Japan’s biggest video game-related event of the year, the Tokyo Game Show took place last weekend, showcasing the software and hardware of over 131 international companies at the giant exhibition hall Makuhari Messe. Hundreds of thousands of game fans and industry workers made their way to the show, which was a feast for the eyes and ears of anyone who loves interactive entertainment. Most importantly, this year’s Tokyo Game Show gave the public a glimpse into the next-generation of hardware, with demos of software from Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console (due in December) and Sony’s Playstation 3 (Spring 2006). TGS also marked the long-awaited unveiling of the Nintendo Revolution Controller, a device that future video game players will use to interact with Nintendo’s next-generation console.
When I walked into the Makuhari Messe, I really had no idea where to begin. Sure, they shoved a map in my hand but since I am something of a closet video game geek, I simply started running around like a headless chicken exclaiming things like “OMG it’s the Square Enix booth! OMG it’s the Konami booth!!!11” until my co-geek KNYM had to beat me about the face several times to calm me down. For any video game fan, the TGS is like a great big, pulsating sign that says “IT’S OK TO PLAY VIDEO GAMES even if you are 25 years old” – it is living proof that the industry matters and that there are hundreds of thousands of people just like you.
It’s also a great opportunity to see the more public, extravagant side of companies we really know very little about – for instance my Playstation might have the word “Sony” on it, but what does that mean? Well TGS has told me that Sony means pretty ladies in white berets. Yes, berets. All the staff at TGS wear a “costume” that is particular to their company and Sony’s floor staff were decked out in dainty black outfits with chic little berets sitting on their heads, shamelessly pandering to the majority of the visitors who (like me) were lonely, male, and found being taught how to play a new Playstation game by a beret-clad woman to be a tremendously erotic experience.
What of the games? Well, my main aim for TGS was to see the video of Metal Gear Solid 4 running on (allegedly) Playstation 3 hardware. And it did not disappoint. The level of detail was incredible, it was like watching a hollywood movie and it’s clear that the finished game is going to have a production budget similar to that. The MGS4 Trailer is now online at Konami’s website. That seems to be the general aim of the “big 2” next-gen machines from Sony and Microsoft – create bigger, louder, more expensive, more flashy games. Which is great…to a point. Where does it end though – are we all going to be playing Biohazard 28 and Madden 2050 in photo-realistic, virtual reality 3D before we realise that these kinds of rehashed and revamped sequels are getting a bit dull?
This is where Nintendo steps in. Nintendo, again, are attempting to reinvent the wheel and it’s likely they are going to have another runaway success on their hands, like the immensely popular Nintendo DS touch-screen handheld system. The Nintendo Revolution – Nintendo’s next-generation console due out in 2006 – has possibly the most unique controller design that the industry has ever seen. It takes the form of a remote-control-like unit that you can attach accessories to (such as an additional joystick).
The remote-control unit itself is motion and angle sensitive, meaning that it “knows” where it is in a 3D space. In other words, you wave it around in the air to control games! Nintendo are going to come out with some great 1st-party titles for this and you can see from their teaser video that they have already thought of a number of fun ways to use the device. Players were shown using it as a virtual fishing rod, a virtual baseball bat, a virtual conductors baton, even a virtual chopping knife (in a cooking game) – the possibilities look endless and it’s great that Nintendo is taking on the responsibility of providing the market with fresh content.
Looking forward to the future of gaming!
Microsoft Xbox360 – December 2005
Sony Playstation 3 – Spring 2006
Nintendo Revolution – Spring 2006