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Analysis: Konami Gamer's Night - Business As Usual?

As recently reported, Konami has unveiled its lineup for the remainder of 2008, including new peripheral-based rhythm title Rock Revolution, and Gamasutra presents a recap an
Last night, on the hottest day of the year so far in San Francisco, Konami presented a lengthy showcase for many of its 2008 titles in a pre-E3 Gamer's Night aimed at the enthusiast press, including a lengthy live demo of Metal Gear Solid 4 by star developer Hideo Kojima. The presentation had three major highlights: the announcement and demonstration of a new 2D Castlevania game, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, for the Nintendo DS by series producer Koji "IGA" Igarashi, the unveiling and playing of a Rock Revolution, a new Western-developed music game to compete with Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and Hideo Kojima playing through the first half-hour of his eagerly anticipated opus, Metal Gear Sold 4. The presentation began with an announcement from Konami's newly installed head of internal PR, Jay Boor, fresh from a stint at Sega. Marketing VP Anthony Crouts also welcomed the packed hall of attendees before the presentations began - and announced the availability of a limited edition PS3 including MGS4 and a gunmetal gray console, for sale only via Konami.com. "Hey Everybody! Are You Exciting?" The opening shot was the unveiling of Konami's new rhythm game, Rock Revolution, which, like Rock Band (and the upcoming Guitar Hero IV), allows multiple players to cooperatively play guitar, bass and drums - though only drums, with a newly-designed kit with six drums and a pedal, were playable at the event. Though details are scarce on other planned innovations the series has for the genre, the company has a lot of catching up to do -- with singing not included in the game, Konami's work is cut out for it to match its competition. Perhaps to ram home the viability of the Rock Revolution brand, this presentation was followed up with the announcement of three new Dance Dance Revolution games for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 2 and Wii - Dance Dance Revolution Universe 2, Dance Dance Revolution X, and Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2, respectively. The Japanese creators (one of whom is quoted in the above subheadline) took to the stage to talk about (but not show) their games. There was also a video presentation showcasing the game's recognition in popular culture (a Madonna video and Everybody Loves Raymond, among others). The series is hitting its 10th anniversary in 2008, but Konami seemingly plans to celebrate in its typical yearly-iterative fashion - though it hinted at a new arcade edition. Three Fan Favorites Return Beloved developer Koji "IGA" Igarashi took the stage, hat and whip in hand, to debut a new Castlevania game for Nintendo DS: Order of Ecclesia. The game is another incremental upgrade from previous hits Symphony of the Night, Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin, but fans wouldn't have it any other way - and the audience was very receptive. In a nod to the fact that the series' success is driven by its fans, the game is dropping the kid-friendly anime-style art that's marred the previous two DS games and has been controversial to diehards. Increased success is unlikely, but the continuing popularity of the series on DS and Xbox Live Arcade implies that if quality is maintained, Ecclesia will be a hit. Double Helix Games, the Foundation 9 studio formed by the merger of Shiny and The Collective, then demoed upcoming horror title Silent Hill: Homecoming, which looks extremely consistent with earlier, internally-developed entries in the series and much improved as compared to recent, poor-quality screenshots released to the enthusiast press. The game looks set to appeal to the same core audience that the series has attracted for its last five iterations - and what improvements are being made to the game by its new western developer are unlikely to help it branch out to a significantly larger audience, due to its obvious retention of its roots and unassuming technical quality. The lengthy session was capped with legendary developer Hideo Kojima taking the stage - decked out in a licensed MGS4 T-shirt from Japanese casual wear chain Uniqlo - to demonstrate a completed version of key PS3 exclusive Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The playthrough of the game's opening stages cemented its reputation for extreme technical and artistic quality with the audience. There's nothing to say about this game that hasn't already been said, but it's worth noting that if anything separates this game from immense success, it will have nothing to do with its quality. Where Konami's Headed The Konami event, which began at 6 PM (with presentations not starting until 7:30 PM) and lasted until midnight was interminable, but the products speak for themselves. While there's nothing truly daring (the Rock Revolution extension of Konami's rhythm franchise doesn't qualify) about the lineup, it's the company's usual mix of a sprinkling of triple-A quality with smaller, niche games, such as survival RPG Lost in Blue for the Wii. Though there has been a lot of talk from the publisher in recent years about raising its profile, this lineup was very much business as usual. Sure, there was a WiiWare game (Critter Round-Up) at one end of the spectrum and the biggest, loudest and most polished triple-A game of the summer (Metal Gear Solid 4) at the other, but Konami continues to be Konami, for better or for worse.

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