Tokyo Game Show

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Joyride TGS 2009 Preview

What We Know: Joy Ride will mark a first on Xbox Live Arcade, as it's adopting the popular free-to-play model and bringing it to a console through a smaller downloadable game. First shown at E3, Joy Ride is an Avatar-starring open world racer (though there are more directed sequences for some game modes, like races) that heavily relies on players hopping online with friends and experiencing the different game modes and competitive options with one another.

What's New at TGS: Microsoft did show off a new map, but that wasn't the big announcement. Rather, I learned one of the methods the community will be experiencing new content in the game -- unlocking it together. In order to gain access to more content, the community will have to work together, not unlike what Namco Bandi tried with Noby Noby Boy. Though Microsoft wouldn't actually tell me what will be tracked or how the new content will be unlocked, the prospect of communal teamwork is an exciting one. I'm still not sold on the game itself -- Microsoft still wasn't letting us play the game for ourselves and the driving looked awfully floaty to be very precise -- but Microsoft is making the right steps in other areas, which hopefully bodes well for the game.

I also learned a little more about your ability to customize cars. There will be an in-game marketplace within Joy Ride with accessories that can be purchased with coins collected in the game, or directly with Microsoft Points, saving players the effort of finding the coins in the world, if they choose.

What I Want to See: A playable version of the game. Communities working together to unlock content is less exciting if the game itself isn't that great. There still isn't a solid release date for Joy Ride -- Microsoft is saying "holiday" -- but hopefully the reigns will be handed over soon.

Toy Soldiers TGS 2009 Preview

What We Know: Zilch. Toy Soldiers was announced by Microsoft and Signal Studios at Tokyo Game Show as an Xbox Live Arcade tower defense game (with twists) for release in 2010.

What's New at TGS: Since this was my first look at Toy Soldiers, there was plenty take in. The biggest reason to keep an eye on Toy Soldiers is because of what Signal Studios is calling tower offense. Whereas other tower defense games emphasize players setting up their bases for a wave of attacks and weeping as you realize the weaknesses, Toy Soldiers provides you with an emergency outlet. That's where the offensive tactics come in, as Toy Soldiers grants gamers the ability to hop into any of their placed towers and assume hands-on control of the weapons. Sometimes that means hopping into a sniper tower and taking out enemies in the distance or manning the cannons and destroying the incoming wave of soldiers. You can even become a tank or a plane -- the point is that the outcome of the battle doesn't solely rest on your tower placement skills, which is ultimately what ends up killing most of these games for me. You no longer have to wonder if jumping into the battle yourself would change how it played out, since Toy Soldiers puts that option in your hands.

While Microsoft didn't actually show me the multiplayer at TGS, it was mentioned as a feature and the prospects of one-on-one battles is already putting a smile on my face.

What I Want to See: How much the player assuming direct control of towers and vehicles actually changes what happens. Can you build an awful base of towers and turn the tide simply because you're fantastic at aiming a cannon? It could make for some really damn good multiplayer.

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Remedy Hints Alan Wake Is PC Coming Later, After 360 Version

What We Know: Remedy Entertainment, developers of the original Max Payne, are describing Alan Wake as a psychological action game. Novelist Alan Wake is on vacation with his wife when things start to go very, very wrong. A thriller he's been writing starts to come to life in front of his very eyes, word-by-word. A dark presents has infested the world around him, creating a strong light and dark dynamic that heavily factors into the gameplay. Wake needs light to survive the horrors of the night. Alan Wake was missing in action for many years, until Microsoft and Remedy pulled back the curtain at E3 this year, promising the game would finally be released the following spring.

What's New at TGS: The demo at Tokyo Game Show actually started with the section from oh. "Oh no," I groaned. Fortunately, Remedy was only running through the E3 section to refresh everyone in the room. After that concluded, Remedy showed off a new section of the game. If Alan Wake's demo at E3 gave you the impression it's focused on keeping enemies at bay with a flashlight and moving around in a Matrix-like slowdown all the time, the TGS slice of Alan Wake proves that assertion wrong. Wake is in the middle of the woods to evade capture from a renegade sheriff convinced Wake is causing all the whacked out things that are happening around town. You do not have access to a flashlight, gun or other items, and finding sources of light becomes an obsession. I also saw more examples of the mysterious "dark presence."

