Xbox One holds its ground at Tokyo Game Show

September’s Tokyo Game Show was an important proving ground for Xbox One in Japan. The console launched just two weeks before the expo, nearly ten months after its release in the US and UK this was Microsoft’s chance to get its fresh new machine into the hands of gamers. “We want more people to try Xbox One,” Xbox Japan boss Takashi Sensui tells OXM. “We have a great lineup for the holidays, so we want people to try those games.”


While the most popular games around the showfloor were made in Japan, the Xbox booth was notable for offering a majority of western titles. Xbox usually lags behind Nintendo and Sony in Japan, but the core group of fans are usually drawn by the same shooters and racers that we love in the west. Of 88 demo stations split between 29 games at the Xbox booth, 24 were dedicated to Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare, which was by far the biggest draw. “This is the first time the new COD is playable at TGS, and you can only play it at the Xbox booth, which is great,” says Sensui.

“One of the things that’s special about TGS is that it lets consumers in,” says Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. “E3 doesn't do that. So this is a great opportunity for us to come to a market that’s really important for gaming and for us, and let gamers get their hands on the games.”

Other popular titles included Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Forza Horizon 2 and Evolve, and there were also a number of Japanese games on show. Shinji Mikami’s The Evil Within was the most popular of these, with long lines for its screened-off over-18s demo area, while Hidetaka ‘Swery’ Suehiro’s D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die got a surprise next-day release announcement. Only two ID@XBOX indie games were shown on the booth, but one of them, Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No.9, drew long lines all weekend. “Inafune-san has been a great partner in ID since we originally pitched it; he was one of the first people we talked to, and he’s been a big supporter,” says Spencer.

The launch of Xbox One in Japan could have gone more smoothly, with uninspiring first-weekend sales of less than 25,000 units and customers complaining that Kinect’s voice recognition was hit and miss for regional dialects. The service is still in beta.

“Our target is to provide 90% voice accuracy,” says Xbox Japan product manager Masashi Inoue. “It’s currently 80%. In order to improve that, we are making improvements based on usage data, and seeing the most used commands so we can raise our focus on those commands.”

Inoue admits that Japan’s gamers are still waiting for the games and services they want before committing to Xbox One, but he points out that several Japan-centric applications will reach the console before the end of the year. “Our karaoke partner, DAM, is working to create a good service for us that is coming this holiday,” he says and karaoke is to Japan what moaning is to Britain, a national pastime.

“Another really unique application is a food delivery service [Demae-Can], so when you’re playing a game and you get hungry, you just snap this app and order a pizza, and it comes in 30 minutes!” Man, are we jealous.

Eastern games were out in force at TGS
Psycho-Pass is a hugely popular anime series by Ghost In The Shell animators Production IG, centered on a Minority Report style agency that monitors potential crimes and dispatches armed agents to prevent them from happening.

This Xbox One exclusive visual novel (think interactive, digital comic) hits Japan in autumn 2015. The TGS demo featured neat Kinect hand gestures, and facial recognition will feature, too. Using SmartGlass, characters will even call your tablet or smartphone to pass on private information or to have you give fingerprint ID.

The team’s is still figuring out how to best implement the iconic Dominator guns they only shoot once they determine a target’s threat but whatever happens, the game is looking interesting. And since the anime has hit the UK, a local release is not impossible.

Chaos,Child is another Xbox One exclusive visual novel from the team behind Psycho Pass, and is the fourth game in the Science Adventure series that includes Steins,Gate and Robotics,Notes. Sounds,great.

The game is set six years after the first game in the series, Chaos;Head. In 2015, a student who writes for the college newspaper is investigating two seemingly unconnected sudden deaths of men who were streaming videos online when they snuffed it, and he discovers a link to the New Generation Madness deaths of the first game. It seems there’s one more death to come.

The lengthy demo available now in Japan shows gorgeous artwork and lots of lovely gruesomeness, and the game comes out over there on 18 December. There’s no word on an English version, though.

Best of the rest
Other top Japanese games for Xbox One at TGS included The Evil Within, which in Japan has the super-cool name Psycho Break; Resident Evil Revelations 2, which returns to the series’ horror roots and will be sold in episodic form with a cool couch-play co-op mode; Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires and Bladestorm: Nightmare, both due early next year and offering hack ’n’ slash strategy warfare, set in feudal China and feudal Europe respectively; Puyo Puyo Tetris, a puzzle mash-up that works brilliantly; and Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, an action-heavy PSP upgrade that will serve as a taster for FFXV.

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