E3 2016: Farming, Horror, and Fighting games – Oh my!

Ah, E3. The time of year where all the big gaming companies and publishers gather in Los Angeles and flex their increasingly high-budget, high-definition muscles. There were many big announcements this year, including new versions of the Xbox One and PS4, and as a result some smaller games may have become somewhat hidden from the spotlight as well. Here I have chosen several of my picks out of the deluge of games from E3 this year.

Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns/ Harvest Moon: Skytree Village

The unbridled success of indie farming simulator Stardew Valley proves that the genre has much to offer for both old and new fans alike. During E3 this year, Xseed Games showed off a new trailer for the English version of Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns. This game is the latest entry in the granddaddy series of farming sims – the Bokujou Monogatari series, and pushes 3DS hardware by including three towns into the mix, each with different cultural flavors.

Meanwhile, after splitting from BokuMono developer Marvelous, Western developer Natsume has been developing their own Harvest Moon series of farming sim games, leading up to the newest entry, Skytree Village. While the previous game, Seeds of Memories, is more conventional in story and gameplay, Skytree Village experiments and improves further on the Minecraft-like terra-forming element unique to the newer Harvest Moon games, as well as having an overarching goal of restoring the Harvest Goddess’ power. The newest trailer debuted during E3.

Yomawari: Night Alone

NIS America did not have an E3 booth but instead interestingly set up shop in a nearby bar and restaurant, showing off several newly localised games including Yomawari: Night Alone. Released for PS Vita, Yomawari was a niche, subdued horror title published by Nippon Ichi that featured a young girl searching for her sister and her dog in suburban Japan.

Players control her through the notoriously labyrinthine streets while avoiding the horrors of the night, whether they are real or imaginary. This game is my personal recommendation for people interested in the more creepy aspects of Japanese horror. The game releases on October 28 on PS Vita this year in Europe, or October 25 worldwide for the new PC port.

The King of Fighters XIV

While by no means a niche developer, former arcade giant SNK has recently fallen on hard times. After being bought out for a second time since the start of the 21 st century, SNK has finally seen it fit to release the newest game of their longstanding fighting series, The King of Fighters XIV. As the initial announcement was during last E3, this game stayed mostly under the radar this year but Atlus helped bring over a 36 character demo for E3 attendees in preparation for the upcoming release later this year.

XIV boasts 50 playable characters from the start, and a combination of the best aspects of KOF ’98, 2002, and XIII, to create one of the most dynamic and in-depth fighting games this year. Street Fighter V detractors and hardcore fighting game fans can look forward to this highly expected sequel.

Alistair Wong
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