We had the chance to visit the September 2023 WASD x IGN video game expo held at the Truman Brewery in London and had a first play of Tekken 8 & new Prince of Persia game ‘The Lost Crown’.
There were tons of upcoming games being showcased, some of which were playable for the first time in the UK, and Retro Dodo soaked up all the action for you to check out.
As the title suggests, these were huge games massive AAA studios such as Sega, Bandai Namco and Ubisoft, as well as smaller independent creators and publishers such as Team 17, Secret Mode and Numskull Games.
We also got our grubby paws on some cool gaming hardware too, some of which the handheld aficionados out there will be very excited about!
These types of events aren’t usually known for Retro Gaming specifically, but the remasters and new entries from our favourite retro series definitely gave us some serious nostalgic vibes!
So, let’s kick things off and talk about two of our favourite highlights! Get ready for our official first play of Tekken 8 and New Prince of Persia reviews, as well as tonnes of other exciting games and hardware!
Table of Contents
Getting Hands On With Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown
As the title of this article revolves around a first play of Tekken 8 & new Prince of Persia game The Lost Crown, then it’s safe to say that this was easily one of the games we were most excited to play.
The newest entry in the long running Prince of Persia series goes back to it’s roots and gives us a 2D side-scrolling platformer.
In a nice touch, it blends those nostalgic feels with the more combat-focused action from recent entries to give fans something which feels both familiar while also heading in a brand new direction for the franchise.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a Metroidvania style affair. It features a heavy emphasis on exploration, finding new abilities that allow for different movement and combat options, and allowing you to backtrack to previous areas to find secrets and hidden routes to new places.
What surprised us the most was just how slick the controls were; the fluidity of using the dash move combined with wall jumps, spinning around on poles and transitioning into attacks felt satisfying and weighty while maintaining pinpoint responsiveness.
This is a highly polished experience already, and the full game doesn’t even release until January 2024!
Getting To Grips With The Combat
Combat is a major focus of the game, with you having access to lots of different attacks. We’re talking close range combo attacks, arrows which you can fire off at a moments notice, and a time altering ability which effectively allows you to quickly teleport to a previous location.
That last one is great for catching enemies off guard and will most likely have even more utility in the full game.
We also encountered a massive boss battle towards the end of the demo which was fairly challenging and really tested everything you had learned so far.
An important part of combat revolves around your parry attack which always feels so satisfying to pull off, with a successful parry on certain enemy attacks showing you a close up animation as you perform a devastating counter, making the combat feel all the more intense.
The version of the game offered at the event was the Nintendo Switch port and we’re very happy to report that it runs perfectly at 60 fps and looks incredible too. We even played in handheld mode for a while and it was just as good there as it was docked.
The developers have put some serious work into optimisation here.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be such a surprise that this felt so great, after-all this is coming from the same team behind the incredible Rayman Legends, so they clearly know what they’re doing!
Our First Play Of Tekken 8
Our mission to get the first play of Tekken 8 & new Prince of Persia Game The Lost Crown channeled us towards the exciting Tekken 8 booths, some of the busiest in the whole event!
Bandai Namco were hosting regular competitions where crowds gathered to watch the action and there was plenty of areas to play the game more casually too.
If your Tekken skills are rusty because you’ve not played any of the previous games for a while then don’t worry, because it’s pretty easy to get to grips with the basics.
If you’re wanting to take things to the next level and start pulling off some fancier moves though, something which will come in very handy is that the move and combo lists for each character are easily accessible on the pause screen and you can even pin them to the screen during fights for if you need a quick reminder.
Unfortunately, the demo available at WASD didn’t feature any kind of CPU opponents to practice against but this didn’t matter too much because the heart of Tekken has always been the multiplayer, which as per usual is incredible.
Each character features their own distinct personality and fighting style and it was always such a different experience depending on who you’re going up against.
Certain characters like Jack-8 seemed slower and more focused on dealing as much damage as possible with a single hit, while characters like Law were more combo heavy, dealing as many fast strikes as possible but dealing lower damage with every punch.
The most impressive thing about Tekken 8 though was the graphics and sound design.
Every hit had an over the top impact sound which made the combat incredibly satisfying and the visuals in general were not only impressive from a quality standpoint but added to the feedback of the game, with successful combos resulting in flashy neon effects bursting around your character.
If you’re a fan of Tekken or fighting games in general, this is definitely one to keep your eye on.
Evercade: Retro Gaming Levelled Up
I know that we came here to get a first play of Tekken 8 & new Prince of Persia feels, but there was so much more to offer at WASD!
Evercade have been on a roll lately with their proprietary cartridge based systems the Evercade VS and the Evercade EXP. These two devices were on show at WASD, with the VS being a home console which supports multiplayer and the Evercade EXP being a handheld which is focused more on single player experiences in a portable form factor.
The greatest strength of the Evercade line of systems though is the games available on them. They use their own original cartridge designs and most of them are multi-carts offering compilations of classic retro titles.
