Cologne is an exotic locale for a videogame trade show. We here in the biz are used to mundane burgs like Los Angeles or Seattle or Boston, provincial American backwaters compared to the largest city in the regal-sounding state of North Rhine-Westphalia. You don’t really feel like an extra in a historical fantasy adventure at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, you know? But at Gamescom you’re a short trip away from actual, legitimate castles. There is history in this place, a different kind of history than you’ll find in the USA.
But hey, videogames!
Gamescom is going down right now still over there in Germany, but it’s not too early to scan over all the various trailers that were unveiled over the last couple of days and pick out the best of the best. So, uh, we did that, right here. Here are our favorite new videogame ads from the European videogame supershow, ranked in no particular order, and decided by nebulous criteria that basically just boils down to whatever resonated with us at the moment. Chords were struck.
Nintendo released an extremely ‘90s trailer for its next miniconsole today, right as various retailers open preorders. The SNES Classic fervor continues to surge with just a month to go before release, with memories of how impossible it was to track down an NES Classic without having to break the bank on eBay. This fun commercial doesn’t overdo the ‘90s aesthetic, but captures just enough of that afterschool cartoon block ad break feeling to drive the already overpowering pangs of nostalgia into uncharted levels.
Our ears perked up when we heard Swery, the iconoclastic director of Deadly Premonition and D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die, was releasing a new trailer at Gamescom. This ad for The Good Life (no relation to NBC’s great sitcom) makes our list not just because of its creator’s pedigree but because of that unexpected twist at the end, which turns what looks like another uninspired Twin Peaks homage into something entirely different.
The surprise hit that turned Dontnod into a cult favorite developer is back, albeit from a new design team. This prequel comes from the Colorado-based Deck Nine, and perhaps that American pedigree will smooth out some of the more stilted or questionable dialogue found in the original. Although Paste greatly admired the first series, if you remember our reviews you might recall that we weren’t necessarily enthralled by every episode or how the series developed over time. Hopefully Before the Storm’s shorter run (it’s only three episodes this time)
This is a pretty standard trailer, with a bunch of disconnected glimpses of in-game action mixed with cut-scene clips. What makes it work is what makes the game itself exciting: the connection (unfortunately now a bit distant) to Studio Ghibli. Yes, the animation powerhouse is no longer involved in Level-5’s RPG, but at least former Ghibli employees are still working on the game, including character designer Yoshiyuki Momose. That level of craft should, like the original game, elevate its animated scenes above the typical videogame.
The Assassin’s Creed games have almost always kicked off with a really well done cinematic scene like this, one that establishes the game’s setting and themes and gives a stylized preview of what the action might look like. This trailer might be the best of that bunch, though; it’s a slickly guided tour through Creed’s fictionalized Egyptian history, driven by a rare cinematic appearance of a Leonard Cohen song that doesn’t wind up feeling kind of clichéd or embarrassing.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s games and comedy sections. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.