Inside Tokyo Game Show 2016by Ken Iikura-Gross,
While there are numerous gaming conventions held around the world, many of the larger news stories come from major tradeshows. For instance, E3 generally has the gaming community abuzz with news about major publishers' future releases. Unfortunately, E3 is closed to the public, but that doesn't mean video game fans are shut out from other major shows, like PAX in North America and Australia, and the only dedicated video game trade show in Japan: Tokyo Game Show, held annually at the Makuhari Messe Convention Center in Chiba. So what had Japanese video game enthusiasts excited about the TGS 2016?
One of the first things attendees noticed when entering TGS were the six large vendors in Halls 4-6. These were Bandai Namco Entertainment, Capcom, Konami, SEGA Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Square Enix. These were the most prominent vendors at the show no doubt because they all had major releases scheduled for the last quarter of 2016 and early 2017. Bandai Namco offered previews of The [email protected]: Cinderella Girls Viewing Revolution, SD Gundam G Generations Genesis, and One Piece Dai Kaizoku Colosseum. Capcom presented the newest installment of the Resident Evil series, Resident Evil 7, and Monster Hunter Stories. Konami offered up Winning Eleven 2017, YuGiOh! Duel Links, and Jikkyō Powerful Pro Yakyū. SEGA Games showed off Yakuza 6, Persona 5, and Puyo Puyo Chronicle, and Square Enix had sneak peeks of Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 8. There were also a catalogue of games from Sony Interactive Entertainment, such as The Last Guardian, but they were mainly showcasing the PlayStation VR. Some of these games appealed primarily to the Japanese market and may not see international release, but the selection was varied and interesting. For example, YuGiOh! Duel Links will be one of the first opportunities to play the card game on a smartphone. Granted, the decks have limited customizability and certain gameplay elements have been altered. But fans of the YuGiOh!card game will still have another outlet for their hobby.
Of course, it was still the larger titles that pulled the biggest crowds. The biggest draw was undoubtedly Final Fantasy XV. There were many computer and console setups at the Square Enix booth to play the game, and it's no wonder considering that fans have been waiting a full decade for its release. (The auxiliary media promotion and ad campaign had also sparked a growing general interest in the game.) Still, it was the PlayStation VR demo that had far more attendees waiting in line to experience what it had to offer. Sony has been exhibiting the technology for some time now—Mike Toole had the chance to demo it at this year's Anime Japan Expo—but they had far more units at the Tokyo Game Show for attendees to try.
While checking out the games and new technology from major publishers was a large part of TGS 2016, each of these companies had wonderful displays to admire as well. For instance, many of the voice actors from Yakuza 6 had congratulatory flowers sent to the SEGA Games booth, from Rie Kugimiya, Beat Takeshi, and Tatsuya Fujiwara, among many others. The Capcom booth also had a fantastic exhibition of Resident Evil 7 and the newest Resident Evil movie, "Resident Evil: The Last Chapter," where they prominently displayed the costume worn by Milla Jovovich in the new film.With the number of games exhibited and such large displays, all the major vendors were well worth visiting.
As impressive as the large vendors were, many of the mid-sized booths had impressive exhibitions as well. Bushiroad showcased their upcoming anime series BanG Dream!, but also had new Senki Zesshō Symphogear XD Unlimited and Love Live! School Idol Festival smartphone game demos available to play. Kadogawa Games also had a nice booth displaying three of their new games: Starly Girls, Gods Wars, and Demon Gaze 2. However, Koei-Tecmo Games, Intel Gamming, and DMM Games were the most attention-getting mid-sized booths. The DMM Games booth had a beautiful setup for The Elder Scrolls Online, where attendees played the demo on a unit with five monitors. Intel Gamming also had a marvelous display for Figureheads, where people could wear a life-sized model exoskeleton from the game. However, Koei-Tecmo Games outshined them all with a large display for Nioh and a standout exhibition for Samurai Warriors: Sanada Maru. The scheduled release date for the game coincided with the climax of Japan Broadcasting Corporation's historical drama Sanada Maru, so costumes from the drama were displayed at the booth.
Many of the smaller vendors had eye-catching displays as well, from a slough of smartphone game developers to groups like Asobimo and Arc System Works. Of the mobile game developers, Voltage stood out for a number of reasons, most notably catering more heavily to their female demographic with otome dating sims. Their booth only featured a few of their titles, but their interactive bishounen attractions drew plenty of fans. Other game developers had fantastic displays as well, such as the one for Mobile Strike. Other notable booths included Asobimo's standout showcase for their adaptation of Btooom! and Arc System Works' demo for their PlayStation 4 port of BlazBlue: Central Fiction.
The TGS isn't just about videogame publishing companies displaying their newest games and technologies. It's also a place for game development schools and foreign game companies to network and attract new talent and business. Nestled between the major publisher booths in Halls 4-6 were companies from Taiwan, China, and the large Korea Pavilion. While these are the largest markets in East Asia, other countries were represented in the New Stars Area as well, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and Latin American countries. It was fascinating to see the talent from those countries represented, because people tend to overlook these markets. Unfortunately, there weren't too many large game development schools represented at this year's TGS, but they did have their own dedicated section. Although one or two schools certainly stood out, Nagoya Communication Arts caught the most attention with the help of Prinny from Nippon Ichi Software's Disgaea series.
As impressive as TGS 2016 was, it felt underwhelming to me because many of the major announcements and displays had been revealed prior to the show. Nonetheless, a handful of games on exhibit were stunning in their own right. The stage shows also drew legions of fans, but you had to arrive at the convention center early to get a decent seat. The lines to demo several of the games and VR headsets were also long, so it was important to plan out exactly what you wanted to try beforehand. It's really a shame that Tokyo Game Show is the only major video game trade show in Japan, but all the companies present put in a good effort to advertise, and all members of the press left the spectacle looking like human billboards for the event.
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