I played hooky from school today and went to the Tokyo Game Show. The Japanese equivalent of E3. It's on Friday, Saturday and Sunday but unlike E3 it's open to the public which means it's full of screaming kids except for today because it's Friday so most kids are in school which is why I decided to go today. (Yes, I'm really actually Mojo Jojo in my spare time because since I have spare time then I can be Mojo Jojo)
To be honest there wasn't anything all that interesting which is usually the case at these kinds of shows, at least for me.
But to give a report, here's my impressions.
Probably the most interesting game I saw is called Rez. All that makes it interesting is the style. There's a few screenshots here. It wasn't on the floor though so I have no idea if it's fun. It's by United Gaming Artist, the Sega division that did Space Channel 5.
Space Channel 5 version 2 is also due out next year for PS2. I didn't play though. I liked the first one but I wonder if they can keep it as good. It would be easy for the music to suck and therefore the game not be interesting.
X−Box had the biggest booth. Not that that means it's going to sell. I saw some market survey in a magazine in which at least for Japan the demand appeared to be pretty low. There's no killer games for it I've seen.
Some interesting comments from my friends at Wow Entertainment (another division of Sega). Since Sega got out of hardware they are doing all platforms. They of course would like to as much as possible write a game once and have it work on all platforms but the biggest problem they are finding is that X−Box has too much power and too much memory meaning that as they make the game for X−Box they have very few worries, they make stuff without having to think too hard about memory space, texture space, power but then the go to port it to GameCube or PS2 and they are screwed. It's not really anything new. In the late 80s there was the whole problem with MCGA, VGA, EGA, CGA, Tandy modes for PC games. It was arguably easier then though because you could draw the graphics in MCGA mode (256 colors) and then just use an image processor to make them CGA, 4 colors, and maybe touch them up some. But, you can't do that with 3D, at least not easily.
Another interesting thing they mentioned. They asked if I could tell the difference between X−Box games and other consoles. I think X−Box games looked like they had more textures but over all I couldn't see much difference. Which is kind of the answer they expected. They say, back at the office with the machines beside each other the differences are obvious but to the average consumer they're not sure they will be able to tell. Of course the same was mostly true for PS2 vs. Dreamcast. Sony was just better at marketing then Sega. I guess that means Microsoft has there work cut out for them.
Sony's booth was sad in that they were pushing nothing in particular. I was hoping to see a big J&D display but nothing special, unlike say when they were promoting Crash. Speaking of Crash, Konami bought the license and are releasing Crash for PS2 in a month or two. I looked every bit like a Crash game as in Crash 1, 2, and 3. Since they bought the character they even have the big costume that was used for all the Sony commercials and they are using the Crash dance for promotion. Since Crash is/was so popular it will probably do very well for them.
Back to Sony, it will be interesting to see how J&D does. To be honest I didn't feel it held up to the rest of the show at least at a glance. I don't think anybody noticed you can see far (since other games fake it well). The majority of the effects were pretty weak. For whatever reason the graphics look really cubey / angular making it look very low poly compared to most other games out. 2 people, out of the blue, told me it looked like an N64 game. That makes 3 total. I guess they are going to spend alot to market it so hopefully people will give it a try but it also sounds like they are releasing it a little late. 12/20. Hasegawa said that was the same time they released CTR, the implication being that it was bad for sales.
Another thing, I was at the Sony booth 3 different times and there were always open monitors for J&D (as in nobody playing it) where as there didn't seem to be for other A titles. Maybe I'm just hyper sensitive on J&D because I want it to do well.
Sony was pushing 3 things in particular but not in a big way like in the past. One as J&D. One was Tororo's Day Off. I'm curious how that will sell. I know that Tororo is very popular here in Japan but I'm not sure it's the same demographic as the people that own PS2s. Maybe this is one of those games that gets all those non game players that have PS2s to buy a game though.
Glancing around the show I saw that already tons of people had that new itty bitty Sony video camera. Only in Japan do you see everybody buying the newest gadgets. It only came out 2 days ago.
Konami was of course showing Metal Gear Solid 2 which ships next month. 11/28 I think. I didn't stand in line to play but I'll probably pick it up just to check out the graphics.
Square was concentrating on pushing Kingdom Hearts, the Disney character based action adventure game. Over 1/2 their booth was all about that game. I don't know if they will sell it in the states. The strange thing is it just doesn't seem to fit. A serious world in crisis adventure story with Mickey, Donald and Goofy and a few Square based characters. But, watching it play it looked at least interesting.
