Tokyo Game Show 2004

These last three days have also had the Tokyo Game Show out at Makuhari Messe, so we thought we’d take a trip down and see what was coming. I’ve posted some pics in my gallery, here.

The big story was for many a look and play at the new PSP from Sony, which is not far off a portable PS2. There were also lots of the new *much* smaller version of the PStwo too, but back to the PSP. I had a play with one for about 15 mins, and I was very impressed. The graphics are amazing, full 3D, lighting effects, the whole bit. The screen viewing angle is impressive, with a lot of brightness and contrast. The range of games was impressive too, with PSP versions of Metal Gear Acid, Minna no Golf, Train Simulator, a raft of RPGs, and a damn good version of Ridge Racer. As for the UMD disc system, they’re MD sized discs in a protective cartridge which load in the back. I don’t know what the price will be like, but it looks excellent – I’d get one over a GameBoy Advance. Unfortunately Nintendo didn’t attend again, so no chance to have a look at the Nintendo DS, though a few companies were showing preview demos of their games for the new, dual screen machine.

It was loud, noisy, and had lots of girls in mini skirts, and customers in cos-play, as is traditional at this event, but I couldn’t help feeling it had lost it’s edge a little. Perhaps it’s because we’re in mid-product cycle right now, and people are waiting for Xbox2 and Playstation 3. Indeed, that was a common theme – sequels – lots of them. Lots of beat em ups and racing games, not many ‘Dance Mania’ machines, but a few old faces made appearances, notable Half Life2 demos, apologetically displayed on one screen in the ATI booth, whilst Nvidia showed off Doom 3. Of course, Gran Tourismo 4 was shown off again, with a release slated for December 2004. Honest. No really, this time it’s ready.

The message was though, that despite consolidation amongst the gaming houses in Japan (Square Enix, Sega/Sammy and a list of others), the industry itself is healthy, just changing at the mad pace tech markets do. Games of note off the beaten track were ‘Genji’, with live music, and a demo real which looked cool; ‘Devil May Cry 3’ which shows they can keep squeezing the format, with their now bare chested Beckham-esque hero, and a new Front Mission game.

Of course, all the usuals were there too – more Final Fantasy games, Winning Post 7, and even more 2D fighting games from SNK (shock!), this time for every platform ever, including mobile phones. Indeed, there were lots of mobile phone games, especially promoted by NTTDocomo and Vodafone, from Street Fighter 2 to online RPGs. In fact, that seemed to be a solid theme: mobile phone, and online version. It’ll be interesting to see what pans out.