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What We Learned From Sony’s Tokyo Press Conference

by Matt Miller on Sep 15, 2015 at 01:36 AM

In the lead-up to this year’s Tokyo Game Show, the press descended on Tokyo’s Midtown Hall to get the latest from Sony about its plans for the PS4 and Vita. While attending, we learned of a few new details that will be big news for North American players, including details on the first major Bloodborne expansion and a new Kingdom Hearts collection. However, many of the announcements have less clear ties to the American audience. Even so, some of these announcements deserve attention, if only for the possibility that some may find their way stateside at some point in the future.

To reiterate that point just to be clear – the announcements below for Japanese audiences don’t necessarily mean that the same features are coming to North America.

It’s clear that Sony believes the Japanese game audience is interested in customization options, as we learned of a range of new PS Vita color options coming to Japan on 9/17, as well as nine new color skins for the PS4. The stage presentation also showed off several new colors for PS4 dual-shock controllers. Along with the announcement of a price drop for the PS4 in Japan to 34,980 Japanese yen (about $290 in U.S. currency), it’s clear that Sony is aggressively targeting Japanese players who have yet to pick up either its portable or home console this generation.

Sega proved its close partnership with Sony when it took the stage, as it discussed a 10th anniversary focus on the franchise known to American audiences as Yakuza. The original game in the series is getting a remake which will include improved graphics and a rebuilt approach to useability, as well as new scenarios that expand on the existing story. The remastered game is headed to Japan on January 21, 2016. In addition, Sega announced that Yakuza 6 is planned for release in fall 2016.

Several other publishers had news for Japanese game players, but little in the way of information about US release options. SNK Playmore announced the next installment of its long-running fighting game series, King of Fighters XIV is scheduled for release on PS4 in January to Japanese audiences. Bandai Namco discussed One-Piece: Burning Blood and Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme Vs Force on Vita  -- two titles with strong Japanese followings. 

Koei Tecmo had several announcements, including a PS4/PS3/Vita follow up to Toukiden: The Age of Demons entitled simply Toukiden 2. We also saw a mysterious PS4 exclusive called Nioh, coming to Japan in 2016, a samurai-focused game that some may remember from its announcement a decade ago. The game subsequently disappeared, and was considered cancelled, but it has now resurfaced. At first glance, the project has overtones of From Software’s Dark Souls games.

Another long-dormant franchise also made an appearance from Square Enix. Saga: Scarlet Grace is a new RPG in the venerable franchise, and it’s headed towards a 2016 launch on Vita. Sadly, the team shared few details about what the new Saga game might entail.

While only a brief glimpse was shown of the title, many RPG fans will perk up to hear that Vanillaware showed off a brief look at its new title, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim. Known for its beautiful (and sometimes scandalous) Odin Sphere, Muramasa: The Demon Blade, and Dragon’s Crown games, the new project (published by Atlus) looks like it mixes fantastical mecha overtones into a modern or possibly near-future setting. The brief glimpse showed off what looks like a young Japanese girl as the protagonist, along with some impressive giant mecha designs.

Spike Chunsoft (known for its popular Danganronpa series) is partnering up with tri-Ace for a new RPG project called Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky. The PS4 and Vita title looks beautiful, and Japanese audiences won’t have long to wait for the title; the stage presentation also announced a December 17 launch date.

Legendary game designer Yuji Horii took the Sony stage to discuss the long-running Dragon Quest franchise, including a January 28, 2016 Japanese release date for Dragon Quest Builders. The title, which looks like a mash-up of Dragon Quest and Minecraft, is focused on a plucky hero who sets out to restore a shattered kingdom. 

In what can be construed as an acknowledgment of the lackluster response to PlayStation Now up until now, Sony Japan president Atsushi Morita told the audience that he’s been told he needs to be more excited about PlayStation Now – a candid and amusing nod to watchers before showing off a sizzle reel of the service, which is launching its beta in Japan in the coming days.

Along with the big announcement of Morpheus’ name change to PlayStation VR, Sony’s 2015 TGS press conference was appropriately targeted at the Japanese market. RPG announcements abounded, along with welcome customization and price drop news for the local audience. It remains to be seen which of the games and announcements above might one day affect stateside audiences, but it’s great to see that Sony is continuing its long partnerships with companies like Square Enix, Tecmo Koei, and Atlus.