In this soapbox our resident Canadian writer and Pokémon expert Andrew Karklins shares his perspective from the recent Fan Expo 2014 event.
Just recently (28th to 31st August), I was lucky enough to attend Fan Expo Canada, a convention held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. As the third largest convention in North America and hosting more than 120,000 people over the weekend, Fan Expo showcases many forms of media ranging from television and movies, to comics, anime and gaming. This year’s star-studded line-up included Matt Smith from Doctor Who, the Marvel legend Stan Lee, and Patrick Stewart from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Although many of the guests were awesome and noteworthy, the main draw for me to this convention every year is the abundant amount of video games available to play on the show floor.
Fan Expo was home to many popular game companies showcasing their newest and greatest products. Xbox, Sony, Warner Bros, 2K, and Ubisoft all had a major presence on the show floor to showcase their upcoming projects. The saddening and familiar part of this situation, however, is related to Nintendo’s relationship with these companies. Excluding Sony and Xbox for obvious reasons, there were only three games playable on the show floor that will reach a Nintendo console; those three titles were: Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes, Just Dance 2015, and LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.
Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes was playable at the Disney booth and showcased not only the new figures from the Marvel universe, but also the game itself. My first impression of the figurines was very positive. As a big fan of the previous figures from the original, these figures maintain the same design style and will once again cause a big hole in my wallet in my quest to collect ‘em all. The game itself played very well, expanding on the previous game’s formula — the mission I had the chance to play involved escorting a SHIELD truck to a pre-designated location, which I took on as Captain America. The gameplay is very reminiscent of the original, while also incorporating brand new elements such as skill trees and crossover characters. Overall, my experience of Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes was very positive, and Disney is bound to make a killing off those beautiful figurines.
The next game available to play was Just Dance 2015. As someone who personally has no interest in the dancing genre of gaming, my opinions are based on someone who has very little knowledge of these titles. Just Dance 2015 appeared to be what the series experiences every year: a nice refresh with a brand new soundtrack of songs. The songs sounded great and from what I saw looked just as fun as the previous iterations of Ubisoft’s party hit.
Lastly, the final game heading to a Nintendo platform that was available to play was LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. The LEGO games hold a special place in my heart, as they have proved to be a series that ages well with time. I have played almost every LEGO game since the original LEGO Star Wars in the GameCube days and loved every one. LEGO Batman 3 provides a brand new roster of characters from the DC universe and brand new gameplay elements, ranging from new abilities as Batman and even a retro mode, allowing you to play as the cast of the 1960s Batman television show. In short, LEGO Batman 3 is exactly what someone who likes the LEGO game wants — a new setting with a brand new set of characters and blocks to build with it, while "building" off the original formula. On a side note, the Warner Bros. booth had this awesome Batman Tumbler promoting Batman Arkham Knight.
Overall, Nintendo’s presence at the third largest convention in North America was particularly disappointing. Three titles from those available to play coming to your platform should be raising some major red flags at Nintendo’s HQ, a situation that could have been eased if the big N had represented itself with its own booth. I can’t wait for next years Fan Expo, but hopefully Nintendo will realize the opportunity it has missed this year and will showcase its future line-up in years to come — considering the size of this event it should really be on the company's radar.