Tokyo Game Show 2013 Highlights
Sega have possibly the biggest booth after Sony - yes, bigger than Microsoft. Much of the house of Sonic's floor space has been given up to Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita titles, but they have also set up a mini-theatre to showcase a fifteen minute video of the upcoming Yakuza Ishin (Ryu-Ga-Gotoku Ishin, in Japanese).
It's a mightily impressive video, which is particularly heartbreaking because there's little chance of the game ever being translated for Western audiences (Yakuza 5, released last December in Japan, hasn't even made it over here yet). Swapping the urban streets synonymous with the Yakuza series for 19th century feudal Japan, the story revolves around the attempts of real-life figure Sakamoto Ryoma to reform the government of the time.
Bloodshed, angry verbal sparring, mass warfare, karaoke, food preparation and gardening are all showcased in the trailer. So, yeah, it's a 'proper' Yakuza game; mixing extreme violence with housekeeping. Ishin is planned as a PS4 launch title in Japan, and I'll be bugging Sega's Western PR teams for any info on plans outside of its home country.
Behind closed doors I was treated to a demo of Xbox One exclusive Dark Dreams Don't Die (abbreviated to D4), an episodic investigation game from cult hero, and Deadly Premonition creator, Swery65. In a sea of shooters and open-world 'epics', D4 stands out as one of the few beacons of diversity among the Xbox One's currently confirmed launch window line-up - not least because of its heavily stylised cel-shaded visuals and outlandish characters.
Dark Dreams Don't Die (D4)
At first glance D4 looks like a cross between Heavy Rain and Telltale's The Walking Dead - taking the environmental interaction elements from the former and combining them with the visuals and episodic nature of the latter. A prolonged glance somewhat destroys those comparisons, though, not least because D4 very quickly goes from the simply surreal to the downright ridiculous. Our demo sees a detective use his limited physic abilities to read deeper meaning into inanimate objects; a fountain pen, in this episode's case. Naturally, the clues from the fountain pen result in the using of a mannequin's leg to fire a baseball into the face of a drug smuggler aboard a passenger jet. Remember, this is from the guy that thought up Deadly Premonition.
The whole demo is showcased exclusively using Kinect, with no control pad on site. Everything seemed to work fine, with the person in charge of driving the demo sitting on a chair the whole time and using a combination of hand gestures and leaning his body left and right to influence the on-screen action. Swery65 explained that he would prefer players to use Kinect all the time, but that the game does work fine if you prefer to use the Xbox One's pad.
The Goron Tablet Cushion - what every lazy gamer needs
This being Japan and a games convention, there are some interesting inventions doing the rounds on the show floor. Perhaps most eye-catching of which is the Goron Table Cushion, a device designed to remove the hassle of having to hold your tablet/laptop while you're lounging round on the floor... because, that's what everyone has been screaming out for, after all.
The thing comes with adjustable clips that can hold your iPad etc in place over your head while you're laying down. Of course, when you see something like this one can't help but try it out for onesself. It's surprisingly comfortable, and genuinely does solve that age old problem of finding a way to have your laptop float in front of your face that we've all been suffering with for years.
I might buy one. Oh wait, they're about $200 each. I'll pass.