Tokyo Game Show 2009
by Evan Miller,
The Games: A Preview
Before I get into my impressions of the games, a quick disclaimer: a lot of the demos I played were limited, unfinished, or otherwise incomplete, so none of the opinions below should be taken as gospel; besides, I only had all of 10 minutes to play most of the games, and for getting a good impression of the mechanics of any game, that's far too little time. Hopefully when these games find release in the west (and hopefully most will), Todd will be able to dissect them all a bit more.
With that aside, here are my psuedo awards for the show:
Game that I thought would suck, and it didn't: Gundam VS. Gundam Next Plus (Bandai Namco Games, PSP)
Whenever I hear about a new Gundam game, I am overrun with memories of clunky play control and uninspiring scenery that never seems to change. This was not the case with Next Plus, which was not only easy to pick up and play, but offered so much variety in terms of character and stage selection that I almost queued up again to give the game another go. It's not a masterpiece, but it's never short on fun battles and robot smashing. Good show, Bandai.
Guilty pleasure: Bayonetta (Sega, XBox 360/PS3)
You play some kind of fallen angel... woman who fights evil stuff armed with giant axes. But honestly, who cares about the plot? This game was mindlessly violent, but awfully fun. It's the kind of action game that you play when you need to kill brain cells and just enjoy yourself. The environments, which involve battling on a falling clock tower and smashing up what appears to be a cathedral, are extremely well designed, and make good use of the technical abilities of the game systems they are played on. Although it features a main character whose clothes turn into a flesh-devouring netherbeast, even my girlfriend liked this game.
The "So, how much of a fan are you?" award: Full Metal Alchemist: Daughter of the Dusk (Square Enix, Wii)
Really, really, really wanted to like this one, and to a point, I did. But let's be honest: a game that plays out like the video game equivalent of a Choose Your Own Adventure book is going to disappoint those of us eager to take Ed and Roy into battle for some fun and shenanigans. There's a lot more they could have done with the Wii hardware here as well, but on the whole, the game feels like an episode of the anime stretched into a game with limited interaction from the player. As it stands, I can only recommend this one for hardcore FMA fans, and I honestly wonder if an import release is in the cards at all.
Game I wanted to like, but had trouble enjoying: Macross Ultimate Frontier (Bandai Namco Games, PSP)
Bulky, wooden play control does not a good game make - not to mention that the space battle visuals lacked much in the way of punch and detail. I'm sure that the full experience is a lot better, but the demo for Ultimate Frontier admittedly killed my enthusiasm for the title quite a bit.
Game I expected to love, and did: Puyo Puyo 7 (Sega, Wii/PSP/DS)
It's hard not to love this series if you aren't into puzzle games, and the seventh incarnation of the Puyo Puyo series doesn't disappoint with some nice four-player modes and innovative in-game bonuses where the sizes of your "puyo" change and give you the chance to score combos on opponents. Hopefully this one will be released stateside (probably under the Puyo Pop title) - otherwise, I may have to pick up multiple copies of the DS version here and take them back to friends just so we can get some multiplayer games going.
We really didn't need a game based on this anime: Queen's Blade: Spiral Chaos (Bandai Namco Games, PSP)
I really don't need to go into detail here, do I?
Best game of the show: Ghost Trick (CAPCOM, DS)
Sure, I just played this one for fifteen minutes. That was just enough time to discover that Ghost Trick (which arrives in the US in 2010 - perhaps with a different title) was easily one of the most innovative, creative titles at the show. Designed by the people behind the Phoenix Wright series, the "possess stuff and make it move" formula behind the gameplay gives the game a lot of depth. The action and puzzle-solving elements reminded me of Maniac Mansion for the NES a bit; at first the game is simple and straightforward, but later on, more thought and insight is required from the player to advance. The character designs seem reminicent of a darker Lupin the Third, which fits the mysterious tone of the game well. All in all, the demo was excellent, and I cannot wait to pick this one up when it goes on sale next year.
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