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Eurogamer Expo 2010 & Hyper Japan

It’s pretty much an annual thing now, going to play lots of video games over an entertaining weekend and this time, I was able to hang out with the crew of Destructoid UK for some of the evenings so much fun was had by all. Rather unfortunately, it seems that a new event to promote japanese culture, Hyper Japan, decided to hold it’s first event on the same weekend. Sorry, but between a Japanese culture event and Eurogamer, Eurogamer wins hands down!!!

Both events ran for 3 days from Friday the 1st October until Sunday the 3rd. I felt too out of it to do 3 days of stuff so I only attended Friday and Saturday events (Must be a sign of me getting old). Friday was spent playing lots of games at the Eurogamer Expo and Saturday morning was spent at Hyper Japan, where I met a few figure.fm members, before I dashed off back to the Eurogamer Expo for a very special Developers Session. Afterall, it’s not every day you get to sit in on a session with a gaming legend!

The Eurogamer Expo gets bigger every year but this time, it felt a little underwhelming as there was no real stand out game on the stands. In the first expo, I remember queueing up repeatedly to play left 4 dead with friends. In the second expo, Heavy Rain left me with some good vibes but nothing really grabbed me in the same way this year. Move and Kinect were out in full force but regular readers will know my stance on motion gaming. Sony tried to push 3D as well but while they were impressive, most felt superfluous and unnecessary, with the exception of GT5, which was very cool, and I don’t even like driving simulators!
Sadly I missed out on 2 big titles, Dead Space 2 and Brink. I foolishly thought that Dead Space 2 was due for release within the next few months so I decided to wait for the full game. Turns out that it’s not due for release until next year. D’OH!! As for brink, It was a case of seeing the queue being too big so I thought I’d go a little later, only the queue never got smaller. In fact it only grew!!! Damn…

So first, after the jump, I’ll talk about the games I played on Friday (and Saturday) before going on about Hyper Japan and the Developers Session.

Games at the expo

  • Kirbys Epic Yarn – A fun and very charming wii game. sure to be great fun but hard to tell with only a very short 3 stage demo to test out. May lack longevity.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - A lot more interactive than the last one but felt somewhat hampered by the tech. The motionplus didn’t seem to recognise which direction I was swinging from, although it got the angles right…
  • Goldeneye - An absolute mess! This is why you don’t meddle with the classics!!
  • Gran Turismo 5 - Normally I hate driving simulators but I just had to try out the 3D and the in car view really takes things to a new level with the 3D. Pseudo Depth perception!!! Cornering just became a hell of a lot easier!
  • Killzone 3 - Very much like Killzone 2 except they were pushing the 3D aspect pretty hard! Jetpacks made for an interesting diversion and they operate very differently from those in Halo:Reach. But that also limits where they can be used. Aside from certain set piece levels, I don’t see the jetpacks being used much.
  • Saw 2 - MUCH better than the first game which I played last year. But that doesn’t really say much cos the first one was awful!
  • Medal of Honour (multiplayer) - COD much?
  • Bulletstorm - Kinda reminded me of Serious Sam in that it didn’t take itself seriously at all. Sexual innuendos abound in the banter, a couple of gimmicks to make killing a little more creative. My personal favourite was using the whip to pull enemies towards me and then kicking them into cacti, impaling them.
  • Castlevania: lord of Shadows - very fun and, while it didn’t exactly do anything new, was very solid and entertaining. The boss fights definitely had a “shadow of the colossus” feel to it
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the west - My complaints from the recent demo are still valid in the main game. It looks very pretty and I’m sure the plot is fantastic but the gameplay is choppy. Combat isn’t exactly varied or challenging and when it comes to the platforming sections, the game pretty much plays itself. if you are not supposed to jump from a certain area, then you will simply hit an invisible wall until you get to the area you can jump to. Looks a bit far to the red block you need to grab? don’t worry. If the animation starts, you’ve gotten there! I really don’t understand why publications are going gaga over it!
  • Assassins creed: brotherhood – Buggy as hell! but what I’ve played seemed interesting but there were some issues with the controls being unresponsive at times.
  • Crysis 2 – On PC, it was beautiful and smooth as silk. If you have a rig which can play it, eyecandy is the only word for it. The only problem was the controls and prompts were built for pad controls so it kept asking you to press the “y” button to do an action and it wasn’t the “y” key on the keyboard. The game also crashed at the end of the demo. They also had a 360 build which was an absolute travesty! On the 360, there was very chppy framerate, textures didn’t load properly and some items simply appear out of nowhere! Crytek should be embarrassed that the build was seen outside of their office! God knows what the PS3 version is currently like!!
  • Rock Band 3 – Played on the new 120 button guitar controller on Pro mode and it is HARD!!! Well, that is to be expected considering I haven’t touched a guitar properly since I was 7 years old!! It will take some getting used to but the controller itself doesn’t feel very good and from others who actually do play the guitar, the prototype 6 string controller (which does look like an actual guitar and uses strings for frets instead of buttons) doesn’t fare well either. Apparently, the neck is too thick. But the game has FREEBIRD!!!!
  • Marvel vs Capcom 3 – The closest thing to the game of the show!! It was really good fun and was fast and furious. My only minor gripe was that they seem to be sticking with the tatsunoko vs capcom controls so you only have 3 attack buttons, light mid and heavywhich controls both punches and kicks. The build we played also lacked some of the newer character additions like tronne bonne, X-23,  Wesker and spiderman (but c’mon! Everyone knew they just HAD to have spiderman!!) but it was still fun to check out the newest additions. I played as Trish, Morrigan (for familiarity), Dante and Deadpool for my teams. Deadpool is fun but I think I prefer Dante. Trish and Morrigan are definitely in my 3 man (ladies?) team!

