Inside Tokyo Game Show 2014

It’s been a few days since the Tokyo Game Show sadly came to a close.   We played a lot of great games, met a lot of great people, and stuck our heads into inappropriate places.  It may all be over, but we at Hardcore Gamer will always have our memories  to tide us over ’til next year.  For those of you that couldn’t join us there personally, it’s time to take a look over what you missed.

Tokyo Game Show is the biggest yearly gaming convention in Japan, held every September and, ironically, actually a full hour outside of central Tokyo, in the suburban land of the Chiba prefecture’s Kaihin-Makuhari.  Held from the 18th to the 21st, it was a tedious, but certainly worthwhile, daily pilgrimage into the wonderland of electronics.  The Makuhari Messe sits about a ten minute walk away from the stadium, the road paved with promotional posters and flyers for various games.  Upon arriving at the station on the first day, the wave of people eagerly pushed us along toward our ultimate destination.

As you know, all the major players were there.  Let’s take a critical examination of each of their booths:

Sony

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As you would expect, Sony’s booth was immense.  Its neon-lit design resembled Flynn’s hideout from Tron: Legacy, and unfortunately it was just as difficult to navigate as that movie’s plot.  Entering through the bottom “hole”, the booth was an elaborate arrangement of TVs and games scattered around with no apparent order.  Thankfully, some helpful “booth girls” helped us navigate these underground corridors.  Towards the back of the booth was a ticket desk where we were able to get into queue to play our games of choice.  On the business days there was literally no wait…while on the public days the exact opposite was true.

The most popular title seemed to be Destiny (now just recently released in Japan), with several new fans sitting in front of computer monitors scattered around the press conference stage and the upper “VIP” area.  Next to that, there was a rather surprising showcase of Project Morpheus and a very impressive private area for BloodBorne.  But while their lineup was impressive, Sony’s booth didn’t really show off any games that couldn’t be played at other booths.  The afternoon of the 18th came to a climactic close with Hideo Kojima’s live gameplay presentation of The Phantom Pain.

The reception desk at the Sony booth was quite busy.

The reception desk at the Sony booth was quite busy.

Some worthy mentions that attracted small crowds also include The PlayRoom, which really DID have its own playroom, and The Evil Within, which may have been my favorite game in the entire show.

 

Bandai-Namco

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With such new games as Godzilla, God Eater 2, Gundam Breaker 2 and Dragon Ball Xenoverse on display, Bandai-Namco made full use of their booth’s monster theme by showcasing humongous models of each of their game’s respective “giant” characters.  While not nearly as big as Sony’s dungeon lair, the Bandai Namco booth was hard to miss and their content was truly unique and enjoyable.  Dragon Ball Xenoverse ranked among my favorite games at the show.  Shen Ron, the eternal dragon, hovered above us while we played and granted my wish to sneak in a second round of gameplay before the staff noticed.  I unfortunately could not say the same about the overly slow-paced Godzilla game, which repeatedly crashed while on display, turning a 20-minute wait into an hour.  Augh!

Right around the corner from Godzilla was a huge God Eater 2 display (pictured below) with a matching cosplayer.

Microsoft

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Microsoft’s Xbox One booth was quite simplistic and a bit underwhelming in comparison to its neighbors’.  Wrapped up in silver and neon green, the display surprisingly had very little else to call attention to itself other than the tremendously loud gunfire that kept echoing from the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare corner.  Our interests piqued and eardrums shot, we were eager to head over and get some shots of the game but were quickly turned away, barred from taking any pictures even with a press pass.

Among the surprising games unique to the Xbox booth was Keiji Infune’s new spiritual to successor to the Mega Man series, Mighty No. 9, which I greatly enjoyed and found incredibly challenging. Other highlights included NBA 2K15, Bladestorm, and Ori and the Blind Forest.  What stood out the most at Microsoft’s booth was the overall lack of a crowd.  Even on the crowded days open to the public (the 20th and 21st), the line to play games was quite minimal.  Even exciting hits like The Evil Within and Resident Evil Revelations 2 failed to draw much attention to themselves, whereas at the Sony and Capcom booths the lines to play the same games could take as long as three hours to clear.

Sega

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Sega certainly knew how to make an exciting and colorful booth this year.  Populated with cosplayers from Phantasy Star, Sonic, and Hatsune Miku characters, as well as attractive “booth babes” surrounding Yakuza Zero, there was certainly a lot to see and, ahem, admire.  Behind Sega’s booth there was a confusing system of weaving lines for each demo.  While Yakuza Zero was a fun experience in itself, among the other headlining titles I played, Sonic Boom for the 3DS and Phantasy Star Online 2 were my favorites.

Attached to Sega was a “partners” section which included western-developed titles such as F1 Racing and the Lego Movie game.  Perhaps the biggest (and scariest) moment to grace Sega’s stage was the Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai Deluxe debut, presented by an anime-bobbled headed cosplayer who inspired a bit of terrified commotion in the comments of NicoNico’s livestream of the event.

 

Square Enix and Capcom

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Neighbors Square Enix and Capcom attracted an equal amount of attention at this year’s game show with the latest Kingdom Hearts entry and Resident Evil Revelations 2, both fully playable and demanding tremendously long waits in line for even a few minutes of gameplay.  Capcom’s booth had some great features, including a life-size model of the original tyrant to celebrate the upcoming Resident Evil HD Remaster, and a unique air gun shooting range (seriously) using a replica of the Samurai Edge handgun.  Right behind our zombie hunting range was an absolutely enormous display for Monster Hunter 4G, with a Monster Hunter themed NEW 3DS to commemorate the release of the game.

To compete with its next-door neighbor, Square Enix was no pushover.  A showcase for the much-anticipated Final Fantasy XV attracted a huge crowd, along with several funny Dragon Quest commercials.  A foreign staff promoting the latest Square-Enix published Call of Duty entry also seemed to attract curious onlookers, who were apparently too scared to set foot in the Xbox One booth.  I immensely enjoyed playing Bravely Second, but I’m afraid to say I was a bit underwhelmed by the Diablo-esque Final Fantasy Explorers.

 

The Other Stuff

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Also, Oneechanbara 2 had a booth. Words don’t really suffice, so just enjoy the picture.

On the fan front, there seemed to be a disappointing lack of cosplayers on the show floor, but we did manage to get a few shots of some iconic game heroes.

Gree, one of the biggest names in the social and mobile market, also had a small showcase towards the end of each night.  Clad in white and blue Gree uniforms, several young musicians took the stage and jammed out on electronic guitars while singing high-pitched lyrics.  I think their guitars would have worked much better if they were plugged in, though.

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Overall, the Tokyo Game Show was an unforgettable experience.  You’ve seen the best the big guys have to offer, but the best is yet to come.  Stay tuned for a follow-up article covering the Indie Game section!  また今度ね。