Although it's nice to play the games, sometimes it's nice to just sit back and see what's coming your way. Generally with most newly-announced games or those that are not play-ready, game developers opt to show people a brief sampling of what's to come. And from what was showing at the Tokyo Game Show this year, some big things are coming!
Lost Odyssey - Xbox 360
By now you've heard of the ultra-studio Mistwalker. Featuring an all-star team behind the scenes, the studio was responsible for delivering Blue Dragon to happy fans everywhere. The game was hailed by many as an instant classic that represented a bygone era of tactical RPG gameplay. However, with their next title, Lost Odyssey, developer Mistwalker looks to the future of the RPG genre. The gameplay that was shown featured a full English voiceover (a rarity in Tokyo, for sure) and revealed some of the more complex battle elements that will be incorporated in the gameplay. One element is a precision aiming system that takes advantage of rings that are collected during gameplay. You can activate certain nature-oriented rings by pulling a trigger and match a set of circular gauges together to unleash the ultimate attack. Another facet that was shown was a sort-of defensive system that works with your team's formation. Essentially, it's a gauged representation of how well the characters you place in the front of your formation are protecting the characters you've placed in the rear. Overall, the gameplay we were shown is pretty awesome. If Blue Dragon was the gentle hearkening of days gone by, then Lost Odyssey is the loud trumpeting of things to come! Although no exact date is set yet for this one, reports are projecting a February 2008 release.
Yakuza 3 - PlayStation 3
Or also known as Ryu Ga Gotoku Kenzan, this title takes the Yakuza franchise back in time nearly 400 years back to the Tokugawa Shogunate. This period of Japanese history is best remembered for its stifling of the samurai culture in an attempt to modernize the country. And while you may be scratching your head as to what this all has to do with the Yakuza franchise, you have to follow the plight of many fallen samurai that turned to a life of organized crime in order to continue their defunct way of life. At the heart of the story of this new entry is Kazomanosuke Kiryu, who was formerly the samurai Miyamoto Musashi. However, now that samurai are all but outlawed in the new Japan, Kiryu feels at home with his new identity as Kiryu, the newest town protectorate. His job is to essentially keep order and kill anyone who threatens the town's fragile balance. And if he takes some money for a hit or two, well who's really looking? However, one day he is approached by a young girl who has just sold herself to a brothel. She has sold herself to raise them money for Kiryu to take one very crucial hit: Miyamoto Musashi. A very interesting concept is at the heart of this game, which looks to stay pretty true to the gameplay formula that has made the first two Yakuza games so successful. You can definitely expect some exotic (and uniquely-Japanese) locations, action-packed fights, and sweeping cutscenes round out what you can expect from this title. However, when you can expect it is something completely different. The US has not even seen the release of the second entry in the Yakuza series, and there's no word on any possible time frame for the third release. But the Japanese version will be available early next year for the PlayStation 3.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days - Nintendo DS
Did you think your Kingdom Hearts days were behind you? Oh, foolish gamer, the dynasty that is Kingdom Hearts lives on. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is the first of two handheld titles announced for the series at this years Square-Enix event at the Tokyo Game Show. This one will be for Nintendo's DS and will focus on the dubious Organization XII. While not really a sequel to the GBA semi-hit Chain of Memories, the events of 358/2 Days do take place after that game, but they instead focus on following the exploits of an unnamed character who is part of the organization. Not much else is known about this title, except that both bishie-quality boys Roxas and Sora will be making an extended appearance. So hurrah for that. This game has only just been announced, so check back for more details on the game and maybe even a release date!