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The Tokyo Game Show Seen in the Eyes of a Madman


The Beginning of the Happy Horror Picture Show
The DC Oatmeal Swirl
 Call me crazy (no ok ok, call me a MADMAN), but I've decided to do a little number on the Tokyo Game Show's "Show" itself before writing on Sega and Wonderswan. I need rest too ya, know.  Let's call this article.. the *other* face of the TGS, which no other English site would probably even think of stepping into depth. Eeek, even I don't wanna wanna want to.. 

TGS team 1999 Spring.
Well, it's that time of the year again! Tokyo GameShow 1999 Spring took place from 3/19-21, with the first day being for the press. As a contract worker, I was there with 4 others, from the Left- Hitoshi Doi (people seem to know him *well*), Ika Mikio, Chris(thanks for the yummey treats!), Me, and el ole' amigo- Ken. 
Even the TVs outside the convention
centre yelled... "GAMES"
As usual, the Tokyo Game Show (TGS) was a dreamland for game fanatics alike, and a nightmare for press without many workers. Everything shouted "GAMES!" in the Makuhari convention center, and even before getting there. When visitors arrived at the train station, walls were covered with small gift envelopes from Sega, containing a random trading sticker. On the way out of the station, visitors were hastily greeted by Sega employees who passed out extra-sized Dreamcast bags which would prove to come in handy once everyone goes into the convention center. 

Oatmeal Swirls all over
Squaresoft's Racing Lagoon Gal!!.. eh, Car!!!
In the convention center, rows and rows of game companies showed off their wealth of games at their booths. It was also evident that some companies were more wealthy than others, since the size of booths, the amount of money they spend on presentations, and the freebies they gave away were very different. Sega gave away videos of Dreamcast info and Shenmmu music CDs, Sony gave out a packages with a monkey grabbing game and a postcard. Some unfortunate companies gave out nothing but air. Lots of companies gave away laminated pencil boards featuring game characters, and some places gave plastic folders with game characters.  
Leaflets a handful.
In all cases, the items which were given out were definitely useful for the occasion- you could write notes using the pencilboard, and stock in more leaflets into the plastic folder.  
On a personal view, it seemed as though SNK was trying to match wits with Square, giving away nice glossy catalogues with a series of stickers in the last page- in the same format Square used in their Catalogues, except SNK's was bigger 

Remember that extra-sized Dreamcast bag mentioned at the train station? Well, almost everyone at the TGS had it.. it was there like a happening fashion, or a spreading disease. Most interesting part, lots of people were seen going into Sony's booth and receiving items from them, then popping the advertisement gifts into the Sega bag. Oh how nicely ironic... 

While some may critic that this year's TGS was not as dynamic as before due to the bad economy in Asia, many companies were still seen giving out many items- except in quite some cases, the press did not receive them by just showing a business card or two. Companies got smart enough to take questioneers even for the press, and many gifts were not given until a game was played or a "what did you like" type of sheet was answered.  Here's an example of a special pencilbaord passed out after a questioneer Geez what if I were female dammit?

Otakus... ha!
Shorter than last year.
Likewise, the people who came to the TGS were getting smart as well... after all, this is already the 3rd year that the TGS is taking place.  
It was raining and pretty windy on the day of press, but people were starting to line up for the public opening already. While many games are on display at the TGS, the kind of people who line up before the show opens, are not there to play the games.  
Healthy habits.
That means at least 32,000 people were there for some other reason than playing games, and that reason is... to acquire limited edition goods and participate in events 
Press Day (3/19) -> Public Day (3/20)
While noone crowded around the merchandise stores on the day of press since after all- it was *the* day to gain information for the media, the public day was another story. Either because stores were advertising more than ever before or visitors just got smarter, the merchandise stores were packed with buyers within 10 minutes after the opening of the show. Crowds of determined and dangerous Otakus were swarming over the stores to purchase limited edition items. They realized that many of the events on the stage take place starting from 11AM or so, which gives them 1-2 hours of time for shopping, and some remaining time to scavenge for freebies. 

Red Flag.. chicken, but brave enuf to be at the TGS.
The TGS is also a time for some other companies to make little dough, like those familiar faces on the red flag.  
Even cute stuff that weren't limited edition sold out in half a day. 
I wanted that cute cute Sabotender Doll Dammit!
 So what kind of "limited edition" items were there? How about a Tekken stamina Drink featuring your favorite character? Or what about Pacman dumplings? They got pillows and bath towels of your favorite characters.. and Lodoss chocolate puffs!  Anyone want a BioHazard wine to celebrate this occasion? Oh don't worry, it's non-alcoholic! 
Tekken Stamina drink vending machine at enterance, 
so you can fight your way around to buying 
limted edition shtuff and get freebiee demos.
Lesson of Japan: A male dominated society to begin, It's becoming the land of gal games.
But who in their right mind would buy a LIFE SIZE Dollie with a costume, for 4000 bucks??
You can buy over 20 Playstations with one figure...

