TGS 06: The masses descend

Japan's largest game-themed event opens to the public with record number of displays, but is it the calm before the storm, or has the storm already passed?

TOKYO--Although game-industry and press personnel got a sneak peek the day before, the morning of September 23 marked the first day the 2006 Tokyo Game Show was open to the general public. To get a feel for how the average Japanese gamer might get to the venue, we took the bus from our hotel near Makuhari Hongyo Station to Makuhari Kaihim Station--about a 15-minute ride. The bus was packed, but it is hard to tell if this was due to the show or was simply business as usual on that particular line.

Hope these guys are wearing deodorant.

When we got off the bus at Makuhari Kaihim, the station nearest the Makuhari Messe convention center, the place was swarming with attendees. They were easy to spot as they were all moving in a concentrated mass toward the Messe. Attendants with megaphones shouted directions to the convention center and warned that there would be at least a 30-minute wait to get in. Although blessed with press passes, we took a look at the general entrance to the venue. The queue looked more like a 45-minute to a one-hour wait.

And you thought the DMV was bad...

At this point, our camaraderie with the commoners failed us, and we made a beeline for the press entrance, which was nearly deserted. The entrance is also available to families with small children, and there were many there, kids in tow, taking advantage of the privilege to beat a hasty path to the show floor. It would be interesting to see how many of said kids had dragged their parents along--and how many had been dragged there by their parents.

Japan's Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association (CESA) has been billing the TGS 2006 as the biggest ever, with 148 companies displaying more than 650 games--the most ever for this show in its 10-year history. According to CESA's TGS Web site, this is also the most international TGS ever, with 58 exhibitors from countries other than Japan, including the US, Israel, Australia, Canada, Korea, Taiwan, and France. In a city as international as Tokyo, it's rather hard to tell who's foreign and who isn't, but going by the languages we could identify on the floor--Japanese, Chinese, Korean, French, German, and various flavors of English among them--it indeed felt like a cross-cultural event.

Move along! Nothing to see here.

Moving to the show floor from the airy second-story lobby entailed descending into a sea of warm bodies. It was just inevitable that one stepped on toes, or had one's toes stepped on in the crush of people below, which was a frotteurist's dream. However, as the day went on, the crowd just became another occupational hazard.

I didn't know video games were a full-contact sport!

It was an especially good day to observe the photographers of what the Japanese call "booth companions," the vast majority of which are what Americans call "booth babes." Out in force, the photogs could often be seen toting huge, high-end cameras, roaming the floor, and photographing each and every "companion" from multiple angles. Some even carried pens and paper around and conducted brief interviews with the more intriguing companions. Surveying the shutterbugs, it was impossible to discern who was a legitimate photojournalist, a mere hobbyist, or a straight-up stalker.

Send in the cosplayers!

Another time-honored TGS tradition is the cosplay crowd. These young men and women can be seen in elaborate, usually handmade costumes that faithfully reproduce the outfits of their favorite anime or game character. There are gaps between the main halls that form long, narrow courtyards. This is where many of the cosplayers, when not roaming the floor, gather to show off their lovingly crafted costumes and be photographed. The cosplayers have become such darlings of the show--overseas journalists seem to love shooting and interviewing them--that CESA is rather protective of them. They actually issue written warnings to attendees asking them to protect the cosplayers' privacy and not shoot or publish photos of them without their consent.

"Uh, this is a game convention, not a hair salon."

Although most of the booths seemed to be doing fairly brisk business the first day, there were a few that really stood out.

Sony
Riding a wave of warm feelings created by the announcement of a Japanese PlayStation 3 price drop, Sony's booth was all but inaccessible due to the enormous mob in front of it. But even without yesterday's bombshell, the booth probably would have been packed, due to the high number of playable next-gen games on display. There were 10 playable PS3 games, including such headliners as Hot Shots! Golf 5 and Gran Turismo HD.

Staff at the Konami booth present...

Square Enix
A huge screen at the booth's corner reeled off a Final Fantasy XIII trailer, but inside the booth it was all about mobile content. The fans were lined up to sample a half dozen or so mobile-phone games as well as the publisher's numerous Nintendo DS offerings. One of the most popular was Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker, which had over a 30-minute wait to play.

