TOKYO--Just hours before the official starting bell of the 2007 Tokyo Game Show, Konami has gathered international press in an intimate conference room at the Konami Digital Entertainment headquarters in Akasaka for its preshow media briefing.
The company has already revealed what is likely to be its most important showpiece at TGS--the playable debut of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots--as well as the requisite updates on other Metal Gear titles, and the Winning Eleven soccer franchise. It will also be touting several "fitness-focused" products based on yoga, Pilates, and other forms of exercise.
Despite the announcement of products to be discussed, the press assembled at Konami's event seems eager to see what else Konami may have in store. Seating is quickly filling up in the conference room, and the presentation should begin in moments.
[11:06 PDT] The conference is beginning with president Fumiaki Tanaka taking the stage to offer opening comments on TGS and Konami's future direction.
[11:10] Tanaka moves straight into discussion of the company's upcoming lineup, which will become stronger now that the next-generation systems have all launched.
[11:11] He mentions the Wii first as a platform that will bring out Konami's competitive edge, but says the company will leverage the strengths of all the available platforms.
[11:11] "It is the era of networking," so Konami must focus on communication as one of three primary development tenets.
[11:12] The second is health; players should stay healthy and in shape.
[11:12] Third is language, with game players literally spanning the globe. Konami will strengthen its localization efforts in multiple territories going forward.
[11:16] Tanaka bids the audience adieu, and welcomes executive producer Katsunori Okita to present two games. The first is a new DS-based adventure game called Time Hollow: In Search of the Taken Past (a working title and probably rough translation). He says the game will allow players to dabble in the possibilities of changing history.
[11:17] You'll play a boy who obtains a pen that is able to modify aspects of the past. The rub is that someone has already changed history and affected your character's loved ones, so you'll have to further modify past events to help these other characters.
[11:19] Okita stresses the importance of story in adventure games, and writer Takehito Hata will be contributing the story for the game. Now, a trailer.
[11:20] An anime-style hand-animated trailer shows the use of the time pen, which will let you select and apparently modify parts of the environment. Conversations will be presented with up-close anime-style character portraits.
[11:22] Animated examples of what the gameplay may be like include a burning building around which a circle is drawn with the time pen, after which the building reverts back to its original, undamaged state. The game will be playable at TGS, so we'll bring you more concrete details from the show.
[11:25] Next up is Silent Hill Zero, otherwise known in North America as Silent Hill: Origins. We've played this one a number of times before, and in fact it's due out in a couple of months. We watch a new trailer depicting the macabre survival horror gameplay and unsettling monster design of the series.
[11:27] Okita mentions the ongoing development of Silent Hill V, which was announced (barely) at E3 in July. The game is due out in 2008. No more details on this one--sorry, folks. Konami is planning to get the Silent Hill property out there in other forms of media in the future as well.
[11:28] And now for something completely different... We've got some "beauty navigation" software. The words Dream Skincare are on the screen. Where are we again?
[11:30] Video of a couple of Japanese ladies practicing various exercises and talking about them, and--okay, so there's a DS game or three related to this. Give us a minute here.
[11:31] Scratch that, they're not offering many more details on the games. There are three main concepts in this product line, though: entertainment, exercise, and self-management.
[11:33] Sounds similar to what Nintendo's going for with Wii Fit, in that you're meant to have fun moving around while tracking your fitness progress over time.
[11:34] "To become healthy and beautiful while having fun" is the gist of it. Is this kind of thing going to catch on? We're certainly seeing a lot of it all of a sudden.
[11:37] Another trailer. More people having fun exercising. Witness what Nintendo's success hath wrought.
[11:38] Okita says to expect a stage demo detailing all this madness at TGS. Next up is Kazuya Takahashi, executive producer of online content production, here to talk about "online and mobile" stuff.
[11:41] Mobile phones are everywhere, he says (duh). Konami wants to use this ubiquitous content delivery method to roll out "super-rich" content and to leverage content rollouts on multiple platforms.
[11:42] Takahashi talks about the rapid evolution of cellular gaming in Japan over the last six years, with game sizes and complexity increasing year by year. And then, hey, it's Metal Gear Solid Mobile! Konami would like to deploy it worldwide.
