Tag Archives: TGS

I Miss Good Trade Shows

The general disappointment at how TGS was pretty much a non-event this year, coupled with the continued decline of E3, the complete absence of a relevant UK show, Nintendo’s increasingly token – at best, often – appearances and reluctance to resurrect Space World, Microsoft having neglected its own shows since X06, and Leipzig’s support among the console holders varying each year got me thinking: will we ever again get a trade show to match the gaming decadence and one-upmanship of E3 in its heyday?

Probably not, I would guess. I miss never being able to visit a ‘proper’ E3, but you can see why things changed. It gave the industry a focal point each year, providing an excuse for a mention on the evening news for one day of the year and to drive ad revenue for the gaming websites, but it cost a tremendous amount of money and, really, did it do anything that the new, low-key events couldn’t?

Nowadays we’re just as likely to see a big announcement happen out of nowhere, or to see a platform holder or even individual publisher hold a small ‘gamers’ day’ type event. Hype it up, invite the specialist press, get it on their front pages, and you have pretty much the same net benefit as the old dog and pony show, right?

I’m not so sure. I think the industry needs a big focal point of an event like Hollywood needs the Oscars and the music industry needs its Christmas number one. Without E3 there’s no one event for all the big announcements and this year’s major releases to start the hype train in advance of the Christmas season. Do we expect a mainstream press that’s ambivalent at best, if not outright dismissive, about gaming to bother with a dozen minor events to show the latest sequel? Of course they won’t.

From the perspective of a gamer I actually like the constant trickle of news that comes from surprise events and developer visits, not to mention the wholesome nuggets of new information that often appear on development blogs, but it doesn’t make it easy to find, either on an individual basis or for the media outlets themselves – how many sources would you have to cover to read every piece of news? E3 got everyone’s attention and everyone expecting the big announcements and unveilings to be there. It was so big and extravagant that the TV news couldn’t help but pay attention, and now we don’t really have anything like that.

It’s a shame, and I don’t know whether or not it’s going to change. There is all kinds of whining after another disappointing show on the GAFs of the world, but most people don’t know or care and I’m sure that, if I was a major publisher, I’d be looking at the few million dollars that I’d just saved in not putting on a light show and losing weeks of development time, and shrugging my shoulders. Money talks…

Japan 2005: TGS Impressions

Right…the easiest way for me to do things is probably just to list the main stuff I played and saw and what I thought, so here goes. It’s in no particular order because I’m going through what I saw in the order that I saw it.

  • Xbox 360 – The machine itself is bigger than I expected; very similar in size to the current Xbox. The controller felt very nice, though – softer edges and analogue sticks that felt more accurate than the current ones. It reminded me a lot of the nice wireless Logitech ones. Graphical quality obviously varied from game to game, but went from disappointing (Test Drive Unlimited) through to the impressive (Call of Duty 2) and the amazing (Ridge Racer 6).
  • Test Drive Unlimited (Xbox 360) – I didn’t play it but graphically it was very limited. Very detailed and everything but the framerate was incredibly poor and I think I can see why it was delayed from the launch window.
  • Call of Duty 2 (Xbox 360) – Now holds the title of the first Xbox 360 game I ever played. Gameplay-wise there’s very little to differentiate between it and the other COD games (not necessarily a bad thing at all), but graphically I was very impressed. There were a ton of effects and detailed characters and objects around but the framerate was nice and steady. The lighting was very accomplished with the blinding effect of walking from a dark room into direct sunlight actually affecting the way you play. I’ll probably be picking this one up on launch day.
  • Ridge Racer 6 (Xbox 360) – I only watched someone play it and it looked like vintage Ridge Racer, but graphically it’s spectacular. High definition shows it off with the typical vividness and exuberance of a Ridge game, and the whole thing runs rock solid at 60fps. Absolutely gorgeous and another probable purchase.
  • Boku no Watashi no Katamari Damacy (PSP) – Looking at least as good as the PS2 version and gaining an almost current affairs-based storyline (instead of creating stars you’re now rebuilding an island destroyed by a tsunami), this is going to be worth a look. The controls will definitely need some getting used to as the dual analogue PS2 controls are replaced by dual digital using the D-pad and face buttons, but still a great game that should be ideal for short portable blasts. I want a prince puppet like the guys at the demo pods had.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3) – Obviously only in trailer form, but it looked spectacular and the resolution looked ridiculously high even on the 50-foot screen they were showing it on, and it’s definitely running in real time. It’s hard to take anything concrete from it but it seems like this will be more action-orientated that the predecessors and I couldn’t help but feel echoes of the Seoul level from Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. I can’t wait to see more.
  • Okami (PS2) – Graphically beautiful. The whole world looks like an animated painting and the gameplay, where you do things like paint a bridge over a chasm so that you can cross it, looks very unique and interesting. I’ll definitely be looking out for this one.
  • Chromehounds (Xbox 360) – This wasn’t playable but Sega gave a demonstration on a massive screen and it looked very impressive indeed. There were loads of mechs on screen with some excellent effects bringing the carnage to life, and they showed what looked to be gameplay footage (no HUD, but seemed to be a playable camera angle) which was very reminiscent of MechAssault.
  • Street Fighter Zero 3: Double Upper (PSP) – A decent conversion of one of my favourite fighting games of all time. The PSP D-pad isn’t exactly great for this so the analogue nub provides the best control, but even that’s not optimal. Even so, the GBA version was hardly true to the arcade experience so I’m probably going to overlook those relatively minor flaws.
  • Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (Xbox 360) – Wasn’t playable but they were running videos on a high definition monitor where it looked stunning. I was impressed by the trailer that came out online a little while back and this one has me considering yet another game for the 360 launch.
  • Kameo: Elements of Power (Xbox 360) – Didn’t play it but watched it being played and came away impressed visually – very bright and colourful, but also very detailed. Rare need to make that $375 million investment by Microsoft worthwhile and Grabbed By The Ghoulies and Conker aren’t really doing that, so this and Perfect Dark Zero could go some way to paying it back.