We have collections from Taito, Namco, Atari, Data East and way more, but because they’re officially licensed and because you’re playing them on a physical cartridge, it adds an element of authenticity to the experience that you could argue is absent from other handheld emulators.
Championing Indie Games
We loved seeing how much Evercade were promoting not only the retro gaming scene, but also the indie game space too.
Upcoming indie titles such as Goodboy Galaxy and Full Void are getting physical releases and there’s already been a ton of support for indies in the past from Evercade, even going as far as to offer select games as timed free downloads as part of their ongoing Game of the Month programme.
We also went hands on with HyperMegaTech’s upcoming Super Pocket line of handheld systems due for release in October 2023.
These are being made by Blaze Entertainment who are also behind the Evercade brand. The Super Pocket is separate from Evercade’s EXP console in the way that it features a vertical form factor, has a 4:3 screen (320 x 240 resolution) and comes pre-loaded with certain games depending on the model you want.
As of now there’s a Taito edition and a Capcom edition available to pre-order but the beauty of these devices is that they also have an Evercade cartridge slot, making them compatible with any of your Evercade collections.
Despite the fairly low price tag attached to these (costing £50 to pre-order), they feel much more premium than the price would suggest.
We were particularly impressed by the IPS screen which not only offers amazing clarity, but the viewing angles were superb too. This is an amazing entry point to the Evercade line of systems and would even be great as a completely stand alone handheld too.
Special Effect Make Gaming Accessible For Everyone
Special Effect are a charity organisation who aims to help people with a variety of disabilities get into gaming. They were showcasing a variety of accessible controller options across multiple consoles and are doing some amazing work to make gaming as inclusive as possible.
They had a few different styles of controller to demonstrate what they can offer and we were blown away by seeing first hand what’s being accomplished in this space.
Specially developed joysticks and buttons can be plugged into devices like the Xbox Adaptive Controller, which basically acts as a hub where any controller input can be assigned to an external device.
By taking advantage of this, Special Effect are able to supply custom made solutions for people with specific disabilities to allow them to play games that would be impossible for them with a standard controller.
Special Effect And Retro Gaming
Impressively they were also keen to showcase how this works with retro gaming, having a set-up running the Switch ports of The Lion King and Aladdin (originally for the Sega Mega Drive) which were playable with a specialised joystick combined with the Flex Controller which is a Nintendo Switch equivalent of the Xbox Adaptive Controller.
A lot of retro games are well suited to accessible controllers due to typically having less controller inputs than modern games, so to see this being showcased at the event was amazing.
Because these adaptive controllers are compatible with Windows PCs and because most emulation software offers robust input rebinding features, it means that with the help of charities like Special Effect and companies like Microsoft creating these controllers in the first place, more people than ever will be able to experience retro gaming.
I think we can all agree how amazing this is for making games more inclusive and accessible for all, and we’re excited to see how this tech could tie in with Tekken 8.
C-Smash VRS Makes A VR Comeback
One of the most unexpected games we played at WASD was a revival of the Dreamcast title Cosmic Smash. The original game was a strangely atmospheric game of squash, where the objective is to break blocks with a ball as you hit it back and forth with a racket.
Think Super Breakout but in 3D.
It was accompanied by visuals looking like they take place in a Portal test chamber and electronic music that sent you into a sort of Zen state as you did your best to not miss your shots.
C-Smash VRS takes this concept and makes it even more immersive, reimagining it as a VR game for the PSVR 2 and giving you way more control over your shots by utilising the PSVR 2 controller’s motion capabilities.
Despite the rather simple premise of the original game, this was some of the most fun we had at the whole event. It’s easy to imagine getting really into this and working up a sweat without even realising it because of how much you’re swinging your arms around.
Can C-Smash VRS Appeal To Modern Audiences?
Now, you might be thinking that this is all well and good, but wouldn’t it get a bit boring just hitting a ball back and forth trying to break blocks?
Well, yes it probably would, which is why the developers at Wolf & Wood have added in way more modes than what was present in the original game, including various competitive multiplayer options, AI versus, and several single player modes.
We’re talking a challenge mode featuring power-ups and blocks that affect the play area in different ways, as well as a more straight forward score attack mode.
There’s even been a massive update to the game which adds in more content, including a co-op mode!
Arcade style games like this translate so well to a VR headset that it’s surprising that we aren’t seeing more classic games get revived in this way. Not only with sport and puzzle games but also shooters like House of the Dead or Time Crisis, you’d think that would be a no-brainer!
C-Smash VRS is out now on PSVR 2!
Taking A Look At Full Void
Who doesn’t love old school cinematic platformers? Another World, Flashback and Heart of Darkness are considered absolute classics, but it’s not often we see modern games try to replicate that style. That’s why we were excited to see Full Void featured at WASD!
This is an indie game created by OutOfTheBit which is currently available on Steam, Switch and Xbox and is due for release on PlayStation systems and Evercade by the end of the year.