[11:43] Next is one of Konami's flagship mobile products, Winning Eleven Mobile 2, which will add a moving-camera perspective.
[11:45] Many people are using their phones horizontally, which allows for a widescreen baseball game shown onscreen. Next, Silent Hill: The Escape, exclusive to phones. The game will be able to determine which way you're physically walking, and this will factor into the gameplay. You can bet there's no phone in the US capable of running this game right now.
[11:46] Everyone's favorite anime dating simulation, Tokimeki Memorial 2, is the largest cell phone game available so far.
[11:47] There sure are a lot of cell phone games out in Japan.
[11:47] Quiz Magic Academy Mobile 2 is--you guessed it!--a quiz game for your phone. It's got a fantasy theme and anime-style artwork.
[11:49] Say what you want about phone games, but there's no denying they're big business. There are some big sales figures rolling across the screen.
[11:53] Now moving on to executive producer Shinji Enomoto, who will talk about Winning Eleven.
[11:54] Business and financials talk on the series. Short version: Winning Eleven sells a lot of copies.
[11:56] Now moving on to Winning Eleven 2008, which has a pretty snazzy logo (as he says). Now a trailer.
[11:58] Much in-game footage shown of international stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and others. Enomoto talks about some new features illustrated in screenshots, such as players being able to pull on other players' uniforms, and being able to increase the number of players blocking a free kick.
[12:00] Camera support--all the rage in sports games--is in here now. Looks like you can generate characters with the camera. The game is out in most territories late this year, then early 2008 in North America.
[12:00] Now on to the Wii version of Winning Eleven.
[12:02] Okay, not much said about the Wii version. Should be out next year. Moving on...
[12:05] Now it's Kazuhiko Uehara, executive producer from Pawapuro Production ("PPP"). Baseball!
[12:07] First up is Jikkyou Powerful Major League 2, with its silly, bobble-headed, no-mouth characters. It's hitting the PlayStation 2 in Japan in early October.
[12:09] The series will make its debut in the US as MLB Power Pros, on both the Wii and PS2. It looks from the box art shown onscreen that 2K Sports will be involved in the publishing on this one.
[12:13] Lastly, it's Pawapuro-Kun Pocket 10 for the DS, which will have Wi-Fi online competitive play.
[12:14] Next, Yoshihiko Ota, executive producer of Bemani Productions. You know, Beatmania. Rhythm games. Konami makes a lot of 'em! Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Freaks, Drum Mania, Pop'n Music, and Beatmania are all onscreen.
[12:16] Bemani products will be going worldwide soon, and online play will help new players get up to speed with the various franchises under that umbrella.
[12:18] Now it's on to DDR Hottest Party on the Wii. "Wii love dance," yes "wii" do.
[12:18] The game will have you dancing using your whole body, since you'll have to use the remote and Nunchuk to register arm movements along with your foot-pad input.
[12:19] The game will support up to four players at one time--on one console, presumably. The multiplayer will feature a cooperative mode.
[12:24] Trailer rolls on Hottest Party. Graphics are on par with the Wii. We get some video demoing the use of the controllers for arm movements--looks rudimentary so far, with some young children and their parents shown demonstrating the motions.
[12:25] Game is out in late October in Japan.
[12:27] Ah, the big moment--Hideo Kojima comes out to present Metal Gear Solid 4. First, a new trailer. No English interpretation provided on this one. Bear with us, folks.
[12:28] First we see a character who's probably Naomi Hunter, talking frantically about the Foxdie virus into the camera, as if someone is approaching.
[12:34] Okay, we haven't seen that much concentrated craziness since MGS4 was unveiled. Give us a moment to digest. Konami has promised you'll be seeing a nice clean version of this trailer online once TGS starts.
[12:39] Sorry folks, connection issues. Ah, the excitement of live blogging. Let us look at this MGS: Portable Ops Plus trailer and then backtrack.
[12:42] Plus will feature new mechanics and new gameplay. The trailer finishes off with what appears to be a playable version of the old Solid Snake from MGS4. Game is out in Japanese stores tomorrow. Looks like an expansion pack on top of the original Portable Ops.
