“We’ll always have games”: Hybrid Tokyo Game Show 2021 is no less fun



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There are certain events that are always marked on their calendars of players around the world: E3, Gamescom and, for the Japanese, the Tokyo Game Show (TGS).

TGS is the first video game-related event of this scale to be held (at least partially) in person since 2019. With its global appeal, the show opened at Makuhari Messe on September 30 for four days of energy, d ‘announcements and games that will run until October 3.

In 2021, it’s a hybrid event, where only businesses, media, and influencers can participate in offers in person, while fans tune in online. Some game producers advertise online without even having a booth at the event. And there are gaping absences from large companies in the industry, such as Square Enix.

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Still, for those lucky enough to attend, there is plenty to enjoy.

“The best of Japanese video games”

IGN Japan editor-in-chief Daniel Robson, addressing JAPAN Onward, stressed that this time the focus was on Japan due to the circumstances of the pandemic.

“There aren’t a lot of international companies that can be successful here, so there is only a concentration of great Japanese games, all in one place,” he explained.

Some of the highlights are those of Capcom Monster Hunter Rise, available for trial on PC. Fans of the game even get a photoshoot with Palamute, the dog-like companion who can be ridden like a horse if desired.

SEGA Atlus offers many games to try, including Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania, where users are greeted in the form of a TV program, with an on-site host and a seasoned video game enthusiast.

SEGA also offers the possibility to test-play the long-awaited title, Shin Megami Tensei V, and take a first look at the video game based on the popular manga series and then animated, Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Chronicles of Hinokami.

“SEGA has done a lot of work in this area (Kimetsu no Yaiba video game), ”said Robson,“ and from the gameplay it’s beautiful. “

KONAMI has a super fun booth with inflatable military tanks, where visitors can sit and try firsthand Power Pro Kun Pocket R, a very popular family video game in Japan, which is normally based on baseball.

However, Robson told us, this time he had a different appeal: “This is a spin-off ー you play little mini-games in [military] tanks. It has nothing to do with baseball, but you can see people laughing. It’s like a board game with four people playing and blowing themselves up. I would really like to try to play this.

I also had the chance to try KONAMI Yu Gi Oh ! MASTER DUEL. The title revolves around Yu Gi Oh ! TRADING CARD GAME (TCG).

Stand spokesperson Shunsuke Suzuki explained that part of the appeal was in the intrigue behind the cards.

“Fans of the franchise can find the story behind the cards, so that’s definitely a point in favor,” he said. And there are over 10,000 cards in the game.

The video game is also free to download, so there is no price to worry about.

For those who like a little more strategy, Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires is available to play at the Koei Tecmo booth, and Disciples is on the Happinet stand.

Fighting fans might also appreciate the SHKs King of Fighters XV, which offers fun relief from punches and kicks, even to a newbie like me.

Bandai Namco booth presents SUPER ROBOT WAR 30, which is gaining traction even in the West, and is something fans are looking forward to.

“The series is very popular in Japan, and now it’s becoming a talking point in the West,” Robson explained.

For something a little off the beaten track, TGS offers Vantan Gaming Academy, which has both a high school and a specialized university for those who want to learn how to create video games. The stand features fun VR games developed by its students. Some of the options include living the life of a bodybuilder or a horror game. There is even a game that reproduced the life of a virtual YouTuber.

Square Enix is ​​not present on the site, but just in time for TGS, he announced his new title, Stranger From Heaven Final Fantasy Origin. The game was developed by Team Ninja, the group behind such popular action games as Ninja gaiden and Dead or alive, Nioh. “It’s an action game, but set in the Final Fantasy universe, and it looks amazing,” Robson said enthusiastically.

A compact but busy affair

The Tokyo Game Show was my very first assignment three years ago, when I started working as a reporter.

Come to think of it, it was baptism of fire. Launched in 1997, the Tokyo Game Show is a huge event that attacks the senses with more than eight pavilions of nerd-related games, merchandise, and entertainment.

There is music, there is noise, there are larger-than-life decorations, balloons, photo spots, and of course plenty of consoles to try out lots of different games.

On weekends, the event also welcomes hundreds of people in cosplay. In fact, the place becomes a gateway for anyone who wants to dress up as their favorite video game or anime character.

In 2019, the last year the event was held in person, TGS welcomed more than a quarter of a million people through its doors. Crowds of visitors lined up, sometimes for hours, for a chance to try out the season’s most anticipated games.

The year 2021 is very different, as the general public cannot attend in person.

The event only spans two pavilions on the site. The stands are smaller and visually less imposing. Only a few computers or consoles are provided for each video game.

However, it is still an incredibly fun event, both for the attendees and the hosts. You could feel the palpable relief that we had returned to some form of normalcy.

There are keepsakes for fans, props for taking pictures, tons of games to play, and a lot of thinking about the gaming experience. Fewer consoles means booths can actually host more games at the same time. time.

IGN Japan’s Robson put the importance of video games to TGS and the world in a broader perspective: “Japanese games have become a focal point for the world over the past year and a half. Everyone played Animal crossing (Nintendo), Demon souls (Sony Interactive Entertainment). From that point of view, there is a lot going on here in Japan.

On another front, this year’s TGS has the potential to give organizers clues how to safely host video game conventions, as Robson pointed out: apply it to their situation.

Despite the pandemic’s continued disruption to lives around the world, we are reminded that the title of the event is more apt than ever – no matter what, “We will always have games. “

Author: Arielle Busetto

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