Last updated on August 7th, 2015
Below is an overview of our visit to TGS. If you would like to read about titles that are of specific interest to our community, check out our Bloodborne TGS Recap and Deep Down’s New Trailer – posts coming tomorrow!
Tokyo Game Show occupies an entire wing of Makuhari Messe’s international exhibition centre – Halls 1 through 9 to be exact. The event is open to the public over the weekend, with Thursday and Friday allegedly limited to the press and business, although I saw a number of people with rather dubious claims to either. The entrance for the public days and business days is slightly different – same hall, different angle. For those coming in tomorrow, they will walk in to be assaulted by EA on their left and Konami dazzling on their right. Today, I walked down a staircase on the rear side of the EA space. A subdued way to begin.
The Playstation presence was in the first area. Not small but not imposing, it was clearly designed to be viewed from a single angle, “facing front.” It was a two story design. When standing to face it, there are three massive screens running a constant demo reel dominating proceedings, with a specific game focus on each of the quadrants top left, top right, bottom left and bottom right. Major games got these quadrants; smaller games were within. The effect was like a partially unskinned Borg cube, and while it looked good from a distance, it was hard to navigate inside.
Bloodborne got focus as the bottom-right module of the Borg cube. And sadly, there was nothing new here. While there is enormous player interest in this game, and therefore it got some prominence, that didn’t mean anything new in terms of information. Line up, play a similar demo to the one at E3 & Gamescom, be done. Of course everyone got to see Dengeki’s online stream, so most fans will know a variety of the extra details by now. We’ll have a Bloodborne TGS recap piece up soon with the new uncovered details.
A nice art book was given to us, but this was really about keeping things warm, not adding anything new. The other focus areas for Playstation were The Order, Project Morpheus, Vita title Phantasy Star Nova (more on Vita presence later), and, oddly, Destiny. I’m not saying “inexplicably.” Bungie made Halo which “made” Xbox, and the effort and money which went into this non-MS exclusive is well-known. Planning an event like this takes months; the lukewarm reception to this short campaign, multiplayer-map starved oddity could not have been predicted. But it jars nonetheless, with a Destiny poster twice the size of Bloodborne’s right next to the Bloodborne testing area.
Also peculiar was that the Order was another game given prominence, yet it could barely be seen. I found that there was a small, ticket-only preview room on the second floor of the Borgcube purely by chance; not sure if other media missed it but a possibility. Inside, there is an instructional video, and a small number of demo stations. I initially thought it weird to have an instructional video at a games show, but then a TV crew brought in three squealing but immaculately coiffured promotion girls to play the game and be filmed doing so. They clearly needed help. Not sure if there was also an instructional video for breathing, but a possibility. My impression of The Order was: Dishonored with better graphics, but shooty not sneaky. Next.
I also noted a lot of Vita titles, and airtime. This makes a lot of sense. The last-gen of home consoles took their time getting a footing (and therefore profitability) in Japan. I think everyone is in agreement the next-gen (now current-gen, I suppose) was rushed, and none of them have a compelling title. Not one. Nintendo has survived having unappealing home consoles by selling to Japan’s mobile gaming market. It makes sense Sony do likewise, because it can, unlike Microsoft which will struggle to find a reason to do so when its US home market doesn’t look like that.
Sadly, while there have been overall more compelling titles on Vita than there have been on PS4, the majority of offerings here were by-the-numbers JRPGs. Sure, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but come on, how about we celebrate the fact Vita is a great platform with some interesting titles? There was one point in the Sony demo reel where there was just a voice-over announcing a bunch of JRPGs for Vita in rapid succession, not even really caring about trying to distinguish them – because they are not distinct.
Heading into the main body of the Sony stand, then, there were actual playable demos of the following:
- Murasaki beibii (purple baby – an odd artistic European effort)
- Sengoku Musou Chronicle 3
- Legend of Heroes
- Gundam Breaker
- God Eater 2
- Tales of Zestaria
- Kingdom Hearts
- Psycho Break (Evil Within)
- Winning Eleven
- Biohazard Revelations 2
- Final Fantasy Type Zero HD
- Earth Defence Force Shadow of Despair [and I was in despair at their advertising see below]
- Dead or Alive 5 Last Round
- Hell Divers [Sci-Fi Diablo-a-like, across all PS platforms]
- Little Big Planet 3
Sony had a huge number of titles as well on their big demo reel. Highlights, from a purely personal perspective, below:
- Final Fantasy XV, Square Enix. Sure looks like Final Fantasy – only in California. California full of massive beasts of course. And roads – there’s a car full of young spiky haired folks complaining about being hungry at humorously inappropriate times (ho! ho! ho!). The car looks like a mutant long-wheel base Mercedes SLK. Better for travel than a large yellow chicken, though I won’t be surprised if the car turns out to be called a Chocobo GTX. It looks like open world, with full 3D range in combat…but “looks like.” We’ll see.
