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Tokyo Game Show 2015 – Shots from the floor and of Akihabara

by Ron Duwell | September 27, 2015September 27, 2015 11:00 am PDT

Another year, another fabulous trip to our world’s largest metropolitan area. Tokyo greeted me with open arms once again, even if I brought along a new guest this time by the name of TORRENTIAL RAIN! While my cozy little town of 1.5 million people called Kobe might seem like a big city from time to time, you really have to prepare yourself for the overwhelming sense of urbanization that the city smacks you in the face with.

Luckily, the area around the Makuhari Messe convention center is always lovely, and Chiba does have some nice areas despite existing for the sole purpose of being a suburb of Tokyo.

The floor itself too was pretty exciting, but like I said in my final thoughts on the show: there was way too many mobile games and anime characters who look like they were generated by committee. The big stuff was all wonderful, but I missed all the green that typically emanates from Microsoft’s section. Konami too was severely underplayed, but the massive Star Wars Battlefront stage was just all kinds of unreal.

News flash: Japanese people love Star Wars too!

The booth babes are also fun, but I’m too much of a coward gentleman to walk up and casually ask to take their pictures. Yes, Tokyo Game Show hasn’t done away with booth babes the way North America has, and chances are, it never will.

And of course, I once again toured Akihabara at night following a long day of hands-on and write ups at the convention, and once again, I walked away totally unimpressed. Granted, Akihabara isn’t exactly dedicated towards video games anymore with card games, anime dolls, and maid cafes overrunning the area. This was my fourth or fifth trip to the neighborhood and my fourth or fifth time I walked away with a shrug.

Let’s just say that if you are visiting Japan, it’s a good time to experience it… once… for about fifteen minutes before realizing that you have an entire wonderful country with a unique culture that you should be experiencing. Put the games away for five minutes and go find something amazing to do outside!

The one game dedicated store in the area, the legendary Super Potato and its creepy hallway upstairs, was even less impressive than before. Over-enthusiastic collectors flocked upon its shelves before I even arrived into town, leaving entire sections of the store barren after dropping hundreds of dollars on rare games they don’t know or they’ll never play. If it has a high price tag, it must be worth something, right?

It made the store seem sad, empty, and pointless to visit, but I’m sure the manager was all smiles.

Who needs the entrancing atmosphere of 30 years of Japanese video game history when you’ve made your monthly quota in a single day, tweaking up the prices to trick those silly gaijin who will pay anything for anything.

I went to Super Potato yesterday back in Osaka. The shelves were full of games I’ve never heard of, televisions shining with classic title screens and 8-bit tunes, and I was happy to see everything intact. I got my fifteen minutes of browsing before moving on. Den Den town is still great because it doesn’t attract these fanatic collectors, these scavengers who would rather let rare games collect dust on a shelf than play them, like Smaug the Dragon.

This type of rabid obsession destroys fun stores for those of us who are just interested in browsing and walking around, wondering what games were like back in the 80s and 90s in Japan. Seriously, do your shopping on the net, please.

I also made my second attempt at Japan’s most ridiculous arcade sensation, Gunslinger Stratos, which is just as popular as it was last year. If you ever think you’d be a super badass in a John Woo movie, this dual pistol arcade cabinet will kindly show you otherwise. Aiming two pistols at once is tough!

If you ever happen to stumble upon this arcade, by all means give it a try. I’d attempt to explain it, but it’s well beyond my comprehension. Aiming, analog sticks on the back of the guns, sticking guns together with a magnet for a super shot. Whoa, way too much! I’ll stick to the fifth floor retro arcades in Super Potato. Gotta love me some Splatterhouse!

That’s my tour of Tokyo 2015! I’ve warmed up to the city a lot, but not so much to Akihabara in specific. Here’s to hoping I can get out in the city more next time and see some sights. I know now that Akihabara is not for me, and it probably never will be. That just means I have hundreds of other places worthy of my attention.


Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...

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