Today I talk about the not-so-recent Tokyo Game Show 2006 and the recent Nintendo World 2006 conventions I visited.
Tokyo Game Show 2006
The Tokyo Game Show 2006 is one of the largest gaming conventions in the world. The location of the event is Makuhari Messe, one humongous series of trade fair buildings. I don’t think that even TGS occupied all the halls. But then almost 200,000 attended this year, making me one blip on a can full of sardines. It’s freaking jampacked.
My entry was relatively painless considering this is my first time at the place and the event. From my apartment, it’s a two-hour train ride, so I went early. I was about two hours early, but then reality dawned and saw how utterly dedicated game freaks the Japanese are. I fell in a one-kilometer line stretching around the premises. A long 3 hour wait I think, with only iPod in hand, as compared to everyone else who either had PSPs or NDSs.
My biggest regret was my camera is only a 1MP on a cellphone, so whatever pictures I took were either blurred or out of lighting. Arrgh. No more photographic memories. Enjoy the blurred babes anyway.
A quite reasonable bulk of the halls was dedicated to XBOX 360, admittedly the sore loser of next-gen gaming in Japan, where they feature… at last… games aimed at their proper Japanese market. I dunno if it’s too late to do so, but games like Blue Dragon lead the pack in trying to cater to the Japanese. There’s also a Gundam game, another RPG with Hirano Aya voicing in it, then some cute 3D pop idol simulation game which I selfishly liked. We’re one step closer to bishoujo gaming on X360. And hey, they recently lowered the price to 29800 yen. Not bad considering the Wii is at 25000. Wii360 combo is feasible in this side of the planet.
Speaking of which though, Nintendo historically doesn’t attend the TGS, for reasons I don’t know, but then they have a convention of their own (more on that later). Only a few Wii games surfaced, including Bleach Wii and Elebits. Elebits was particularly interesting, it’s like some sort of colorful FPS game. Yea, sometimes I dun want to carry guns all the time. Oh, but lookie, there’s some sort of Nintendo DS section, and it’s turning heads. Maybe some Pokemon game or something, but I’m not sure, I never had a DS back then so…
Then we go to the Sony booths where, yeah, PS3. They really had a good showing, and the graphics are really amazing. But the biggest caveat was some erratic frame rates at some games. I don’t like erratic frame rates. Anyway, the Gran Turismo game was so smooth. but then some graphics are still made up of 2D sprites, like the people. LOL, what a way to show processing power.
Now I had gone to a couple of game company-specific booths. I got stuck on the Namco/Bandai booths where that idol game was introduced, too bad I was late. Then they had some .hack show on the loose featuring the latest .hack game, and the hosts were some seiyuu that I recognize, but then I don’t like .hack, so I went away.
On to the Konami booth where Metal… oh heck who cares about that, IT’S DDR TIME! That was the first time I found a DDR machine in Japan, so I played the PS2 one then the arcade one. I luv DDR. Ehem, so about the Metal Gear game, I think Hideo Kojima was there for an interview, but I’m not too keen on MGS lately (never played the third). But of course MGS4 has amazing graphics, and will be the killer app for the PS3 definitely.
Square-Enix booth, where Final Fantasy ??: insert subtitle here is being featured. Seriously, I lost track because they had multiple games for the FF7, 11, and 13, er.. ‘franchise’. So they milk each of their games to make more sub-games. Dunno but it seems over-saturated. I still defend my beloved Final Fantasy VI as the best Final Fantasy of all time, and I believe many will agree to me, hopefully. Anyway, Square-Enix had a viewing room where they show their exclusive previews, but I was not willing to fall a 3-hour line again.
Aside from that, nothing else drived my fancy. Well there were actually some shops that sell nice (read: otaku) anime goods but I resisted the temptation. See, all of those bags and promotional pamphlets I collected, I THREW THEM ALL LATER. Even this one exclusive poster where I fall in line just to get… it was a Little Busters poster by Key. It’s in the trash. Didn’t even capture it on 1MP glory. AM I SO LAME?
Oh, I forgot to tell. While the morning was relatively fine, in the afternoon, so many people arrived. It’s so frustratingly crowded! AGH!
After my regret of not being able to take any good pictures for TGS, I bought an actual digicam. While it is being used for other non-anime things like vacations and parties…
Nintendo World 2006
…freaking Nintendo World 2006 didn’t allow me to take pictures. What an irony.
Anyhow, Nintendo World 2006 is Nintendo’s turn at a convention. It was held one week before the release of Wii in Japan, so maybe gamers will get to try the thing.
Same location, Makuhari Messe, but at a different hall I think. Nevertheless, this one is SO much easier. No lines, I was at the venue in a jiffy. It’s not as crowded as the TGS, but then the big idea here is to fall in line to play Wii games. Despite having few people, I still had a hard time… I freaking forgot to bring my DS. Everybody else had a DS that day, it was amazing. It’s like 1 out of 4 people in the conference had a DS, and they use it to keep themselves occupied while waiting an average of an hour for 5 minutes of playtime.
I got to play 3 games, Bowling which is part of Wii Sports, Call of Duty 3, and Trauma Center: Second Opinion. 3 games… 4 hours of waiting… with my trusty iPod… which ran out of battery. AGH. But man, I liked what I played.
Bowling was nice. My first frame was a mess, but that’s because it’s the very first time I held a Wii remote. The rest was a breeze. I had control easily, I can even spin the ball to make a curve. Strike!
Next was Call of Duty 3. The second game of this series went into my hall of fame for being the most immersive and atmospheric FPS game I’ve ever played. It was a whole new ballgame with the Wii remote and nunchuk, but I got used to it instantly. I am a seasoned FPS player using mouse+keyboard, and I would admit that my first time through the Wii control was kinda hard, my hands shake a lot, and I can’t aim as precise and quick enough as I can on a mouse. Despite that I liked the control, it’s like being a noob all over again, learning Wii control the same way as learning mouse control from years ago. I’m pretty sure that someday I can be as good with a Wii remote as I am with a mouse. COD3 is an instant get in my Wii library.
Last minute gaming was Trauma Center, a medical surgery puzzle game. This was equally fun, having played the DS version already. The new controls make it so I can pick the instruments with the nunchuk while I use them using the remote. It took away the back-and-forth instrument clicking version the DS had, so the Wii version is more surgery-like. Oh, and by the way, aside from the surgery gameplay Trauma Center is actually a kinetic visual novel! Will Wii be the next bishoujo gaming platform? Unlikely, but I can’t imagine 2D games on an extremely powerful PS3. I bet bishoujo gamers would agree.
So there you have it, my first escapades at Japanese conventions. All this convinced me that the Wii is an ideal pick-up-and-play Console System for Busy People like me. Plus I met up with a nice fellow (piyokun) who told me where to buy import English games in Akihabara, so I’m a happy camper. Now if I can only get my Wii system now…