Monday, September 29, 2003 @ 13:48 (Japan Standard Time)

A hobbyist video gamer in the middle of Japan's gaming zone. Comments on console, PC, handheld and arcade games.
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2003-09-29 Mon

After the Tokyo Game Show 2003

2003-09-28 Sun

Tokyo Game Show 2003: Where are the shmups?

2003-09-14 Sun

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After the Tokyo Game Show 2003

Now stacking:
  • Ikaruga (Sega Naomi)
  • Treamcast (DC-jp joystick with auto-fire)
  • Crank-winding charger for GBA SP.
I sent a small review of the Tokyo Game Show 2003 to Insert Credit but have not gotten a response back. Perhaps my shmup point of view was too biased and too negative. Oh well, if they give me the silent treatment I'm just going to post it on my weblog as a brain dump and forget about the disappointing experience.

Tokyo's Akihabara is my playground. Funny how I got off the bus in Tokyo at Tokyo Disneyland and proceeded to hot-step it to TGS. Neither was exciting to me, so I spent more than a day enjoying the electronics and the shmup skills on display at Hirose Entertainment Yard. Mass quantities of yen were consumed: I got Ikaruga for the Sega Naomi arcade machine. 13000 yen it set me back. G-Front provided the used game service. Amazing how the contents of the little plastic bag smell like cigarette smoke. Well I have no way of playing it right now so I can't even check if it works or not.

I swear bringing a ton of GBA games was not a good idea. I spent only 45 minutes playing the GBA and then it was only the Virtual Tennis leveling up experience. Gaming on the go, it's getting more useless to me. There was one part of the TGS 2003 that impressed me, the data swapping party for Square-Enix's Shinyaku Seiden Densetsu. What kind of data were they swapping?

Ack no more gaming. I need to get rid of games I never play. Gran Turismo for one.

Tokyo Game Show 2003: Where are the shmups?

Now playing:
  • Virtua Tennis (GBA-jp)
Now stacking:
  • Border Down (DC-jp, Side Shooting plus lock on lasers!)
I took a trip to Tokyo to see the Tokyo Game Show 2003 as a normal general admission visitor. Okay maybe not normal. I was intent on seeing shmups (shoot 'em ups) first and maybe other console games second. Boy was I in for a shock. Here is just a chronological account of my day. If you're looking for real reporting, look at Insert Credit's impression.

TGS2003 Entrance Sign 1
@ 0726

I got to the line early but not early enough. Signs of TGS sponsored by ATI were here and there.

TGS2003 Entrance Sign Shadow Hearts II
@ 0729

Fabric posters of Aruze's Shadow Hearts II was just another sign telling me I was leaving the normal world behind. Just like other normal visitors I had to walk around the length of the building in a big line, perhaps a kilometer or two. I took a shot of the empty hallway between halls. Little did I know it would be more crowded than the game floor when the cosplayers got to it.

TGS2003 Empty Cosplay Walkway area
@ 0736

TGS2003 The Wait
@ 0743

So when I finally got in at 9:45 I forgot I had a camera and just walked around. The first stop was the goods because I wasn't expecting shops and it was closest to the entrance. Capcom, Konami, and other companies had big booths seperate from the demo booths highlighting trinkets and goodies from their games. Capcom was offering oddly realistic toy guns. Konami divided their space into four, for Pop and Go, Tokimeki Memorial for girls, Tokimeki Memorial for guys, and "other". I got luckily got Vic Viper and Twin Bee phone screen wipe/trinket at the "other" part. Other shops included a Tecmo Dead or Alive goods, normal character goods shops like Cosplay, Gamers, Dengeki-ya, publishers like Softbank, with long lines for all the love-sim console games, like Sister Princess. And all of the collectibles and what not were being gobbled up by them not-kids, not-adults aged boys. I had enough of just looking at guys in line so I headed out to the game floor.

