10 thoughts to take away from TGS 2010
So much happened at the Tokyo Game Show that it’s easy to lose track of all the news. There were grown men crying, Samba Buses sliding, Dante looking hellish and Hell looking stylish; NIS embraced Hi-Res sprites and SEGA enlisted zombies. So basically we had a lot of shocks, surprises, some predictability and plenty of wow moments.
TGS, more than anything, showed that Japanese game development is still going strong today, despite rumours of the contrary. Japanese developers are still pumping out hugely inventive, aesthetically pleasing titles – the sort of games that make you say, “that must come from Japan.”
For this article, we have accumulated ten thoughts to take away from this year’s TGS. They aren’t all positive but most of them are…
1. Will devs ever tire of zombies?
What is this madness? Is it not enough that every second new IP features zombies without having the undead inexplicably thrown into our favourite franchises whether they are suitable for them or not? It seems that even Yakuza isn’t safe from this zombie obsession. Yakuza: Of the End is set during a zombie apocalypse and it sees a bunch of survivors fighting for their lives, including Ryuji Goda who appears to have swapped his arm for a Gatling gun. It’s nothing like previous Yakuza games and it is certain to jar with many of Yakuza’s fans. However, despite the galling lack of originality, the chaotic trailer does leave us intrigued. Check out all the destruction below…
2. Over a decade of waiting is finally over
Namco produced a megaton announcement for fighting game fans at TGS, with the reveal of Tekken Tag Tournament 2. It has been over a decade since the first Tekken Tag game was released in the arcades, where it introduced to the series the ability to switch characters mid fight. By adding the tag-team element, Namco opened up a whole new set of tactical opportunities for fighters. It was very exciting but, for whatever reason, the tag dynamic was shelved for later games. The trailer shown at TGS showed how carefully planned switching can be used to create devastating combos and team moves. The fighting mechanics were also looking great, very fast and fluid.
Tekken’s star has wavered since Street Fighter came roaring back on the scene, so cynics may claim that Namco are only bringing back Tekken Tag because they can’t beat Capcom at a straight-up 1 vs 1 fighting game – and they could be right. Either way, we don’t mind because Tekken Tag was fantastic and we’re glad to have it back.
3. Where’s Dante?
Possibly the biggest and most divisive surprise at TGS was the announcement of a Devil May Cry reboot, simply titled DmC. New developers Ninja Theory are taking the game down a new direction by giving Dante a radical makeover and moving the game into a more contemporary world. The trailer opens up in a dark, grimey mental asylum where Dante is being questioned on his identity. Midway through the trailer, Dante breaks out into an urban world where he engages in some lightning-fast combat. The action is exciting and along the same lines of previous Devil May Cry games: twin-pistol assaults combined with hack’n'slack attacks still appear to be the order of the day. However, the change in aesthetics has repulsed many Devil May Cry fans, who consider this new Dante to be a bit too Twighlight for their liking. The game’s creator, Hideki Kayima, isn’t impressed either; in response to a tweet on Twitter saying, “I miss the Dante you made”, Kayima replied, “I miss him too.” He later went on to say, “I’ve been sad since Dante left me.”
A lot of commentators have already nailed their colours to the mast with this game – on the basis of a short trailer – and it looks like nothing can change their opinions now, but we say fair play to Ninja Theory for making bold changes to a series that required just that. We’d much rather have a game that provokes a reaction rather than another formulaic Devil May Cry iteration. The formula has grown a bit too long in the tooth, if truth be told.
4. Driving a Volkswagen Samba Bus in the snow in GT5 = the epitome of awesomeness
It’s horrendously underpowered, weighs a ton, terrible at handling and has dangerously poor breaks. The idea of driving a Volkswagen Samba Bus on an icy surface is a terrifying thought, and yet that’s what we saw in Gran Turismo 5 at TGS. The ungainly sight of the Hippy Bus trying to tame the elements was a memorable visual and one which we can’t wait to try out ourselves from the safety of our sofas. Polyphony Digital also announced other historic Volkswagen vehicles to be in the game, including the Kubelwagen type82 ’44 and the Schwimmwagen type166 ’44. You can view them all over at the US PlayStaiton Blog; they also discuss the game’s community features.
The new dynamic weather looks incredible and certainly adds to the authenticity of the driving experience. With torrential rain and heavy blizzards, we foresee a lot of skidding – the worst conditions will certainly test the skills of even the best drivers.
