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Game for a laugh

Matt Wilce

Matt Wilce got a glimpse of future fun at the semi-annual Tokyo Game Show.

The Tokyo Game Show Spring 2001 was full to bursting point with a total of 118,000 eager-to-get sneak previews of the latest offerings from the 53 exhibitors. The Hand-held Game Zone, which made its debut, drew plenty of fans who took advantage of the test consoles to try out new releases for the Game Boy Advance (JY9800). Just over a month old, the Game Boy Advance (GBA) - a new "milky pink" version hits the shelves April 27-was popular with visitors waiting in line, although nobody was making use of its multi-player function. Due for release in the US in June, the GBA already has a fair selection of games on sale - one that was hot with visitors was Mr Driller 2 (JY4800), a kind of cutesified take on Tetris. Other popular titles just released were Super Mario Advance (JY4800) and Bomberman Story (JY5200). Currently scheduled for a Japan-only release is Game Boy Music, a revolutionary piece of software that turns the GBA into a music-maker. With the ability to synthesize 50 different instruments and 50 music scores, players can also compose their own songs or use the band function to jam with friends using the multi-play links.

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The Xbox™ drew large crowds. Shown here is the unique controller only for release in Japan.
Courtesy of Microsoft Corp.

The GBA's main competition comes from the Wonderswan Color. Dubbed "the mobile entertainment system for the 21st century," Bandai is planning to add a USB port to the Wonderswan to allow it to connect directly to the PS2, PCs, phones and the Internet. They also project that future versions will be able to play MP3 files. Upcoming releases gamers can get their hands on sooner are Final Fantasy II (May 3 release, JY5200), the RPG sci-fi Star Hearts (July release, JY4980) and Pocket no naka no Doraemon (May release, JY4500).

The Game Boy Advance was a firm favourite with young gamers.
Matt Wilce

The big buzz was naturally about Microsoft's long awaited venture into the game console market-the Xbox. Inflated by the appearance of Bill Gates himself-who gave a PR-driven keynote speech to a packed auditorium of 4000-the hype surrounding the Xbox centered on a huge stand where guests got a glimpse at the revolutionary piece of hardware. Containing a DVD drive, Pentium III 733 MHz processor, 64MB RAM and an 8GB hard-drive, the Xbox is set to revolutionize game design with its unprecedented memory capacity, provided by the addition of the hard drive, and its state-of-the-art sound and graphics capabilities. Gates trumpeted Microsoft's commitment to Japan and revealed the unique-to-Japan controller, the first ever designed for a specific market. Gates' speech emphasized partnerships with domestic software studios and announced Microsoft's tie-up with NTT to promote their ADSL Internet access and the Xbox's online gaming capabilities. No doubt the Xbox, with a scheduled autumn release, will also dominate the fall Game Show, which will be a definite hot ticket for all Tokyo game fanatics.

The Fall Game Show will be held in October. For further details check the CESA website: www.cesa.or.jp 


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