Saturday, 11 October 2008

A Day in Review

Tokyo Game Show: Saturday, 11 October 2008

The day dawned bright and... wait, that's not right. It was drizzling this morning; albeit somewhat lightly and sporadically.

And thus the saga begins.

I took a bus from outside the Toyoko Inn, Makuhari, where I am staying this weekend. Makuhari Messe, the location of the Tokyo Game Show, is just over ten minutes from the hotel.

Arriving at the venue, I joined the sea of people that appeared to be headed in the right direction. More of an undulating snake than a sea, we wended our way -- multiple ningen abreast -- around the Messe centre and towards the entrance. I snagged a ticket on the way past the ticket booths. It appeared that my fellow snaking patrons already possessed this all important document that would allow entry into the Makuhari Messe core.

After a brief security check (they didn't find the pipe bombs stashed in my backpack), I eventually made it inside. I'm pretty sure I was the only gaijin sporting an umbrella, too. Speaking of foreigners: I'm sure that 99% of gaijin at the event were American. Go figure.

Anyway, upon entering, one is overwhelmed with the mass of people moving aimlessly around. It is an incredible atmosphere, with sound permeating the air, myriad stalls set up across the expanse, and hot Japanese girls dressed in their various, company colours. That each "uniform" consisted of short skirts, even shorter tops and knee-high boots did not surprise me one bit. Neither did the fact that the girls wearing such sexy attire had very attractive bodies. In troth. Pictures to come. XD

Speaking of pictures, it was forbidden to take any form of media at any of the stalls and displays. Anything that pertained to games yet to be released had signs that signified you were not allowed to take photos or video. I was reprimanded twice for attempting to film "off-limit" footage. :p

I spent the better part of the morning absorbing as much as I could in this sea of gaming goodness. Waiting in queues to try out games probably took a good deal of my time throughout the day.

I saw the stall for the upcoming PS3 / Xbox 360 first person action game, Mirror's Edge. It looks like a good game, from what I've seen in the previews. Now it was my chance to have some hands on -- albeit limited time. After waiting in the queue for some time, I finally had the PS3 controller in hand. Unfortunately, they wouldn't allow me to invert the Y-axis, so I spent a good deal of my play-time looking at either the sky or the ground (and falling to my death), as I tried to adjust my brain to what I would consider to be a backwards Y-axis control.

Despite the setback, and my seeming n00bness, I did complete the demo. It was something I had seen before, but to experience it firsthand gave me a better assessment of the game. It will be pretty cool to play, from the looks of things; quite a bit different from the average "shooter". If I do get a console (or consoles), I am not sure that it would be a definite purchase. But it would be fun to play through, all the same.

Next, I stood in line to tear up the streets in Need for Speed Undercover. It was quite a long wait to finally get that PS3 controller in my hand. I won't say it was definitely worth the wait, as this game is very similar to Most Wanted (even the graphics are not much better, unfortunately). However, it was fun, as the NFS games tend to be -- and they have added car damage. I completed the objective my second time through: cause $15K damage to public property and then evade the cops. Not bad for an out of practice racer.

After some wandering around, just absorbing the sites and sounds, I felt hunger pangs draw me towards the food area. Somehow, the table I was standing at to eat ended up consisting all of foreigners. So I took it upon myself thence to hang out with a couple of American college students for a while.

We checked out the Playstation centre. There were some pretty cool looking game previews that were shown on the big screen, before a presentation of Little Big Planet (incidentally, a game that does not appeal to me at all). White Knight looks pretty cool. Too bad I didn't see a preview of FFXIII. That is perhaps one of my most anticipated current-gen games.

After looking around some more, I wandered off by myself to check out Square Enix properly. There was mostly DS crap happening on the screen, but I was drawn in by the remake of Chrono Trigger. Natsukashii! The artwork at the Chrono Trigger stand is so obviously Toriyama. Dragonball similarities abound.

I had seen the preview for the 360 game, The Last Remnant, a couple of times during the day, so decided that I should give the game some hands on. Its queue was by far the longest wait -- probably because each group was given 15 minutes of play-time with the game.

When I finally sat down to play, of course I was completely lost -- the important stuff is all in Japanese. Had I been able to grasp the fight scheme I may have done better my first time around -- but I went and got my party wiped when I tried taking on some dragon-like beasties.

Aesthetically, the game is pretty swish. It looks very polished, and from what I can gather of the story, it seems to have quite a bit of depth. The fighting system is different from anything I have encountered in an RPG. Thankfully, it is turn-based. However, I had no idea what was going on when it came to the fights. I know that the game would have been easier in English, but even then it would have been rather overwhelming, considering how much seemed to be going on at once. There appeared to be quite a lack of fight control; but it could just be my failing to grasp how to play.

The occasional need to press one of the controller's buttons during one of your characters' attack sequences is a nice touch. This game will be well worth checking out; and I'm sure that starting from the beginning, you would be eased into its battle sequence style a lot more gradually.

Wandering around again, I realised that it was nearing the end of the day. I zoned in on a few spots that were interesting: the Sega area; a display about a Wii Naruto game (with characters from the current story arc! Video to come); and the hot Japanese girls that were all over the place were kind enough to pose for a few photos (more often than not, there were already multiple people taking photos of them).

I will upload photos and video when I get back home. For now, that is the end of my day in review. It was an amazing experience. Very tiring, but worth flying up here to Chiba to see with my own two eyes. I definitely want to buy at least a PS3, but also probably a 360 (eventually). It is time I got back into console gaming; and appealing console games there are -- and will be -- in abundance!


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