We’re now only two months away from Gran Turismo 5′s release and our excitement isn’t wavering. Check out the dynamic weather trailer below…
5. Tears and joy, it can only be Team ICO
Gamers have been calling for HD remakes of Shadow of the Colossus and ICO for a long time now and amazingly we’re now getting one. When do we ever get what we request? Both were hugely inspiration titles on the PlayStation 2, so this will be a great opportunity to relive a great piece of gaming history. Not only will they be remastered with HD graphics, they will also be playable in 3D. We may have to upgrade our TVs earlier than we had planned. Let’s hope Team Ico do as good a job with these remakes as Santa Monica did with the God of War Collection.
There’s something almost spiritual about Team Ico’s productions; they have this unique knack of generating a strong emotional response from gamers. When they play a trailer at a press conference they can reduce grown men to tears at the sheer beauty of the game. Mock these blubbering gamers all you like but we but we challenge you not to well up after viewing the beautiful new footage from the Last Guardian. It’s just a shame we have over a year to wait still.
6. Hell has never looked cooler
Shadows of the Damned – the long awaited collaboration between Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil, Vanquish) and Suda51 (No More Heroes) – was finally unveiled at TGS. It’s a psychological action thriller which sees lead character Garcia Hotspur (hunter of demons) travel to a devilishly stylish looking Hell to save his girl. It looks to have similar gameplay to the later Resident Evil games: it’s third-person shooter that sees you blasting away an onslaught of enemies. However, Shadows of the Damned is much more stylised and over-the-top affair than any Resident Evil game, it has a “hyper-twisted re-imagining of hell” and some bizarre weapons. This must be Suda51′s off-the-wall creativity coming into play.
There’s not too much to go on at this early stage but it’s difficult to see how this can fail with these two highly creative forces at the helm. Check out the début trailer below…
7. We approve of Disgaea’s Hi-Res sprites
Disgaea 4 will be returning to the PlayStation 3 in February for Japanese gamers and in the summer for North Americans. Nippon Ichi Software have taken on board the criticism they received for Disgaea 3′s last-gen visuals by building a whole new graphics engine: pixelated spites have been replaced by new Hi-Res sprites. Disgaea is not a game that relies on stunning visuals, it’s quirky art direction doesn’t require huge process power to hold itself together, but we have reached a stage in the PlayStation 3′s life where we’re becoming less tolerant of games that fail to keep up with the technical expectations. We don’t want poorly textured sprites distracting us from the best thing Disgaea has to offer, its hugely engrossing and extremely tactical combat. The art appears to be similar to previous Disgaea games, but Nippon Ichi Software say they are putting “much more emphasis on an anime style graphics.” Check out the screenshots here.
8. We do not condone leaked footage, but we still enjoy viewing it
Square Enix showed footage of Final Fantasy Versus XIII at TGS behind closed doors but one naughty reporter thought it would be a good idea to record and distribute it over the internet. In the 30 seconds of recorded footage, we saw gameplay that appeared to be very similar to that of Kingdom of Hearts and Crisis Core, there were huge behemoths, we saw Noctis running across large areas (suggesting it won’t be as linear as Final Fantasy XIII was), and some pretty stunning animations. Square Enix had the footage removed from Youtube but we suspect it’s currently being freely distributed across the web. We don’t condone reporters leaking footage because it harms press/developer relations, plus Square Enix are entitled to show the game to us when they feel it’s ready to be shown – not before. Still, we’re not going to lie, we enjoyed viewing it. Plus, once footage is out there you can’t stop it.
[Ed. note: Delriach condones leaked footage]
9. Asura’s Wrath: the maddest game on show
Asura’s Wrath is an over-the-top action game which sees a God, stripped of his powers, go on a rampage pummelling huge numbers of enemies with brute strength. In the trailer we see Asura pick up a massive pillar to swing at his enemies, but that’s nothing compared to some of the other stuff we saw. It ends with Asura taking on a God twice the size of Earth, clearly CyberConnect2 don’t do subtlety. Japan is king of all-out, high-octane action games right now with the likes of Bayonetta and Vanquish doing some great things with the genre and it looks like Asura’s Wrath is certain to join the list. Check out the mad trailer below…
10. SEGA shuns PS3 for PSP
We’d been pining for Valkyria Chronicles to return to the PlayStation 3 but it’s not going to happen any time soon. The first game was on the console and it was excellent but SEGA moved the franchise over to the PSP for the sequel and they plan to stay there with Valkyria Chronicles 3. The decision is testament to the huge success of the PSP in Japan, it’s a big coup for the portable console, but we can’t help but feel a bit deflated at not getting another PlayStation 3 version. As much as we like Valkyria Chronicles on the PSP, it simply cannot offer the same level of scale as the home console can. Valkyria Chronicles is a game that demands a huge scale.