By Andrew Street
The video game industry within Japan has changed drastically in the last few years. We witnessed smartphones and tablets replace traditional gaming platforms for a significant amount of the population. This has led to much speculation of how much longer developers will continue to create for dedicated consoles.
Despite the doom and gloom, Japanese developers and Publishers came out in full storm for the 2015 Tokyo Game Show.
Here’s what I thought the best announcements were:
The conference started strong with the expected PlayStation pre-show. It was here that we got a look at the new software hitting PlayStation 4, Vita, and PS3 (yep, it’s still kicking!). As usual, the Sony stage was where a large selection of publishers chose to present their newest games. Sony’s in-house studios released clips from the newest “Bloodborne” expansion. The add-on, “The Old Hunters,” seems like just what everyone wants: more of what we loved about “Bloodborne.” The trailer showed outrageous new enemies, Lovecraftian-inspired scenery, and a beautifully eerie score. Hunters can expect to jump in and play this on December 3rd of this year.
The president of Sony Computer Entertainment’s Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, also announced three titles that will be coming to Playstation 4 sometime next year. The first two are from the much loved Vita franchise, “Gravity Rush” (Gravity Daze). In a not-so surprising move, Studio Japan is porting the original “Gravity Rush” to PS4. The trailer they showed off demonstrated its use of the PS4’s power. More NPC’s, better textures, and a higher frame rate are all present. (Not to mention that the game looks absolutely stunning.)
In addition to the PS4 port, a sequel was also announced. “Gravity Rush 2’s” teaser trailer, which looks amazing, was shown. Many will be saddened to hear that this once Vita-only franchise will not be coming to the handheld, but I, for one, am just happy to see it come to fruition. The unique premise and charm of the series deserves to look as beautiful, and reach as many people, as possible. The port is expected in early 2016, while the sequel will hit PS4 sometime later in the year.
One of my favorite announcements from Sony’s first-party studios was the trailer for the new “Hot Shots” game. Many fans have been eagerly awaiting the next iteration in the quirky golf game. Now it seems that it may finally be on the horizon. However, there seems to be much more than golfing going on. The teaser showed numerous country club activities and a stacked cast of wacky characters. It looks like we can assume that this title may be looking to bring something a bit new to the franchise. As someone who recently “Mario Golf” in high regard recently, I cannot wait to get ahold of this. The game’s anticipated release is sometime in 2016.
Of course, Sony wasn’t the only publisher announcing titles this year. We saw and heard from a large selection of Japanese companies. Everyone from Square Enix to Sega came out to flaunt their new releases.
One of the best announcements was a new iteration in the much-loved, and somewhat weird, Danganronpa series. Series creator Kazutaka Kodaka took the stage to show off the teaser trailer for “Danganronpa 3.” The visual novel series that has taken many by surprise is expanding its horizons beyond Vita. This new iteration will be launching simultaneously on PS4 and Vita—a first for the franchise. In the trailer, we saw our typical antagonist Monokuma making silly banter, as usual. It was also noted that “Danganronpa” would be getting a standalone VR experience for the PlayStation VR headset. Both projects look to be quite interesting, and if Kodaka’s past projects are any basis, we are surely in for some fun.
Square Enix had a handful of announcements this year. Some were surprising, and others were a bit on the odd side. Either way it seems that Square is coming to its senses, and beginning to develop various JRPGs (Japanese role-playing games). Games like “SaGa Scarlet Grace” looked particularly interesting. I found that many of their shown titles excited me and have me looking forward to the grindfest. However, Square showed off a particular game that caught my interest. That was “Dragon Quest Builders.” Sporting a stark resemblance to “Minecraft,” this building game seems really interesting. The art style is charming, and the mechanics seem to be somewhat unique. I also think that it is a neat concept for “Dragon Quest”: a series we need to see more love for.
My last three picks from this show are all related to Atlus. The first two are a collaboration between Atlus and developer Vanillaware. Earlier this year they briefly announced they would be remaking “Odin Sphere” for Vita and PS4. For the first time we got a look into their progress, and it looked stunning. The second title is “13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim.” The game seems to focus on young teens as they face the “destruction of everyday life” following a large catastrophe. Other than that, we saw some brief, stunning gameplay.
The largest elephant in the room this year was the anticipation of more “Persona 5” news from Atlus. The game, which was promised for a worldwide release this year, hasn’t had much news as of late. Many fans were eager to hear good news this year. However, it seems that “Persona 5” will be delayed until the summer of 2016. While we may have to accept this bad news, we did get a brand new gameplay trailer from them. Thankfully, it depicted more new mechanics, environments, and music! Each new trailer gets me more and more excited. They are blending together much of Persona’s charm with stellar visuals and music. It may be sad to wait a little while longer, but I’m so thrilled to have another trailer to watch for hours!
Despite the up-in-the-air nature of Japan’s video game scene, Tokyo Game Show 2015 turned out to be pretty great. There was a surprising amount of games from various publishers, and plenty of games to be released soon. For any fan of Japanese video games, this is great news. I’m eager to see these teasers and trailers turn into full-fledged releases in the coming months!