Full Void is set in a futuristic dystopian world where an AI has gone rampant and enslaved the human race. AI is pretty good at creating pictures at the moment but we’re not quite at that level in our own reality yet!
Not only is this game’s pixel art graphics absolutely gorgeous but it wears it’s influences on it’s sleeve, having movement that feels slow and heavy making every action very deliberate.
It features static screens that scroll from one to another to simulate camera movement and even goes as far as to have choppy FMV cutscenes which mimic how those old titles would have bad frame rates in their cinematics.
If you’re a fan of the original Prince of Persia or the Oddworld games, you should definitely check this out!
Alien Hominid HD & Alien Hominid Invasion
Some of you might remember Alien Hominid HD as one of the early examples of an indie hit back on the Xbox Live Arcade on the Xbox 360. However, due to the impending closure of the Xbox 360 marketplace, the folks at The Behemoth decided to make their breakout game more accessible and re-release it on all modern platforms apart from PlayStation (at least for now).
But that’s not all, because a brand new game in the Alien Hominid series is being created too!
This is called Alien Hominid Invasion and takes the original run and gun concept of the original game and brings it into the modern age, with online multiplayer, objective based gameplay, a non-linear progression system, unlockable abilities, cosmetics and weapons and even has simultaneous four player support.
How Does The Gameplay Differ From The Original?
The structure of the game has been pretty dramatically altered due to the levels now requiring you to fulfil certain randomly generated objectives before being able to continue to the next area.
Basically, there are several stages to each level, and by completing tasks such as finding three collectibles or defeating a number of a specific enemy type you’ll progress to the next objective.
However the longer you remain in the level, the more aggressive the enemies will become, forcing you to complete the areas as fast as possible before the army starts rolling in with everything they’re got.
While Alien Hominid HD is more inspired by games like Metal Slug, Alien Hominid Invasion feels a little bit more original in the way it’s structured. It’s almost wave-based rather than simply trying to make it to the end of a level and defeat a boss, and this distinction between the two games is definitely a good thing.
Essentially, it gives you a reason to play both depending on what you’re in the mood for!
Alien Hominid HD and Alien Hominid Invasion are due for simultaneous release later this year.
Multiplayer Mayhem With Make Way
Make Way turned out to be one of the most fun multiplayer games we tried at the whole event, and that’s after our first play of Tekken 8 & new Prince of Persia shenanigans.
It basically takes Micro Machines and tweaks it in just enough ways to make it distinct while adding in some new features to keep replay value as high as possible.
We’re just glad that someone out there is still making games like this, because at this point the top-down racing genre is all but dead.
The main distinction between Make Way and Micro Machines is this interesting mechanic where before the race even begins, each of the four players (or AI opponents if you don’t have four humans to play with) have to select from a variety of random track elements and attach them together to create the track you’ll be racing on.
These track elements can be literal pieces of road such as a sharp turn, a spiral or a loop or they can be obstacles such as fans which blow you off course, barriers which rise when you get close or sections of floor which break apart as you drive over them.
This means that the tracks you’re on will be different every time you play which keeps things fresh and competitive because it’s not like you can simply memorise the tracks and destroy your opposition that way.
What Does The Racing Feel Like?
The actual racing feels just like Micro Machines, only this time with analogue controls rather than a d-pad which gives you way more control. Even some of the weapons are taken straight out of Micro Machines, such as a hammer which attaches to the top of your car or a shock wave ability which blasts away anyone that gets too close.
You might be tempted to call Make Way a bit of a rip-off but considering it’s being developed by a company called Ice BEAM which is fronted by Tom Goodchild who has worked on the actual Micro Machines series at Codemasters, we would say it’s more of a spiritual successor.
Plus considering the last actual Micro Machines game was in 2017 and wasn’t received too well, you shouldn’t expect to see anything from the actual series for a while.
But that’s fine because we’ve now got Make Way to fill that void!
My only concern is the lack of a proper single player mode which could have really boosted the amount of time you’d get out of the game.
To negate this to an extent though, Make Way does offer online multiplayer and it’s cross-platform too which will hopefully mean that there’s quite a big pool of players to race against.
Secret Mode, the publishers of Make Way, are hoping to have the game release later this year.
WASD Round Up
We had a lot of fun exploring WASD, playing some of our most anticipated upcoming games and even finding some games we had never heard of before.
Outside of playing the games there were industry speakers and stalls to help developers with their portfolios, a variety of food and drink stalls and lots of areas to sit down and relax too.
Plus because the event was quite big, there wasn’t too much of a wait to get playing anything either which was a massive bonus!
A big thanks goes out to the organisers of WASD for providing us with a press pass to attend the show and get our first play of Tekken 8 & new Prince of Persia adventures, and we look forward to visiting again in the future.
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Rob has a particular fondness for the strange, obscure and quirky side of gaming and loves sharing his knowledge with others. He has been creating content on his own YouTube channel for several years and aims to take his passion to the next level with Retro Dodo.