This year Sega has played it very safe.
Checking Sonic’s booth, it is more than clear that the house of Ohta is preferring to focus its own forces (and finances) on its two main designers: Toshihiro Nagoshi and Satoshi Sakai, respectively the game designers of ‘Ryu ga Gotoku’ (known in the West as ‘Yakuza’) and ‘Phantasy Star 2’.
Even if the Sega booth is really huge, the famous blue hedgehog’s management prefers not to invest more money in the consumer market that has been see shrinking since 2009.
This is also due to the fact that Sega has been extremely successful (and profitable) in the arcade market and prefers not to ruin its financial reports and risking its own and share holders’ money in the consumer market. So right now they are playing it safe. Pretty funny for a company that at the moment is owned by Sammy (leader of the gambling market with pachinkos and slot machines) isn’t it?
As you know, in the land rising sun the coin-op industry is still live and kicking, and Sega – being the leader - has a major share of the national income (thanks also to its ownership of many arcade centers such as Club Sega and Sega Gigo, in which millions of yen is spent every year). Its presence is so huge that even the other software houses such as Capcom let Sega distribute their games abroad: a clear example is ‘Luigi’s Mansion’, which is produced by Capcom but distributed worldwide by Sega UK.
Phantasy Star Online 2
This year the 2nd best seller in Japan (and cash-cow) of Sega will be available not only for PC and PS Vita but also for PS4.
With its massive cult following in Japan, the Phantasy Star Online player base today (according to Sega’s bulletin) is more than 4,500,000 users in Japan. The japanese MMORPG born on Sega’s Dreamcast (exactly the 21st December 2000), has only now rekindled interest from the company, with Sega finally deciding to reinvest in this RPG, even after CSK (the old major shareholder of Sega) pulled the plug.
The big news here though is that PSO’s 2017 update is ready and coming.
For european hardcore gamers, the passage from the mighty Dreamcast version will be hard (and maybe even harsh) to get along with, due by the fact that many innovations of the third person shooter genre have been introduced, so it may take some time to get used to how it plays compared to the old title. But the fact that now it is possible to play simultaneously with 12 other people, divided into 3 groups in-game, and with a very fast and official server, makes it a good compromise, at least for the moment.
Even if the 5th instalment will arrive soon in the west, Sega presented at the Tokyo Game Show (as every year since 2005) its best selling title of the last 10 years. Produced by Toshihiro Nagoshi, one of the most successful and respect game designer of Japan, we are of course talking about Yakuza 6.
Nagoshi may not be well known in the west, but being part of Yu Suzuki’s AM2 Development team, Toshihiro Nagoshi is internationally now becoming known as the creator of masterpieces like: ‘Virtua Racing’,‘Daytona USA’, ‘Scud Race’ and of course ‘Ryu ga Gotoku’.
In Japan, Sega still believe in this IP greatly, with the series mixing a Japanese mafia aesthetic and setting with a free-roaming GTA-style game system. Of course, there are typical Japanese subgames thrown in as well, such askKaraoke, old arcade games (such as ‘OutRun’ and ‘Space Harrier’) too, as well as a suburban underground scenario in which the main character Kazuma Kiryu has to fight once again to make his way in life.
The 6th chapter returns us to the present in terms of timeframe, (the ‘Ishin’ was in the past century!), with new real Japanese actors joining the criminal saga. In this new chapter the famous Japanese actor/director Takeshi Kitano (know in the west as ‘Takeshi Beat’, and for his crazy TV series ‘Takeshi’s Castle’) will be part of the story, plus many old arcade games will be available inside the game, including ‘Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown’.
Yakuza 6 is out the 8th of December at 8,190 yen (approx. 60 Gbp / $79).
Valkyria: Azure Revolution
This strange RPG, which mixes typical Japanese RPG games with Monster Hunter’s game system, was originally released for the PlayStation 3, and later ported to Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 4. It was here at the fair today though as one of the most played games at Sega’s booth.
Inside of the game there are strategy elements and the core of the game consists of the player preparing at their base, going to the battlefield to achieve their objectives, and then returning to the base again (extremely typical for any Hunter in the Capcom IPs).
Graphically the title is outstanding, but is totally in Japanese and you shouldn’t expect a western, translated release. Out for PS4 January 19, 2017.
Even if many players are still waiting for the real ‘Tekken x Street Fighter’ game, one of beat ‘em ups most anticipated at TGS, ‘Tekken 7’, has stolen the show anyway at the company’s booth.
But aside the Tekken franchise, the B-N Holding is still extremely focused on tie-in anime IPs such as: ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’, ‘Dragon Ball’, ‘Naruto’, ‘One Piece’ and ‘Sword Art Online’.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
Even if I am not young enough to be a fan of Toriyama’s anime (as many 20 year old people are, sigh!) I think the demo I tested here at the fair inspired from the original anime is really good.
From all various modalities available, we were able to play against the computer or an opponent. Upon starting the game it was possible to choose between 12 characters from the TV series, including Goku, Trunks, Cell and Vegeta, and some Super Saiyans (an advanced transformation) from the movies.
The structure of the combat system is very similar to 'Last Zankaichi’ in which the two players move and fight in vast areas. Flying, just as in the anime, between mountains and buildings is lots of fun and captures the feel of the show. The combat moves seem to be pretty limited (but effective for casual gamers), with various combos and the possibility of escape and dodging that deliver some really speedy action.
I’m not sure the game can really be considered a contender to ‘Tekken 7’ or ‘Virtua fighter’ but it is a good anime title for sure and should appeal to fans of the show and for any casual gamer. Scenarios, BGM sounds and the original opening song are identical to the Japanese anime series too, so the fans should find it hard to complain.
The Collector's Edition of the game will include the game disc, a soundtrack CD, a collector's box, an exclusive steelbook case, a Time Patroller's Guide artbook, and a statue of Super Saiyan Goku. It will cost $150 and will be available for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Gundam: Battle Operation Next
Even if Gundam is known in the west just by hardcore anime fans, ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’ is the most loved robot ever made in Japan (in Odaiba there is a real 18-meter tall statue!).
Anyway, the new update of the game drew most of the attention of the largest stand of Namco Bandai (second only to ‘Tekken 7’) and what was most notable was the improved graphics, the roboto rooster and the general action, which is faster and more intense.
It is a great title for all the robot lovers (especially orphans of the mighty ‘Virtual On’ series) but also for those who followed the original anime series, who will definitely be satisfied. Check out this video to see how the game plays.
As you might’ve gussed, the game will be out soon for PS4 and Xbox One.
RIght, that’s your lot for today. I’ll see you tomorrow with the 4th and last part of T3’s Tokyo Game Show 2016 reportage, where we’ll talk about Capcom, Tecmo Koei and Sony.