Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tokyo Game Show 2010 and the Ocean


Since I was a little kid, one of my annual ceremonies was to check some press reports from a then-current Tokyo Game Show. One of the biggest gaming expos in the world always seemed like an almost magical event taking place on another planet. Thousands of visitors, all the major computer game companies, cos-players, charming hostesses and many more. It was always then, when all the important news about the upcoming killer titles leaked. New games, new hardware, new trailers and technical details - TGS always had it all. The only other two major gaming shows take place in Leipzig and Los Angeles, but since Americans decided to make their shows press-oriented and stopped allowing casual visitors in, the European and Japanese shows have become the most popular ones. When I came to Japan, I was so confused and had so much on my mind that I totally forgot about the event. But thanks to my friends Iñigo (who reminded me about the show) and Emmanuel (who bought me the ticket - only credit cards accepted in the presale) I was able to go.

The show took place in Chiba, which is a distant city located in the east of Tokyo, next to the seaside. The trip from Isehara took us around two and a half hours - we had to get up at 6.30 am. But it was definitely worth it - as soon as we left the train station, we got ourselves surrounded by a river of otakus heading for the venue. Excitement was in the air and a short walk around Chiba's beautiful skyscrapers felt almost like a pilgrimage. The team consisted of me, Emmanuel, Iñigo, Beatrice, two Haviers and their two friends. Unfortunately we had to wait in a huge line for about and hour in the burning midday sun, but eventually we got into the ginormous exposition hall complex without additional problems.

Most amazing place. Indeed there were thousands of visitors, mostly Japanese otaku, but also a lot of foreign geeks. Huge HD screens with game presentations, interviews with game creators, hundreds of game consoles with the newest games waiting to be played. Games, games, games everywhere. But not only that. I also saw some side shows, like DJ sets, Japanese schoolgirls' dance routines, voting for the best game of the show and models demonstrating some debuting hardware. These were all hosted by various companies on their own small stages. There was also a separate hall just for families with small children (lots of activities like football) and a fighting games tournament (Virtua Fighter 5, Tekken 6 and so on) displayed on a cinematic screen for a numerous audience. Loved it. What about the companies? Konami took the best space close to the first hall's entrance. They showed the new Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Winning Eleven 2011 and a new Dance Dance Revolution game. Unfortunately, they didn't mention anything about Metal Gear Rising apart from the already well know trailer. Sucks. Capcom, located in the second hall, had it's owned little movie theater, where they showed some trailers on a big screen. A new Monster Hunter, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (there's even Amaterasu from Okami among the characters) and a pretty sweet teaser from Devil May Cry 5, entitled just DMC and with a new main hero (also Dante, but definitely not the same). Square Enix mainly boasted about Final Fantasy XIV (this one's online) and Deus Ex. Sony showed some new stuff for PlayStation 3, like PlayStation Move that turns PS3 into Wii (similar technology and wave of silly games). There was also the very fashionable Avatar style 3D (with shutter glasses) demonstrated on Killzone 3. Microsoft had a huge spot for XBox 360 with all the major games and some exclusives, but it wasn't even half as popular as Sony's place. By the way, they also have a hardware add on detecting user's moves (Kinect). Ubisoft focused on Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, they even had a real life Altar to take pictures with. Apart from the big fishes, there was also tons of smaller companies with games mostly for Japanese market (like stable simulators and j-style Gears of War rip offs). Oh, and obviously there was a lot of anime based games (some were half-porn) and online slashers/RPGs set in the beloved Sengoku period. All together, a lot of funny things.

Another accompanying event, almost as important and exciting as the Game Show itself, was the cos-play competition. Cos-players gathered in the passages between expo halls an attracted more audience than some gaming spots. I have never seen better and more detailed costumes. These people really love dressing up like that and posing to pictures. Anyone could ask them to strike an awesome pose and take as much pictures as they wanted. Some may say the cos-players (mostly girls if you ask) are a bunch of totally vain losers craving for some popularity but whatever - they looked great and really into their roles. Cos-play is treated very seriously in Japan - the best costumes got attention of professional press photographers and TV interviewers, and of course there was a competition for the best dress-up. I don't know who won, I loved most of them, especially Final Fantasy X team and the Snake & Boss duo. Too bad I couldn't photograph them all, it was too much for my camera's battery.

All in all, TGS 2010 was a great experience. Although my expectations very incredibly high (I felt I was going to see a legend itself), they still got to satisfy me. Unfortunately, the place was obviously overcrowded and too noisy. I got tired after a while an didn't get to play much games (only Castlevania after an hour-long waiting). But another of my childhood dreams came true. Pretty touching. And afterwards we went to sea the Ocean (Tokyo Bay, to be more precise). Beautiful endless blue fired up by the setting sun. But you already know it must have been great. How else could it be?

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