TGS Report 2010

Every September the Japanese games industry descends on Tokyo to begin hyping its releases for the next couple of years and although the industry in Japan has waned lately, they still had plenty to talk about this year. The big players in the industry like Microsoft, Sony, EA and Capcom all had press events full of interesting new titles and Adam El Araby is here to give you the lowdown on everything you need to know.

Microsoft

Let’s begin by taking a look at what Microsoft had to offer at this year’s show.  The Xbox 360 creator has struggled to establish the 360 in Japan with the console constantly struggling to establish a strong user base despite impressive support from Japanese developers. But to their credit, Microsoft has not given up and this year saw them come out strong by revealing new partnerships with some of the Japanese development communities rising stars and old-school legends. The first game shown was Metal Gear Rising, from Kojima Productions.  They showed off its free-cutting feature in more detail. This allows Raiden to dynamically slice up almost anything object in the game realistically using accurate physics. Visually, it’s looking good but without Kojima’s direction this game is feeling a little underwhelming.

The first new announcement came in the form of a new Fire-Pro Wrestling, the secret best wrestling game series ever, now with avatar support. Up next, Treasure, the legendary developer of intense action games like Gunstar Heroes and Sin and Punishment announced that their classic title, Radiant Silvergun, would be coming to Xbox Live Arcade. Radiant Silvergun is notable for its rarity and popularity amongst collectors. It often sells for over €200, not anymore I guess. The XBLA version will offer online multiplayer and downloadable replays and will mark for the first international release of the legendary shooter.

Next, the focus moved to Kinect, Microsoft’s beleaguered new 3D motion-sensing camera controller, due for release this November. It’s apparent that Microsoft has seen an opportunity with Kinect to re-engage with Japan and they’ve got some big names to announce new titles for the device. First up was Masaya Matsuura who unveiled a horror game for Kinect called “Haunt”. It’s first-person and looks to be set in a hunted house. Up next we have “Project Draco”, a Dragon-based flying game from Groundling Inc. and Yukio Futatsugi, who has worked on Panzer Dragoon in the past. The concept art looks excellent and the game will be released in 2011.

Up next was No More Heroes director Goichi Suda who unveiled a new action game for Kinect called “codename D” aimed at hardcore gamers. Players will have to fight their way out of a twisted amusement park in an idea that does justice to Suda’s reputation for coming up with crazy ideas. Child Of Eden, the stunning new titles from the creator of Rez was also there. Scribed as a convergence of games and music, it’s certainly standing out as a killer title for Kinect.

Prof. Kawashima’s Brain and Body Exercises was shown off next, and did nothing to dispel rumours that Kinect is little more than a Wii wannabe. Sega announced another horror title for Kinect entitled, rather generically, Rise of Nightmare, but at least it has zombies. That hasn’t been done to death.

The final surprise of Microsoft’s press event was the announcement of a new Steel Battalion title from Capcom for Kinect. The original was famous for its massive controller, which had 40 buttons, 2 sticks and 3 pedals so it’ll be interesting to see how it translates from that to no buttons at all.

So that was Microsoft’s extremely Kinect-heavy TGS. In other news Ninja Gaiden 3 was quietly announced with a poster showing a blood-soaked Hyabusa hinting that the next game will be no less violent than previous games. It’ll be interesting to see how these titles fare and if Kinect will be able to help MS make a dent in the East.

Sony

Sony kicked off TGS by talking about their new Move controller, which is on sale now, in case you haven’t heard. Just about all of their big titles this year and next are set to support the device including Killzone 3, Little Big Planet 2 and Heavy Rain. The other big technology that Sony was pushing is 3D and there was a huge number of 3D titles on display. Metal Gear Rising and Final Fantasy XIV and Gran Turismo 5 had trailers boasting the bonus D and I’m sure that one guy who actually has a 3D TV was feeling pretty excited about it.

If 3D games aren’t enough for you, Sony has also released a new firmware update that adds 3D Blu-Ray playback to the PS3.  PSP, which is ridiculously popular in Japan, had some interesting announcements too such as a specially designed new hardware model to be bundled with the next instalment in the massive Monster Hunter series. The unit has a special concave analogue pad and a bigger battery for those marathon hunting sessions. The 3rd Birthday, a new instalment in the Parasite Eve series from Square-Enix is on the way and while its action-orientated gameplay is a bit of a departure, it’s still looking good.  A new version of Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep was also announced for Japan, yes, the first version of the game did just come out here. It’s a safe bet that Birth By Sleep Final Mix will never reach Ireland. The next PSP game announced was another cynical money-grabber from Square, “Dissidia Final Fantasy 012 Duodecim”, which apart from having a name that is completely absurd, adds some new characters to the Final Fantasy themed fighter that hit PSP last year. Lightning and Kain have been revealed so far and I’m guessing there’s more to come. After launching a mysterious teaser site that fooled approximately no one, SEGA came out and announced Valkyria Chronicles 3, again for the PSP.

Level-5 were on-hand to talk about their new PS3/DS RPG “Ni no Kuni”. Developed in collaboration with the revered Studio Ghibli, it has an art style that is suitably gorgeous.

Capcom took the stage during Sony’s press event to discuss some of their newly announced titles. First was “Asura’s Wrath”, a beat-em-up with heavy God of War overtones. Then the highly controversial new Devil May Cry game, called simply “DmC”. UK studio Ninja Theory has been enlisted by Capcom to reinvent the series in order to increase its popularity in the west. So now Dante looks like Robert Pattinson. The Internet raged. We’ll see if it works. While the trailer contained no actual gameplay, the CG combat looked quite close to what the series is known for.

The latest instalment in the Yakuza series was revealed. Does anyone else buy those? Taking amuch needed break from the usual yearly releases, the next instalment is a 4-player co-op action game in the vein of Left 4 Dead. Monster and Zombies are attacking the fictional Japanese city of Kamurocho and characters from the Yakuza series are teaming up to fight them off. It looks completely insane but a lot of fun.

Fumito Ueda was up next to introduce a new trailer for my personal Game Of The Show, “The Last Guardian”, looking gorgeous as ever, the trailer shows off Team Ico’s superlative animations. It’ll be out late next year and will support 3D. Guess I’m buying a 3D TV then. Also announced at TGS was the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus HD collection. Two of the best games of the last generation remastered in stunning high definition and in 3D.

From Software and Sony Computer Entertainment Japan announced a joint project that is a spiritual successor to the sleeper hit Demon’s Souls that was one of the most beloved games of last year among critics. It looks like another dark fantasy action-RPG. It’s currently known as “Project Dark”, Japanese developers seem to be having trouble with names this year.  Nippon Ichi showed off a trailer for Disgaea 4 and it finally has HD sprites.

Next, the stage was handed over to Polyphony Digital, creators of Gran Turismo 5, a game that seems to have been in development for roughly 37 years now. The focus at TGS was on its impressive online community features. The most interesting feature is the option to play the game’s B-Spec mode from any browser while you’re away from your console. This mode is all about managing a team of drivers and keeping an eye on the condition of you cars as you take a higher lever view of events. Now you can play GT5 everywhere, but the ability to play it anywhere would be ideal right now. Other new features in GT5 include randomly generated Rally races where you have to rely on your co-driver for directions and some really stunning rain and weather physics. The final surprise was the announcement of Dynasty Warriors 6. It looks a lot like all the other Dynasty Warriors games.

So that was TGS 2010; there was something there for everyone. You may well be wondering where Nintendo was in all this and the answer is that they tend not to take part in TGS. They do have some events lined up soon to discuss the launch of the 3DS, which is expected this year in Japan and we’ll have all the details when it happens.

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