Out of all the games, only Marvel Vs Capcom 3 had me going back for more but I feel that I can wait for its release next year especially since Blazblue Continuum Shift is due later this month!

That’s pretty much it for the “cool stuff” On next to Hyper Japan!

I didn’t really think too much about Hyper Japan even after I had left the event. It didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth like the MCM expo does but I felt that there was a lack of items on offer at the event, esp since many of the stores which had set up booths were ones which I frequent anyway, like JP books underneath Mitsukoshi. The Good Smile Company booth was pretty much a farce and was better off being called the Black rock shooter booth, even though all they sold was BRS t-shirts and the nendo and Figma. I’m sure that licensing issues played a major part in why nothing else was on display but seeing as I really have no love for BRS, it seemed like a waste of space to me.

Even more insulting was the fact that they had many of the already released BRS figures on display but weren’t selling any of them!

I mean, some of them have been out for months and they were selling the figma and nendo BRS, so why not the figures?

Although ultimately, it didn’t matter to me. After seeing the figures in the flesh (so to speak) it made me question the popularity of the series even more than I did before!! There was also a very embarrassing moment when a group of people came to the booth while I was talking to some of the figure.fm guys and they did the most embarrassing squeels I have ever seen! The high pitched “OMG! OMG! Black rock Shooter!! *sqwee* DO WANT” followed by the stroking of the cabinet will haunt me for weeks.

Square Enix also had their own booth to sell some plushies and Playarts Kai figures. Never was particularly interested in them but I was quite surprised to see how big they actually were!

One thing I was glad to see, though was some stalls which actually sold items which are more in line with promoting the culture and the event wasn’t just about cosplay, anime, Kimonos and sushi (though they did take up a large bulk of the space!)

I was also surprised to see that Toei was there showing some of their anime shows! They were even playing Gaiking!! Sadly, it was the recent remake and not the original 70s show. And I doubt they were showing enough to show off gaiking the great!

There were even some replica samurai armour on display. Supposedly, you could put some on for a photoshoot but I was really pressed for time!

JAL was also there selling some of their company items, which was rather surprising, considering the company went into administration earlier this year!