TGS2003 Shmup goodies come to only this

The general atmosphere of the game floor was not much more improved from the goods area. Occasionally you'd see a family unit meadering through, or a bunch of normally dressed but geeky girls, but the balance tipped to the skinny 15-25 age boys. There were older guys of all flavors with sophisticated camera equipment taking pictures of booth babes. (I learned that they are derisively called camera-kozou.) There were also cosplayers jumping from hallway to hallway (TGS halls were divided into 3 buildings, with 2 open air hallways connecting them). Occasionally you'd see the foreigner troupe with their fancy video cameras, reporting "on the spot" as it were. But you could not avoid the booth babes, they were everywhere.

TGS2003 Booth Babes and the Camera-Kozou

You could get goodies for trying out games. There were many paper and cloth bags emblazoned with company logos (such as Sony and its Eye Toy) that could be had. I for one played Gran Turismo 4 for a spell (or is it spill?)・and got a pencil card with the logo. It was about the only non-shmup game I could get excited about. Other places such as Tecmo's Fatal Frame 2 demo gave you a calendar of the CG rendered cute heroines, if you waited 70 minutes. You got posters for just listening to company demos and events. Watch out for companies insisting on questionnaires though, you submit personal information for a trinket. You'll get your "payoff" in the mail later. I got hit in the chest by rubber ball goodie from an on-stage over-enthusiatic game company speaker. I think it would be very hard to go home empty-handed even if you wanted to.

TGS2003 Board Games

What else was there besides video games? There was the games for kids section, but really it's just a smaller section with most of the same games but without booth babes. It had a totally different atmosphere though, lighted and intent on just the games. You could go to the "Table Game Stadium". It was refreshing to see a game that didn't require batteries or a power source. I encountered dozens of tables, some with the favorite Monopoly board game, others with funky new ones. Right next to it was the cosplay changing area. When did cosplay become an integral part of game shows?・When did booth babes become an integral part of game shows? Hey I'm a normal guy but these flashes of flesh had nothing to do with the games behind them. I can understand cosplayers, because they are video game consumers that want to more fully enjoy the game experience. There was the game school section which was understandably less crowded. I found it interesting to see middleware companies like Metrowerks showing off their CodeWarrior compiler suites with a sample of games their product help to fruitation. The next picture is a from the Weekly Famitsu Magazine booth, with their famous manga artist Takayuki Mizushina from the "iidenshi" fame giving out stuff. I think he was a little overwhelmed from the hundreds of onlookers.

TGS2003 ii denshi manga artist Takayuki Mizushina

So I am going to get to the games right? Frankly I was turned off by the sheer amount of RPGs and 3d adventure games. Shadow Hearts II, RPGS from South Korea, that Fatal Frame game, Square Enix booth with the cute blue slimes, etc. Actually there was an area for Shinyaku Seiken Densetsu GBA players to swap data. I don't know exactly what kind of data they were swapping. That was pretty cool, I got to see real players with their "rare" GBA SP. My "rare" Achimo Orange GBA-SP was a dime a dozen in that area. The truely hardcore flaunted their Final Fantasy Pure White GBA-SPs. I stood in front of the Konami booth for about 20 minutes just watching the Metal Gear Solid 3 cinematic demos. "How do you like your snake" indeed. I totally ignored the cell phone/game area. You can't expect me to play a shmup on a phone and enjoy it can you? I forgot about SNK Playmore booth and Capcom's Hyper Street Fighter II Anniversary edition. 2d fighters had no presence.・Well I could have gotten into the driving games, such as Project Gotham Racing, GT4, Namco's racer or the Kaido Battle game, but I wasn't looking for that either. I guess I was in the wrong frame of mind. Ha ha.

Where are the shmups? I got frustrated so I went the game college recruiting area. They had game demos from past students and I saw my first shmup: Light-Z'. A buzz shmup which had bullet firing patterns like Warning Forever. Imagine enemy baddies firing targeted bullets at you and you buzz the bullets to retaliate with homing fire. Too bad they didn't give out demos.

