This past Tuesday SlimGamer was invited to Sony’s Playstation Spring Showcase in Toronto.  So I packed my camera and hightailed it to the big city to play several Canadian made games coming out later this year for PS3 and Vita. Now I’m here to give you a preview of all the games they had on show and show you some pictures and video I took along the way.

Good Times At The 2012 PlayStation Spring Showcase photo

The first game I looked at was Dyad, a neat racer/puzzler/shooter due out on the PSN later this summer.  Dyad, the result of 4 years work by a single person, was definitely the surprise hit of the show.

Good Times At The 2012 PlayStation Spring Showcase photo

Even the poster was awesome.

Dyad plays unlike anything else you’ve ever played.  On the surface it’s a racing game, only you have no accelerator or brake.  Instead, you propel yourself forward by grappling onto enemies that appear on the track.  As the game goes on this gets more complex, where grappling onto the same coloured enemies gives you combos and flying close to them (but not hitting them) afterwards fills an energy gauge that, when full, can give you a gigantic burst of speed and allow you to plow right through the enemies.  The game features 27 levels and not only does each level have unique goals and scoring, but each and every one looks and sounds different from all the others.  And that’s where the magic happens.

Good Times At The 2012 PlayStation Spring Showcase photo

Dyad is mesmerizing.  Once you pick up speed the game’s colourful, neon graphics grab your attention like very few other things can, and the music, if pumped through a pair of good quality headphones or speaker system, digs its hooks into you and doesn’t let go.  Playing Dyad is like attending rave; It takes a bit of getting used to but once you figure it out it’s a magical experience.  Once I started playing I found myself absolutely engrossed and completely disconnected from the world around me.  It’s that good.

Good Times At The 2012 PlayStation Spring Showcase photo

Are there any Ico fans out there?  The second game I played was an adventure game called Papo & Yo that reminded me more of the PS2 classic Ico than I thought possible.

Good Times At The 2012 PlayStation Spring Showcase photo

The parts of Papo & Yo that I played had a very dreamlike feel to them, which makes sense as the game takes place in a boy’s imagination as he chases his imaginary friend.  There was no combat, and instead the game focused on a series of puzzles that involved interacting with the environment in a variety of ways.  In many cases, buildings themselves would move and scurry about as you wound up their keys or picked up boxes and watched houses in the background correspond to its movements, as shown in this footage below.

Papo & Yo was a very calming game, and even with all the noise of the show I felt relaxed and at ease.  It reminded of Ico in that the game felt very similar and it evoked very similar emotions as when I played Sony’s classic.  While there were a few framerate issues and bugs (which is nothing unusual from such an early build) I enjoyed myself immensely.  Watch the video, it speaks for itself.

Good Times At The 2012 PlayStation Spring Showcase photo

The next game I looked at was the next game in the LittleBigPlanet franchise, LittleBigPlanet Karting.  The game is developed my United Front Games (the same guys behind ModNation Racers) and overseen by Media Molecule.

Even just from a casual glance, there’s no mistaking this game for anything else.  It’s 100% LittleBigPlanet, through and through.  Everything from the colourful patchwork graphics to the characters to the doodads and level props come straight from other games in the franchise.  The developers were trying to make the game fit into the LBP universe and they nailed it.

Good Times At The 2012 PlayStation Spring Showcase photo

The developers claim they'll even have Move support, 4 player splitscreen, and 2 player splitscreen online.

Gameplay wise, LBP Karting plays just like any other Kart racing game.  You race your rivals on tracks around the Little Big Planet (connected via a neat story mode) while shooting items at them and engaging in the occasional arena duel.  Where it differs are the controls (which feel very similar to the LBP platformers, slightly floaty) and the customization.  Just like LBP 1 & 2, LittleBigPlanet Karting allows you to customize every single part of your game.  The most exciting part of this is the track editor that the developers showed us, although calling it a track editor might be selling it a little short.  Every single aspect of the tracks can be customized and created from scratch.  You’re not limited to just creating a racetrack like you were in ModNation Racers.  You can create entire worlds and the games that play out inside them.  The developers told us that they’re looking forward to seeing what awesome creations the community comes up with, and we here at Slimgamer right there with them.

Good Times At The 2012 PlayStation Spring Showcase photo

The fourth game on our list was Atlus’ Game of Thrones.  Unfortunately, this was the only game I didn’t get a chance to play but I did get to see the game in action.

The best way to describe Game of Thrones is to call it Dragon Age in Westeros.  The developers have done a damn fine job of turning the Game of Thrones world into a game setting.  The graphics brought the world to life and the voice acting was superb, at least what I heard of it.

Good Times At The 2012 PlayStation Spring Showcase photo

My photography skills deserve a slap.

