This article was originally sent to Eurogamer supporters as part of the Eurogamer Essentials newsletter which is sent to all members every Friday. If you want to know how to become a Eurogamer supporter, you can find out more here.
In Japan right now, the Makuhari Messe is abuzz, its halls filled with the hushed excitement of a Tokyo Game Show in full swing after three years of publicity. It’s a strange feeling to watch it all unfold from afar – one of the great privileges of my job in the pre-pandemic years was to attend the show for Eurogamer, and to be on the ground in Japan as it celebrates its game industry was really just as wonderful as you imagine.
I have enough anecdotes over the years to fill a fairly sordid book, although to preserve the dignity of those involved – and myself – very few will ever see the light of day (and I’m almost sure Wes and Tom still have heaven I can’t forgive myself for the stress I put them through trying to drag me from a bar in Shinjuku in the wee hours of the morning to catch our flight home).
Getting there this year was always going to be tricky thanks to the overzealous bureaucracy surrounding border control at the moment, but it was at least possible to follow things from afar, whether via Nintendo Direct or State of Play. from this week — both of which, skewed expectations thanks to a few wonky leaks, delivered fun surprises — or editor efforts to bring the show home. In Woolwich Square, Enix just put on a nice show highlighting their frankly absurd slate for the rest of 2022 – Diofield Chronicles! Harvest! Core of crisis! Tactics Ogre – while Koei Tecmo has just released a demo of the curious Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, a fascinating hybrid of its musou heritage with the Soulslike action of Nioh.
The demo is substantial and has gobbled up a few nights this week. I’d even go so far as to say it’s a pretty generous thing, its walled area – a colossal space full of dizzying possibilities enabled by the fantastical Chinese setting, and something that sets Wo Long apart from its predecessors – offering satisfying autonomy live. It’s a promotional beat I’d like to see more of, and a welcome twist to this new situation we find ourselves in is that demos once built for showrooms are now attracting a wider audience. For Team Ninja, it’s a chance to garner some serious feedback as it gets this little slice – the first area the team developed as a proof of concept, I’m told. , and where Wo Long’s brand of martial arts-infused Soulslike action can be seen at its barest – in front of millions.
And I’m grateful to get a taste of what’s on the Tokyo Game Show floor from the comfort of my cabana. Elsewhere this week, Square Enix’s Harvestella just dropped a wholesome demo on the eShop, something that also robbed me of a few hours of my time – indeed, all I’ve really played this week were public demos that accompanied TGS, which reminds me of my formative gaming years when demos were pretty much all I had. When money was tight, why drop forty pounds on something new when four would get you a neat magazine with a cover disc that gave you dozens of new games to explore.
I had saved up for a PlayStation but never had enough money for games, so almost all of my experience with this console was through demos. I’ve never played beyond the warehouse of the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, but every inch of this tier is etched indelibly into my mind (along with the single Primus track that came with this demo). It’s one of my fondest gaming memories, and one I treasure just as much as those special trips to Sega’s Japanese headquarters or Treasure when I was lucky enough to be there for TGS.
So it kinda breaks my heart that I’m not in Tokyo for this year’s show, especially since it’s the one that’s delivered so much – from Radiant Silvergun to news, some seven years after Miyamoto in talked to Tom for the first time, about Pikmin 4 At least I got a bit of a show here with me thanks to these demos, and don’t worry because next week there’s a show on my doorstep that I am sure to attend. It’s EGX at Excel starting next Thursday, of course. Hope to see some of you there – you’ll find me near the Street Fighter 6 booth, obsessing over another demo taken from the TGS floor.