Tokyo Game Show 2016 is now officially in the books, and as my fourth consecutive trip to the show, all I can say is "Bring on a fifth!" By the time next year's show comes around, the Nintendo NX will already be on the market and in the hands of all our favorite Japanese third-party developers, and even 4K gaming might have a more affordable and accessible entry point, too.

There's a lot to look forward to in 2017.

And as for 2016, well, I didn't feel quite the same gusto this time around from the traditional big developers that I did from previous years. In 2015, a much more confident Japan seemed ready to pounce in an attempt to take back the HD market, which it had lost to the AAA Western scene in the previous generation. Big titles promised to highlight the best that Japanese games had to offer.

Here we are in the closing months of 2016, though, and several of those games tanked. Star Ocean comes to mind as one that didn't pan out in the least, and while Metal Gear Solid V proved to be a bit of a game-changer, Dark Souls III also showed us that you can only make the same video game so many times before the general population stops talking about it within a year.

I had almost completely forgotten about it!

Tokyo Game Show 2016 came loaded with mixed messages though with some publishers throwing all their eggs in one basket, others showing up just out of habit, and some possibly holding back while they prep for 2017 and the upcoming launch of the NX.

It's a Square Enix world, we're just living in it

Naturally, Square Enix wasn't one of those companies looking to hold back. The company brought with it three excellent Final Fantasy games, the latest that Kingdom Hearts has to offer, the gameplay reveal of SaGa Scarlet Grace, and a release date for NieR Automata.

With these games and a generous helping of information, it easily dominated the show once again as the biggest and best third-party publisher.

The biggest story of all was, of course, Final Fantasy XV, which is crawling closer and closer to release on Nov. 29. This latest demo put a lot of fears to rest with how perfectly it played. Its undoubtedly exhausted development team made leaps and bounds since it released the "Episode Duscae" demo to cautiously positive praise last year, and if the final product plays anything like this build, Final Fantasy will return to its rightful spot at the front of the RPG genre this holiday season.

As for the other games in the series, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age provided enough reasons for veterans to give double dipping a try, but I worry about newcomers who played this demo as their first look at the game. Final Fantasy XIprovides infinite levels of depth with its RPG systems, and this demo barely touched on the underpinnings behind its deceptively deep battle system.

World of Final Fantasy ultimately proved to be the biggest victor here. With a solid battle system and fun monster collecting mechanic backing it up, this will become the Final Fantasy tribute game that so many others have failed to become. We survived the likes of Final Fantasy Explorers and All The Bravest, and we're due for one of these spin-offs to reach the level we expect from the series' brand name.

SaGa Scarlet Grace looks great, and we can always count on director Akitoshi Kawazu to shake up the JRPG genre a little bit. This new entry is his craziest yet now that he has thrown out dungeons altogether, leaving nothing but a world map to uncover.

Kingdom Hearts continues to exist just to please its fans. The demos from Dream Drop Distance and Birth By Sleep played like games stuck in the PlayStation 2 era, and I wonder if newcomers would remain interested long enough to catch up on the dozens of hours of story tucked behind its aged gameplay. Kingdom Hearts III not only needs to bring this relic of a series into the modern world, it also needs to open the doors and be accessible to those who were not around 15 years ago.

Dragon Quest XI failed to make an appearance, which was expected, but Square Enix did announce Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 following the convention. The story here though is that Square Enix found itself completed un-represented on the Nintendo 3DS, where it usually does quite well for itself.

A sign that it has Nintendo NX plans it's unable to announce just yet? You tell me.

Other heavy hitters come up short

Final Fantasy might be soaring high at the moment, but I left the convention feeling that Japan's traditional pillars came up a little short this year. Either because of personal preference or glitchy kiosks, I did not particularly enjoy the biggest and the best that the country usually offers.

I suppose the most telling of these is Persona 5, which left me totally underwhelmed. I blamed a glitchy demo or a sputtering controller in my hands-on impressions, but the input lag caused the newly added stealth mechanics to feel not only poorly implemented but also broken beyond repair. Again, it might have been the kiosk because Atlus deserves the benefit of the doubt, but if even half of the problems from that demo arise in the final game, the game could be a disappointment.

Yakuza 6 showed off very well, and the excellent trailer only reminded me how little free time I have to go back and catch up on the older stories.

And then there is Resident Evil 7, a game which is destined to split the gaming world right down the middle. For what it is, a first-person horror game molded after Amnesia: Dark Descent, it is very effective at creating a mood that sends chills to the bone. However, in this demo at least, there wasn't a zombie to be seen or a bullet to be fired, leaving some fans of the series wondering if the pendulum might have swung too far in the opposite direction after Resident Evil 6's action-focused campaign crashed with audiences and critics alike.

I think it will be a very good game, just not for everybody. That's the world we live in though, where gaming now encompasses so many different styles and no one title can be catered to each individual's needs.

