The Fighters of Tokyo Game Show

Tokyo is renowned for its high level of play in fighting games and for its arcade community. Over the past several decades Japan has been the largest contributor to the fighting game genre with companies such as Capcom, SNK, Namco Bandai and Tecmo Koei all contributing to an ever expanding market and types of fighting game.

This years Tokyo Game Show was no slouch on the gaming front with all of this and next year’s releases present. From the latest BlazBlue to the new JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Games companies and arcade stick designers alike flew in top players from all around the world to play live on stage or just at a booth. Madcatz, Sanwa and Razer all showed their faces. Sanwa even presented a new arcade joystick that boasts far greater longevity and hardiness beyond that of its competitors.

On the first day I found myself drawn to the Arc Systems booth. With a playable arcade cabinet for BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma sitting empty I was destined to sink a few hours into playing. BlazBlue has seen many updates but this can be considered the third true instalment in the series after Continuum Shift. The cast has once again grown with the addition of three new characters: Bullet, Amane and Azrael. The game looks really good, I don’t mean just a bit smoother, I mean jaw droppingly gorgeous. There is a sense of flow with the updated character sprites and new moves to show the advancement of the characters. There is even a sense of speed that has been restored to the gameplay. After the changes made to BBCS2Ex (or however you like to shorten that ludicrous title) there is a great pace and feel to the game. There is also a new mechanic that allows the user to sacrifice 25% meter to use a specific move called the “Crush Trigger” that, from what I understand, will decimate the opponent’s block no matter what. If you hounded over Litchi’s massive boobs or dug Hakumen’s mysterious costume and background Chrono Phantasma will be right up your alley.

Arc also had the soon to be XBLA title Guilty Gear XX Accent Core R+ on the show floor too. Unfortunately, being relatively unfamiliar with it, the game left me at a bit of a loss when set up as a winner stays on affair but I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing. Although from my previous experiences I can say it still looks very similar if not unchanged and that Chipp takes a slap like a little bitch.

My adventure across the fighting games consoles in TGS soon led to me sitting right outside the Namco Bandai booth gushing at the awesome Nintendo themed Tekken Tag Tournament 2 costumes for the Wii U edition. The game is largely unchanged but has additional and insanely silly and fun game modes implemented to capture the spirit of Nintendo. My personal favourite being the Bowser costumes and the intriguing “mushroom mode” that allows fighters to pick up different mushrooms for hilarious effect, including shrinking, growing and poison. All I can say for Wii U TTT2 is Mishima Smash Bros.

For more casual fighting fans that prefer to sink their teeth into a meaty story rather than the person sitting next to them there is the latest Naruto game. Naruto Shipuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is certainly an epic game in every sense of the word. Continuing from the story of the second game I was greeted with two superb fights to play in the demo that are set within the Naruto lore. The first of which saw me playing Sarutobi soaring across the rooftops of Konoha fighting the nine tailed beast. The fight is full of awesome interactions that I’ll keep secret for the bigger fans of the series, as they are just too awesome to describe. The second fight I was Minato fighting against Tobi/Masked Man in a spectacularly flash fight. There are some new mechanics that liven up the experience from previous games while solidifying its roots back in the story we all know and love, unlike the heinous Generations game that I have not quite recovered from yet.

The next game I was fortunate enough to play while at the Namco Bandai was JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle. At first I was expecting something along the lines of Naruto as it is being developed by CyberConnect2 who make all the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Games. Couple that with the original statement that the game is a 3D fighter I was half expecting Naruto type fighting with JoJo’s characters. To my surprise it played far closer to Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 with a Light-Medium-Heavy set up with a “style” button (read as stand if you have played previous JoJo’s games) and more interestingly a sidestep button. That’s right. There is a button dedicated to sidestepping. For me it was a refreshing and rarely unseen attribute in 3D fighters that more than often rely upon far more complex stick maneuverability. The game looks and feels brilliant with the sidestep providing a really interesting addition to what feels like a more 2D fighting based in a 3D environment. There were only four playable characters on the demo I was playing but each looked amazing and had the right amount of over-the-top action and show-stopping special moves with enough punches to choke a horse, or savagely beat a horse if your opponent plays as Gyro Zeppeli.

The final big fighting game I played was Dead or Alive 5. Not only did I get to play it for a good 30 minutes but I played it with one of the workers at the booth on an arcade stick. This meant I was able to play with a familiar format and also that I got my ass whooped. After landing a 70% wall combo with Kokoro the man giggled with glee and showed me a few new ways to extend my combos, giving me a slight head start for the game’s release on the 28th of September. Overall the game feels far more polished and oozes style from every heavy hitting combo you find and that doesn’t even include DoA’s famed boob-jiggling awesomeness. The parry system is now more refined and there are new moves available to all players that allow them to perform powerful moves under certain criteria that allow them to utilise the area surrounding them. There is also a new set of stun combos that can be achieved by putting your opponent into an inescapable state in which you can maximise your combo and mindgames.

As I mentioned previously there were events running across a number of booths in TGS but one stood head and shoulders above the rest. With what seemed to be one of the busiest booths on the show floor the Madcatz booth was constantly surrounded by curious onlookers and fighting game enthusiasts alike, rubbing shoulders hoping they would be the next competitor to take a round from Daigo and those who weren’t there for Daigo wanted a piece of Markman, Tokido, Mago as well as Yuu and Nobi from NoRespect. The events started with a Kumite against all the players in attendance followed by some photo opportunities and even a talk from Katsuhiro Harada himself. In amongst all of that there were also several chances to get your hands on some Madcatz goodies and watch some high level exhibition matches between all the sponsored players. I was fortunate enough to play Yuu, Nobi and Markman all at TTT2 and had a blast doing so. Even if I only got a few rounds. It was worth it.

After all the hustle and bustle of Tokyo Game Show there was one more fighting game that I had hoped would make an appearance but unfortunately did not. Under Night In-Birth seemed to be taking Tokyo arcades by storm when I arrived and was drawing bigger crowds than both the SF4 and P4A cabinets in almost every venue I entered. Even if it was wishful thinking it would have been awesome to see such a fun and fast-paced game make an appearance and potentially a console release in what seems to be another boon of fighting games.

I had a great time at Tokyo Game Show and there was a plethora of games on display, far more than I could ever find time to play. So I stuck by my guns and played what I knew I would love playing but I just never anticipated how much fun I would have. All the games on display were amazing, they cater for a wide variety of tastes and all played really well. In a genre that there is always a definite winner and loser picking my favourite out of the lot has proved tougher than I could have imagined. So in this case the only loser is my bank balance. KO.







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