Nicalis Cinco de Mayo Event 2016
Traditionally, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican Army's victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. In the United States, it’s more to celebrate Mexican culture. For me, it’s a time for sales at my local Mexican grocery store so I can stock up on chips, avocado and marinated meat. Not this year. For 2016, I celebrated my victory over the routine life of marriage and parenthood. I celebrated life again!
I was at Black Hammer Brewing in San Francisco to attend the Nicalis Press Event where they allowed me and other game reviewers/writers a chance to try out their upcoming games for 2016. I have to say that I now have a idea of what my Man Cave should look like. Imagine a bar, where there were 11 beers on tap (all complimentary of Nicalis), trays of cooked steak, chicken, black beans, refried beans, avocado, different salsa, tortillas, taco shells, chips and more, and a wall of 6 stations showing playable versions of Dimensional Intersection, Ittle Dew 2, Full Mojo Rampage, Creepy Castle, 90’s Super GP, Tiny Barbarian and The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth. The main star was located in a separate room which was the interactive VR experience Dimensional Intersection, which utilized an Oculus Rift and Xbox One. There were the introductions of the games and developers and the instructions to basically eat, play and enjoy.
After consuming a large amount of Cinco de Mayo fare, and sampling many of the beers on tap, I tried out 90’s Super GP. This brought to memory my times playing classics such as Sega’s Daytona USA, Atari 2600 Enduro, and Pole Position. This version was renamed from 90’s Arcade Racer and was slated to be released for Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U; however, I later heard that the Wii U version has been discontinued. The graphics were clean, although I couldn’t drive very well, but I blame my performance on drinking and virtual driving, which should never be mixed, unless done at home. Next was Ittle Dew 2. I hadn’t played the first one, but it reminded me a lot of the classic Legend of Zelda from the good old NES days. The basic summary is that Ittle and Tippsie (her sidekick) crash on an island and have to solve puzzles using a magic map and fight different monsters in order to build a raft from pieces they obtain. I spent most of my time on this as I relived my childhood and wasn’t feeling the low-level stress that I get when I play other action games like Star Wars Battlefront and Call of Duty. I would buy this for my kids (that’s how I can justify buying it, which I would just HAPPEN to play as well.) It’s challenging for them by using problem-solving strategy and it’s cute, without having to be sickeningly sweet. All in all, I can't wait to pick this game up.
There were a lot of people playing the other games, so I didn’t get a chance to try them out, but they looked good and I would love a chance to play them. I went to the next room and waited my turn to try out Dimensional Intersection. Putting on the VR headset and the headphones which were pumping out Psytrance, Hyper-Chill, and Psydub music (don’t ask, I don’t know what that means.) I realized that VR visual and auditory dimension games that don’t have a defined objective to achieve (“but to just experience, dude”) and have ever-changing colors and patterns, with no sense of distance and scale, combined with alcohol makes for a serious mind trip. I was hoping to see if I could just lose all track of time, but after 7 minutes, I was well aware that other things were around me and that I could stop “playing.” That was the disappointing part. I wanted to see if I would finish the game by taking off the VR googles and realize that I was in a room by myself and the brewery was shut down and locked up. I guess I prefer more direction- and objective-based game play. But good job Nicalis. I’m sure there is a market for this game, and I am looking forward to see what direction they can take with this technology in the future. All in all, food, beer on tap, video games in one night makes me want to go home and recreate this day over and over.