TGS 06: 360 comes full circle in Japan

[UPDATE] Microsoft Japan reveals details on 360 HD-DVD add-on at TGS press briefing; Lost Planet and Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 to carry unusually high price tags. Video inside.

TOKYO--The 2006 Tokyo Game Show is mere days away, and Microsoft Japan kicked off the festivities today with a press conference at the Cerulean Tower Hotel in Tokyo's Shibuya district. GameSpot was front and center at the event to bring you all the updates in a rolling, up-to-the-minute fashion.

On the eve of TGS and with Microsoft's own European press event, X06, set to unfold in Spain next week, the content of today's presentation focused on the company's upcoming strategy and products in the Japanese territory. The publisher unveiled Japanese release plans for a number of its peripherals, including the HD-DVD add-on, which will retail for about $177 in Japan when it is released on November 22.

On the games side, Microsoft promised more games for the Japanese market and more of them exclusive to the region. The company also touted its Xbox Live service and mentioned a few new retro games that would be making their way to the platform, including Yie Ar Kung Fu (which will be one of those Japanese exclusives), Ms. Pac-Man, and New Rally X.

Moving to retail Xbox 360 games, Microsoft confirmed Japanese launch dates and prices for a number of its anticipated titles from Japanese developers. Interestingly enough, Tecmo's Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 and Capcom's Lost Planet will retail for the equivalent of $79 and $71, respectively. Microsoft gave no indication as to how those price points were decided. However, they don't appear to be the new standard, as the publisher's highly anticipated role-playing game Blue Dragon is set to release in Japan in December and will retail for about $61.

The calm before the storm?

RPGs played a big part of Microsoft's conference, as Blue Dragon and fellow Mistwalker title Lost Odyssey were showcased, with in-game footage of the latter being shown for the first time. Two more RPGs for the system were mentioned: Trusty Bell from Namco Bandai and Infinite Undiscovery from Tri-Ace, developer of Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile.

For more from the presentation, check out the blog as it happened below.

2:02 pm: The event is beginning with a video montage of many of Microsoft's biggest upcoming titles like Gears of War and Viva Pinata, as well as a lot of stats on the Xbox Live user base. General Manager Takashi Sensui has now taken the stage to open the event with a prediction: 10 million sales of the Xbox 360 worldwide by the end of 2006.

2:07: Games need a "qualitative transformation" to progress, says Sensui. He goes on to proselytize about the ease of 360 development and the development advantages offered by unique features like Xbox Live.

2:09: Microsoft Japan wants to increase the 360 user base in Japan (surprise). To that end, it's introducing a new marketing campaign described as "Do! Game, Do! Choice, Do! Live." In regard to the "game" aspect, Sensui says there will soon be 100 titles available in this territory, including Live Arcade games.

Now THAT'S a slogan.

For "choice," he's emphasizing customization of the console and especially of the online experience. This is the same stuff we heard from the American execs before the 360 launch.

Finally, "live" is self-explanatory--communication and social aspects enhance the gameplay experience. These concepts have driven the 360 to strong sales in the US and Europe; will they finally catch on here in Japan?

2:15: Sensui is moving on to describe upcoming peripherals and packaging. A new core system is on the way for November 2; looks like the same configuration as the American one, at a price of 29,800 yen (about $254). At least PGR3 and Ninety-Nine Nights round out the package.

Now the Xbox Live Vision camera, which is finally on the streets--officially--in North America. The package looks the same as it is across the Pacific--a month of Live Gold and a free copy of Uno. Also out November 2, at a price of 4,200 yen ($36).

The posh Cerulean Tower Hotel.

Next up, something American gamers are eagerly waiting for: the wireless headset. As early pictures have indicated, it's ergonomically shaped like those ubiquitous Bluetooth cell phone headsets. November 2 again, 6,300 yen ($54).

Now it's the wireless steering wheel, which we already knew has force feedback included. Pricing and release yet to be announced.

Finally, the hard drive and remote control will be hitting stores along with the core system at 9,500 yen ($81) and 3,000 yen ($26), respectively.

2:21: Ah, something everybody wants to know more about: the HD-DVD add-on. It connects with a USB, as we know, and supports 1080p. Mr. Kawanaka from the hardware division is now leading a live demo of the peripheral, which seems to integrate seamlessly with the 360 dashboard. Insert an HD-DVD disc, see an option to play it at the bottom of the screen, just like normal.

