Demoman Returns

26 May

DemomanDemoman is a feature in which I make (incredibly harsh) assumptions about upcoming games based on their (horrible) demoes, while making observations about the purpose and importance of video game demoes.

Today’s victims: Miami Law and Knights in the Nightmare

bold miami law dmeoMiami Law (NA release, June 9th)

The Nintendo Channel demo of Miami Law mentions this is only “Demo Vol. 1,” implying that there’s more to come from Hudson. Hopefully, that means they are aware of just how awful a demo this is and they’re working on a better one because, so far, this demo is only working against Miami Law.

The demo consists of two mini-games:  Security Check and Back-up Shooting.

In Security Check, you play the role of Sara, and FBI agent monitoring security cameras in a drug cartel’s hideout. Your job is spot guards on the different screens so your partner Law can be prepared for what’s coming. By tapping guards with the stylus, you’ll alert Law to their presence. Some are a bit tough to spot and there’s a timer running, but this isn’t Where’s Waldo. When you think you’ve spotted all the guards, you press “Enter” you would assume to see Law take out the guards or get shot by ones you may have missed, but you’d be wrong. The demo ends right then and there without any mention of how you did.

Back-up Shooting isn’t nearly as exciting as it sounds. As Law, you drive a car chasing after some escaped criminals on the freeway. Sara shoots at the car while you steer left or right, avoiding traffic. Sara is done taking out the criminals in no longer than a minute and, again, the demo ends.

The game aims to replicate TV crime dramas like Miami Vice, splitting the gameplay between action sequences with Law and puzzle sequences with Sara, but the demo doesn’t really show you any of that. You aren’t told whether or not you found every guard in Sara’s mini-games and you barely do anything in Law’s. I doubt the Nintendo Channel has much of an affect on game sales, but releasing such a poor quality demo of a fairly anticipated game like Miami Law can only hurt sales. Even if it’s just a dozen or so people playing the demo and deciding against buying the game because of it, that still makes uploading the demo onto the channel pointless as I seriously doubt anyone will be convinced to buy after playing this poor example.

Knights in the Nightmare (NA release, June 2)bold knights in the nightmare

A bizarre hybrid of genres ranging from strategy RPG to space-shooter, the demo of Sting’s Knights in the Nightmare features just a tutorial of the game. There are seven different lessons to be learned, each featuring multiple demonstrations which you must replicate afterwards.

The game’s concept is a bit confusing despite the Armored Maiden’s bleeping-blooping explanations of the mechanics because the game never actually lets you engage in a battle. Instead, you only complete individual parts of combat and then move onto the next lesson. What you do get to play is interesting, though.

The game puts you in control of a Wisp, which you use to manipulate your spectral knights on a grid in real time. You charge attacks to increase the range of your warriors and drag items to unleash powerful killing blows. When an enemy is defeated, it releases gems that increase your MP when collected. Only the Wisp can be damaged, so when enemies shoot “bullets” you need to avoid them while still activating your units. There’s more to it including a strange “fog” mechanics and “law” and “chaos” phases, but the game never really gives you the opportunity to experience any of these elements in a natural setting. It would have been nice to play thorugh a full battle once you complete the tutorial, but the game just concluded by assuring your success in the full version.

Unlike the Miami Law demo, Knights in the Nightmare‘s demo tutorial at least shows players what the full game is somewhat about. Neither demo is very satisfying, and while it’s not exactly the goal of a demo to satisfy the player, a good demo should make the player feel like they’re experiencing a well-polished chunk of gameplay that represents the full version, leaving them with the desire to buy the game.

I suppose the Knights tutorial does that for fans of the bizarre games Atlus is famous for bringing over to the West, but I honestly don’t see the point in going through the trouble of preparing a demo for your game if that demo is going to be sloppy and poorly designed. This seems to be a big problem for third-party developers on the Nintendo Channel, but that’s probably because most of the games they demo there aren’t these innovative games that require an actual demonstration to truly understand. There’s a reason games like Brain Age and Flash Focus are constantly featured on the channel.

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One Response to “Demoman Returns”

  1. Kandra Chinick April 20, 2010 at 5:07 AM #

    Amazingly… what you have said about really made my day! (ok i know you’ll reckon im a crazy haha!) nice

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