Konami
The Elebits and Metal Gear Solid 4 trailers were, of course, very popular here. In addition, there was a wonderfully bizarre Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops competition. The players wore helmets with back-pointing cameras that filmed their faces as they played. The feed from these cameras was projected onto a big screen so that onlookers could see every grimace, triumphant smile, or expression of slack-jawed surprise. Meanwhile, Konami staff commented on how they were doing.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, obviously. Microsoft, Sega, and Namco Bandai also put on spectacular shows. Koei offered some juicy Fatal Inertia footage, and Capcom drew enormous crowds with its Devil May Cry 4 footage.

By 3:30 or so, people started filing out of the Makuhari Messe. The exodus continued for a couple of hours, as fans loaded down with booth flyers and logo-covered bags, parents and children, and even some senior citizens headed for the station or nearest bus stop. Despite the exhausting ordeal, many would be back the next day for more.

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Discussion

90 comments
LsTr_Of_SmG
LsTr_Of_SmG

MGS 4 will beat Halo 3? WTF are you on about? They're totally different games and they're both not out yet, for all we know they could both be utter sh*te.

Esteban011487
Esteban011487

MGS 4 will beat Halo 3, I'm sure of it, Halo please find you another planet!!.

_Sam_
_Sam_

I didn't realize that it was later open to the public

Dinghy_Dog
Dinghy_Dog

Someone should eBay that dragon so i can buy it. Steal if first, of course.

cmontyx49
cmontyx49

geeeeze, that makes no sense. Why would a FPS copy a completely different game? Statements like that make me wonder why I even like Halo. Definately not because of the community.

Chain_Strike
Chain_Strike

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geeeeze
geeeeze

who is the man with the plan, that's master chief. Wait till mgs4 comes out bungie will copy from it , and it will add to the extra content in halo 3. Halo fans b happy we bungie can learn a thing or two about how to add more into halo 3's gameplay.

geeeeze
geeeeze

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

foxhunter10
foxhunter10

Wo! Esperando por el metal gear 4...!!! Expo tras Expo viene llegando!!!

rohver
rohver

what a crowd lol

Superstan
Superstan

I think this was a good TGS, much better than last years E3, which i was very dissapointed with.

vercetti_dude2
vercetti_dude2

Do we really need to get into another Xbox 360 vs. PS3 here? If you like Halo 3, good for you, I don't care :) If you like MGS 4, I like you :) Either way, I don't see a point in trying to deface MGS 4 using Gears of War and Halo 3. Also, I believe it has been promised that the trailers in MGS 4 are indeed showing real-time gameplay. I think the latest trailer proves that, with Snake sneaking along and shooting in first-person.

demollyon
demollyon

lol! I love Halo AND MGS4, but i have to say, i am disappointed by Konami... I saw MGS 4 real-time and I have to say guys... It's NOTHING like the E3 trailers... It looks a bit better than Snake Eater and Snake's moves are a bit....awkward.... I hope they will fix it...

24dude13
24dude13

I am very impressed with metal gear solid its like the best game coming out.

BradPoynor
BradPoynor

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decebal
decebal

TinyTitan1, go play your little somethign called Halo 3. This is a real men's game.

DaMiGi22863
DaMiGi22863

H.A.L.O..?, whats that..??, Ohh yea it's a game that I'm not the least bit interested in, I'll take MGS over H.A.L.O. any day

TinyTitan1
TinyTitan1

Hey Kane04 you must a little simple or something because I think you forgot a little something called Halo 3. The sequel to possibly the biggest games to ever hit any console at all. Metal Gear what.....

Kane04
Kane04

with exclusive Metal Gear Solid 4 on PS3, and with no chance on going to 360, you can kiss MS little console good bye, just like that time, remember Dreamcast vs PlayStaion 2?? deja-vu..

Gamepro2421
Gamepro2421

thanks for the coverage gamespot! i'm already looking foward to X06...but try and catch some sleep will ya!?!

rikardo10
rikardo10

yea you r right boolzero, the wii had no space there, and there was no way it could compete wit the play station3 booth, its was enormous. o and i tried ps3 and....... there are no words to explain such a good konsole. i mean 360 sucked as hell kompared to ps3, mam im telling you it was really big.

boolzero
boolzero

There is no Wii news because Nintendo was pretty much absent from the show this year. Aside from some stuff I saw at the Tecmo booth (the golf game looks awesome and fun in play) Nintendo was basically a no show. Must rest now, I just got back home from the show today, and my feet are killing me, hehe!

mithund
mithund

"how come there's barely any wii news at the show? what happened?" grrrrhhh, how many more of you are there ?! Nintendo does not take part in TGS & they JUST had a major press event where in a lot of 3rd party games were showcased. There were very few Wii games on display & even the ones on display have been showcased before.

papajones
papajones

i'm still hoping to have seaman on the Wii.