And what finer cinematic masterpiece with which to demo the new peripheral than The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift? We're seeing some demo features that can be found in all HD-DVD players, like bookmarks and picture-in-picture commentary. Playback also integrates seamlessly with the dashboard. No big surprises here--except perhaps that you can do video chat while you're watching a movie.

The drive will be hitting the streets November 22 at a price of 20,790 yen ($177), including tax. But when will it be out in the US?

2:29: Next up is everyone's favorite spokesman, Peter Moore. Time to pull off this dumb headset!

It seems Moore is a big fan of doing.

"There's never been a more important TGS for Microsoft." Moore is promising more Japanese content, made by Japanese developers and for Japanese gamers than yet seen. Of the aforementioned 100 titles, 50 will be exclusive to this market.

The Japanese market isn't the only one Microsoft is focusing on. In the next few weeks, the Xbox 360 will be launching in India and South Africa, bringing the total number of countries in which the console is available to 32.

More big numbers about Live. Moore mentions the effectiveness of Live as a marketing tool. After the Dead Rising demo hit Marketplace, preorders of the game purportedly doubled.

2:35: Discussion turns to Live Anywhere, Microsoft's initiative to unify the Xbox 360, Windows Vista, and Windows Mobile devices. Alas, no real new details about the service, other than to reinforce Shadowrun as the initial Live Anywhere launch title.

Everyone loves Xbox Live Arcade, and here's a demo reel of what's coming soon. Any new surprises in store? Among the games not yet out: Defender, Gyruss, Contra, Lumines, Dig Dug, and Fatal Fury Special.

2:38: Whoa, here come new additions to the service, including the Japan-exclusive Yie Ar Kung Fu, along with Rush 'n Attack, Ms. Pac-Man, and New Rally X. Yie Ar exclusive to Japan?! What about us poor Western gamers?

Wow, and in early 2007, Microsoft will conduct a Pac-Man world championship. The top 10 players on the game's leaderboard will be flown to New York City to compete for the top prize. Pac-Man creator himself Toru Iwatani from Namco is now onstage to discuss the enhancements to the game available on Live.

Seems like the big enhancement is the worldwide leaderboard. Not a mind-blowing new feature, but similar features have certainly enlivened Xbox Live Arcade competition for other titles since the 360's release.

Here's an interesting parting shot: Iwatani-san will assume the title of "professor" next spring, as he begins teaching game development at Tokyo Polytechnic University. Four Tokyo universities in total will adopt the recently released XNA Express as a tool for teaching development, joining a number of other schools around the world.

2:47: Sensui has retaken the stage to present a photo-op with the rather bulky HD-DVD drive in hand. Doesn't look like that thing and the 360 itself will fit on the same entertainment-center shelf.

HD-DVD player with man shown for scale.

2:51: What are the titles leading Microsoft's efforts in Japan? Winning Eleven, Lost Planet, Blue Dragon, and everyone's favorite, uh, soft-physics simulator, Dead or Alive Extreme 2. We feel a little funny watching this demo reel. The game's due out in America on November 15 and November 22 in Japan, where the price will be a whopping 9,240 yen ($79). Why, we're not sure.

We're seeing a new trailer for Lost Planet. Let's just say there's a lot more to this one than the snowy action levels we've seen previously. The game will be out in Japan on December 22, for 8,379 yen ($71).

Next up, a new role-playing game from Bandai Namco, Trusty Bell. Looks awfully Japanese-RPG-like. No release date for Japan or America as of yet, though.

3:04: Now, another new RPG called Infinite Undiscovery from Tri-Ace, developers of Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile, in conjunction with Microsoft's own game studios. No video here, but the art style looks more realistic than whimsical from the one screenshot on offer.

The HD-DVD add-on will fetch about $177 in Japan.

Next, Mistwalker's Hironobu Sakaguchi takes the stage with an update on Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey, Microsoft's two flagship RPGs for the 360. Blue Dragon will be out on December 7 in Japan, and Sakaguchi is now starting up the Lost Odyssey demo, marking the first time gameplay from this anticipated title has been shown.

