It was a swelteringly-hot day in Hong Kong today, but you wouldn’t know it inside the cool, air-conditioned halls of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre for Animation-Comic-Game Hong Kong 2018. Instead, the air inside was tinged with intense excitement and the shuffling feet of people trying to make it to as many booths as possible. Siliconera was able to attend the annual event this year, and was able to try out the various demos at the PlayStation booth and other areas.
Earth Defense Force 5
Earth Defense Force 5 released in Japan earlier this year, and the PlayStation booth had a demo with two missions we could try out – one in single player, and one in multiplayer.
The single player mission had us shooting down flying saucers that were being dropped by the overhead mothership. It quickly became a war of attrition, with many of them swarming around at a time, yet somehow we took more damage from the enemies ramming into us than their laser blasts. The flying saucers had apparently decided on an overall kamikaze attack approach, as they decided to hover near the ground rather than up in the sky.
Meanwhile, the multiplayer mission had my friend and I fighting against the series’ signature ant enemies as two regular soldiers. We were equipped with a machinegun and a rocket launcher, and while they were effective enough for regular ants, we were quickly felled by the more vicious red ants. Dead enemies dropped health, armor, or new weapons. It was all quite nostalgic, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, as just from the demo, Earth Defense Force 5 was just more of Earth Defense Force 4.1.
Disaster Report 4 Plus: Summer Memories
A demo for Disaster Report 4 Plus was present at the PlayStation booth, and thankfully there was only a short line for this one. (It helped that it was situated right next to Jump Force.)
The demo has you run around as the female protagonist in a closed off intersection, talking to people as you go along. Most of the features were locked off, but I was able to pick up a Military Compass in a fashion store, which means that we’ll likely have to search high and low for full completion again.
In a corner of the nearby park, I found Susumu Kawamura, a middle-aged man who was out of a job. The game lets you try off the various multiple choice answers here, and I chose to tell off the man in my head for hiding his circumstances from his family. Kawamura ended the conversation curtly by telling me not to become someone like him.
The demo also lets you practice crouching during aftershocks of the earthquake, which trigger at certain parts of the map. The series has never been known for smooth framerates, with the demo having less than 30 fps regularly, but the aftershocks stuttered quite badly. Overall, it was like playing in slow motion, though perhaps a bit improved from City Shrouded in Shadows.
Kowloon’s Gate VR Suzaku
To be honest, I had quite a bad time with Kowloon’s Gate VR Suzaku. However, it’s not really a problem of the game itself. This was my first VR experience ever, and I had to get used to the dizziness that accompanied it. Furthermore, in a bizarre choice the PlayStation booth staff decided to skip the introduction and instructions segment, leaving me wandering around a tiny section of the area with no apparent goal in sight.
It turns out that the gameplay itself was quite simple. In the non-VR segments (which advise you to take off the helmet), you choose faded pictures that you must try to recreate in game by taking spiritual photographs with your mind’s eye (activated with the triangle button). While the original Kowloon’s Gate was a bizarre JPEG dungeon explorer with barely any enemies, the VR game is just meant to be a recreation of the atmosphere of Kowloon Walled City as depicted in the PS1 game.
It was very effective, on this aspect. The atmosphere was claustrophobic, the floors were gritty. The Walled City felt like the legendary place spoken of in my parents’ generation – a unique place where people lived ordinary lives, but turned mythical because of the tales surrounding it.
However, in the end, it’s something of an interactive tour with guided objectives. You can’t interact with the residents at all, as strange as they look. There are no enemies either, making the experience painless but bland. It’s just a shame that most of these gameplay details I had to search up after the demo.
SNK Booth & NEOGEO Mini
SNK Asia had a booth at ACGHK this year, where they were promoting the upcoming NEOGEO Mini, SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy, and selling a ton of merchandise.
Each of the three booth walls were covered with various SNK t-shirts and clothing that celebrated the 40-year history of the company, alongside some other things like posters.
I got to try out the NEOGEO Mini (Japan ver.) for myself, and I opted for a quick look at The King of Fighters 2002 and Metal Slug 2, trying out both the game pad on the console, plus the NEOGEO mini pad that is required for multiplayer.
The screen actually doesn’t feel as small or cramped as it might first seem. Due to the pixel-perfect nature, the games look flashy and brilliant on the brightly-lit screen. Control-wise, it feels a bit hard to grip the joystick, but it is very smooth, and I was easily able to pull off Kyo’s quarter circle back, half circle forward desperation move. Likewise, the face buttons are cramped together, which is troubling if you have even modestly large hands, but is easy to adjust to quickly.
The NEOGEO Mini pad, on the other hand, is nearly perfect. It’s comfortable in the hands, and has the most buttery-smooth joystick I’ve ever used. It was so satisfying to make slight angle adjustments in Metal Slug 2 so easily. However, there is one problem I haven’t seen anybody mention yet, and that is the cord length. While not Famicom Classic Mini-levels of short, if players plan on hooking the NEOGEO Mini to the TV and sitting a comfortable distance away at the same time, this might become a problem. Keep in mind that at least one is needed for 2-player action.
Various figures and statues were put up on display around the hall, so here are some of the video game-related figures that I found while wandering around.
Overcooked 2 was being shown off at a booth, and while I didn’t play the game, it was interesting to see how nested requirements, such as needing to boil the rice to use for sushi, made everything even more frantic than usual.
There was an entire section for Hong Kong indie developers to show off their developed products. Most of them were developed for smartphone, but ranged from puzzle games, to Minecraft-likes, to RPGs. There was one versus game in particular called Balance Breakers which I’d like to follow up on tomorrow.
Visual Arts/Key booth
Visual Arts/Key of CLANNAD fame once again was present this year, in the ‘Creative Paradise 05’ doujin-focused hall. Masses of fans rushed to buy merchandise to get signatures from Rita, the singer of Little Busters!’s opening song.