Supreme_Fantasy
Supreme_Fantasy

Man.....I love the mgs4 game:D:D Wanting to play it....

i_love_my_ds
i_love_my_ds

how come there's barely any wii news at the show? what happened?

24dude13
24dude13

I was laughing at the one that say I hope the guys are wearing deodorant

Dark_Link657
Dark_Link657

"IGN.com is waaaaaaay less biased than GS. Gamespot has reached an all-time low. " Whoa, r u kidding me buddy? Why don't u look at the IGN editors reaction when they first demoed the PS3 UI. That is true bias.

Dark_Link657
Dark_Link657

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Alpha2
Alpha2

It's almost over and while it's no E3 it's pretty cool even if it did feel a little empty, I have no problem with GS's coverage aside from the fact that there just wasnt very much of it. maybe they just concentrated on the live webcasts too much but I was expecting a bit more information on the cooler games, yet I kept seeing stories that refered to obvious things and several instances of reporting on games that really didn't require coverage. Like they were giving us flller when they didn't need to. If there's one thing I've learned from watching the information come up sofar it's this: The only exclusives you should count on are the ones by their respective companies inhouse studios because those are the only ones that CAN stay exclusive. MS is generally ignored in Japan. If there were huge lines it was for the games and not the system. Which means those games could easily end up on the Wii or the PS3 should they sell horribly, just look at how quickly Capcom flipped when they were looking at a bad year. With production costs rising you can bet they'll all be super critical about their sales.

WolfSkill5544
WolfSkill5544

Japanese gamers are sure lucky to get into the show. Even if they don't try the games, but at least to look the trailers, and the being in there is so much worst it. Too bad that E3 got sized down, and they don't allow the public to go in.

AncientDozer
AncientDozer

I'm glad to see that you're more biased than they are, Enigma. The only one being ignorant is you. The editors here are trying their hardest to be the LEAST Biased (because no one can be a 100% unbiased), but they do have a right to their preferences just as you do. They have a right to disagree, too, just as you do. . . but what you don't have a right to do is be an a-hole about it. But you aside, they've been doing a fairly good job of being the least possible biased. Much better than any fanboy for any group on this site. That's what I hate. Backseat drivers and easy chair coaches (or whatever the term is). No, you aren't a professional and your words have little or no influence. Stop lambasting the the GS crew because if you think you can do a better job, apply for a position.

Hayabusa_san
Hayabusa_san

Hmm...well, in this particular case, GS has given me exactly what information I had desired, so I'm more or less satisfied, for the time being...

VegetaMaelstrom
VegetaMaelstrom

Personally I think Sony has largely been the one to make itself look bad recently. I think sites like Gamespot are just reporting Sony's missteps, not embellishing or exagerating anything. Don't shoot the messenger.

enigma_nemesis2
enigma_nemesis2

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comthitnuong
comthitnuong

i saw the trailer for mgs4...it was pretty awsome

manapsal
manapsal

this is why i need to learn japanese

richmini9_basic
richmini9_basic

"ziutek2 2hours for LO 2hours 40 minutes for Blue Dragon Info from Gamespot about MS booth - none." no kidding. The fact that MS is generating those sort of lines should be big news.

ziutek2
ziutek2

2hours for LO 2hours 40 minutes for Blue Dragon Info from Gamespot about MS booth - none. Gota love press seling their souls for exclusive info/videos/etc. Sony fl***ers.....

Matrixfart2005
Matrixfart2005

Wow. TGS makes the old E3 look like a neighbourhood gettogether. It is crazy crowded.

GogetaX
GogetaX

Lol, MS was like Awww =[.

drewt003
drewt003

microsoft probably felt really lonely, with the crowded ps3 booth and the dry and barren 360 booth!

StarfoxmCloud
StarfoxmCloud

Some of these games are looking and sounding good like MGS4 and Portable ops [im getting a PSP in November] and the White Engine 4 FF XIII will change gaming, from what I have seen and heard it is CG rendered real time games... Don't know what Afrika is about apart from having some safari animals in it but it sure looks cool!! I want Rare to make another Perfect Dark game!