A CG cinematic shows scenes of a massive battle full of armored, sword-wielding knights and bizarre, mechanical engines of war. All hope seems lost, but a single warrior rises from the battlefield to take on hordes of enemies all by his lonesome.

After some flashy sword moves, the cutscene segues quite smoothly into a real-time, playable version of the battle that looks strikingly similar. Sakaguchi is able to issue RPG-style commands to this warrior to make him fight lesser enemies and a gigantic, flame-spewing tank single-handedly.

After dispatching the machine, the player character is surrounded by enemy soldiers. But then the sky opens up and spews molten rock and ash across the battlefield, obliterating the opposing armies while the lone warrior is left standing. This scene gives way to an exploration phase, but Sakaguchi has now ended the demo. Think of Lost Odyssey as Dynasty Warriors meets Final Fantasy with a little of The Matrix thrown in.

As opposed to an untrusty bell?

3:17: Sakaguchi continues by demoing a nearly completed version of Artoon's Blue Dragon, which is certainly more fanciful and lighthearted than Lost Odyssey. The demo features hero Shu and friends making their way through an industrial complex, fighting a series of sentry robots in standard turn-based style, using their quirkily animated sentient shadows as weapons.

Finally, the crew reaches a large chamber where a brief cutscene takes place with a couple of dastardly villain types. A boss fight against a giant, spindly legged robot ensues. In typical JRPG fashion, lengthy and lavishly animated special attacks are traded back and forth until the robot finally goes down. Shu and posse flee the hangar in a real clunker of an airship before becoming embroiled in a tense situation with a busty, piratical character with an abundance of 'tude. The game's cutscenes look nicely animated from the little we got to see before Sakaguchi ended the presentation.

The Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon demos will be available at TGS, so we'll bring you a more detailed report in the coming days.

3:30: After a lengthy promotional video for Blue Dragon, it looks like the game features all the elements you'd look for in a Japanese RPG: explosive turn-based battles, a job system of sorts, a poignant Nobuo Uematsu-penned score, even an airship! Will it secure Microsoft a foothold in the Japanese market? They sure seem to hope so. The game will go for 7,140 yen ($61).

Sakaguchi: the man, the myth, the moustache.

On the same day, a commemorative Xbox 360 core system including Blue Dragon will be launched for the same price as the core system, including PGR3 and Ninety-Nine Nights. Looks like it's just a vanilla system and the game--no special faceplate or anything was shown.

3:36: Sensui retakes the stage one last time with a quick "See you at TGS!" and a demo reel of games to look for at the show, including such high points as Epic's Gears of War, space shooter Project Silpheed, and everyone's favorite party-game sequel (ahem) Fuzion Frenzy 2. Keep your eyes on GameSpot for updates on all the hot games for the 360--and everything else--when the Tokyo Game show commences on Friday.

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551 comments
Shadow_Fire41
Shadow_Fire41

.......we americans can't have nice games can we?

Thanos_of_MW
Thanos_of_MW

Nice post Liberator, fanboys just don't get it. The platform doesn't matter, the games do. They can continue to be unpaid advertisers for their favorite company while I'm having fun playing games. Just ignore them, they are ridiculous and they don't realize that, which makes it even funnier.

24dude13
24dude13

I bet those japans arent going to be interested

Liberator72
Liberator72

Ne0zEEd, thanks for that :) It's not a world of perfect harmony that I'm asking for. Just a little perspective here. I am an avid gamer and I love my pastime as much as anyone else out there. But this fanboyism is wearing a little thin now don't ya think. We all play games and it is nothing more than a hobby for all but a few of us (you know, pro gamers and all that), and it is about time we started to give our "HOBBY" the respect it deserves. If not, we will continue to be labeled as the stereotypical nerds and fanboys the rest of the world has seen us as for the past 20 years or more. Get outside, get a job, a life, a girlfriend or whatever, and treat gaming as it is meant to be..........FUN!!!!!

amaranth_aeon
amaranth_aeon

Ne0zEEd, I feel your pain (or being-driven-up-the-wall-ness). I have a dream: one day, the world will be free of fanboys and there will be no more wars and all nations will coexist in perfect harmony. Oh wait, I was st0ned when I had that dream.

Ne0zEEd
Ne0zEEd

Thank you Liberator72..best post EVER. The fannys ON BOTH SIDES are driving me up the wall already..didn't ur mommy teach y'all how to play nice??