Konami brought along Metal Gear Survival to the show, but naturally, everyone hated it. Was it because Kojima has nothing to do with it, or was it because they genuinely didn't like the footage? You're guess is as good as mine. I didn't get to play it, but from what I heard, the crowd gave a huge applause when Kojima, the man who added skateboarding and frolicking monkeys into his Metal Gear games, said that zombies had no place in the universe.

Bandai Namco's biggest game at the show was Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, and despite how some interpreted my impressions of the demo, I enjoyed what I played. My only criticisms were how little it improved from the previous game, which I liked, and that negative reaction was based on Bandai Namco saying that this would be a better experience because it was no longer being held back by the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Based on my ten minutes with the barebones action, this experience isn't looking to be any different. Again, that's not exactly a bad thing since Dragon Ball Xenoverse is the best game the anime has spawned in years. It's just not all what Bandai Namco had said it would be. These are just impressions of a ten minute demo, that is all.

The only big Japanese title I didn't get around to was Gravity Rush 2, and I'm still kicking myself for not jumping in line right away. That 15 minute wait for Earth Defense Force 5 didn't leave me enough time to squeeze in the hotly anticipated PlayStation 4 action game at the end of my day.

It's a shame too because reception has been nothing but positive, and I really wanted to give it a try myself. Lines were backed up for up to two hours on both days though, and I had too many other games on my list to justify the wait.

Game of the Show and final thoughts

You don't have to be a genius to know what game I'm picking for Game of the Show. Final Fantasy XV showed off exceptionally well, both in its playable demo and its low-key trailer. The game has been in development for over ten years now, and with a decade of patience finally coming to a close in two months, its epic tale of development needed to be capped off with an A+ performance.

It got just that and more besides at Tokyo Game Show 2016. The competition might not have been up to speed, but even with the other big franchises firing on all fronts, I doubt anything could have topped my beautiful 20 minutes spent with Final Fantasy XV. It teased me with just enough to leave me wanting so much more… to perfect the combat, to explore the world, and to even get to know these characters better.

Yes, after my initial revulsion, I am on board with Noctis and crew.

World of Final Fantasy clocks in as a runner-up for best of show and the most shocking game at the convention. I have always been a believer in this game, but now that I've gone hands-on with it, I see now that Square Enix's plan to essentially turn this into a Pokemon game will give it the legs to be a full product and a fully fledged JRPG.

One more game deserves a mention, and that's another game I was wary about until finally going hands-on with it. In this year of disappointing Japanese giants, I had the most fun with Horizon Zero Dawn, which I will happily throw out there as another runner-up to Final Fantasy XV. As I said in my hands-on impressions, I doubt it will open up uncovered ground, but Guerilla Games does have the ability to push the standards of all AAA trends in this single game.

Final Fantasy XV is still ahead for the bogus risks it's taking with an established franchise and its unique approach to open-world gaming, but consider me a convert on this other open-world action adventure as well. I only wonder now how it holds up to Breath of the Wild.

And for final thoughts, this will definitely be the last year Sony dominates Tokyo Game Show. Certainly not because Microsoft stands a chance to come back with Project Scorpio, as the Japanese gaming scene is steering away from high-end consoles, but rather because the NX is going to be enormous.

With a reveal coming in about a month or so and a launch estimated for spring, we can bet that The Legend of Zelda and Dragon Quest XI alone will make this a hot product on the Japanese market at least. Add in the rumors of new Mario and Pokemon games to be available within the first months, rumors of portability, and rumors of the return to cartridges, and you can bet that other publishers will quickly fall in line when the console takes off.

Capcom will almost certainly have a new Monster Hunter prepped for the show, and Square Enix is looking to port for Dragon Quest Builders. Let's not forget Yo-kai Watch, which desperately needs a portable outlet that the home consoles can't provide.

All these predictions are based on the NX itself being a portable console, and if that's the case, expect it to have a huge summer in Japan and an exciting showing at Tokyo Game Show 2017.

Otherwise, home console gaming doesn't seem to be the focus for a lot of Japanese companies anymore, unless you're talking about Square Enix. I'm sure the slight dip in quality this year comes down to my ever evolving personal preferences, but I just don't want to be locked in front of a television screen anymore when I play games.

Neither does Japan,  obviously. Whereas in the West, we consider multi-platform to mean a release on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, in Japan, plenty of games are coming to both the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. Valkyria: Azure Revolution, World of Final Fantasy, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, and Dragon Quest Builders are just a few big examples of this growing trend of making games both playable on televisions and on handhelds.

Again, tying it back to the Nintendo NX, a console that could cut out the need for two devices. That's the biggest question mark heading into 2017, and once Final Fantasy XV has its turn in the spotlight, you can be Nintendo will be there to pick it right back up.