TGS 06: Final fantasies in Tokyo

As the last day of the Tokyo Game Show winds down, GameSpot takes a whirlwind tour of the biggest booths on the show floor.

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TOKYO--The third and final day of the 2006 Tokyo Game Show was as crowded and dizzying as yesterday. Attendees crowded the halls, and "booth companions" (that is, booth babes) were as eager as ever to promote their respective games. Our grand tour of TGS begins at the main hall's entrance.

Koei
The first booth most Tokyo Game Show attendees laid eyes on was probably Koei's, which commanded a prime location directly in front of the general admissions entrance. Koei's booth featured two huge illuminated panels flanking either side of its main event stage. The game showcased at the moment of our visit was GI Jockey 4. There was also a large flat screen around the side of the booth where Fatal Inertia footage was being shown. Attendees could also ascend a flight of stairs to the top of the booth, where they could get a nice view of the floor.

Koei's booth was imposing.
Koei's booth was imposing.

Tecmo
Tecmo's booth was dominated by a large stage. While no events were going on when we stopped by, a loop of the Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 video played continuously on the huge screen set over the stage. The booth was airy and open, with a tropical resort theme inspired by DOAX. Large beach umbrellas were set up around it, and the male attendants all wore Hawaiian shirts. The female attendants wore wrap skirts and flowery hairpins, so there was plenty of distraction both onsreen and offscreen. As for playable content, there were a fair number of players trying out DOAX2. Tecmo's PC shooter WarRock was also getting some serious attention, with wait times for the game at 30 minutes.

Microsoft's booth had a sleek exterior...
Microsoft's booth had a sleek exterior...

Microsoft
During this year's Tokyo Game Show, Microsoft had a large well-lit Xbox 360 booth in the corner of the first showroom in the cavernous Makuhari Messe. On display were some of the new games and accessories that Microsoft hopes will propel the Xbox 360 into near even running with Nintendo and Sony in the Japanese market this holiday season. Rows of stations where players could try out the latest 360 games, from Idol Master to the oddly cute Viva Piñata--called "Atsumare Pinyata" in Japan--lined the walls. The booth also seemed to be in competition with Tecmo's for the award of highest booth companion density.

...and an attractive interior.
...and an attractive interior.

At Wednesday's Xbox 360 Media Briefing, Microsoft spelled out its strategy for the Japanese market, a large part of which involves creating a lineup of software that better caters to Japanese tastes. The Microsoft booth at the Tokyo Game Show reflected this, with its large number of game demos, which attracted long lines. Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey were both playable--if you wanted to wait an estimated 160 and 90 minutes, respectively. Dead Rising was also in demand, with players waiting 45 minutes for their turn at zombie killing. In a tip of the hat to CERO, Japan's version of a game-rating board, Microsoft had partitioned off mature games such as Dead Rising in a separate 18-and-older area.

Given the amount of traffic at its booth, Microsoft might be able to convert the buzz created by TGS and its upcoming value-priced Xbox 360 bundle to revitalize Japanese interest in the console. If its booth was anything to go on, the company is headed in the right direction.

Final Fantasy XI--Live!
Final Fantasy XI--Live!

Square Enix
Located next to the enormous black Sony Computer Entertainment booth, Square Enix's display was one of the most popular of the show. Traffic was off the scale, particularly for playable demos of two of the publisher's high-profile sequels. Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker both had wait times of 120 minutes to play.

At the heart of the booth was a circular hub where a large number of mobile phone games were on display. These seemed popular with grown-ups, while kids and adults alike were lined up to try out the DS offerings. The Seiken Densetsu 4 (Dawn of Mana) demo was also doing brisk business.

Around the back of the booth was an event stage, where a Final Fantasy XI tournament was taking place. Players were selected by a mass game of rock-paper-scissors, played with one of the moderators. The moderators kept track of the various players' progress, announcing plays blow-by-blow, like sports commentators. The large crowd gathered to watch the event shouted and cheered its appreciation when entertaining plays were made.