LuminosityBlaze
LuminosityBlaze

One step forward and two steps back for Microsoft. They can try as hard as they can to get the Japanese market into their product but this never will happen. Sony and Nintendo will always be given preference to 360. While there are a few somewhat cool games listed, the line-up just isn't that impressive. Plus the HD add on is expensive (although should be less in the states) and will even take up more space than the large 360 already does. At least PS3 gives you everything you need all in the box, and the price of 360 plus HD-DVD is about the same now as a PS3... All well, I guess it really just up to the sales to prove it, but I don't think Microsoft should expect much by the way of Japan. Hopefully for them their efforts are not a complete waste...

azoooze
azoooze

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

MoodyFlame
MoodyFlame

i didnt find this conference very promising, looks like another failure in japan for microsoft

mythrol
mythrol

. . .and i thought the Microsoft Press Conference sucked. Sony stunk up the place.

SephirothSyZtem
SephirothSyZtem

the whole do do do campinge is really really really reall lame.

_Sam_
_Sam_

I just downloaded the video, and I'm going to watch it soon

MajorCow
MajorCow

Aw dammit, the one day of the year that I exit my secret cave deep in the Canadian Rockys, and I find that the fanboys have once again cluttered the internet, spewing irreverent bullcrap. ...maybe we should have fanboy hunts akin to the witch hunts of old... Anyway, all of the games look great, but I'm especially excited about Infinite Undiscovery, if that screenshot is actually what the game looks like...:D!!!

mexisnake
mexisnake

there might be some good games :P

XxTrillvillexX9
XxTrillvillexX9

360 all the way. We will not win Japan, but they will not forget us. I think Microsoft is doing good this time around. Can't wait for the wireless headset here in the states.

Twinset77
Twinset77

"i hate xbox360's controller so i'll get a ps3, cuz i like their controller" That makes no sence imposile! Not get a console because of a controller! The PS3 and Xbox 360 controllers are nearly look alikes. Besides the PS3 is just a PS2 one with a change in color. It had a chance to be orginal oh well sony was never one for making more than standard approches to anything...

Jordanaire
Jordanaire

I'm really cheering for Micro$oft to finally make that BIG impact on the Japanese market, maybe the second tier games will make a difference.

brianbbb
brianbbb

i hate xbox360's controller so i'll get a ps3, cuz i like their controller

Liberator72
Liberator72

All of you should just get a life. Again all I see PS3 rocks/sucks, 360 rocks/sucks, the Wii looks cool. All the companies are going to baffle us with Tech speak hoping the majority of us wont understand what the hell they are on about just to sell their product. And judging by some of the posts here, they are succeding!!! Firstly, the HD-DVD add on will be an affordable option for someone who wants to buy their movies on HD disks. Not every one can afford to buy everything that comes out but still like to keep up to date with whats new and exciting in home entertainment. Secondly, upscaling to 1080p and HDMI and all that goes with TRUE HD is irrelavent to most people anyway, as most people who have a HDTV have sets with a native resolution of 720P. So scaling is going to happen somewhere along the line, hence making the 1080p output redundant. And finally, and I've said this before, if Microsoft, Sony, or any other company for that matter, wish to throw money in to product development with the hope they are going to make money from it, thats their risk, not ours. Nobody is going to force you into buying that product, and if you get taken in by the techno babble they feed us, then who exactly is the fool. There are plenty of imformative sites out there there that will tell the truth about HD and anything else for that matter, and anyone with any sense will go to one of those for information rather than look at some of the pathetic and quite frankly, stupid posts you find here. Good luck to Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo in the Next-Gen battle.

Irve
Irve

Dear Fanboys, My Word ! everyone is sooo desperate for the PS3 to be a white knight that they are dissing everythnig MS does and says !! Choice is great .. but add ons are likely to fail .. luckily as the HD-drive doesn't effect games it's just a way of getting the HD-DVD into homes it doesn't matter ... if you've bought a 360 and an HDTV why not spend $180 on an HD-DVD DVD-9 sucks .. right cos 9 gig isn't enough for a game ... funny that lots of games don't even fill a single layer DVD .. let alone Blu ray ... expensive rubbish when it comes to games ! shat's the worst that happens the game comes on 2 DVD disks .... the fact that Final Fantasy came on 4 disks didn't stop peeps playing that now did it ! PS3 as a movie playback device .. unless something goes wrong it will be a great home cinema device one last thing .. i can understand that you spend $'s on your PS2 and your proud of that ... and ignore the fact that the Xbox is a better machine graphically. but you've not bought a PS3 yet ... no money has been wasted ... no honour needs protecting ... if the PS3 is an expensive peice of rubbish be prepared to admit it. And if X-box owners out there decide to stick with the most powerful machne on the market it's hardly jumping ship. forget them all i say .... buy a Wii and take the sideways step !