If the E3 demo gave off a Poltergeist vibe, the TGS demo felt distinctly X-Files-meets-Lost, with devilishly swaying trees and monstrous, unidentifiable noises in the distance. There were few new mechanics shown here, however, as it wasn't about showing much new so much as it was proving Alan Wake isn't Max Payne's distinctive slow motion gameplay with a horror coat of paint.

What I Want to See: The open world portion of the game. Remedy is really pushing Alan Wake's focus on serialized TV cliffhangers, which actually suggests a more linear, targeted experience. The studio promises the open world segments have not disappeared. None of that has been shown yet, only furthering the notion that Remedy continues to play its cards very close to its chest.

At the same time of Sony's second press conference during Tokyo Game Show, I attended a White Knight Chronicles presentation about the online modes in the upcoming Level 5 RPG.

White Knight Chronicles has already been released in Japan, but it has been enhanced for its release over here and Europe. One big addition to the US version? Voice chat. It's amazing to think this wasn't in the original release of the game, but apparently it will be added to the Japanese version via patch at a later date. It will be on the disc for us, however.

White Knight Chronicles will also have the live talk feature pioneered in Rogue Galaxy, which simulates conversation between the characters on the screen as players move through the environment, and this should come in a patch for Japan, too. The North American and European versions will also include downloadable content that's been released in Japan on the disc.

In order to unlock the online modes, you must play through the first chapter of the game.

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PlayStation 3 PS3 Slim

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. group CEO Kaz Hirai claimed that the company has sold one-million PlayStation 3 Slim systems in three weeks. He delivered this info during his Tokyo Game Show 2009 keynote address. As many of you remember, the console went on sale at the very end of August. With the new design attracting some attention and the new $299 price point generating a lot of buzz, Sony knew that the Slim would sell like potato pancakes.

Unfortunately, Hirai only gave the worldwide sales figure. It would have been terribly interesting to see how the Slim performed region by region. The PlayStation 3 is in third place, behind that Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360, in both North America and Europe. While the new price point should help Sony close the gap, experts are divided on whether Sony can catch up to Microsoft. Some believe that it has a good chance, while others believe that the it's too late for the PS3.

What do you think of Sony selling one-million PS3 Slims in three weeks? Is it an impressive feat? Less than you thought it would be? Or just a meaningless number? 


Tokyo Game Show 2009: First Day Photo Gallery

The first day of Tokyo Game Show 2009 is officially in the can! The show has just closed, but not before we got our first batch of photos right from the floor. Behold, the spectacle of publisher booths and semi-manageable walking space! (Our public day gallery is probably going to look nothing like these shots...)


Click Here for TGS Day One Photo Gallery

You are not in Japan at the moment (unless you are, then it's all apologies). However, we sent a team to TGS 2009, and their awesomeness managed to wrangle some honest-to-goodness gameplay footage from Final Fantasy XIII. Check out the startup screen, as well as some combat footage from the game.


Final Fantasy XIII Offscreen TGS 2009 Gameplay Footage »

The Last Guardian Was Purposely Named To Generate Appeal Outside Japan

UPDATE 12:45 AM: You can now watch the trailer below!


The Last Guardian TGS '09 Trailer »


At the tail end of a media event showcasing the online modes in White Knight Chronicles and changes for the North American version, Sony showed an all-too-brief new trailer for Fumito Ueda's long-awaited third game, The Last Guardian. I was there. Sadly, we were not allowed to record it.

The trailer opened with short pans through an Ico-esque castle as flute music played in the background. The camera panned to a small section of the bird creature we have all become familiar with since E3. There are arrows protruding from its body as it silently sleeps. The small boy, whom we presume to be the main character, appears on the screen, looking at something we cannot see. Soon, though, he moves around the wall and peers over at the creature. The boy is quiet, very quiet, deliberately attempting to not wake the slumbering beast. His hand moves closer and closer to the creature until he begins petting and brushing him. The beast awakens.

At first, the creature just rolls over and stretches its feet before the boy jumps onto his back, holds tight and the creature stands to full height before calmly sitting on its bottom. As the creature continues to scratch itself, dust particles and feathers fly around as the Japanese version of the game's title appears on the screen.

The trailer fades to black.

