The planets aligned for those of us who arrived in Japan this summer and gave us a five day weekend in the form of Silver Week. To clarify, there are always two national holidays in the latter half of September – this year ‘Respect for the Aged Day’ fell on Monday 21st September and ‘Autumn Equinox Day’ is was Wednesday 23rd September. Japanese holiday legislation dictates that any work day sandwiched between two holidays becomes a holiday which meant HELLO FIVE DAY WEEKEND 😀 Silver Week is pretty rare – the next one won’t be until 2026 – so knackered new English teachers such as myself felt pretty fortunate that we got that time to recharge a month into our employment.
My holiday was pleasantly uneventful – catching up on sleep and laundry, enjoying the sunshine… oh and only going to TOKYO FRICKIN GAME SHOW.
If you’re in Japan at the time of the game show checking it out is a must, even if you have only a peripheral interest in games. The atmosphere is such that it’s worth it for even the most casual of gamers such as myself to go just to enjoy the spectacle. The scale of the event is immense – for those of you who have been to London’s MCM expo, think that x10. Moreover, if you’re picturing a comic con vibe, think again. Although there are many incredible cosplays on display and a fair share of geeky looking guys, Tokyo Game Show attracts people from all walks of life, from families with young children, to teenage girls crowded around the romance simulator demonstrations, to obaasans bent over their walking sticks.
So what can you do at Tokyo Game Show? Well, you can…
Play new games
Obviously, this is a key incentive. Tokyo Game Show is an opportunity to play new games before they’re released to the general public. Better get there early if you want to try out major titles though – the lucky so-and-sos on the left are trying out the new Phoenix Wright game in an awesome court room setting! They weren’t giving out tickets for that by the time we got there, but we got to play some other great games.
Get turned into a titan!
Attack on Titan’s stand was one of the hottest spots at this year’s game show, and included the opportunity to have your face put into a huge titan poster hanging from the ceiling! Let’s hope the upcoming game is more exciting than the recent mediocre film.
Get Kabe Don-ed by a prince of your choosing
There were stands for those infamous girlfriend simulator games at Tokyo Game Show, but seeing as the demonstrations involved pixelated girls of the scantily clad variety and the crowds were almost entirely male, my boyfriend and I didn’t feel very comfortable staying there long. The stands for dating sims targeted at women were far more amusing places to hang out. At Voltange Inc’s stand, the stars of their new game – boyband ‘Revance’ – paraded about in sailor suits, planting kisses on the cheeks of giggling female fans and their sailor hats on the heads of good-natured boyfriends. You could also queue up to receive a kabe-don from a character of your choosing. For the uninitiated, kabe-don, literally ‘the act of slamming a wall,’ is a move which melts the hearts of millions of shoujo manga and romance sim fans. Someone, usually a ‘tough guy type’ leans over someone else, usually a smitten female, pressing them against the wall, usually to deliver a dramatic love confession. Extra points for an intense wall slam and hair dramatically falling over the face of the don-er.
Try out indie games
Something that sets Tokyo Game Show apart is the ‘indie game floor’ and the opportunity to try out games from small, independent developers. This was a highlight for us as the queues are far smaller than for the major titles and often the creators are present, friendly, eager to talk about their games and give you freebies. You can also find some real gems. My boyfriend and I to came across ‘Undivided’ – a charming 2 player. Brilliant in its simplicity, you get a cute little blue or green character that can either only move left to right or up and down and your partner can only do opposite. You have to work together to get through levels which get progressively harder and it’s actually pretty traumatic when you have to move away from your little friend in the latter puzzles.
Go to the beach
Ok so this one is not technically part of the game show. But after you have got your fill of game craziness you will most likely be craving a quiet walk along along the beach. And you would be in luck! Tokyo Game Show is not technically in Tokyo – the huge conference venue Makuhari Messe is actually in Chiba, a seaside prefecture. For most Tokyoites, it’s quite far out so it would be a shame not to say hello to the sea whilst you’re there. The beach fifteen minutes walk away is not going to win any prizes for spectacular beauty but it still offers a lovely view of the bay. We were very fortunate in the weather and so watching the sunset over the sea was a great way to wind down after an exciting but tiring day.