Best Lucky Neon Sleep Deprivation Alcohol Squidburger Multi-Platform Happy Fun Time: Tokyo Game Show 2009
Posted on Friday, September 25 @ 11:18:49 Eastern by Chris_Hudak
TGS, DAY ONE: GAME, IT'S SO ENERGETIC! WRITE, IT'S SO DRINKING!
8:00 AM: Yeah, yer ass.
10:21 AM: I pick up my oversea media badge without incident—except for the incidental fact that I seem to have forgotten my confirmation notice, have no registration paperwork or article-printouts, and for a short, worrying time can find neither my business cards, nor about three hundred bucks in yen I seem to remember having when I woke up, nor my passport. Finally find them all inexplicably jammed into an obscure and completely unsafe, exposed, mostly open-zippered pocket on my incredibly manly Badtz-Maru shoulder bag, under a mostly-empty hip bottle of Suntory Whiskey—which suddenly answers a few questions—and for some reason, a stuffed green frog I have no recollection of acquiring, which gives rise to many more.
10:30 AM: On to the bright and booming—albeit scaled-back from last year—show floor proper. I head for the Konami booth, to which I return later for some hands-on time with Metal Gear Solid Peacewalker for PSP. The game is set between Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. The Metal Gear 'verse has once again made a nonsense of the natural order of game/sequel progression, and players take the role of Naked Snake, only this time in 1974—having founded a merc army of his own, he's tasked with freeing Costa Rica from unknown invaders. Great controls, a present but less-prevalent stealth element, and more context-sensitive Close Quarters Combat.
11:00 AM: I pop around the booth-corner to a hands-on area for Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. It'll be on PSP and PS2 as well, but I go for the Wii version since it just seems so wrong to have something this messed-up on the cute, friendly-looking little white Nintendo box. If you haven't checked our our preview on this game, you can find it here.
11:30 AM: As always, Capcom has their conveniently tucked-away little hands-on suite in the fancy-pants New Otani Hotel—low-pressure setting, nice big flatscreens, a table full of caffeinated soda and bits of Capcom swag (including some extremely-useful Japanese-style folding-fans, which I imagine were quite popular with the visiting 'foreign' press; personally, I'm enjoying the hell out of the warm and slightly muggy Tokyo September...but I'm getting no end of ancillary entertainment value from hearing passing packs of big, sweaty white nerds bitch about the heat. Mind you, this year is a relatively cool September).
I get some hands-on time with the newest installment of Capcom's Darkside Chronicles for Nintendo Wii—nothing too deep, but a good old reliable, first-person gun-fest for one or two players. Also get a little jet-pack air-time with Dark Void—think of a sort of spiritual fender-bender between Uncharted and The Rocketeer with pray-and-spray cover mechanics and you're arcing your Tesla-bolts in the right direction. From there, it's time for a little Tatsunoko vs. Capcom action: Would you like a heapin' helping of Frank West with your character lineup?
On my way to the Lost Planet 2 side of the room, I get sidetracked by, of all things, a bizarre little DS game tentatively titled Ghost Trick: Players take the role of a main character who is—well, actually, turns out he's murdered right from the outset of the game. Well, hell. You play as his ghost, a ball of spectral energy that can influence objects and events within a certain radius around it: Drop a crossing-gate, strum a discarded guitar, possess a nearby cat—do whatever you have to do in order to cause chain-reactions of events, a sort of “I [Heart] Geeks” for the apres-vie set. Even the poor guy who was left to do the demo of the all-Japanese build wasn't entirely clear on all the details, but it's from the folks who wrote and created the Ace Attorney games, and looks like an intriguingly oddball little title. I might even do a proper preview soon, once they nail down precisely what this game is going to be called.
12:20 PM: Out of whiskey—and they don't sell any at the convention hall. Shit. Wonder if there's time to swing by the nearby train station.
