Combine public access with a national holiday weekend and Japan and you have one very, very crowded show to attend. The Tokyo Game Show was incredibly packed on both Saturday and Sunday, as the general public was let into the show for a bargain 1000-1200 yen (approximately $9.00-11.00 USD) to see the latest and greatest that Japan's gaming had to offer. Nevertheless, most of the major gaming companies were contained in two adjoining halls within the Makuhari Messe Convention Center complex, so getting to the individual vendors wasn't a problem. What was a problem was getting in to play some of the most popular titles, as waiting times at some booths exceeded two hours at midday.
I got a chance to meet up with Bill Early, a guest writer helping out with TGS coverage for the weekend. We split up during the day, with Bill sampling the (many) Square-Enix titles while I decided to go for some of the other major console efforts, particularly Phantasy Star Universe, Rogue Galaxy, Ragnarok Online II and another stab at .hack//Fragment. One of the biggest problems of making up any kind of game impression from a convention like this is the relatively short time one has to play the titles. It's a necessary evil, but it's especially hard for some RPGs where gameplay consists of the first few minutes of an opening FMV.
Probably the worst offender in this respect was Konami with its preview copy of Suikoden V. Not only was the game one of the more popular offerings at this year's show, but the wait to get in to play Suikoden during the weekend was pretty atrocious. Once you could get in to play the game, it was basically a chance to watch the introduction and walk around town without getting into a single battle. Seriously.
That being said, and knowing the general demand for knowledge about the game, Bill and I spent the last hour of the convention haggling with Konami employees (who were probably shocked enough dealing with foreigners to begin with) to take loads of pictures in the Suikoden booth, a privilege restricted only to press members. So, despite not being able to play the game, we abused our digital cameras like no other, with this to show you:
One of the curious features about TGS was the way certain booths handled the press. Unlike E3, where a press badge and a business card was usually more than enough to get more than enough information on a game, several companies required press stickers as proof of our status as media. Those stickers made for an interesting collage. As such, here's Bill and I after everything was said and done.
As most conventions go, after parties are usually an important part of the mix, and Bill and I decided to go out with some other TGS media workers to Roppongi, a very shady (but very fun) neighborhood in Tokyo, where we did a most un-otaku like thing: go clubbing.
So ended the 2005 Tokyo Game Show. One of the disadvantages of taking the night train back to my home in Nagoya was the number it did on my sleeping schedule, but it did give enough time to sit back and think about the whole experience. To paraphrase Ed Dillinger from the movie Tron: "If you've seen one Consumer Electronics Show, you've seen them all." Sadly, this quote does apply to a certain extent, as my previous experience at two E3 shows had kind of dulled my expectations. Nevertheless, the introduction of the new consoles and the showing of some of the games (with my personal favorites being Tales of the Abyss and Rogue Galaxy) made it a worthwhile trip, not to mention that any chance to visit Tokyo and Akihabara is always worth the excursion.
While some of the aforementioned titles may not make it to North American shores, it is a good chance that many will, and there's a hope that this will be the first of many times that RPGamer gets a chance to look at the latest and greatest games coming out in Japan. It's been a pleasure coming back to the site, and I hope you'll also take a look at the new game impressions as they come in.
This is Amish, signing out.