Mo from Tokyo
Just in the nick of time, I bring you part two of my wandering around the Tokyo Game Show. After the relative calm of day one of the TGS, day two was kind of chaotic. Actually, day one was chaotic too; it’s just that there was no sense of scale. The Japanese games industry has shrunk and consolidated somewhat, but they forgot to tell the consumer. So while there were fewer booths and less floor space, there was still just as much humanity crammed into the Makuhari Messe.
And in between it.
There’s an alleyway between two halls at the convention center, and this is where the Cosplayers go. Cosplayers, if you don’t already know, are folks who dress up like characters from games, movies, anime or Manga. And they take it very seriously. Lots of attention to detail and the costumes are almost always handmade and impressive. There is the odd chuckle-causing ‘stume, but mostly they’re admirable.
Cosplayers are obviously very dedicated folks, but not as dedicated as the Cosplay Otaku. These shuffling fanatics line up to take photos of the posing cosplayers, muttering and stuttering with an odd mix of fright and ecstasy, collecting the snaps like Pokemon cards. Who knows, maybe they even get together and have Polaroid battles?
The Koei booth was sweet. For one thing, I’m obsessed with Koei’s Chairwoman, the inimitable and charismatic Keiko Erikawa. She’s hyper-rad, a rare female Japanese boss, and more importantly, she’s totally into astrological symbols and she thinks I’m hot. Probably.
My insane non-romantic crushes aside, the Koei booth was also home to
Dynasty Warriors 5
Special, Koei’s launch-ish 360 game. Really, it’s a graphical update to the
Dynasty Warriors 5
game on the Xbox, with a few new features and significantly enhanced graphics. But given the quality of the Xbox game, enhanced graphics actually makes for a lovely-looking 360 game.
At first glance, it looks a little like
Ninety Nine Nights
, and indeed, the large scale combat on medieval battlefields in the Far East, is a similar setting. But the games have subtle and dramatic differences in how the combat and inventory management. And while both games are action packed,
is a little more thoughtful than
There was some cool stuff shown on video only, including the lovely-looking
, and the staggering
. If you haven’t played
, you’re in for a treat. Capcom has completely reinvented the franchise and
was faster, more frantic and at times, every bit as scary as the original RE games.
promises to follow in this new action vein, but with significantly (see, almost photo realistic) improved graphics.
was on display at Microsoft’s fake living room, a palatial white zone of calm in the middle of the TGS madness. The advantage to playing it here, instead of at the many kiosks, was a 40 inch Pioneer plasma screen, a cushy chaise and a Pioneer audio system powerful enough to cut through the show noise like a sound cannon.
was a blast. It started like as a Gamecube title (and NOT as an N64 game, as designer George Andreas is keen to point out) and moved to Xbox when MS bought Rare. The game’s ambitious scope and run of the mill delays meant that it soon got punted to Xbox 360. That seemed like a compromise at the time – that it would end up being a long-delayed port and maybe even gather some dust. We couldn’t have been more wrong, and we probably underestimated Rare’s ambition.
is shaping up to be a must-have launch game. And that’s not just a Microsoft droid talking. A lot of the feedback about the game at TGS was bordering on gleeful. Folks were not only taken in by the game’s lovely, vibrant graphics, but by the sheer wealth of stuff you can do. Fly, metamorphose, swim, explore, run, jump, fight and that’s just the stuff I saw. And to be honest, it’s not really a (Japanese) console launch unless all three of the following are in place:
A sweet platform game.
A -blam!-in’ driving game.
Three unimportable Mah Jong titles.
Of course we’ll have the 360 before Japan. We get ours in November and they have to wait a couple of weeks, into December. That’s an unusual event in recent console launch history. Normally Japan gets their first and we wait and watch. This time it’s the other way around.
Thing is, watching the video at the keynote of the first 360 sliding off the production line, I thought, “
Why can’t we have ours now?
” I mean, come on. Where’s the harm? I would just keep it in my house and load it up with my CD collection. And maybe play the built-in game. Or some
. Which works on the system thanks to the magic of backward compatibility. Anyway, apparently the answer to my early 360 question is a resounding “no.” Jerks.
Yoshiki Okamoto, one of the main men at Capcom for a long time, and widely considered the
“guy,” has turned his not inconsequential talents to a party game –
to be precise. It’s a family oriented board game, with lots of wacky action and some cool innovations – including a secret handicap system, that lets parents make their kids think they’re extra-lucky and/or smart. Cute!
Is it gonna make US launch? Doubtful, but a US version would be cool eventually.
is another game that’s going to be out in Japan waaay before it’s available here. The mech-shooter may look at first glance like a
style blaster, but don’t be fooled. This game is fast. The giant robot fighters roll, trundle or run across the landscape at very high speed (for eighty ton robots) and the feel of the action is far less soupy than most mech games.
It also has a novel approach to targeting – a third person shooter mode for the most part, but “zooming” puts you into first person mode. I’ve seen that before with games where you had a sniper rifle, but never as the default. It works perfectly. So perfectly in fact that the FROM Software game was mobbed for the entire show.
On my last day at TGS, I got recognized on the Tokyo subway by some Japanese kids, which was sort of bizarre. Especially given that European bald guys really DO all look the same. Honestly, I look like every single police sketch artist’s impression of a burglar. Although Parsons says I make an Anne Rice vampire look like Clint Eastwood. He does love manly menz.
The Japanese kids made me pose for photos, even though one of the kids had a superbly rude T-shirt on, that he probably wouldn’t be allowed to wear over here. But I don’t think their mom knew what it said. I also saw the strangest sign ever. A list fo things it is not permissable to store in a station locker. The usual were covered - smelly foodstuffs, animals, explosives...but number seven said simply, "Corpse." I could just imagine the Japanese dude showing up with a cadaver slung over a shoulder, seeing the sign and saying, "Darn it if I didn't just hump thisexpired hitchhiker halfway across Tokyo!"
We have some cool stuff coming up for you in the next couple of weeks, including a tour of our new offices, a look (well, maybe more of a discussion) at Halo 2 running on 360, so look out for that. And you never know, there may be some surprises between now and then.
Frankie's Tokyo Game Show Photo Gallery: Part 2
Japanese Halo 2 fans spot Frankie on train.
Cute Cosplayer basks in the attention.
Small print sometimes pays off.