There were at least 4 games that at a glance looked like J&D. Meaning they featured a semi cartoon like character running around an outdoor level with cliffs, rocks, grass, and the controls were run, jump, and swing, punch or kick. One, was Kingdom Hearts. Another was a new Capcom game which is called ... I'm blanking out on the name but it was by Capcom and the main character is a guy in armor but a little cartoony and it seemed to be based on the character from Ghouls and Ghosts because he can lose his armor at which point he's running around in red Polk dot boxers. I don't remember the other two titles specifically. The Capcom game was another example though where it looked as good if not better than J&D. Where as in J&D you can see far it looked like you could see far in the other games too but they had more detail up close. (actually, technically maybe J&D has more detail but by design, the other games seemed more detailed.) The first level of the Capcom game had the ground splitting open, in big sudden lava cracks as you were running around. I have no idea if it will be fun. I played one level and it reminded me alot of Ghost and Goblins based on the enemies and other hazards that appeared and also on the frustration level. But, according to Hasegawa, because it's based on that G&G world the magazine reviewers are all into it because it's nostalgic for them.
Konami's second big push, maybe 20% of their booth is there up coming PlayOnline.com thing which included chatting, e−mail, and various online games including Final Fantasy 11.
Sega was pushing GT2000 for X−Box which it turns out is done by my old group at Wow so that was pretty cool. I can't tell if it's better or worse than GT3 but there were drivers inside the cars and you could see them looking around as they drove.
One problem with X−Box so far is that there are lots of PC developers and PC developers have never been concerned with keeping a constant frame rate so lots of the X−Box games bog in spots. But, not so with most of Sega's games since they've always been console/arcade oriented and pay attention to that kind of stuff. (Although, J&D was bogging down quite a bit too all over the place as my friend Ando was playing and it's bogging down all over the demo video on the DVD. Hopefully that's one thing that's being fixed during beta time.).
Dead or Alive 3 was shown on X−Box which was pretty gorgeous. Tons of details in the textures in particular. It arguably looked better than Virtua Fighter 4 arcade. No idea if it plays better. I'm really not into the fighting games but they are fun to watch.
One interesting but strange game, I forgot who was making it but basically you could draw a character in 2D and it would create the character in 3D. You could make really bizarre characters. It used a cartoon shader and I guess a fixed bone system so the characters animated kind of cooly. I don't know what you did with them once you made them though.
Another interesting thing. Many of the larger companies were handing out promotional DVDs. I got a DVDs from Sony, X−Box, Sega and a CD−ROM from Konami. They were just part of their regular handouts. I guess maybe that's the new way to do things. I can see how it's probably 50 cents per DVD and alot less bulky than videos.
Okay, popping in the DVDs, the Sega DVD is showing "Cosmic Smash". Take a 3D tennis engine but instead of playing against an opponent, you're playing breakout. Very Tron like. Might be fun. Dreamcast though.
There's video of Rez. I'm sure Gamespot or IGN will post it soon. It looks like a space shooter based in a Techno music video world.
There's Phantasy Star Online for Gamecube and you can play 4 people at once on the same cube. That was shown at the show too.
Gunvalkyrie which was also shown at the show. It was also a game where a character ran around outdoors, running and jumping but instead, shooting and it's not cartoon based so it has a different feel. Looks more like a brawl game.
Of course they were showing the X−Box version of Jet Set Radio. I looks like a more detailed version with different levels but otherwise it looks like basically the same game. If I get an X−Box I'll probably pick it up.
Checking out the X−Box DVD there's a mouse game which was also at the show where you are a mouse running around a human house with a bunch of other mice. The sad thing is it runs like at 20hz.
Halo is looking pretty interesting but it might be too big if you know what I mean. It seems like they are trying to throw in the kitchen sink. I hope it's fun. One concern for Microsoft. If Halo comes out for PC there will be no reason to get an X−Box. Sure, an X−Box is cheaper than a PC but I suspect most people that want Halo already have a PC and the PC version might have networking.
Opening the Sony DVD I find a J&D DEMO DISC!!! (as in a DVD I can put in my PS2 and play!!!) Unfortunately I loaned my PS2 to somebody since I was bored with it. I'll have to ask for it back.
ICO looks amazing. I saw it 2 years ago in development. It's a game where you have to guide a "damsel in distress" out of a very large world. Hopefully it's not too frustrating but it looks very cool.
One game that came out recently in Japan and I suspect ONLY in Japan is a game where you conduct classical music. It's basically another dance/music game except to classical music.
That about wraps it up. Having gone to the show I'm still only looking forward to J&D on PS2. On X−Box, nothing and on Gamecube, everything. Well, maybe not everything but Zelda, Metroid, Pikman, and a few others. My Sega friends said I should check out Dobutsu Mori (Animal Forest). There's a movie at the bottom of that page. And, there's also that cube animal game that looks interetesting.
One other thing. The booth babes were out in full force. The Sega guys thought the X−Box ones were the best. For whatever reason I didn't get into it this time but there were lots of guys seemingly going from babe to babe to take their pictures and of course the girls are all model wannabees so they are more than happy to pose.
I think the worse one though, all the big companies have a stage area in part of their booth. Well, as I was walking by the Sega booth 5 Carnival women come out onto the stage. (think Carnival as in Brazil, as in lots of glitter orniaments but otherwise pretty much naked. I have no idea what they were there to promote.