Tokyo Game Show and JAMMA impressions


I just went to both the JAMMA show and the Tokyo Game Show.

The JAMMA show is a trade show for game centers/arcades. The show was pretty down/low key this time. Arcades seem to be quickly losing their appeal. There were very few games and they were mostly old stuff.

I saw two gun games. One was House of the Dead 3. The other was a Konami game called World Combat. It's special feature was that 4 people could play at once although you had to really crowd around the machine. It had a soldier theme.

I saw two soccer games. One by Sega, one by Sammy.

I saw some 3D Street Fighter at Capcom. I didn't stick around to check it out. It just looked like more of the same though.

I saw 2 driving/racing games. There was nothing appearent to make them look like anything special.

And that's about it for arcade video games. There were several smaller titles like puzzle games. There were also lots of UFO catcher type games and other prize earning games although nothing really outstanding. I guess I saw one where each prize was on a balloon and you would try to pop the balloon but it was kind of random. You'd press and hold one button to make the needle go up, another to make it go right. Then it would move randomly about an inch in any direction before it would try to stick the needle into the balloon. The ballons were behind glass except for a hole about 1 inch or less so in other words it was not easy to pop a balloon and get the prize attached.

Otherwise about 40 to 50% of the space is for casino like games. I don't find those really interesting so I didn't look. That was Yesterday (9/19)

Today (9/20) I went to Tokyo Game Show. I wasn't sure what to expect this year since I had heard some companies that are usually there might not be there. To be honest I really didn't see anything that really made me want to run out and buy it.

A couple of people at the Microsoft booth told me this Christmas they are going to make a comeback in Japan. I personally didn't see anything that would make that happen. In my opinion, the only thing that would make XBox sell in Japan at this point is if Microsoft bought a company or paid for one of the famous RPGs in Japan to be XBox exclusive. For example if Microsoft bought ENIX and made them make the next Dragon Quest XBox only that would pretty much guarentee 1 million XBoxes would be sold. Another might be the next Tokimeki Memorial or the next Sakura Taisen (Sakura Wars). The people that play those games are HUGE fans and so would be forced to get an XBox. Sadly, I don't think Microsoft will do that and so I'm pretty sure XBox will not succeed in Japan.

For those of you that don't know it, XBox is selling less than 3000 units a month in Japan. That means a total of 36000 units a year. At that rate it would take them 30 years just to have a million XBoxes in Japan. PS2 is already at 20 million? 40 million? I don't remember the number but it's a lot.

Otherwise, at the show there was all the usual crap. 5 or 6 more RPGs. They didn't look any different than any other RPGs from the last 3 or 4 years. There were a few racing games, a few character action games although nothing stood out.

Capcom (or maybe it was Konami) had one game that looked different. It was a Western game. Cowboys and stuff. That seemed different. Unfortunately it looked boring. Like a brawl game. Thing Zombie Revenge, Streets of Rage...

One booth stood out for me. That was the Tecmo booth. They had Ninja Gaiden which looked pretty sweet. It seemed very similar to Sega's Shinobi but for some reason it looked more fun to me. I didn't play either of them though so we'll have to wait and see. They also had several other games that, at a glance, looked different, more creative than stuff I saw at the other booths. Unfortunately I was in a rush so I didn't get details. There is of course Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball other wise known as the Letch game since it's soul point seems to be to watch bouncing breasts.

Sega had probably the biggest and busiest booth. They actually had a stadium complete with bleachers on the second story about 5 or 6 rows deep. The center of attraction was a giant screen and 3 cheerleaders in front cheering on Sega's line up.

The other booth that was interesting from a design perspective was Sony's both. It had a stage area with a 90 degree view. In other words, take 2 walls, make a plus mark, put the stage in one corner of the plus. The thing was, every 30 minutes the stage would rotate 90 degrees, the plus walls saying put. So, every 30 minutes their booth was featuring a different game.

When I came up to the booth they were featuring Ratchet and Clank. It looked like that was the only game they were featuring but then after a few minutes I caught the stage rotating to feature the next game.

The other 3 games were Dark Chronicle, a semi Action RPG. (less action than Zelda, more action than Final Fantasy). They were giving away trial CDs for that. Next was some game featuring a bunch of silly games dealing with traditional Japanese stuff. This was aimed squarely at Japanese families and will probably not be sold outside Japan. Write now I'm drawing a blank on Game #4. It might have been Minna No Golf Online. Not too exciting.

Hudson was there showing off 4 player 2D/3D Bomberman! By 2D/3D I mean the game was traditional bomberman but the characters were 3D instead of 2D sprites. I didn't sit down and play so I don't know how well balanced it is. Everybody has their favorite version. Mine is still the Super Nintendo version on the first multiplayer level with the *punch* powerup.

And really that's about it. Nothing at Square excited me enough at a glance to look deeper. Same with Capcom. They were showing Devil May Cry 2 but at a glance it just looked like more of the same. Konami was showing Metal Gear Solid: Substance which looked like repackaged MGS2. They were also showing Silent Hill 3 but again, it looked like more of the same and Silent Hill in particular is not the kind of game you can evaluate with 120 decibles of other game noise around you. And they were showing "The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2" which is an interactive "Making Of" thing of PS2.

Namco was showing the home version of Taiko no Tatsujin (Taiko Drum Master). I love this game at the arcade. It's music game (Beatmania, Pop−n−Music, ..) but in this case you play Japanese taiko drums with big taiko drum sticks. Unfortunately I don't think it translates to the home much. They will be selling a taiko drum controller but the one in the arcade is heavy and you hold pretty solid drum sticks and really bang that thing which I think is part of the appeal.

As of this post, if you go to these sites they have images and/or live movies of many of the games and scenes from Tokyo Game Show.

Sony Entertainment Japan Konami

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