick up and play in a matter of minutes. If there had only been a Wii U version of this I would have no doubt passed on it but now I’ll likely be shelling out for it on launch day.

Forza Horizon 2

I never played the original Forza Horizon even though I do quite like arcade racing games. That had nothing to do with the quality of it, as it actually looked pretty good. I was probably just busy or something. I dunno.

Is it just me or are all of the festival aspects of this game a major turn off? I mean, I like electronic music and cars but something about the completely unironic reverence people in this game have for the “Horizon Festival” when they say things like “This is going to be the greatest summer of our lives” really creeps me out. Is this some kind of Heaven’s Gate cult centered around EDM, European supercars, and trust funds? Seriously, how can these kids even afford to do this? And why the fuck do the people planning it allow them to drive Bugattis?

Aside from the aforementioned weird presentational quirks, Forza Horizon 2 is quite enjoyable. I really like the way the racing feels and the number of camera options really revs my engine if you know what I mean. This game has a cockpit view, hood view, one of those front of the car grill ground views, as well as multiple third person cameras at various levels of zoom, so it’s likely that you’ll be able to find one that suits your fancy.

Judging just by the events that are featured in the demo, one can expect a decent amount of variety. There’s a rally race that took some getting used to due to the awkward manner in which the cars control on dirt but ended up being pretty fun after a few restarts. Upon completing this first race the game introduced its rival system that pits you alone in a time trial type event against other players’ best times, which appears to be available after every race in the game. I did only one of these and smoked that motherfucker, I might add, but never felt compelled to do any more. Perhaps competing against a friend’s time would provide more incentive but, as it stands, I’ve never cared about climbing leaderboards and this minor tweak to that system doesn’t make me want to do it any more.

The next race on offer was a more standard road race on a pretty simple oval track which, after the rally race felt very easy by comparison, allowing me to take home first. And then I raced in a Lamborghini against three stunt performing jets. I wish I was fucking joking. The absurdity of the whole thing managed to drag a few chuckles out of me but the fact that they play this little oddity straight once again made me question the sanity of the human beings in this backwards as fuck universe. And then I won and it was weird, man. They acted all shocked and shit for a moment but then just moved on like they expected me to compete in more regular races. Like, excuse me? I just beat three fucking fighter jets and you’re not just gonna give me every trophy you have on this fucking island? Aight.

But yeah, I might buy this game eventually. Too bad they chose to release it on the same day as Shadow of Mordor because I’m stoked as fuck for that one.

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