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Tokyo Game Show returns with hybrid, scaled-down event

Most years, it’s tough to take in everything the Tokyo Game Show has to offer in just a day.

This year, with the event not even taking up half of a convention hall at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture, the whole in-person experience could be had in less than 30 minutes.

The annual Japanese gaming show was held mostly online last week due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gaming companies released trailers and held livestreams to introduce new and upcoming titles, and some made game demos available for download. There was also a virtual TGS, with booths from companies such as Sega and Konami that could be explored with a virtual reality headset.

The in-person event was limited to media and social media influencers and scarcely resembled a normal TGS, where the crowds grow more dense by the day and reach massive levels when the show is open to the public.

“Yeah, it’s really small, plus yesterday (Friday) there was a typhoon,” said Makoto Nishi from publisher Justdan International. “So we have to think about other ways to allow people to experience our games.

“This time the main event was online, and there were various things you could enjoy there.”

The event was held entirely online in 2020, so even at such a small scale, the 2021 TGS was a slight step up.

“I was quite surprised,” said John Davis, who was at the show with the publisher Phoenixx. “I came in here, and everything is in Hall 8 and usually everything is from Hall 8 to Hall 1. There’s no dedicated indie area here, there are no cosplayers here — and understandably, it’s understandable.

“It’s kind of bittersweet. I think everybody is glad that there is an event, but we can’t wait to get back to the masses, everybody being able to enjoy games and events without masks and regulations.”

While the show was much less grandiose in nature this time around, there were still games on site.

Konami had one of the most normal booths — albeit much smaller than usual — with a big setup for Power Pro Kun Pocket R, a revival of the Power Pro Kun Pocket series that last appeared 10 years ago on the Nintendo DS. The series is a spinoff of the company’s Power Pro Baseball series. The title will be released for the Nintendo Switch on Nov. 25.

The game has three modes from the classic series — one in which you try to revive your high school baseball team, another in which you save a team from going bankrupt and a mode that sees the main character end up going back in time and participating in a war.

Fans of the series will appreciate the classic modes, which retain the feel of the old games.

There are also a number of minigames, a baseball mode and a new mode in which up to four players can team up online, hop in tanks and blast away at enemies.

Konami also showcased eFootball 2022, a soccer title that has endured a troubled launch since its release on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Dusk Diver 2 was one of many games in the booth for publisher Happinet.

The title, which features colorful graphics, is a 3D action game that’s part hack-and-slash and part Persona. Much of the story takes place in a re-creation of the Ximending district in Taipei and a few other locations around the city.

“There are popular areas and landmarks from the actual city,” Nishi said.

The game is a sequel to a 2019 title and new trailers were released for TGS. The game is scheduled to be released in 2022.

“There has been a really positive response online,” Nishi said.

The playable section at TGS was limited to combat, which allows you to control one of four characters and deploy a variety of attacks and combos.

Players can switch between the characters, who each have their own styles and abilities and a special attack. This is a departure from the first game, where only the main character was controllable. The timing of the counterattack system is tricky initially, but rewarding once you get the hang of it.

Inazagi Games had a small space to exhibit Yurukill: The Calumniation, a title that combines an escape adventure with a bullet hell game and is due for release in the spring of 2022.

Another interesting title was Survival Quiz City, from the publisher Phoenixxx.

“It’s a small indie title similar to Fall Guys or a lot of the elimination games you’ve been seeing come out recently,” Davis said. “It’s a quiz game, so it incorporates a lot of elements of Japanese quiz shows.”

Players begin each stage by answering a question. Those who answer incorrectly are dropped to the bottom of the course and have to work their way up. Those who answer correctly get to arm themselves and impede the others’ progress.

“You get to shoot at them, throw bombs at them, basically prevent them from getting to the goal,” Davis said. “Everybody at the bottom is trying to scramble to get to the end.”

There were other games exhibited as well from both publishers and students from programming schools.

There is no word yet on when the 2022 edition of TGS will take place or how it will be staged.

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