Tokyo Day 2 – TGS

Erik and I grabbed breakfast at Denny’s. I know what you’re thinking, why the heck would we go to Denny’s when a world of Japanese culture is out there for the tasting? Well, Denny’s in Japan actually serves a crazy array of Japanese meals and isn’t the trashy truckstop style restaurant it is in North America. The hostess bowed as we entered, the serving staff was fast and excellent and we ate a really nice breakfast that started our day off right.

Here’s that Animate store I talked about in my previous post. Japanese Denny’s.

Heading to the subway, I was amazed at how extensive Tokyo’s underground is. Levels upon levels criss-crossing underneath each other with a dizzying number of stops. It makes sense that a city of 12 million plus people would need a massive public transit system in order to keep things functioning. Business men read manga on the subway, teenagers play on their DS Lites and almost everyone stays pretty quiet throughout the ride, even as more and more people are being stuffed into the train cars and invading each other’s personal space. On the way we overheard some people chatting in english about video games. After we started up conversation with them, we were surprised that they were from the US (though currently living in Japan) and big fans of the Udon Street Fighter comics.

All in all, it took about an hour to reach the Tokyo Game Show convention centre.

The convention centre entrance.

The guest registration line up was massive. Knowing how every other convention I’ve been at worked, I estimated it would take us at least an hour or two to get in to the hall. But then the line started moving unbelievably fast. Within about 15 minutes we were rocketing up to the front as an army of ladies quickly took our business cards, verified our invites and got badges for us. It was astonishing. Go freaky Japanese efficiency.

The huge guest line heads through registration at warp speed.

Once inside, we took stock of the place. Smaller than E3, it’s actually possible to tour the whole show in one day. I’d guess that at least a quarter of the games being displayed are completely intended for asian-only release, with very specific cultural properties or genres that don’t sell in North American. That made the show even quicker to move through.

Once we headed to the Capcom booth area, they invited us out for lunch. The art director on Street Fighter, a couple of the licencing crew and one of the Capcom lead artists who we spent time with in San Diego all came and we had a nice meal. Many of the other Capcom staff were still busy at the office, so we won’t get a chance to see them until we head there on Tuesday.

From left: Me, Erik, Taki Enomoto (licencing manager), Shoei (art director) and Ikeno (Capcom artist).

After lunch we continued to wander and watch game demos. Although there was a lot of crossover with material I saw at E3, it was cool seeing updated game builds and new stuff. Some things that stood out (good or bad) included:

– The footage of Devil May Cry 4 for the PS3 was unbelievable looking. It’s one of the first HD video games that I’ve seen up close that has really impressed me visually. The low rez video I shot of it does NOT do it justice.
– A virtual Rubik’s Cube game coming for the Nintendo DS was funky and cool.
– 3D emulation software and glasses being run on a special simulation of World of Warcraft that was incredibly convincing. The gryphon flying away from Ironforge looked like it was jumping right out at you with its beak so close you could almost touch it.

A bit of the show floor.

– The XBox 360 booth was disappointing for the most part, except for Lost Planet. Almost all the preview clips of new games we saw were pre-rendered cinematic scenes instead of in-game footage. What in-game stuff they did show seemed choppy with low frame rates. What’s the point in having HD games filled to the brim with pretty textures and effects if they run like crap?
– Cel phone games are a huge thing in Japan and there was a massive amount of upcoming cel phone content, even games you’d never imagine being possible on such a tiny screen like Resident Evil and Street Fighter.

A cool booth for a company I don’t recognize. Life-sized Kingdom Hearts statues.

– There was a section for Japanese video game schools, which surprised me. I mean, it makes complete sense that the schools would exist I just hadn’t considered them all being somewhere like this with big booths showing off student work and yelling into megaphones to get attention.
– A dating-sim game based on one of my favorite manga called I”s. It’ll never make it over here, but it was cool seeing a game based on those characters anyways.
– The new Sonic the Hedgehog game on the PS3 and Wii has Sonic coming to the rescue of an adult princess-type woman. Cartoon characters making lovey-dive eyes at realistic human characters… great, human-anthro-beastiality becomes mainstream. 😉

One corner of Capcom’s booth. Some mascot trying to play a game. Dude, I don’t know.

– Nintendo didn’t come to the TGS at all. Apparently they have enough clout to create their own private press events on another date, so Wii material was pretty much non-existant at the show. This gave Sony a chance to finally make up lost PR ground and show off some eye-popping upcoming PS3 titles.
– Some booths had “Please don’t take photos or videos” signs, but everyone pretty much ignored them unless a booth rep actively came over. Even then, with cel phone cameras and digital cams everywhere, how could some of these companies not expect this stuff to be leaked out?

Japanese girls in kilts on stage squealing about some game so loudly that my ears bled.

Afterwards, we battled massive crowds leaving the show and headed back to our area for some food and relaxation.

Masses of people head on and off the subway lines.

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