Our Tokyo Game Show 2013 Highlights
The excitement and relevancy of the Tokyo Game Show has been in question for years, and this year's quiet affair did little to change its course. Japan's own behemoth Nintendo sits the event out altogether and Microsoft declines public presentation, leaving Sony the soul manufacturer to take the spotlight. Despite TGS's subdued presence compared to other trade shows, it still had a handful of exciting announcements and fun hands-on sessions with anticipated games. Among our highlights of the show are Sony's Vita TV, Swery 65's D4, Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, and more.
Associate editor Kim Wallace and I offer our personal favorite games and announcements from TGS 2013.
For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to go to Tokyo Game Show. As a fan of many things Japanese - JRPGs, anime, and manga - I couldn't wait to feel like I was in a country that fully embraced my interests. The show was not entirely what I expected, though. This year seemed a little off, while the big guns like Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII and Dragon Quest X were at the show, very few mid-tier JRPGs were present. Still, it was cool to find some games that I'd kill to have localized. Here's my picks for what caught my eye the most in my TGS experience.
When D4 was announced at E3 by Swery 65 of Deadly Premonition fame, he didn't reveal much and many weren't entirely on board with the Kinect being its backbone (although you can use a controller). After actually seeing Swery 65 demo the game for the first time, it easily became my favorite game of the show. Using the Kinect controls that actually cater to the action, puts you right in the moment and the kooky characters promise plenty of laughs. I don't usually find myself laughing out loud in demos of a room full of press, but Swery got me with Duncan and his mannequin muse.
I'm a huge visual novel fan, and nothing is worse than coming to Japan and being surrounded by loads of them without speaking Japanese. Visual novels require so much time to localize that if the audience isn't there, U.S. publishers aren't keen on bringing them over. I'm glad NIS America saw something in Danganronpa. The premise just sounds so damn intriguing: students in a The Hunger Games-esque gifted school, who have to kill each other to stay alive. Throw in a crazy bear running the show and I'm in.
First off, meeting Matsuno was unreal. Here's a little story about this appointment. I had no idea what they were announcing or who Playdek was working with, just that they were working with a famed designer on a new game. It could have been anything, when I walked up to the table I immediately recognized Matsuno and the excitement catapulted. Although, the title is for mobile devices, I'm still intrigued. Matsuno knows his way around a strategy/RPG, and I have faith in his ability to make this project endearing. Time will tell, but it's nice to hear from Matsuno again.
Other than those main highlights, seeing new games in the Legend of Heroes and Phantasy Star series gave me something to keep an eye on. And I think Square Enix will likely localize Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call, which from what I played is just as fun as the previous game. Time will tell what Square will do with Dragon Quest X and Drag-on Dragoon 3. Unfortunately, with the new consoles looming, no blockbuster JRPGs have been announced for them yet. At least, we know Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV are waiting in the wings.
I attended TGS 2011, which at the time was easily among the most underwhelming trade shows I had attending during my time at Game Informer. Flash forward two years and the TGS 2013 has even fewer notable announcements or new content for games. Amid the ho-hum happenings, things that stood out were new information about Sony's Vita TV, and demonstration of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes that got me pumped for MGS V, and Capcom's new Strider title.
Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is a prologue chapter intended to warm players up to the open world gameplay mechanics being infused into the stealth series. An on-stage demonstration (all in Japanese) showed Snake infiltrating a military compound to rescue a prisoner. I love the agency players have to approach missions how they want. In the demo, we saw Snake throw a body at a guard to knock him out, a limited bullet time ability to take out guards that see you, and vehicles you can drive. I can't wait to jump into Kojima's upcoming chapter in the MGS saga on current- and next-gen consoles.
I am enamored with the idea of playing my favorite console games to other rooms in the house without lugging hardware around. Vita TV's remote play ability brings me one step closer to that dream. Similar to the Wii U's ability to stream games from the console to the GamePad, the Vita TV allows users to stream games from their PS4 to other TVs on their home network or over a reliable internet connection. Sony's on-stage demonstration shows how this function works, and says that the remote play function of the PS Vita works similarly. The Vita TV's sub-$100 price point makes it an even more attractive option for folks who want to play Sony's Vita library without the portability.
I don't have a lot of nostalgia for Capcom's fast and furious Strider series. It only took about a minute of playing Double Helix's upcoming remake to understand what I had been missing out on all these years. The smooth maneuverability, rapid-fire sword slashes, and Metroid-inspired exploration has me excited to jump into the side-scrolling downloadable title.
My hands-on time with Capcom's upcoming third-person dungeon crawler, Deep Down, was confusing but intriguing. The weighty, deliberate combat and random dungeon layouts have a lot of potential. The fact that the game is going to be free on PlayStation 4 means that everyone will have a chance to check it out if it releases in North America.
Did you follow the news and previews coming out of TGS 2013? What were your favorite details from this year's show?