Monday, September 27, 2004

Games and weirdos

I went to the Tokyo Game Show this weekend. The Video Game Show that is, not Takeshi's Castle. We were going to go on the overnight bus, but it was full so we had to get the Shinkansen (Bullet train) instead, which was a tiny bit more expensive. Well, actually, a lot more expensive, ie 125 quid return, but hey, you have to go on it at least once don't you? The trains are absolutely amazing - they're on time TO THE SECOND. It's unbelieveable. The bullet trains are incredibly fast too, but they're so quiet you'd hardly know you were moving. Plus the stewardesses and ticket inspectors bow every time they come in and out of the carriage, whilst saying "Shitserei shimasu" ("Pardon me for being rude"), then when the train stops they all come out onto the platform to see you off. I really can't see the trade unions in England standing for that.

The game show was nerd heaven - not only were there loads of pre-release games on free play, there were some of the most stunning women I have ever seen. It seems games companies in Japan have hit on the perfect strategy for attracting young males to their stands - they simply surround their little corner of the exhibition with jaw-droppingly beautiful models dressed in the skimpiest/dirtiest outfits known to man. Generally the formula for these women is as follows - the duller the product you're trying to sell, the more women you employ to drape themselves over it. This explains why the "booth babes" on the Capcom stand were relatively fully clothed and few in number, whilst Taito employed an army of hotpant-clad porn-vixens to sell its shoddy line up of titles. You can tell Microsoft are struggling a bit in Japan, since out of the babe hordes encircling their stand some were down to just a bikini. Special mention must go to the women flogging Need for Speed Underground 2 on the EA stand though. They managed to keep a small army of male photographers entertained for the entire weekend by draping themselves over a sports car, which quickly earned them the affectionate nickname "dirty filthy car-rubbing sluts".

Amongst the women there were actually some games at the show too. For those of you who know or care, the PSP (Playstation Portable) was out in full force, with a launch line up of about 22 games. It's an absolutely gorgeous machine - I'm sure it's going to sell millions. The games were a little ropey though - generally the graphics were fantastic, almost PS2 quality, but none of them particularly stood out, and most were only about 50% finished; a little worrying if the console is going to be launched in December. Resident Evil 4 on the Gamecube looked absolutely stunning, and Sega had a great line up too - particularly Sega Superstars for the Eye Toy. It features about 12 games using Sega characters, and they're all fab. I had a go on the House of the Dead game and a particularly embarrassing video of me exists punching imaginary zombies with a big grin on my face.

Lastly, I have to tell you about cosplay. Cosplay is short for "costume play" - basically there are a lot of fanatical Japanese game and anime fans, mostly women, who love coming to shows like these dressed as their favourite characters, then they stand around all day in designated corridors letting people take pictures of them. Yes, it's very strange. But some of the costumes have had so much time spent on them it's hard not to be impressed, especially seeing some of the crazy outfits from Final Fantasy. Most of the costumes were from animes I've never heard of, but there were several Chun Li's from Street Fighter and a couple of Marios, not to mention a Japanese Neo from The Matrix. By far the most disturbing costume of the day was Cammy from Street Fighter - it didn't take us long to realise that the person inside that bottom-revealing leotard was no woman. He was no spring chicken either. The sight of him bending over to stub out his fag has been permanently burned onto my retinas.

Anyway, it was a smashing weekend, but I can see why people who come to Japan just to see Tokyo and the game show get such a weird view of the Japanese. Thankfully the men don't all go out in nothing but a one-piece and camoflauge paint. Well, at least they don't admit to it....


Blogger Christopher said...

I've been a fan of Cosplay for a long time. I appreciate the artistry and effort involved in creating some of those elaborate costumes. I also appreciate the more artistic costumes that experiment with negative space by only using a minimal amount of material. I firmly support their artistic efforts.

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