Animals have their right to music, 
even if they're stuffed with cotton.
While mascot character events are easily explainable, other events are hard to explain.. but they are usually presentation of games by using a game, manga, or anime celebrity. In example, many booths bring in popular voice actors/actresses of games and anime. In such cases, a mob of fans cause a riot to get in the booth. This seemed to be the case for NEC Interchannel, where chaos was evident and no person could pass through the thick human wall of otakus.blocking the passage to of the convention center. In another example, the game's producers may open a little discussion forum, and reply to Q&As from the audience- this was the case of SNK. In another example, the game's title song singer may be hired to sing right there in the booth, as was the case for two companies this time around- Taito, which brought in the singers of their game music for "Densha De Go!" train simulator game, and Wep System Co., which hired Kageyama Hironobu(DragonBallZ singer) to sing the theme song to their new game "Rising Zan- the Samurai Gunman" live in their booth. 


The Next Paris... not.
Restaurant Game.
Highschool Game.
The TGS is definitely becoming a fashion show presentation more and more each year. While the number of media which covers the fashion show contest has been decreasing, the costumes seem to be getting more dynamic from each TGS to the next. Despite the downsloping economy, these well fashioned company ladies who gives out the leaflets are definitely not downsizing. And of course, those cute and beautiful ladies, they're a sight to see. 
At their job.
Can you say Cosplay?
Hey, where's Squall and Fuujin?  When'd Heat and Comet enter FF8?
On the other hand, amateur constume-players (aka Cosplayers) were definitely on a downsizing. That is, people who spend their own pocket money making expensive costumes of game characters, to kinda "show off" to others  for that big one time occasion. While it seemed very bizarre to me around the first year I flew to Japan, by now I've gotten very used to seeing it.  The most interesting costume I perhaps saw this time around was Dio's Stand "The World" walking around (Jojo's Venture). Dio was seen following behind the stand, and a Heirophant Green (Kakyouin's Stand) was walking alongside Dio... all very well created. In a Lodoss booth, I saw the D button color teamup of Mature and Vice (KOF). On a more popular series of games, check out these two shots near the changing booth for cosplayers. Man that Fuujin is such a nice match to the character... 
Intl' Event?
TGS -the opening to a new game era?
The TGS is getting more international each year. This year was exceptionally so, with the English Embassy and Korean Software association having their own booths. The English speaking press were greeted with English versions of press kits too, such as the "Exhibitor's Official Directry" booklet full of English with cute round fonts and Japanglish translations. ...Hey wait a second, what's a "Directry" ???? 
Kids have their own TGS
Bomberman spotted above penguin!
Starting last year, a "Kid's corner" was developed to give parents an area for baby-sitting. While the Kid's corner is fairly large and empty and thus there are voices from visitors that it is a waste of space, it nevertheless is a good effort of CESA to give the Tokyo Game Show a positive public image.   
Chocobo racing come true? -sponsored by Square.
Stats and official annoucements
The Serious stuff  
This is the 6th TGS since the first convention back in 1996. I remember it was raining back then... and again, it was raining this time around as well. The TGS seems to call the rain, maybe it's the tears of the Videogame God crying "why the hell aren't cute girls coming to see my stuff instead of sweating smelly fat disgusting otakus?"...  but let that be.  

Back in 1996 the TGS collected a crowd of 109,649 visitors, and it cost only 800 Yen. Last TGS back in 98 collected 156,456 visitors and cost 1200 Yen. CESA expects 150,000 to come this time around as well.  

While the number of exhibiting companies went down from 92 last year to 82 this year, the total number of presented games has gone up from 354 to 420 titles. The top 3 game genres this year are Simulation (23.2%), RPG (13.2%) and Action/fighters (12.5%). 

Platform wise, this year's statistics for the TGS presentation titles goes as follows. 
The Brackets indicate the stats from last year. 

Playstation 43.3(54.0) 
Dreamcast   11.0 (3.1) 
GameBoy     10.7(12.2) 
Wonderswan   9.8 (N/A) 
PC           8.8 (9.0) 
NeoPocket/C  5.7 (2.3) 
Nintendo64   2.9 (5.3) 
Saturn       2.1 (7.3) 
Mac          0.7 (0.6) 
Etc          4.5 (6.2) 

The mascot character for the TGS appeared in a sketeton-transparent form this year, to show the light that emitted from its body, with a slogan of "Switch On!". This slogan for the TGS is meant for symbolizing the turning on to the revolution of videogames into the next century.