d-suhiti
d-suhiti

MS is looking to get some heat back in Japan. Can it do it??? It is possible.

jattpunjabdaa
jattpunjabdaa

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Psychogenicscc
Psychogenicscc

@jtvance That was my point...read my post again regarding geeeeze ...He was trying to be patriotic with MS..... Like I said How is MS american when they outsource as much if not more than japan and europe combine.Anyways I stand by my statement. BTW thanx for proving my point.

ugotfragged
ugotfragged

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

wwonka666
wwonka666

Why is MSoft even at TGS 06 haven't they only sold like 10 X-Box 360's in Japan.

overcode
overcode

LoL, that HD-DVD add-on is gonna flop. Add-ons always flop. Some of those RPG's looked aight.

tr00pa_26
tr00pa_26

all this will be in sony's list of wannabie foes that as usual lose out because of below-the-average similarities in quality

jtvance
jtvance

@Psychogenicscc Mexican XBOX 360? Europeans make great cars? These statements couldn't be anymore more opposite. First of all, XBOX 360's are MADE IN CHINA. Guess what else is made in China... PS2's, PS3's, PSP's and 9/10 other "Japanese" electronic devices. The only difference is the place they were designed. Onto European cars...I recently sold a Volkswagen Jetta that was the worst car I have ever owned. Literally, it was a piece of **** Where was it made? MEXICO. Designed in Germany. The point is, this is a global economy we live in now, and although 360's are not MADE in America, the company profiting from it's sales is mostly employed by American workers here in the USA. This is where MS differs from Sony. I don't really care where my products came from, but in this day and age, almost EVERYTHING is made in China or Taiwan, so saying you prefer Japanese products over american ones because of where they are made is a bit moot, when the 360 is made in the country as a PS2 or a Sony HDTV.

pheww
pheww

Do! Game, Do! Choice, Do! Live." wendys-Do what taste right

tanmang77
tanmang77

Toltoally DURNK!!! na its okay.... but we care about the usa over here. -Tanmang4

ChldsPlay
ChldsPlay

Would you people do some research?? Component is perfectly capable of doing 1080p.

Psychogenicscc
Psychogenicscc

@geeeeze Whats with the patriotnism? This Country was built on imigrants you jerk... Buy good american products from GOOD american companies.... MS is NOT a good american company,just ask people why they hate MS soo much.BTW Do you enjoy your Mexican Xbox 360?Not Built in the US sounds very American huh. I'll stick to japanese products for Electronics and Cars,Europeans make great cars too.Mustangs are my only American car option.I buy great products from Good companies.

FABurch
FABurch

Have fun finding space for your $177 beverage tray If it's optional it'll turn out like the phantom HDD for ps2

gun213
gun213

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

standcm12
standcm12

ummm....ok. that was boring. then again i only skimmed it. and those prices for games are rediculous O.O

cocojack
cocojack

wow I can't belive ppl are still doing that fanboy stuff I that is just pointless cause you can go ahead and say PS3 sucks but your gona go out and get yourself a copy cause like me you have been one of the biggest FF players and there is also these great titles like DMC or MGS don't deny there greatness you can also diss da 360 ppl but hey you probably got one or played one and had fun now we can't diss the wii nintendo's been here the longest and it's definately gona be fun from day 1 so everyone stop with this fanboy stuff and just let things be cause we love various games on each individual consoles so stop with this fanboy stuff plzzzzzzzzzzzzz oh but if there ever happend to be a time where all my favorite game franchises went 2 the 360 hey who could complain (^_^)

xbox_gamer1
xbox_gamer1

I love my Xbox 360,GO MICROSOFT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cocojack
cocojack

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

cocojack
cocojack

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]