Japan is an ocean away, so most Americans won't get to experience the Tokyo Game Show firsthand. We won't get to attend the cosplay event, or even try out the numerous games that will make an appearance. But TGS always has ramifications that reach far, far beyond Japan's borders, and here's how this year's show, set to begin in about a week, could shake things up.
Given that the current generation of consoles is running on borrowed time, you might expect some major news about the next generation's lineup. Unfortunately, it seems that's not in the cards: Nintendo and Microsoft will not be attending this year. But there's still plenty of news to look forward to.
In terms of hardware, by far the biggest reveal is likely to be a prototype of Sony's forthcoming 3D virtual-reality system. Reportedly, this will be a headset (apparently based on the company's current HMZ 3D headset) that fully immerses you in a 3D world. Thanks to a camera mounted on the front, it will also be able to show you your surroundings in augmented reality.
Of course, this is an early prototype, and the potential pitfalls of such a gadget are many. Graphical problems can be incredibly disorienting in virtual reality—when I first read about the device, my first thought was of the virtual-reality machine in Michael Crichton's Disclosure, which made people throw up until all the bugs were ironed out. And of course there's the big question of whether gamers really want to wear their consoles on their faces. (Two words: Virtual Boy.)
But TGS will put this new machine to the test, and the world will get to see how it performs. Soon we will know whether this has the potential to be a major breakthrough in gaming—or if it's destined to become vaporware, or worse, a major flop.
Also, Monster Hunter fans will be glad to know that we've been promised big news pertaining to Monster Hunter 4. I've seen speculation that there could be a film adaptation, but so far it's just that—speculation.
We should also learn a lot about a whole slew of forthcoming games.
Square Enix will be pushing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, a reboot (rebirthing?) of its troubled MMO. The last time I tried playing Final Fantasy XIV—just before the company started charging a subscription fee again—I wasn't particularly impressed. They might be beating a dead horse with this one, especially now that they have a new crop of MMOs to compete with, such as Guild Wars 2, a first-rate experience with no subscription fee attached. Nonetheless, it will be interested to see how they've gone about overhauling FFXIV yet again.
Square Enix won't be showing off Final Fantasy Versus XIII, but they did recently file a patent for "Circle of Mana." Does this mean they're bringing back Secret of Mana, and will we see anything related to the game at TGS? Stay tuned.
Another developer to pay attention to will be Konami, in particular regarding the Metal Gear franchise. Metal Gear Rising is scheduled to make an appearance, which should be interesting—but what really has people talking is the recently announced Ground Zeroes. Ground Zeroes isn't officially scheduled to make an appearance at TGS, but a surprise showing at a major game show would be a great way to get the title on everyone's radar. It's certainly a possibility; heck, Konami would be kind of crazy not to take advantage of TGS in this way.
Another Konami game scheduled to make an appearance is Zone of the Enders HD Collection, which is, naturally, a collection of Zone of the Enders games reworked in HD. Konami did a great job with the Metal Gear Solid collection, though unfortunately we can't say the same for the Silent Hill collection, whose Xbox 360 version the company didn't even bother to patch. We probably won't learn about pervasive glitches at TGS, but we should at least get to see how the graphics look.
Finally, we'll get to see what Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune has been up to lately. Reportedly, he's been working on a zombie-themed game called YAIBA. Will it be a Resident Evil 4-style shooter? A somewhat comical romp in the spirit of Dead Rising? A return to Inafune's 2D roots? Or something else entirely? All we know so far is that in addition to zombies, it will feature ninjas and mechs. We will find out more when he debuts the game at TGS.
It's unfortunate that TGS is so far away from the States. But if we Americans can't attend, at least we'll learn a lot more about the future of the game industry.
Date: September 13, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*