Even though I didn’t play it myself, the gameplay looked remarkably like Dragon Age.  Combat was very similar to DA with its command wheel, and dialogue contained choices and options very much like Bioware’s fantasy epic.  Knowing how both the TV show and Song of Ice and Fire book series plays out, you can expect a gripping plot (parallel to that of the television show) to help move things along.  If you’re looking for an RPG, definitely give this a look.

Good Times At The 2012 PlayStation Spring Showcase photo

Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack was a game I’d never even heard prior to the Spring Showcase.  While this is normally a bad sign, in this case it was I kicked myself for not knowing about it earlier.

Mutant Blobs Attack is a gorgeous 2D platformer for the PS Vita.  You control a tiny blob that’s attacking Earth.  Your only problem is that… well, you’re small. Midget in the NBA small.  But you have options.  Lots of tiny, consumable options.  Eat things.  Grow bigger.  Get further.  That’s the name of the game.  Eating things makes you grow bigger, which lets you eat bigger things, which means they’re no longer blocking your path.  Add in some powers, such as the ability to squeeze through small spaces and pull yourself to glowing objects, and a healthy difficulty into the wonderful animation and you’ve got yourself a real Vita gem.  Mutant Blobs Attack may be the same old song and dance, but you can tell it’s been practicing.

Good Times At The 2012 PlayStation Spring Showcase photo

Next up, I tried out Retro City Rampage.  Do you like Grand Theft Auto?  What about 8 bit graphics?  How about we throw the two in a blender and play the resulting game smoothie?

There’s really no better description than the one above.  Retro City Rampage is a 2D, 8 bit GTA.  If that kind of thing doesn’t excite you then I just don’t know what will.  You have cars.  You have weapons.  You have the rampant slaughter of anything that dares get in your way.  Complete missions and minigames as you go.  While the driving controls took a little getting used to (at least for me) the entire game was pure bliss while I played it.  There’s just something about rampant violence in a cutesy 8 bit world that I can’t put my finger on, but I love it.  This may very well be the game that sells you a Vita.

If Sound Shapes doesn’t do it first.

Good Times At The 2012 PlayStation Spring Showcase photo

This is the game I was most excited to try.  For those of you not in the know, Sound Shapes is a PS Vita exclusive game that combines platforming with music making.  As you jump through the levels and dodge enemies you’ll collect coins and that add new beats and layers to the music.  While things may start off as only a simple beat, by the end of each level you’ll be listening to a complete song.  Even dying adds to the symphony.  I died a lot.

I like the compare the actual platforming of Sound Shapes to super hard platformers like Super Meat Boy.  Not that Sound Shapes is hard beyond the initial learning curve, but each time you die you’ll be automatically respawned at the last checkpoint flower you hit and you’re free to continue on your way to making music.  You’re not scored on how many lives you lose but on the time it takes you to beat each level.

Possibly more exciting is the level editor.  Sound Shapes comes complete with a level editor that allows you to make your own levels (which are organized into albums, just like the premade levels).  The touch screen makes it easy to place new notes (and allows you to select from a variety of instruments for each on) and terrain pieces,and it even has a very intuitive use for the back touchpad of the Vita that lets you move, resize, and rotate terrain pieces with a surprising amount of ease.  Even placing blocks and notes randomly created a level that played well, and even better, sounded great.

Just like Dyad, Sound Shapes is a whole new experience with headphones on.  I just sat back and let it take hold of me and completely lost track of time.  It’s completely engrossing.

Good Times At The 2012 PlayStation Spring Showcase photo

The final game I got to play was the PlayStaion Move game called Lights, Camera, Party.  It’s a minigame collection, but as far as minigames collections go it wasn’t that bad and had plenty of style.

Good Times At The 2012 PlayStation Spring Showcase photo

A shot from Lights Camera Party. You can see the glowing end of the Move controller.

The most striking thing is the charming, blocky characters that are set up as part of a family game show.  During this game show the minigames fly at you rapidly and each game is quick to learn and quick to complete (think Warioware).  With 50 minigames total there’s a fair bit of variety to be had and some wonderful creativity to be seen.  For example, one minigame that I really enjoyed involved a xylophone with differently coloured plates, and the colour of the orb on the PS Move determined which plate you had to hit.  Creativity like that shows promise for making Lights, Camera, Party an enjoyable party game for the family.  Speaking of which, up to 8 players can play at the same time and all have different difficulty levels, so kids can enjoy themselves even if they’re not very good while the adults can have things be a little more challenging.

Good Times At The 2012 PlayStation Spring Showcase photo

This is a "Fit the Shapes" minigame.

While not overly enthralled with the idea of another mini-game fest, you could do a lot worse than LCP and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy playing it.

I had a great time at the PlayStation Spring Showcase.  I got to meet some great people and play some awesome games.  If you have any questions about the games shown feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.