Heavenly Sword was a big draw at Sony's monolithic booth.
Heavenly Sword was a big draw at Sony's monolithic booth.

Sony Computer Entertainment
Sony Computer Entertainment's booth at the Tokyo Game Show can only be described as intimidating. It was a huge black slab, not entirely unlike a giant PlayStation 2, lurking in the back of the event hall. The main focus of the booth was pretty evenly divided between PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3 content. The Gran Turismo HD demos, which featured bucket seats and steering wheels enclosed in roll bars, were especially popular.

While the game demos were getting a lot of attention, it was the theater that really stole the show. Located on one side of the booth, roughly facing Square Enix's display, a circular screen played an endless stream of trailers and teasers for upcoming PlayStation 3 games. It was so packed that booth attendants kept urging the onlookers to move forward so that more people could squeeze in.

Konami
Konami's booth this year was divided into large compartments, each showcasing different games. The booth was especially crowded on the side that housed the Beatmania demo. Beatmania XI4 Gold had a 30-minute wait.

There was an entire area devoted to Kojima Studios, the development studio headed by Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima. The area had a row of PSPs set up for MGS: Portable Ops demos and a large screen that showed off the Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots trailer to awed onlookers.

An Elebits tribe member wearing traditional Muppet-pelt leggings.
An Elebits tribe member wearing traditional Muppet-pelt leggings.

The Kojima Studios area also had a center stage and a sound booth from which live broadcasts of Kojima Studios' Hidechan Radio podcast were taking place. Aside from introducing Kojima Studios projects, the panelists discussed music, entertainment, the weather, and whatever else was on their minds. Around the side, booth companions posed with Wii controllers and showed off Elebits footage.

Namco Bandai
The large rectangular Namco Bandai booth was a bright, cheery hub of activity. The booth was seeing a moderate to high level of traffic when we visited today. In particular, the Ridge Racer 7 and Gundam: Target in Sight demos were busy.

If Microsoft needs any more encouraging news, it should look no further than Namco Bandai's upcoming 360 game Idol Master. The game puts players in the role of a music producer trying to train a young singer and propel her to number-one status. An onstage event that featured several of the game's female voice actors had drawn a dense crowd around the booth.

Sega took a more pensive approach to TGS.
Sega took a more pensive approach to TGS.

Sega
Sega's booth was open and airy, allowing relatively easy movement. One of its most prominent features was a rotating pedestal in the booth's center, on which rested a sculpture much like Rodin's The Thinker. The area was a wireless hotspot, allowing anyone with a DS or PSP to log in and play demos on their own machines.

There were long lines for the upcoming DS game Sangokushi Taisen, which is an adaptation of a card-based arcade game. The Yakuza 2 demo also had a 45-minute line. Rounding things out were a bevy of companions giving live Wii demonstrations on low stages.

Capcom
Capcom had an elaborate and fun booth. It was basically divided into separate compartments for each of the games. Each section featured a theme, such as a sort of romantic Victorian-themed room with a huge framed Dante portrait and crystal chandeliers for the Devil May Cry 4 area. There was also a section modeled after a courtroom to showcase the latest Gyakuten Saiban game for the Nintendo DS.

The Devil May Cry 4 demo lured many into Capcom's booth.
The Devil May Cry 4 demo lured many into Capcom's booth.

While the Devil May Cry 4 area was perhaps the most crowded, the Monster Hunter Portable 2nd area was definitely a close second. Despite its lukewarm reception in the US, the original Monster Hunter Portable was fairly successful in Japan, particularly after its budget reissue. It was a 120-minute wait to try out the game, and many gamers whiled away the time by playing the first Monster Hunter on their PSPs. It was a 30-minute wait to try the Lost Planet multiplayer demo, which had players briefed by an actor in a military uniform before and after playing.

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