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Big Game Hunting

Tokyo Game Show 2001 Autumn was a sneak preview of anticipated sequels, remakes and a few innovations, not to mention and a handful of fun. Kristen McQuillin reports.

 

This is a dry season in the game world. Although the industry is gearing up for holiday shopping, it looks like gamers are going to see the same old things in their gift boxes this year. Sequels of popular games.

Nothing’s wrong with a good sequel. Metal Gear Solid 2 (Nov 29 for PS2) attracted big crowds and lots of applause at the Konami booth. The lines to play Gensosuikoden III were full of girls waiting for their turn at this new version of a favorite, which goes on sale later this winter. Konami’s Hyper Sports Winter 2002 will be available for PlayStation 2 and Game Cube on Jan 31.

Game manufacturers are busy porting current titles onto new platforms. Sega’s Sonic is coming to both the Game Boy Advance (¥5800) and Game Cube (¥6800) on Dec 20. Hudson’s Bloody Roar and Bomberman will offer Game Cube versions; playable demos at the Game Show were fun, but not quite ready for distribution.

All of this porting activity seems to limit fresh development. Even the student games on display in the Game School section were derivative. The fresh, young developers of tomorrow’s games are creating yet more benami games and battle adventures with sketchy game play. But you have to give them credit—they’re still learning.

Microsoft failed to generate the Xbox hyper-buzz they achieved at the Spring Game Show. Their Autumn Game Show booth, visually striking in black and glowing green, was scaled back and gamers didn’t flock in the same huge crowds, though the demo area offered a chance to try out more games this time. Xbox launches in Japan on Feb 22.

By the time the next Game Show rolls around in Autumn 2002 (the Spring 2002 show is cancelled due to falling attendance at previous shows), the landscape of gaming will no doubt be entirely different.

So what’s worth playing until next year’s show? The Game Show crowds enjoyed these three that blend game play with human interaction,

 

Yoakeno Mariko

Maker: Sony
Platform: PlayStation 2
Available: Dec 6
Price: ¥7980

Theater meets karaoke in this multi-player. As a story unfolds on the screen, cues for each characters’ lines appear as subtitles at the bottom of the screen. Players wear USB microphone headsets and are scored on how well they say their lines including factors such as tone, speed, and volume. The more dramatic the presentation, the better the score.

There are several storylines to choose from: Western, horror, musical, comedy and a cast of characters including the title’s Mariko, the spunky adventuress; Rory, a passionate blonde; Cap, the leading man; Blanco, the muscle man; and Barbara, the superstar. This game is not for the inhibited, nor for people who don’t read Japanese.

 

Martial Beat

Maker: Konami.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Available: Feb 1
Price: TBD

 

Due out early in 2002, Martial Beat might help to bolster flagging New Year fitness resolutions. In Bemani style, it combines martial arts and exercise with an interesting twist on the controller. The player straps on wrist and ankle infrared devices that communicate movements to an IR receiver. As the character on the screen moves, you mimic the motions—kicking, punching and turning—to score points.

The focus here is on fitness rather than a battle with an opponent. The levels of the game are organized by the muscle groups used and how many calories are burned. The warm-up exercise is equivalent to 13m of swimming.

For family fitness, Konami’s Famimat (¥7800 available now), a console-free version of Dance Dance Revolution, plugs directly into the TV and allows players to select their weight and age for an appropriate dance workout.

 

Graffiti Kingdom (Rakugaki Oukoku)

Maker: Taito
Platform: PlayStation 2
Available: Dec 1
Price: TBD

There are several titles in Taito’s Rakugaki series, but this one brings 3D into the game. Using a clever palette of tools and a 3D rotating canvas, players draw their own characters that do battle a la Pokemon, winning strength with each victory.

The battle game play is pretty typical, but the character creation is lots of fun as you figure out how to place limbs, tails, wings and other features to increase agility, speed and strength.


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396: Big game hunting
Tokyo Game Show 2001 Autumn was a sneak preview of anticipated sequels, remakes and a few innovations, not to mention and a handful of fun. Kristen McQuillin reports.
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