TGS 2004: TGS First Impressions

Written by David Chiu

Today marked the first day of TGS. The first day is always reserved to members of the press while Friday and Saturday are open to the general public for a fee of 1,500 yen (about $15). This year’s theme is “A Brand New Sensation for Everyone in the World.” The event took place in Tokyo’s Makuhari Messe Convention Center (where Nintendo used to hold their annual Spaceworld) with a total of 1,491 booth units, 461 game titles in an exhibition area of approximately 47,000m2. All the big Japanese game companies (Konami, Square Enix, Sony, Sega, etc.) were present except for, of course, Nintendo. Microsoft was there as well and the X-Box had a surprisingly big presence at TGS. There were even more X-Box games on display than Gamecube ones. However, Sony still owned the showfloor with the PS2 and PSP making up more than a third of the titles on display. They might have as well called the event “The Sony Game Show.”

I spent most of today playing PSP games and so far I am very unimpressed with the machine. Firstly, all but one of the games that I played were very, very rough even though most of them were at least 50% done. For instance, Hudson’s Rengoku: The Purgatory Tower was so early that all you could only run around this maze and shoot horrible AI-controlled enemies. Yes, that was it and it was probably the worst game that I played today. In addition, most PSP games that I tried today have no sound and would also crash every once in a while. Even games slated for the Japanese launch in a few months, like Need for Speed Underground Rivals, crashed. Also, the games just didn’t look anywhere near as good as Sony’s hype had led everyone to believe. Most games looked like a high-res PS1 game as opposed to a PS2 one.

However, there was a game that did leave me very impressed which was Konami’s recently announced “Coded Arms.” It was first shown in screenshot form at Sony’s recent business strategy meeting where it wowed audiences with its clean look and superb graphics. But having seen it in motion, I would have to say that this was probably the most impressive PSP game on the showfloor despite being only 25% done. It was simply way more polished than any of the other PSP games on display.

We’re still not sure who is sexier…this lovely lady or the PSP.

Besides the PSP booth, I also spent a lot of time at the Capcom booth where I had the most fun playing Devil May Cry 3, RE4 and VJ2. The RE4 demo shown seemed almost identical to the E3 build and the recently released demo, except for the new spooky villager woman who can pick up Leon and throw him around like a rag doll. VJ2 was more of what we know and love. Interestingly, there were 4 Gamecube units of the game on display while the PS2 version had 12. But I would have to say that DMC3 was the best game at the Capcom booth. It was simply awesome and just way cool.

Resident Evil 4 drew in extremly large crowds

As for the Nintendo DS, it was nowhere to be seen. I tried looking for a unit but all I found were trailers of “I Would Die For You” and “Puyo Puyo DS” at the Sega booth.

Stay tuned for continued coverage of the Tokyo Game Show 2004.