"By now, all of you are aware of the dramatic change that is taking place in the entertainment industry," Konami president S. Hirano said at the start of the company's Gamasutra-attended 2010 E3 press conference in Los Angeles, expressing enthusiasm at the new opportunities in the current hardware cycle and in Konami's current plan to "draw our business footprint in more global markets."
He laid out the three tiers of the company's strategy: first, original IP, as in the company's core franchises including Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill
. Second, their partnership with studios like Hudson and Def Jam for Deca Sports
and Def Jam Rapstar
, and third, licensing partnerships, such as the one that birthed Pro Evolution Soccer
A 4mm Games exec took the stage to discuss Def Jam Rapstar
-- "We've pretty much broken every rule in the book to make this game," he said, unveiling an unprecedented cross-platform integration system that emphasizes virality.
"You're playing a console game and you're sharing your gameplay instantly over the web with all their friends irrespective of what social network they're on," he continued. Your friends are voting on your performances from their phones... you'll see all the comments they made back on your console, and we think that's pretty cool... it's what we call a constantly-connected game."
"Someone will become famous with this game," he stated. "A million views of your video on Def Jam Rapstar dot com makes you a rapper, and that's no joke."
One hefty endorser agreed: Russell Simmons, founder of the iconic Def Jam label, emerged to discuss what he hopes the title's impact will be: "It's a game in a space [that has] been ignored," he said, noting that despite the popularity of music games, the art of rap hasn't yet been addressed.
He also discussed the benefits of performing music and self-expression for the awareness, self-esteem and unity of young people, and how the emergence of rap into the media helped shed light on under-represented communities and introduce their issues to the wider world.
"The way that people learned to relate to each other when people put Run DMC on MTV, it was like there were no black people, and certainly no one speaking about the community and the struggles they were having... it was voices for voiceless people," he said. "Rapstar
... is the best in terms of what it offers. I think the greatest minds in this business [are] working directly on it, and we're gonna market the shit out of it."
In his introduction Hirano had referred to Pro Evolution Soccer
, as "the perfect fit for our growing market in Latin America," and targeting the largely-unexplored Hispanic audience appears to play a role in the company's globalization strategy.
Slang's Federico Beyer introduced the trailer for Lucha Libre: Heroes del Ring
-- "this is not wrestling; this is lucha libre," he declared, calling it "our first of several electrifying IP based on Hispanic pop culture." He was joined by three pugnacious masked luchadors on stage, each of whom planned to participate in a ring fight at Konami's booth to determine which would be the title's cover athlete.
Trailers of Saw 2
and Ninety-Nine Nights 2
preceded the unveiling of Xbox 360-exclusive Otomedius Excellent
-- described as part Gradius
, part Parodius
, it's the franchise's first U.S. installment, and it aims for all levels of shmup fans. Rather than show a gameplay trailer, Konami demonstrated the game's attractive animated girl heroes.
The company next unveiled Adrenalin Misfits
for Kinect, a surf and snowboard title that is among the company's first for Microsoft's motion control device, along with a dance game called Dance Masters
Key partner Hudson revealed four titles with Konami: Beyblade, Deca Sports 3
and Deca Sports Freedom
, but most intriguing was already announced Wii-exclusive Lost in Shadow
, a puzzle platformer that appeared to take its visual and spiritual cues from the work of Team Ico. It launches this fall.
The producer and design director from Czech developer Vatra emerged to formally announce the newest Silent Hill
, which hits Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2011. Now that noted composer Akira Yamaoka has joined Grasshopper, Konami's filled in for his iconic music with the estimable Daniel Licht, known for composing themes for serial killer TV show Dexter, and the horror films Hellraiser and Children of the Corn.
Next up, a new title, Never Dead
, was showcased with a trailer. It's a third-person action and shooting game developed by UK independent studio Rebellion, and although few details were revealed, the setting seems to blend the neoclassical with the futuristic in a post-apocalyptic world -- and dismemberment of the player character appears to be part of the game mechanic.
Speaking of dismemberment, Metal Gear Solid: Rising
producer Shigenobu Matsuyama and director Mineshi Kimura described the multidimensional sword-slicing mechanic of the upcoming MGS
franchise title. Players must aim and angle what they want to cut strategically to find items and destroy enemies, so "it's a little bit one step further than the normal sword action games in the market today," according to Matsuyama.
"The tech team made a concept internally of 'cut at will' in order to achieve the 'zan-datsu' concept," said Kimura, referring to a fictional concept developed to create hero Raiden's sword skill. "You could actually cut whatever you want and also at an angle that you aim... you can actually aim how much you want to cut as well. And that leaves you the freedom of you can actually kill your opponent, or you could cut without killing your opponent... it's really up to the player."
But the game also includes stealth elements, despite its action focus. It won't be the same as previous MGS
titles, instead utilizing Raiden's acrobatic abilities. As for the story, according to Matsuyama, it will be set between Metal Gear Solid 2
and Metal Gear Solid 4
, aiming to illustrate how the young soldier from MGS 2
developed into the haunting mechanized ninja seen most recently in the fourth installment.
Finally, iconic Castlevania
creator Koji Igarashi took the stage to show video of classic, 2D-styled Castlevania: Harmony of Despair
, which features exploration-based level clearing with different areas on the map and numerous screens that connect with continuity. The multiplayer title allows friends to collaborate while playing as different characters from past installments in the series.
can't stay 2D forever," Igarashi continued, introducing Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
producer David Cox of developer Mercury Steam. He stressed that the new Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 Castlevania
"pays respect and homage to a series that is over 25 years old, often copied but never equaled."
The title will launch in 2010, and a trailer introducing audiences to its world and characters -- with hero Gabriel Belmont at the center -- also revealed that actor Patrick Stewart will voice a role in the game.
Hirano concluded the presentation by adding that Konami has five titles in the works for Nintendo's 3DS, the much-awaited 3D handheld which was shown at E3 and is expected to launch in the next few months.