In the end, I spent about 2 hours at the event. I could have spent a little more time there while hanging out with some of the Figure.fm crew but I just had to get back to the Eurogamer Expo! I didn’t go away empty handed though!! While there, I picked up the recent Yoshiyuki Sadamoto artbook.

He’s best known for his work on evangelion and he’s also the artist for the manga. His “Die Sterne” artbook is probably the most famous of all the evangelion artbooks out there (and yes, I own that too). This book was a little more diverse though. He added some works from “the girl who leapt through time”, FLCL, Gunbuster 2 and even summer wars!

The Summer wars pic was probably my fave in the book. His works are also often used as the basis for many eva figures. Does this look familiar to anyone?

I also bought 3 bottles of Sake from the JAL store. They let me try some samples and I thought it was rather good, for the price I mean. You know good sake when you and your friends pay £75 for a bottle to share!! The JAL sake was a little collectible as well!

What can I say? JAL seem to know how to market! The even named them!! From the left we have Maika, Ogin and Ojo! I was allowed to sample some of Maikas and Ojos Sake before buying. I haven’t tried Ogins yet.
Ojos sake went down very smoothly to the point that you wonder if it’s actually alcoholic. Maikas had quite a kick to it and was more “sake like” in its flavour.

I also bought this little contraption. For those who don’t know, this is a traditional style “cup” which japanese people drink sake from! No, I am not making that up! It’s basically a square wooden shot glass!

Maybe I should have returned to Hyper Japan on Sunday. A few of my friends went then and they also saw well known Japanophile, Joanthan Ross at the event! Still, I don’t regret missing out. But now I get to show why I was so desperate to get back to the Eurogamer expo!

It’s Yuji Naka!!! The creator of Sonic the Hedgehog!!! He was at the expo to doing a developers session about his new game Ivy the Kiwi? at the expo and I wasn’t going to miss that!!
The Eurogamer staff asked him many questions both about the game, his past at sega and, of course, sonic the hedgehog. There were some fun moments, like how he explained that the concept behind sonic the hedgehog was about a character who wouldn’t be stopped by enemies. Initially Sonic was also meant to be a bunny rabbit and would use his ears to protect himself!

After that, we had a Q&A session with the audience and sadly, if it wasn’t apparent before, the translator was rather naff! I asked a question about Burning Rangers, one of my favourite games on the Sega Saturn and wanted to know if Naka-san had any fond memories about the game and if it was a series he would like to revisit if given the chance. Unfortunately, the translator changed the question from “How do you feel about this game on the saturn” to “how do you feel about the sega saturn” Sufficed to say, I didn’t get the answer I was looking for. In fact, he said that he wasn’t able to talk much about the saturn but he would like to revisit it someday (No, It doesn’t make sense to anyone else either. Maybe he picked out burning rangers from my question and understood it better than the translator?)
heck, after that, I wondered if I should have just asked him in Japanese. Sure, my grammar would have been horrific and japanese speakers would ridicule me but I bet he’d understand it better than the translator!
And that wasn’t the only gaffe either! One of the Dtoid members asked about the similarities in the visual style of his games and the translator changed visual to audio! WTF??

Still, there was one redeeming factor after that epic fail. After the Q&A, Yuji Naka challenged the entire room to a game of Rock Paper Scissors. The prize? One  5 Ivy the Kiwi? picture books signed by the man himself!! The room fit a good few hundred people in there so competition was fierce! And guess what?

HELL YEAH!!!

The picture book itself was quite good and had some very simple japanese which even I could read. It also went into spoiler territory as it explained the “?” in the title. Afterall, the game is called Ivy the kiwi? Well…

*spoiler*She’s not a Kiwi!!*spoiler*

That was pretty much the highliight of the day. Now I have a picture book signed by Yuji Naka, MGS 3 and 4 signed by Hideo Kojima. 4 Was also signed by Yoji Shinkawa and Yuki Kikuchi and Final Fantasy XIII signed by Yoshinari Kitase and Isamu Kamikokuryo. Guess I’ll need to target another video game big shot!

