It wouldn’t be an E3 without a closer inspection at games with a distinct Japanese flavor, and few can boast to be as deliciously oishii than our friends at XSEED Games. Apart from their usual array of anime-inspired titles, headliners at this year’s show included the wild rhythm smasher Gal Metal and action platformer/farming sim Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin.
The former was easily one of the more memorable games I was able to try at E3 2018; in an unusual twist, Gal Metal is a Switch rhythm game with no prompts where players use the Joy-Cons as virtual drumsticks. The player is encouraged to freestyle at all times, coming up with their own drum beats to accompany the music. What’s more, the game actually takes skilled drumming into account and scores the player accordingly; colleague Nia Bothwell and I had the chance to speak with the game’s director Tak Fuji to learn a little more about this.
According to Fuji, the idea behind Gal Metal was that in other rhythm games, players are following a chart rather than actually producing music themselves. In this game, since players are allowed to improve at all times, making the experience more similar to actually playing the drums. Plus, there’s few things in life more immediately satisfying than thrashing out to Japanese metal music.
As for Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin, you read that right: it’s an action-platformer with farming elements. Heroine Sakuna is armed with blade, pipe and magic extending scarf and she’s fully capable of kicking all kinds of butt. The issue is that she’s also a harvest goddess and needs to involve herself with the harvest in order to maintain her divine power. As such, your time is split between combo-heavy action and a surprisingly detailed rice-farming simulator that requires you to prepare the fields, water your crops, harvest and dry them when they’re ready and even husk and polish the resulting rice.
There’s a lot going on here and while I was able to check out both sides of the game, I was left wanting more, more, more! Speaking of more, XSEED also had several additions to popular franchises that fans should look forward to, including heavy-hitters like Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal and Fate/EXTELLA LINK, as well as a virtual-reality take on cult-classic shooter with Gungrave VR. It’s shaping up to be one heck of a year for Japanese imports – gannbatte!!