With Nintendo saving themselves for their own Shoshinkai show, there weren’t many surprises in Tokyo either.
Coming hot on the heels of the Spring Game Show, and in the wake of E3, there were very few ‘first looks’ at the Tokyo Game Show ‘97 Autumn (sic), held in Makuhari Messe exhibition centre at the beginning of September. But there were one hell of a lot of people. 120,000 in fact, with 104 exhibitors, making it the biggest game show in Japan. A few games did, erm, ‘pop up’, however. (Aero Gauge, anyone?) There was a promising-looking golf game from T&E called Augusta Masters 98, 70% complete and slated for a December release. And Hudson showed a glimpse of New Japan Pro Wrestling and gave me a go on their Virtual-On clone, Last Legion. Konanii had their tricky but fun Ilyper Olympics in Nagano 64, looking cool in all respects and coming out at a suitably cool Christmas (as are the other games).
Originality, though, was not the name of the game. Show, sorry. Here’s a quick run-down:
Looking good were Ubisoft’s Tonic Trouble on video and Konami’s Hybrid Heaven. Very enticing. Then there was Hudson’s Bomberman 64. I had a quick go in four-player mode, and the ability to harass your opponents as a ‘ghost’ when they’ve supposedly finished you off is an excellent (and infuriating) inclusion.
Top Gear Rally didn’t look exactly dazzling (Nonsense. It’s great. — Ed), and neither did the tongue-vaulting Chameleon Twist, Hudson’s seen-it- all-before Dual Heroes and Konami’s (last) GASP!!. NBA Basketball only marginally challenged my old Mega Drive version, and Imagineer’s Fighting Cup (previously Struggle Hard) beat-’em-up wasn’t drawing huge crowds.
Sonic Wings Assault from Video System has been delayed till March 1998. And I can’t say I’m looking forward to ASCII’s Aero Gauge, bringing us shocking pop-up AND fog in a dismal Wipeout clone, and, please God say it ain’t so, Tamagotchi for the N64 from Bandai. Nooool
Nintendo are saving themselves.
So, the show presented a very mixed bag. I’ll admit that I left before the ‘companion lady’s costume contest’, so it would be hasty to pass too harsh a judgement. But Top Gear Rally! Heavily promoted by the requisite bevy of babes, and looking very accomplished, with four courses (a jungle track making it one more than MRC), I was ready to be wowed. Not to be, I’m afraid. I won my first race in an unmodified car, taking 1st place on the 3rd lap, and maintaining the lead despite rolling the car onto its side, getting ‘restarted’ by being dropped from a great height where I’d fallen off, and executing a couple of hairy powerslides. Once you’ve passed a car, you never see it again. It was a lonely drive with no sensation of speed, frankly. And to cap it all, the entire game plays more like ice- hockey, with the lightest touch on the analogue stick causing high drama. (Fear not, readers. Spend more time with Top Gear Rally and it turns out to be really good. We’ll explain all in our review of it next month. — Ed) But at least there’s no pop-up. Did I mention Aero Gauge?