TGS: Sega Report
On the evidence of its TGS showing, Sega is beginning to see rewards for maintaining close ties with the new houses of some of Japan’s premier game designers.
The Yuji Naka-headed Prope brings a playable build of its first title to Sega’s booth – the Wii curio that is Let’s Tap! The novelty of this game is both visual and sensory, with Wii Remotes turned upside-down and laid horizontally on cardboard boxes: the method of input is simply to tap a box with your fingers, and the slight reverberations apparently suffice to relay players’ rhythmic tapping action to the Let’s Tap! software.
There’s a recognisably Sonic Team finesse to Let’s Tap!, with its apparent simplicity veiling a wide variety of game styles, including unique takes on calligraphy and user-orchestrated fireworks displays, as well as multiplayer challenges that initially centre on multiplayer platforming/sprinting pitched somewhere between LittleBigPlanet and Kemco’s old Kid Klown in Crazy Chase games.
The dilemma of sourcing appropriately sized cardboard boxes as stands for Remotes will be solved in part by SEGA’s decision to release Let’s Tap! in a special package (in Japan, at least) that contains two identical logo-branded boxes. The game is down for a December release in Japan.
Oddly, the Let’s Tap! stand also features a video loop of a complementary WiiWare title called Let’s Catch! – which seems to involve much catching and throwing of objects, in a family setting. This WiiWare effort from Prope will also launch in December, at a price of 1,000 points. It’s unclear whether the two titles integrate with each other or merely share similar branding and style.
Elsewhere on Sega’s booth, the PlatinumGames-developed Infinite Space stands out as a real “gamers’ game”, harking back to great PC space adventures of the ‘80s and ‘90s. The audiovisual features of Infinite Space are geared towards delivering the kind of drama you’d expect from classic intergalactic sci-fi. During battles, the DS Lite’s touchscreen switches to a view of a deck very much reminiscent of the Starship Enterprise, while the top screen displays battle moves in turn. And the score is something else – a Trekkie’s delight.
PlatinumGames’ Bayonetta, also on show at Sega’s booth, is another sign of this nascent studio’s obvious potential.
As for Sega’s own output, its TGS booth is attracting long and winding queues for Yakuza 3, which looks every bit as ambitious as the first two PS2 games were. Yakuza 3’s cast of famous Japanese (voice) actors is being promoted via footage of recording sessions, and the game’s association with local celebrity appears to be attracting great volumes of the Japanese media.
Other key Sega franchises are being revisited, too: Phantasy Star Zero and Shining Force Feather threaten to reignite both RPG series on the DS, while Sonic Unleashed (presented here under its Dreamcast-referencing Japanese title, Sonic World Adventure) is playable on Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3. Incidentally, the PS3 version of Unleashed looks notably better than its peers.
Sega is also appealing to the Japanese penchant for horror games with 428 – In the blocked city, Shibuya –, which looks like it shouldn’t be a Wii game (but is).