Tokyo Game Show Day 1 Wrap-Up

TOKYO – Impressions from the first day of the show. What was good? What sucked? See inside.


TOKYO – The first day of the Tokyo Game Show has come and gone – whew! While none of our crew feels that the show was nearly exciting enough, there were a few highlights.

Staff's thoughts:

Despite the recent release of the PlayStation2, Sega definitely owns this TGS. Phantasy Star Online, Grandia II, Jet Set Radio, and Samba De Amigo all looked fantastic, and offer more than just the same old games with better graphics, Phantasy Star Online especially. The demo knocked me on my ass with an awesome premise, killer graphics, and some really, really cool gameplay ideas. Far and away my pick for game of the show.

Meanwhile most other companies' booths were lackluster at best. Sure, TVDJ is a cute little title, but you know you're in trouble when a game so thin is the most exciting game at your booth. How ‘bout taking a few of those 10,000 Spyro 2 kiosks and putting some games people actually want to see on them, like Dark Cloud, Extermination, or Gran Turismo 2000?

Square just pissed me off. Final Fantasy IX comes out this July in Japan and the game gets a lame 15-second video clip, with none of it being actual gameplay footage. The Bouncer gets treatment identical to FFIX. Meanwhile, Driving Emotion Type S, which is already in stores in Japan, the company's horribly plain wrestling game, and the (admittedly nice-looking) baseball game hog the entire Square booth area and 95 percent of the company's video presentation.

As for Namco, I was hoping now that Ridge Racer V and Tekken Tag are out in stores that Namco would have some big new stuff in the works to show off, but no such luck. Tales of Eternia looks like a solid RPG, but nothing too exciting, ditto for the new Point Blank-flavored GunCon game Oh! Bakyuuun.

Konami and Capcom were small oases in the vast desert of rehashes and no-shows. Metal Gear for the GameBoy, Ring of Red, and video footage of Z.O.E. made our visit to Konami worthwhile. And Capcom had some cool video of Onimusha and Silpheed in addition to playable versions of Biohazard Zero and Power Stone 2. From Software had a decent showing as well. Nothing that blew my socks off, but the company did have playable demos of some upcoming PS2 games I was anxious to try, which is more than I can say for most of the other companies at the show. Armored Core 2 I can sum up in five words: Armored Core with better graphics. Not a bad thing really, but disappointing in a way. (And still, STILL no analog control!). Evergrace may still turn out well, and the PS2 does need a good action RPG, but it's already clear that Evergrace is no Zelda. And from the looks of it, that's what the game is trying desperately to be. The combat just doesn't have enough technique and the energy meter (which goes down quickly even when you run around, forcing you to walk every few steps) gets annoying fast. Still, the game has potential.

Overall, the first day of the show had its bright spots, but was disappointing overall, mostly because of a shortage of new PS2 games. The Dreamcast had a number of good titles regardless of Sony, but the fact that Sony and most of its third party developers didn't seem to be trying certainly helped Sega look even better.

Sam Kennedy's thoughts:

So, the Spring Tokyo Game Show 2000 isn't that exciting, but I honestly didn't expect too much from it in the first place. The Spring shows are always a bit tamer, and since Sony just had a big show of its own (the PlayStation Festival in February 2000), I figured a lot of the PS2 games on display at TGS would be the demos we already saw at the PS Fest. But actually, at this show, we didn't even get to see a lot of what had been shown to us at the PlayStation Festival (Sony only had three PS2 games at its booth). Heck, we didn't even get to see games that were shown at TGS last year, such as Den-sen.

Overall, Sega seems to be the big winner with games such as Phantasy Star Online, Jet Set Radio, and Samba De Amigo-all seeming to be very original.

Chris Johnston's thoughts:

This has got to be the strangest and dullest Tokyo Game Show I've been to in the past two years. You'd think that with the PS2 recently released here that Sony would have a bunch of new games to show. But no, no new PS2 games from Sony, and few new games from third parties that were playable or previously unknown. First of all, I can't believe that Sony has opted to not show any new PlayStation2 games. No GT2k, nothing. Just Fantavision, TVDJ and IQ Remix? Come on! Not even a new PS1 game from Sony—just Spyro 2's Japanese release.

So I'd have to say that Sega has one of the most impressive line-ups it's ever had. Jet Set Radio is excellent, as is Grandia II, Eternal Arcadia, Samba De Amigo, and Phantasy Star Online. Too many impressive games to mention in Sega's corner. No surprises anywhere, really. Seeing nothing new from Namco and Square was absolutely abysmal. Instead, Square focused mostly on its sports line-up. Sports games are fine, but Square was built on the foundation of the Final Fantasy games and other RPGs. These sports games are garnish around the edges, not the main course. It's also pretty apparent that the N64's support in Japan is drying up quickly. BioHazard Zero and Konami's Olympic games were the only two N64 titles I noticed all day.

Naming my favorite game of the show thus far is a toss-up between Samba De Amigo and Jet Set Radio for the Dreamcast. Sega's showing, overall, really was the best of the bunch. It's good to see Sega strong on one hand, but on the other hand it's also unbelievable that Sony would appear to just lie down and play dead so easily. Especially since Sony just released the PS2 in Japan. We all expected at least something new. Not even Densen, Dark Cloud, Popolocrois, or GT2k. Very, very disappointing. Not that Sega's position in Japan is all that favorable, but the company was definitely making an effort.

Oh, and it's a darn shame that none of the mini-stores set up at the show sell t-shirts bigger than size large... Some of us game fans are of the 'XL' type…cut us some slack.

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