Good morning from Shinjuku! I’m happy to report that the jet lag is slowly going away, and I slept most of the way through 6am this morning after going to bed around 10pm. After a quick run to the convenience store for some breakfast items (I had no idea what I bought, to be honest), I’m ready to do a quick rundown of yesterday’s events!
Yes, that is Saber Lily, more on her later. ^.^
It all started out with quick walk to Shinjuku station to catch a train for the exhibition center. This meant I needed some sort of rail card to let me get on the train. They use reloadable proximity cards here for the train and subway system and cost 500 yen to start. After getting a pass, it was off to find something to eat.
The station was pretty busy with folks going everywhere. Our local guide tells us that this really isn’t a lot of people since it’s the weekend. I don’t think I want to go anywhere near there during the week… We ended up at a small shop in the station that specialized in onigiri (rice balls). Breakfast set included an onigiri, miso soup, and salad. With a drink, it came to about 700 yen.
When I first arrived, I was having a hard time with the currency. I didn’t quite grasp how much things cost. After a couple days, I’m starting to get used to it. I’ve come to the conclusion that food in Japan is a bit pricey!
The train ride out to the venue took about 45 minutes from Shinjuku, with a train change in Tokyo station. It seems that all the local train lines eventually go into there, so the station itself is a massive underground complex filled with people. On the way there, I did see a pretty neat little fishing hole on one of the canals running through the city. Seems that the Japanese enjoy fishing as a hobby as well!
It seemed like a lot of people were heading out to TGS, so the train was pretty busy. Looking back, it was probably a mistake for me to stand the whole way.
There were huge crowds the entire way going into the show. Due to the sheer volume of people, we ended up lining up outside in several groups to go to the bag checkpoint. It was pretty warm yesterday as well, with humidity up and sunny skies. Fortunately, we weren’t out there for too long (maybe half an hour at most), though you could definitely tell we were at a game convention… nearly everyone had some sort of portable game console. We kept saying that we should have brought our PSPs just to pass the time.
Once inside, we were inundated with lights, sounds, and waves of people. It was a bit of an overload at first, though I quickly got used to it. With the atmosphere, it was pretty easy to get lost and we constantly had to make sure we didn’t get separated from each other. Many of the major publishers had large booths, including Ubisoft, Sony, Square Enix, Capcom, Namco Bandai, Konami, Sega, and Microsoft. We spent a bunch of time wading through the crowds and visiting each one, picking up as many handouts and taking as many pictures as we could.
We did try to get in line for the FFXIII playable demo, however Square Enix had a ticket system for the demo. By the time we hit the booth, all the tickets had already been distributed. With the crowds the way they were, I decided not to wait in line for anything else. Later in the day, I visited the Microsoft booth and tried to weasel my way inside by playing the company employee card. It sort of worked, as I did get to talk to one of the PMs from Microsoft Japan. We chatted for a few minutes about how things were going and how excited we both were for the upcoming release cycle. They were getting ready to close out for the day, so she couldn’t actually show me around behind the scenes and asked if I was coming back the next day. Makes me wish I went by earlier to talk to them…
As for the rest of the booths, everyone was showing off their latest and greatest stuff. Microsoft featured Forza3, Crackdown2, Halo3:ODST, and Left4Dead 2. Sony had FFXIII, Gran Turismo 5, and a bunch of other titles for the PS3 and PSP. I also got the chance to play with the upcoming PSP Go, which surprised me at how light it was. The smaller form factor makes sense for a media player, however it almost takes a step backwards on the regular PSP’s big high contrast screen. One other thing I did like about the unit was the placement of the analog stick. Unlike with the original PSP design, the analog stick is placed to the right of the D-pad, making it more ergonomic to use. I’m hoping that’s one of the design elements that will make it into the next (rumored) revisions of the PSP.
The Namco booth featured several of their upcoming games, including the new IdolM@ster games for the PSP, Tales of Grace for Wii, Tales of Vesperia for PS3 and PSP, and a new Ace Combat game. I was particularly interested in the ToV port for PS3 and the upcoming movie. From what I saw of the game play videos, I just may need to pick up a PS3 and hope for a US localization of ToV.
One of the other highlights of the show was the cosplay. It was immediately apparent I was not at a US convention as the costumes and people were at a completely different level. Every costume I came across was extremely detailed and the people wearing them all had the right body types to match. In particular, there were a couple of girls dressed up as Yoko from Gurren Lagann. Sufficed to say, they all garnered a lot of attention and snapping a photo was no easy task…
The quality of the costumes was truly impressive. I also managed to find a couple of good Tales of Vesperia costumes, as well as some from an unknown source.
Although Japanese and American cosplayers share a common love for the art, I noticed a couple of differences. The Japanese are far more particular about taking pictures. On a couple of occasions, I was waved off on taking candid shots of individuals. Also, many of them like to pose for one photographer at a time, and frown upon shots taken from the periphery. For the photographers themselves, there was a lot of extremely serious camera equipment being used. Many folks had their own portable reflectors and lighting setups for taking pictures. The only thing more impressive than the costumes being worn was the equipment that was used for shooting.
It was then off to the vendor area. While small, there was plenty to look at. Square Enix had a rather large display with “limited” items. Unfortunately, there was such a huge line that I didn’t get the chance to actually see them up close. I did managed to find a rather impressive wall calendar for Tales of Vesperia ~The First Strike~. For 2200 Yen, I picked it up to hang at home.
You’ll also notice the box for Fate/Unlimited Codes sitting next to the calendar. After coming back to Shinjuku from TGS and having dinner, we went browsing at one of the game stores. I just happened to spot the box sitting on the top shelf and pulled it down. As I suspected, it was the limited SP-Box which contained a copy of the game for PS2 and the super rare Saber Lily Figma. It looked legitimate and for under 4000 Yen, I couldn’t pass on it. My travel companion wanted one as well, but it was probably the only one left in the store.
In all, it was an awesome day. I was pretty worn out by the time I got back to the hotel and pretty much passed out as soon as I hit the bed, but it was extremely worthwhile. Maybe some day I’ll come back some day and attend TGS on one of the industry days.
For more pictures of TGS, cosplayers, and all the gorgeous booth babes, be sure to click out to the full photo album!