Overall it was a pretty good show. Smaller than I expected and insanely busy with even 30,000 people there (the public days are supposed to have double that at least), but I got to see a lot of cool stuff and play the Xbox 360 so it was worth it. Nintendo, as usual, don’t have any presence at the show but I’ve still seen and been slightly worried by this. I’m really beginning to think that they’ve lost it completely when they can come up with a fantastic idea like having all their old stuff emulated and downloadable on the Revolution and then back it up with that.

Japan 2005: The TGS Aftermath

I’m back from TGS which was fun. I’ll post some decent impressions of stuff I saw and played later, but in the meantime here’s a rundown of the day.

As for the rest of the day, I woke up at around 5am and couldn’t sleep so after grabbing this photo out the window I jumped on Skype and made some calls home. When everyone else was up we headed on over to the Makuhari Messe for TGS (about an hour by train) and on the way got talking to a Japanese guy who lives in New York but was back in Japan for business. He helped point us in the right direction when we couldn’t read the kanji on the signs. Before we headed into the show we got some traditional Japanese food for breakfast (thick noodles with various seafood and vegetable things – £5 in yen can get you a hell of a lot of decent food if you eat traditional). I failed miserably at chopsticks but got there eventually.

After a good few hours around TGS we headed back and dropped into Akihabara briefly on the way back. I picked up both Katamari Damacy games (£15 for the first one and around £25 for the second) and the Katamari Damacy soundtrack, as well as a couple more of those PSP screen protectors. Jan picked up a white PSP for himself and Eynon managed to find four more Famicom Game Boy Micros. After that we were so tired from so much walking that we just got a taxi back to the hotel (five minutes’ walk at most) and that’s where you find me now.

Tomorrow has nothing planned but we’re probably going to look at a nearby shrine and the Imperial Palace.

Resident Evil 5! At TGS!

As if the announcement in this week’s Famitsu of Resident Evil 5 on Xbox 360 and PS3 (no Nintendo love this time?) wasn’t enough, Capcom are hinting that an appearance at the Tokyo Game Show is a distinct possibility, which is seriously fantastic. I loved RE4 so a sequel that follows the same formula but with the extra muscle of the 360 and PS3 will be great, and when you look at how beautiful they made it look on the GameCube imagine what they’ll be able to do.

I can see a move on the scale of the one that took you from the mansion/labs of Resident Evil into the city environment of RE2, but even more pronounced. Hopefully you’ll be given more free reign of the city this time instead of being shepherded into a distinctly mansion-like police station within ten minutes.