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Tokyo Game Show 2013 Recap: Has the Show Lost Its Aura?

Once upon a time, the Tokyo Game Show was one of the more anticipated trade shows in the video game industry. Every September, gamers anticipate what is next over at the land of the rising sun whether if is new game announcements from companies that have been around the game for years such as Square-Enix, Capcom, Namco Bandai, etc., to even new consoles. However, much like the Japanese gaming scene, the Tokyo Game Show has been on a decline throughout this current console generation of games. With a new generation of consoles looming around in a couple of months here at the states, it was Japan’s leading publishers and developers’ chance to impress with new games that will make gamers excited for either the Playstation 4 or the Xbox One. While some did impress, nothing there made me go crazy out of my seat. Honestly, this year’s Tokyo Game Show just went and left with no buzz at all. Has Japan’s premier gaming trade show lost its aura?

Japan’s taste in certain games today goes along with how much the industry there is in a decline. Consoles are not the primary way Japanese games are being played as it has been handhelds and now smartphones for a few years now. Franchises such as Monster Hunter, Pokemon, and others with a big handheld focus are what keeping the Japanese scene alive as the bigger budget console games have been disappointing for numerous years now. Plus, Microsoft pretty much ignored Japan throughout the Xbox 360’s lifespan despite their efforts early on. The console race is not that big of a factor anymore in Japan and it is no surprise Microsoft is showing little to no effort at all promoting their new Xbox One console. Sure, they still have a booth there and games like Titanfall are impressive, but I don’t know why Microsoft is still trying to have a presence there if that their past numbers are any indication.

Sony, on the other hand, had a little better Tokyo Game Show with the Playstation 4 and their recent announcements regarding the Vita. Of course, there was the Vita TV announcement a couple weeks back, and there are PS4 games that are looking pretty good, but as I said earlier, nothing there was a home run. As much as Sony wants to push the new feature set of the PS4 to Japanese consumers, I just don’t see them taking advantage of them compared to Western gamers. Japanese gamers to me today, still seem traditionalist about games in general and that goes hand in hand with the scene in general. Most of the scene still has not embraced online gaming as much as we do here stateside.

If there was a game of the show this year at TGS, it was definitely Capcom’s Deep Down. Deep Down, personally, is still the best looking next-gen game so far and the fact it was playable at the show floor with a brief demo shows that it can make the PS4’s Japanese launch date. It is that one game that makes you say that the next generation of consoles is truly here, which is something I can’t say about the launch lineups for both the Xbox One and Playstation 4. In addition, it was announced that the game is also free to play, which is interesting for an online game that combines elements of Dark Souls and Assassin’s Creed. The gameplay shows potential and it could be one of the next generation’s early big hits next year.

Another highlight for many of this year’s Tokyo Game Show was new gameplay footage of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The PS4 and Xbox One versions look amazing already, but we’ll see if Hideo Kojima’s new ideas for this highly anticipated sequel such as open world gameplay will pay off when it comes out next year. One of the gameplay demos is available to watch below. Square-Enix’s appearance at TGS was nothing surprising with the same trailers for Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III (okay more like three seconds of new footage for FFXV as Square-Enix tends to do for some dumb reason), but at least Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD is finally coming out there late December and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is still looking to make its February 2014 release on current gen consoles.

Despite some games having impressive demos at this year’s Tokyo Game Show, there were no exciting new announcements as they were already announced either at E3 earlier this summer or Gamescom a couple months ago. It feels like this show has become the bottom pillar in the hierarchy of gaming trade shows, which is a shame because Japanese games are still the major reasons why we still play video games today. With an industry now dominated by Western games and philosophies, this year’s TGS shows that not all of Japan is ready for the next generation of console gaming. There is simply little or no hype for Microsoft and Sony’s new consoles over there and that is unfortunate since this was their big chance to make their mark. The Tokyo Game Show has lost its aura much like the Japanese gaming scene for a few years now and it is still an uphill battle for them to make things interesting again in the video game industry as a whole.


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