[12:44] Prior to that, we saw a new trailer for Metal Gear Online on the PlayStation 3. We'll be getting six-versus-six hands-on with the game at TGS tomorrow, so stay tuned for a report on that. The trailer showed typical Metal Gear combat in a number of environments, and it looks like you'll be able to use the little Metal Gear Mark II robot from MGS4 in combat in MGO as well. Lastly, we saw a character launched into the air from a sort of catapult, almost Halo-3-man-cannon-style. However, it's unclear whether this is part of the gameplay.
[12:45] Now we see the MGS2 digital comic for the PSP, based on the game of the same name. It's similar to the first MGS PSP comic, except this one has full voiceover. Now moving on to Metal Gear Solid Mobile.
[12:45] The game is in full 3D, though with a fairly low frame rate. Naturally, it seems to be based on the first MGS, though the mullet quotient seems to have been enhanced considerably.
[12:48] Yeah, so how about that MGS4 trailer? It was totally nuts. TOTALLY.
[12:49] Okay, we've got a script for that trailer right here in front of us. In English. Joy!
[12:50] In that first scene with Dr. Hunter, she talks about how Liquid Snake is holding her prisoner and forcing her to hijack the "system" because she knows how Foxdie works. She begs Snake to rescue her.
[12:53] The next scene showed Meryl, the bald African-American character from previous trailers named Ed, and a few other armed soldiers moving cautiously through an enclosed car park. Meryl says "These guys are Liquid's private army. Shoot first, think later." They soon engage in a firefight with a number of soldiers in metallic, futuristic armored suits, before Solid Snake emerges from the shadows and saves the team.
[12:54] Meryl talks about the network of nanomachines in each of her soldiers' bodies, which allows her and her team to literally share each other's senses and "operate as one."
[12:56] All throughout these sequences, titles popped onscreen: "Final Chapter of the Metal Gear Saga."
[12:56] "Final Mission of Snake."
[12:56] "Finally, Everything Will Be Revealed!"
[12:58] Next up, we see Snake talking to a slightly shady new character who calls himself Drebin. The guy's a "gun launderer" who takes the genetically-encoded weapons of MGS4's future private military companies and unlocks them for use by anyone. The guy describes himself as "neither enemy, nor friend," but it sounds like his services will come in pretty handy. The guy apparently likes to keep a small primate around with him. Comic relief, anyone?
[1:00] Snake questions Drebin on the identity of the Patriots, asking if they're even human. "Not anymore, they ain't." Then we get shots of a strange little girl named Sunny, who Otacon says was taken by the Patriots at birth.
[1:03] Snake encounters an older, wrinkled blonde woman who compliments his close-quarters combat technique. She says "Call me Mama. Big Mama." But this script we've got reveals her name as Eva! Seems like everyone in any Metal Gear, ever, is showing up in this purported last installment.
[1:06] Excitement in the trailer reaches fever pitch by this time. Finally we see Snake taking a stand against Revolver Ocelot/Liquid Snake, who appears to be piloting the same Metal Gear RAY unit he was last seen escaping in at the end of MGS2.
[1:06] Lastly, dialogue between Naomi and Sunny, during which Sunny says "Her name was Olga... my mother." See? Every character ever.
[1:15] That's all the major plot points we managed to catch while also fumbling with a three-page script and trying to fix a dead Wi-Fi connection. Excuses, excuses. We surely missed a lot of cool details and action in this trailer, but like we said, the video will be available--in English--when TGS starts tomorrow.
[1:16] The most striking thing about the trailer is that none of it took place in that same Middle Eastern village environment we've seen ad nauseam for the last two years. Looks like the story of MGS4 will span a multitude of locations. Again, keep your eyes peeled on GameSpot for that trailer tomorrow, as well as hands-on info from all this Metal Gear madness.
[1:19] The briefing is long over by now, and Konami personnel have politely escorted us out of the venue. Sorry about that interruption in service. Look for a whole lot more reporting on Konami's lineup and everything else at the Tokyo Game Show in the coming days.