Anime Expo 2018: Quick Hits On Kingdom Hearts 3, Jump Force & More

by Gary Catig

There were plenty of video game publishers exhibiting at this year’s Anime Expo which meant there were no shortages of playable demos. Below are my first impressions on some of the titles I got my hands on.

Kingdom Hearts 3 is one of the most highly anticipated games and it was hard to demo at E3 because of long lines. Luckily, Square Enix brought it to Anime Expo and though it was just as high in demand, I finally got my chance. The two playable worlds were Olympus and Toy Box and although Hercules was a fine movie, you can bet I wanted to see the rag tag misfits from Toy Story.
The Toy Story world was impressive as you’re shrunken down to experience a toy’s point of view. You can sense the large scale as it takes a long time just to leave Andy’s house and cross the street. You begin fighting off some Heartless, which are a good mix of classic and new versions that fit with the world you’re in. For the gameplay, not much has changed from the PS2 games as it’s still an action RPG.  I even used a summon spell calling upon a giant pirate ship. In order to incorporate more interaction with the summons, you can hit certain button combinations that appear on the screen to increase damage dealt.
The graphics are sharp and clear and look better than the movies. I also enjoyed the accompanying music which was an instrumental of You’ve Got a Friend in Me. The voice acting is on point that even characters like Buzz and Woody, who might not be the originals, sound close enough. Although it was a little weird hearing Sora speak, since Haley Joel Osment has aged and matured since the release of the second installment. He doesn’t sound anywhere near like when he was the kid in the Sixth Sense.
Overall it was awesome, and I can’t wait until its release on January 29, 2019. It felt like reconnecting with old friends traveling with Sora, Donald and Goofy. It was cool to see the heroes interact with beloved characters like Woody and Buzz, and I didn’t mind sacrificing gameplay time in order to become immersed in the engaging story. I find it charming how seamlessly many favorite Disney characters are interwoven into the game.

Manga publisher, Shonen Jump, is turning 50 this year and to help celebrate will be the release of the game, Jump Force. Jump Force is a crossover fighting game that features characters from various series like Dragon Ball, Naruto and One Piece. In the game you assemble a team of 3 in order to take down your opponents in a 3-D battle arena.
It is a visually good-looking game. Controls wise, I’m not too familiar with Bandai Namco fighting games so I wasn’t sure which combinations of buttons and joystick motion performed special attacks. I was limited to basic moves and resorted to button mashing in order to win my match. I think with more familiarity and practice, I could nail down the controls better.
Fans of all the series represented should enjoy this game. I don’t think there are many opportunities to have Goku, Naruto, and Monkey D. Luffy team up together or to actually perform some of their signature moves yourself. It was also recently announced that characters from Bleach are joining the action. There is no set date for the game’s release but expect it sometime in 2019.

Fate/Grand Order is a breakout RPG mobile game that is now getting a VR experience that debuted at the show. At the start you have your choice to be accompanied by Saber-class Servant Altria Pendragon or Shielder-class Demi-servant Mash Kyrielight.
You are whisked away with whoever you chose to a luxurious resort where you experience an awkward companion experience. It’s as if the two you are on a date with your servant acting the role as a submissive love interest. You have a choice of three activities, which turns into a mini game. There’s only a vague description of each and I ended up in a water gun fight with Altria dressed in a white dress so you can imagine how that goes.
Afterwards, as if transported into a totally different game, a dragon attacks causing your date to change into warrior mode. The graphics make good use of the 3-D effects as you gain a front row seat to this epic battle of titans. They throw in one last uncomfortable relationship aspect as you need to hold hands to help power up your servant so she can defeat the enemy.
Overall it was a mixed experience. It makes good use of the VR technology but the dating aspect wasn’t for me. It comes off a bit unnatural however the final boss battle makes it all worthwhile.

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