12:21 PM: I have taken fifty or so steps toward the station when I realize the NIS lunch is starting in eight minutes at the other nearby hotel, the APA Tokyo Bay Resort. There will be a speech, some announcements and some very good food, so it stands to reason there may even be some booze, too. At the very least, there is this: I have long had a private suspicion that NIS has some kind of deliberate, commendable company policy revolving around the mandatory hiring of hot PR girls, so it's probably best to arrive not too much later than the stated 12:45 start-time.
12:28 PM: I arrive at the NIS event-space—a banquet room, the length of whose entire wall gives a paralyzing, 46-story-high view down on Tokyo Bay, and a nearby baseball stadium that looks impossibly small from this high up.
12:29 PM: Cannot help but notice there is no booze in evidence. Probably just as well, considering the altitude, the glass wall, and the whole 32-feet-per-second-per-second thing. The food is delicious and, in some cases, completely unrecognizable in terms of actual food groups. I look around the room. I am happy to note that NIS hiring practices are, evidently, still very much in force.
12:45 PM: The speech is short and sweet. Among the new titles announced is: Disgaea Infinite (a 'play-novel' style game—the form is popular in Japan, not as well known in the U.S.; this stateside release will be a first in that regard); a follow-up to Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve this? (exact title TBD, but seems to be along the lines of “Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman, Time to Tighten up the Security!”); Atelier Rorona, slated for next summer; and an original RPG with the tongue-twisting name Zettai Kaikaku Hero Keikaku Something-Something (this sounds like a game name that NIS would actually have on shelves...but it is partly, in fact, a result of a glitch in my audio notes that I'm not able to double-check just now—anyway, trust me, it's close enough). The NIS folks don't actually devote any speech-time to their forthcoming Sakura Wars, since it was announced prior to TGS, but it's worth getting excited about, too—think “Valkyria Chronicles, but much weirder,” and you'll be in the ballpark.
1:15 PM: In the middle of a bunch of otherwise predictable, game-journo style questions, I suddenly throw NIS' president/creative director something of a curve bean-ball: Which, of NIS' Japan-based and America-based offices, in his creative professional opinion, actually has the hotter women? Inquiring minds want to, you know, know. The girl translating my questions into Japanese (who is, in fact, herself included among the subjects of my question) looks at me in for a moment, first in confusion—obviously thinking she must have heard me wrong—and then in something like tight-lipped, giggling horror when she realizes she must have heard me right. “I can't ask him that!” she stammers to me in cute, flustered English (with a nervous smile that, in Japan, is a sure signal that you've really managed to land the cruise-missile right down the central ventilation shaft). But I indicate that the camera—which, coincidentally, I have asked yet another NIS girl to hold, recording the interview—is still running, watching everything with its unblinking video eye; so she braces herself and asks my question between her laughs. “America,” answers the smiling, good-sport president, immediately...and now it's official, by Etna. So there's that.
3:00 PM: I wander into the retail-goods sales hall, and instantly regret it on a number of levels: The Capcom store, which last TGS promised such a tempting array of extremely-deadpan Resident Evil gear—STARS and BSAA garb, UN SPACY jackets, patches, hip-holsters, etc.—has once again failed to sufficiently stock up on any of said gear...and damn it, I was actually planning on tangling with some zombies the following evening; meanwhile, the Square Enix store has two of the most truly gaudy (and awesome) Smile Slime Hawaiian-style shirts... but only in one size: “Not American.” They do, however, have an entire glass case below that, full of Smile Slime-intensive products.
3:05 PM: My wallet whimpers, yields its payload of Japanese yen, and implodes into a velcro-flapped neutron star before magically transforming into a plastic sack full of assorted Slime-merch. Like I didn't have enough shit to schlep home on the subway.
I'd love to continue this Day One recap—but as I write this it's Friday afternoon, and I've got a Dead Rising 2 zombie-fest in the Shibuya club-district to get ready for (for which, alas, I will be less than properly attired; thanks a load, Capcom store). Providing I survive that, I'll be back with more show updates sometime tomorrow.
In the meantime, I will leave our info-hungry, learned readers with a few handy rules-of-thumb to keep in mind, should they happen to visit Japan any time soon.
Nine tips for visiting Japan >>