As usual, I ended up moving towards the nearest booth with the shiniest lights. This year, however, I chose well. The booth was Konami, who were advertising trailers for Dance Evolution, Catherine, Metal Gear Solid Rising, and Love Plus +. Of these, Catherine — from Studio 4C and the team who brought us Persona — looks the most interesting. It’s apparently an adult-themed mystery starring a guy who’s losing his grip on reality. Right now, when all the games are starting to look the same, this is a welcome change.
As it happens, I had arrived just in time to get a fairly good spot for the Kojima Productions Special Stage on Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. The official photographer was just in front of me and kept popping up like a meerkat every few seconds to take another picture. It got annoying, particularly when it became clear that all his photographs were the same except with different pictures on the screen behind the guests. Amongst the guests were Ohtsuka Akio, Sugita Tomokazu, Inoue Kikuko, and Kobayashi Yuu, who all provided voices for the game. Fujiwara Keiji provided a video message, dramatic cat style.
About halfway through, they told us not to take photographs. I think the reasoning was that they figured everyone knew not to take photos during a seiyuu event, so didn’t bother to make any announcements. Meanwhile, everyone noticed they made no announcement and went crazy with the cameras.
They showed a behind-the-scenes video of the voice actors recording their lines and I was struck by how different Sugita sounds. It seems as though he gets that deeper sound by tucking his chin in. Kobayashi Yuu seemed justifiably proud of her ability to voice both a heroine and an old woman.
The trailer itself is already online, but I was struck by how derivitive it seemed. There’s a bit of something from everywhere. If you showed someone a still of the character Necromancer and told them it was Mumm-Ra from the new “gritty reboot” of ThunderCats, they’d totally believe you.
Afterwards, they showed us a trailer for Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, which shares many of the same voice actors with Castlevania. We also got to hear some music clips of cover versions by MGS characters. “Snake” has recorded Showa Blues, while Sugita sings Minato no Youko Yokohama Yokosuka.
Ryuu ga Gotoku: Of The End is the fifth installment in the series known as “Yakuza” in the US. As its name suggests, the game was set in a fictional version of Tokyo’s red light district, with the player training hostesses and brawlers while playing pachinko. Of The End turns Shinjuku into a post-apocalyptic wasteland and adds zombies. While there’s definitely a market for the prostitution-gambling-zombies genre, it’s probably not the same audience who bought the title previously. Basically, stop adding zombies to everything.
I have nothing to say about Gyakuten Kenji 2. The waiting in the queue was listed as being 120 minutes. They must think I’m stupid.
I was impressed by a Taiwanese company called Zeroplus Technology. In contrast to Kenji 2, there was just a two minute wait for the 3D shoot-’em-up in their low-key booth. You wear 3D glasses and then shoot cartoonish cowboy characters. I would have liked to have seen a better game, but I was impressed with the accuracy of the gun. I had plenty of time to try both the training mode and the challenge mode, such was the the length of the queue behind me.
Finally, I tried out Marvel VS Capcom 3 because the thought of Deadpool versus Dante from Devil May Cry was too good to pass up. Plus, the wait was listed as only thirty minutes. I was on my own, so I was paired up with the guy behind me. The first thing you do is select the characters you want to play and I was all over Dante and Deadpool. But who to select as my third? I figured it should be a Capcom character since Marvel characters team up all the time, so I selected one at random based on the headshot. It turned out to be a six foot catwoman wearing few clothes. Couldn’t look the other dude in the eye after that.
Marvel VS Capcom 3 is a solid retro-style beat ‘em up with little innovation in its gameplay or design. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it though. In fact, the only real improvement I would suggest is distingushing the characters more when both players choose the same one.
The coolest piece of tech I saw was Kinect for Xbox 360, which essentially let’s you play with a baby lion. It consists of a large screen and a number of motion sensors which let you play without a controller, using your entire body. The centrepiece of the demonstration was one of the booth girls playing with a lion cub on a desert island. The concept was that, as its trainer, it would mimic her moves. When she turned around, it would start learning to spin. She could also throw balls for it or wipe off condensation on the screen from lion kisses.
I can’t see myself buying an Xbox and Kinect, but I imagine I’ll buy the technology that builds on its success(?).
Overall, a great show and I’m glad I didn’t try to do everything. There’s a surfeit of similar-looking RPG titles though, many of them a recombination of swords, samurai or sorcery. If anyone thinks of a better system of gameplay, they’ll be rich. Oh. Right. Gyakuten Saiban series. Yeah…