- The Tomorrow Children. A graphical style that simultaneously looks like toys, but has an atmosphere of a dystopian dictatorship. Definitely want to see more of this
- Until Dawn. The classic slasher movie setup as a game. 8 friends isolated in a mountain side cabin, until the poop goes awry. This was a trailer so of course full of fast-cuts, we have no idea what gameplay will actually be like, but this looks interesting
I also note a Grasshopper Manufacture title “Let It Die” which seems like it might be heavily Manhunt inspired. If so, can’t say I approve of that, but not enough info to make a call.
There were also at least six Depressing Girlie Fighting games, the expected Far Cry and Batman Arkham Knight demo reels, and some Lego titles.
Meanwhile, over at big green and ugly, apparently there’s a title called Call of Duty. Never heard of it myself, though it’s taking up half their main space.
From number of stations provided and space allotted, this seems to have been the main Xbox play. And, there were people playing it. But, possibly because the lines were shorter than for games Japanese people are actually interested in.
The main title over in the green room that had buzz was Evolve, which had only 5 stations, but had lines, and looked fantastic.
Like Sony, they have a couple of stands set up for Psycho Break, although Square Enix has a more dedicated opportunity elsewhere. Weird thing, though, is that Microsoft have satured the outside of the venue with XBone branded Psycho Break material.
Other than that, there’s a predictable Master Chief collection, a predictable absence of Destiny. There’s a number of stations for Forza Horizon 2 which are mostly empty. There’s only a crowd at the Forza 5 spot, but that’s because there is only 1, and it has a full racing seat with pedals and looks like fun.
And overall, it must be said Microsoft did a better job in terms of conveying options for household fun. They had booths dedicated to Kinect games. They had Mad Catz sticks set up for Killer Instinct. They had the aforementioned full race gear set up for Forza 5. And their area was a hell of a lot easier to navigate than Sony’s.
But Sony still had the win despite Microsoft’s better area design. They had no exclusives of interest, and only Evolve was distinct to which they did not give enough attention. The Kinect booths were diverting, but really, nobody prioritises jumpy-jerky nonsense in console selection. The biggest difference between Sony and Microsoft was that with MS, you could line up, wait, and play. With Sony, you had to line up to get a ticket in order to line up to get a chance to play. Which from my perspective wanting to play Bloodborne was frustrating.
So what were other major names up to?
Capcom have a stage with a schedule: Biohazard Revelations 2, Biohazard HD Remaster, and Monster hunter 4G. No photos allowed. A tufty bearded douche and some squeaky girl in inadequate clothing read a script. Controlled and boring.
While Sony had a very brief Deep Down vid as part of their showreel, there’s absolutely nothing at Capcom. Zombies and Monster Hunter all the way. There’s a Biohazard shooting range, and a Biohazard Remaster Tyrant to take photos with, but otherwise….Capcom have no game this year.
I think a lot of our readership know that Namco Bandai are the Dark Souls publisher outside Japan. Namco Bandai Japan is a different beast, and it showed here. It has been said that the difference between movie fans and videogames fans is that videogame fans are excited about what future games are about to come out; movie fans only like movies at least 20 years old.
Well, Bandai Namco’s showing this year at TGS is almost entirely dominated by backward looking nostalgia.
Over here, it’s Godzilla, Dragon Ball, Gundam and One Piece. Oh I suppose we must give One Piece credit for being less than 40 years old. Although all that credit is removed due to the preoccupation with the physics of outsize cartoon breasts in a dancing game. Really. Grow up.
Square Enix had a great show and a great presence. They took a pretty large space, and then forewent gimmicks in favour of content.
Despite the most restrictive attitude to the press encountered, they had the best setup for promoting people seeing a broad variety of content.
Kingdom Hearts HD2 for PS3, Final Fantasy Type Zero HD for XBone and PS4, Final Fantasy IP and a new one called Bravely Second for 3DS, Dragong Quest IV and VIII for iOS, and Chaos Rings 3 on Vita.
This was a great showing for Square Enix in their core area, but a couple of other things are worthy of note: Diablo 3, Psycho Break and Call of Duty. Square Enix is a stalwart Japanese games company created from the merger of two giants of the 16 Bit era. They seem to have their fingers in a more international pie. This is a company to watch if you ask me.
Konami had a big presence, but were really only showing Metal Gear. That’s exciting of course, but limited. And no Silent Hills in sight.
Koei Tecmo had a good showing. They’re in traditional Japanese game territory, but not quite so in the doldrums as limp JRPGs on display elsewhere. The Vita game Toukiden Kiwami was on prominent display. KT had a number of Vita games to show.
Oddest thing: Zelda Musou. Of course the game is a Wii U title, but it’s odd to see a 3rd party running off with a prized home IP, and not least one of the Nintendo stable.
Oh, and Electronic Arts of course, paying for the first spot after conference participants enter. Inevitably their stable of sports games, A small and disappointingly inadequate Dragon Age effort. And an enormous loud, shouty Battlefield setup with lots of dry ice and foreign actors taking the pay check. For the first hour or so I arrived, no one playing. At the end, team matches, but no lines, and lets face it the people playing were simply curious in the way humans are.
That wraps it up for our overview of TGS, we will have a more detailed Bloodborne update coming out tomorrow, as well as a formal post for Deep Down’s epic new trailer. Stay tunned!