  • http://www.gkhaven.com serogane

    Hey congrats on your win.

    We never get events like these in Vancouver which really sucks.

  • http://lookingglass.kokidokom.net gundamjehutykai

    Ah, But I’m prtty sure that you get decent anime conventions with cool guests and merchandise which isn’t marked up so high it makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time!
    So I think it balances out!

  • http://www.gkhaven.com serogane

    Anime Evolution *is* only 30 mins away…but I’ve always overlooked it, being under the impression that it catered only to anime/cosplay/seiyuu fans.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anime_Evolution
    http://www.animeevolution.com/

    But damn I just realized I missed out this year! There was even a garage kit workshop!

    Looks like the convention is really starting to diversify in terms of events. Guess maybe I will go next year. :S

  • alex

    “…as I really have no love for BRS…”
    – did you watch the OVA, if not try it…
    I didn’t give a shit about BRS but after the OVA…it’s just great.

    (PS: I found this site through sankaku feed exchange – only to let you know)

  • http://lookingglass.kokidokom.net gundamjehutykai

    Yeah, didn’t Gaera Baenrae help set one up over there? or was that a different convention I’m thinking about? You guys also get gunpla competitions and the like. Our conventions basically just take the worst parts of your events and stick with them.

  • http://lookingglass.kokidokom.net gundamjehutykai

    Actually, I have seen the OVA and it was the exact opposite for me. After watching it, my apathy to the IP changed to total disdain! The OVA was absolutely horrific in my eyes and failed as an advertisment, piece of entertainment and pretty much anything it was trying to accomplish!

    I almost wanted to scream at my screen for wasting a whole hour on that drivel.

  • http://www.gkhaven.com serogane

    I don’t think the dude lives in Vancouver. This is just some random group of Canadians who like to build monster kits and had a workshop setup at AE2010.

  • alex

    ^ This is exactly what I thought after watching Eva2.0.
    I don’t know if you like K-ON, but to enjoy BRS you have to understand that it’s moe with action so you have to treat it in an other way than other anime – you shouldn’t think about a story or plot, you just have to watch it and enjoy it, nothing more :idea:
    I.e. I expected from Eva2.0 plot, story, action etc. but it had nothing of it so I was pissed off – a very cheap NGE knock of and I really liked Eva1.0. When you await that from BRS you won’t like it – when you know it’s moe and that you don’t need to await anything, then you can enjoy it. I think the action scenes in Eva2.0 look just cheap and lame and that BRS has much better action scenes, something what you don’t expect from a moe anime.

  • http://lookingglass.kokidokom.net gundamjehutykai

    *sigh* Sorry, but it looks like we’re destined to not get along! ^^’

    Firstly, I really liked Eva 2.0. Being a big fan of the series back when it first came to the west, I was refreshed to see that they didn’t change much in the first film but I was more impressed with how they managed to make wholesale changes to the plot and characters in the second to make the thing flow better and yet still manage to make is so familiar to those who remember the series. It was the Eva I loved, and yet not. But I loved it all the same! Shinji with a spine is far more entertaining than shinji without! And things certainly didn’t look cheap from the cinema where I watched it!
    Secondly, No, I strongly dislike K-ON!, not because it’s a moe anime, but because everything about it is static. Nothing ever happens to make things move forward. The characters in the last ep are exactly the same as they were in the first ep, except that they are no longer officially high school students. They’re all one trick ponies who simply do a preset routine whenever the writer thinks it’s appropriate.
    It’s vapid, it’s lifeless and it’s stale from the start. cycling stills of the characters for 20 minutes would have the same effect! I also have the same issue with lucky star but at least lucky star is occasionally funny!
    Back to BRS, I went in expecting nothing (remember, I don’t give a damn about the figures or the AMV) and I came out of it with less than nothing. I have no idea how you thought the action scenes were better than that of a full theatrical release, especially when it seemed that they were following the bourne book for action scenes and make the whole thing with shakeycam and incredibly difficult to follow and the makers seemed intent on obscuring as much of the action as possible through dust clouds and rubble, not that there is that much action to watch as much of is either just running or standoffs. The first few minutes was purely to get people excited about the release of black gold saw but she appears for less than 30 seconds throughout the fight and is then discarded.
    I am more than capable of shutting my brain off and just enjoying a show for what it is. I do it on a regular basis (mostly with harem animes) but it takes a certain level of suck to make me really hate something. Dragonaut managed it, Kurokami managed it and BRS OVA managed it!