Xbox LIVE Logo

One of the most request features for Xbox Live, especially as the service becomes loaded with more and more content, is text search. As it stands, users have to move through menus. The menus have become more useful, but search would be better. Text search is being introduced to Xbox Live with the upcoming Zune Marketplace, which will replace the video marketplace. Microsoft demonstrated the feature during an Xbox Live demo at Tokyo Game Show 2009 and it works as advertised.

The next question I had, naturally, was whether this search functionality would be coming to the rest of Xbox Live. It would be incredibly useful with Netflix and the game marketplace. Microsoft wouldn’t outright confirm that text search was coming to the rest of Xbox Live, but it sounds likely.

“We’re always thinking about ways to improve our shopping experiences,” said Scott Austin, Microsoft’s director of digitally distributed games for Xbox Live.

Hopefully we see text search elsewhere sooner rather than later.

While checking out an updated version of the Microsoft-developed Facebook application for Xbox Live, I had a chance to ask the company about how (or if) Xbox Live Silver users will have access to either social network. Unfortunately, it’s not good news if you aren’t a paying member.

According to Microsoft, Xbox Live Silver member will only have access to Facebook and Twitter during the “Gold Weekends” that the company rolls out every once and a while. The weekends are designed to encourage Silver members to experience Xbox Live multiplayer and pay to become a Gold member. It is only these periods Silver users will be able to check out Facebook and Twitter.

Sorry, Silver users. There is still no release date for Facebook on Xbox 360.

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The Domina Shantatto, an apparently evil sect of Tarus, has designs on Vana'Diel in this new expansion to Final Fantasy XI. It's sinister, but also whimsical -- I'm calling it "whimsnister." A Shantotto Ascension is coming out in October of this year. Peep the trailer!

Final Fantasy XI: A Shantotto Ascension Trailer »


It doesn't take a Japanese expert to know that this trailer for Sengoku Basara Samurai Heroes features a whole lot of sword-swinging samurai doing their thing. And you don't have to read the kanji to know that, whatever it's going to be, it's going to be awesome.

Watch for yourself.


Sengoku Basara Samurai Heroes TGS 2009 Trailer »


One of the more curious announcements during Sony's Tokyo Game Show 2009 press conference was PSP Room. Think of it as PlayStation Home for the PlayStation Portable. G4tv.com's Sterling McGarvey noted that it features cute avatars and:

"Blogs, photo albums, and social networking.

Chat, minigames, and real-time communication."

The service is being beta tested in Japan now. While I'm fairly certain it will come to America, the service just seems more inline with what Japanese gamers want. They love gathering in large numbers to play multiplayer games face-to-face. I can see them gathering for some digital networking too (it sounds weird, but trust me, they'd do it).

For American and European gamers...I'm not so sure. With services like Facebook and Twitter available on numerous mobile platforms, I don't see the need for PSP Room. Then again, this could totally appeal to consumers that bought that purple Hannah Montana PSP.

Would any of you be interested in this service? 

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Resident Evil 5

Sony showed off two well-known games that will be using its motion controller in different ways: Resident Evil 5 and LittleBigPlanet. During its Tokyo Game Show 2009 press conference, the company revealed that the motion controller will be launching with a Resident Evil 5: Alternate Edition, which will take full advantage of the motion controls.

The company also announced that LittleBigPlanet will be getting patched to work with motion controls as well. While it's important to have new products to support the controllers, it's very cool that Sony is patching older games to implement motion.

The question is, of course, do you care? Do you want to experience RE5 in a different way? How about LBP?

Gran Turismo 5

Polyphony Digital's Kazunori Yamauchi revealed model details on the highly anticipated Gran Turismo 5 for PlayStation 3. During Sony's Tokyo Game Show 2009 press conference, the following modes and features were revealed:

  • GT Mode: World Map, My Garage, Car Dealer, Tuning Shop, Championship Race, and License Test.
  • Online: Open Lobby, Text/Voice Chat, Private Room, Online Photo Album, Online Replay Album, and you can export replays to YouTube.
  • Photo Mode: Photo Drive, Photo Stage.
  • GT TV: Improved UI, export of videos to PSP, and progressive downloading.

While everyone expects a new Gran Turismo game to have improved graphics and physics (don't worry, they're there), the connectivity of GT5 is really interesting. I know loads of gamers that will be thrilled to upload their exploits to YouTube or transfer them to their PSPs to show off their driving skills. The new additions are super interesting and really round out the overall offering.

What do you think of these modes? Anything in particular strike you?


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