TGS2003 First shmup encountered LightZ

Then I happened to walk through the non-hyped demo area for Taito/D3 publishing and encountered Shienryuu for the PS2. This game will be released as a budget title next month and includes a new "Explosion" mode. Its an entirely new game that doesn't play like the original. The other mode was a normal Shienryuu that had framed graphics but looked exactly the same as the PS1 version. I spent an hour here thinking the TGS was worth it.

TGS2003 Shienryuu Explosion

TGS2003 Macross

I admit I am a Macross fan and when Bandai announced a PS2 version of their mecha/flight-sim 3d shooter at 100% "ROM" complete I had to step over the Gundam freaks to stand in the demo line to play. I've played the two previous PS1 games that let one control the battleroid/guardian/jet fighter, and this PS2 one is just a step above it in fancy graphics. Ooh fancy graphics. There's a dramatic view when you lock all your missles onto an enemy. As far as the game is concerned, well it didn't feel like anything new. Competent yes but not exhilrating.

TGS2003 Psyvariar Revision

I did walk through the Konami area, but I didn't encounter the Gradius V that would have made my trip worthwhile. Where were they hiding it? Perhaps behind Bujingai (that Gackt/Maaya Sakamoto game) demo line? Argh I missed out! I did find Psyvariar Revision budget title which will be released next month and enjoyed a little buzz session. There was nothing new in it as far as I could see but some how I felt at home playing it. Near it was the Choaniki shooting game for the PS2. I didn't wait to play the game, it didn't look very interesting to me. I mean, you got these two body builders who absorb incoming fire, and have a special power where they shoot like... gunky falling toothpaste?! Bullet patterns were't very interesting at all. I guess I miss the point. What is the appeal of that game?

TGS2003 Chouaniki

It was at this point that my eyes were tired, my feet were aching and ears were ringing. I bailed out of this TGS at around 15:00, 2 hours before closing, vowing never to come back not even for the third day. There was just not enough interesting things to look at. All in all it was a disappointing experience for this shmup player.

So off I went to the Hirose Entertainment Yard in Akihabara to rest my feet and watch shmup gods play. But that story is for another time.

Hirose Entertainment Yard (Shmup arcade on 2th Floor)

Back to shmupping and webloggin'

Now playing:
  • noiz2sa (winPC-jp, abstract vert shmup)
  • Touhou Koumarou - Embodiment of Scarlet Devil (東方紅魔郷, winPC-jp, vert shooting)
  • GA Soldier A (winPC-jp, vert shmup like Star Soldier)
  • Warning Forever 0.98 (winPC-jp, vert shmup)
Now stacking:
  • about 20-30 GBA games
  • about 10 winPC-jp shooting games
  • other Jp console games
  • Ikaruga (GC-us, "our frothing desire for this game increases")
  • Knight Rider (winPC-us, retro TV program turned 3d game)
  • etc.
Too much happened in one month and half... How to explain it all...

Well I finally got broadband back in July, and discovered the joys of WinMX, and the equivalent of zero-day fan-sub anime, "powered by BitTorrent". Uhhuh. I swear my "pre-sampling" is enabling me to purchase anime DVDs with greater confidence.

However I lost the ability to host anything from my IP. I am still trying to figure out why my modem's port mapping is not working. This royally sucks. ^_^

Then I went to Tokyo for the Comic Market 64. Lucky for me I didn't get sick from all the rain. I did write something up on it in digital form, as another shmupsforum post: Shmups at Comic Market 64. At this point though I haven't finished commenting on it. How lazy of me.

My spare computer's hard drive full of my mp3s died hard. Luckily the drive only held backed-up copies of mp3s. I think. Well it's long gone now. Summers in Japan can be so brutal.

Then I was able to go back to the U.S. on a business trip. I spent much free time trying to find shumps, anime, and games in that order. I luckily found Ikaruga for the U.S. Gamecube. I am trying to make a collection. One thing I didn't count on is my craving to play shmups and my vain efforts to find something more modern than Galaga to fulfill it.

Touching the computer again... I posted more stuff about GA Soldier A -- thoughts. And I downloaded the latest version of Warning Forever, now up to version 0.98. Oh yeah.

Shmups, I love it!
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