  • alex

    I thought something similar about K-ON! too. When I watched the 1st ep. I was totally bored. Then I watched-listened the endings on youtube someday – don’t say lazy, no thank you – and thought that it’s quite good. So I tried to download the K-ON songs and I liked it. Then I thought why not try to watch it again and I liked it more and more with each ep. (especially season 1). It needs to reboot the brain or something to get into it. I guess the point of K-ON is that it’s a perfect world – you don’t need to fear that someone (who you like) dies, that they will fight, no drama, no story you have to think about (NGE I’m looking at you :-) – you just have a nice and fluffy teatime with the girls and forget your worries :) and it’s quite funny when you can get into it.
    Yes Lucky Star was sometimes funny but it was missing something (besides plot) and the character design wasn’t appealing for me – Konata and Kagami look somehow strange with those rectangular eyes. And ep.1 is concentrated boredom.
    Do you know “Training/Sleeping with Hinako” ? – If someone would make a “Teatime with K-ON” DVD, those otakus would go crazy for that – two hours (or more) of pure teatime :)

  • http://lookingglass.kokidokom.net gundamjehutykai

    Sorry to say that I can’t stand the K-ON! Music either. Especially the season 2 stuff. They made my ears bleed!
    But the only slice of life anime I have ever liked is azumanga daioh (I think there’s some univeral law which prevents people from disliking it). It basically does what K-ON! and Lucky star tried to do but does it right! And you can see the characters grow up and change as the show goes along as well! Especially Chiyo-Chan! (I really liked Hyakko as well, but that was more to do with the massive number of side characters!)
    Basically, I think K-ON! and lucky star lives or dies on their character designs. People watch them just so they can see their preferred character do the same thing as they did in the previous episode regardless of what else happens in the show (i.e. not much). In that respect, you are totally right about the idea of tea with hougakou teatime… Which is really REALLY depressing when you think about it…

  • http://quentinlau.blogspot.com Q

    Crysis 2 feels buggy and incomplete? That is not what a game company should present to the public! A public embarassment lol. Well I suppose things are still in testing phase but that did not sound presentable at all.

    As for Castlevania, I heard this latest one feels more like God of War or Dante’s Inferno style. Does it sound like the case for you? Haven’t looked up videos yet since I’ve my hands full on other stuff lately.

    The JAL sake sounds pretty interesting in terms of marketing, and that it’s not just some random beverage even though it costs 75 quid. Funny to see that the ‘cup’ actually reads “萌酒” (moe sake).

  • http://lookingglass.kokidokom.net gundamjehutykai

    Belive me, it was BAD! even the guys playing crysis 2 on the 360 were embarrassed! The kicker was that games like Killzone 3 were running around with a massive message saying “this game is in alpha stage and may not be representative of the final product” yet looked way more complete than crysis 2. At the very least, they didn’t crash after you completed the demo.
    The combat in castlevania does have a little element of GoW in it, but it’s more about 1 on 1 fights rather than taking out loads of enemies all at once.

    And my 3 Sake bottles cost £50 for all 3. I think it was £20 per bottle. The £75 was bought in a japanese restaurant but it was oh-so-good. I don’t think the JAL Sake comes close but it’s, as you correctly pointed out on the sake cup, “moe sake”
    There really isn’t anything japan can’t make moe!!!