We're big fans of Nordic Games here at Dealspwn. Their never say die attitude and willingness to go up against the biggest publishers on their home turf is a refreshing antidote to the usual triple-A hype. Our industry thrives on smaller companies who make a splash with their independent titles, and I was eager to swing by their booth at Gamescom to check out their product lineup. As it turns out, they do much more than just singing games.
Inflatakarts & Jungle Kartz
Inflatables are awesome. As are racing games. Nordic has clearly paid attention to these fundamental laws of the universe and taken advantage of both with the Inflatakart: a resilient inflatable gaming chair that's shaped like a racing buggy. As a big kid at heart, I simply couldn't resist having a go... and despite my considerable girth, found it easy and comfortable to climb into and use. The Steering wheel features a sturdy mount for a Wiimote, which fits securely and provides an intuitive way to take advantage of tilt control. Build quality is absolutely excellent, and I'm reliably informed that the Kart has been tested up to and including loads of one hundred kilograms. It's certainly now been tested up to 88.
Getting out was fairly embarrassing, however. The expression 'beached whale' has never been more appropriate.
The Inflatakart will be compatible with practically any Wii racing game that features tilt controls (read: pretty much all of them) - and it's a much more immersive experience than using a Wii wheel or suchlike. This cross-compatibility is probably the main selling point, though, because the game for which the Inflatakart is designed is looking more than a little sketchy at this stage. Jungle Kartz is being developed by Brain In A Jar Studios, who are an independent outfit that specialises in racing games and simulations... which ought to guarantee some fairly impressive quality in theory. In practice, however, it's shaping up to be the very definition of a 'me too' karting game with the usual clichéd selection of characters, powerups and courses. Clipping issues and ropey collision detection are rampant in the alpha build, though in balance, there's certainly time for Nordic and Brain In A Jar to polish it up and add some more features before the projected release later this year. Here's hoping.
We Sing: UK Hits
If Nordic Games' investors expected gorgeous trade show models and professional singers to entertain them in the business area, I daresay that they were disappointed to discover a shaven-headed journalist belting out David Bowie songs down the octave. UK Hits is the latest iteration of Nordic's We Sing series (that provides an accessible, fun and eminently affordable take on the genre), which focuses on fourty songs from famous British talent. Classic artists like David Bowie, Madness and Rick Astley - yes, you can literally get Rick Rolled by the random song selection - rub shoulders with newcomers like Florence and the Machine, resulting in a mix of tracks that anyone can get involved with. I can see this being perfect for drunken karaoke nights and family gatherings.
The GUI and rhythm-based interface is largely unchanged from previous We Sing games, though an eyecatching London-themed mural makes for a much more visually appealing experience. The numerous practice modes, singing lessons and video gallery all make a welcome return, and frankly, it's difficult to tell you much more than that. If you're looking for a fun singing experience on the Wii, We Sing: UK Hits will sort you right out.
Ubisoft's Just Dance series is currently dominating the market in terms of sales... but Nordic Games are working on a competitor that actually offers more. We Dance includes both the traditional WiiMote-waggling and dancepad functionality, and allows places to use both simultaneously for what is technically a more authentic dancing experience. The Star Mat is a well-made piece of kit (though slightly slippery for larger dancers), and the interface is extremely intuitive.
You can read our full E3 preview here, and my frenzied fumblings at Gamescom confirmed that We Dance is really rather impressive. Syncing the on-screen movements with the star mat prompts can be a little confusing (and embarrassing) at first, but everything eventually clicks into an extremely rewarding and physical dance experience. Look out for it on UK shelves from September 2nd.