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TGS: Booth Round-Up - Bandai, Namco Team For Double Trouble

One of the larger booths at the 2005 Tokyo Game Show was that shared by Namco and Bandai, who, a...
One of the larger booths at the 2005 Tokyo Game Show was that shared by Namco and Bandai, who, ahead of their now near-certain merger officially closing later this year, are already sharing convention space, and showcased an impressive range of titles for handhelds, consoles, and next-gen machines alike. Nonetheless, it was definitely possible to pinpoint the titles as belonging to each company. Firstly, we'll take a look at Namco, whose Xbox 360 launch title Ridge Racer 6 has already been discussed in Gamasutra's look at the Microsoft booth - to repeat: "Though nothing new from a gameplay standpoint [RR6] had eye-opening draw distances and subtle lighting." Oh, and Unreal Engine 3-powered assassin-starring action title Frame City loomed for Xbox 360, too, though reception was still mixed based on a somewhat 'cheesy' trailer. Many cult-loving TGS attendees were delighted to see My Katamari, the PSP conversion of Keita Takahashi's sunny 'object aggregation simulator', and due out in Japan later this year, though some online commentators expressed concern at the non-twinstick controls. Still, at least one other Namco title controlled marvellously - PS2 exclusive Soul Calibur III was much enhanced compared to the E3 build, and looks to be one of the few 3D fighting game series not to have lost steam over current iterations. Other Namco titles shown for PS2 included Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, a continuation of the popular-in-Japan combat flight series, the distinctly in-depth RPG sequel Xenosaga III, beat-em-up Urban Reign, latest in long-running motorbike series Moto GP 4, and another RPG sequel, Tales Of The Abyss, which was looking attractive. Further prominent Namco titles included a 2D remake of the epic Xenosaga I & II for Nintendo DS, as well as a PC version of 'pop star maker' arcade title The Idolmaster, if being a Simon Cowell sounds like fun. Oh, and Tekken 6 was at the show in CG, semi-theoretical form for PlayStation 3, though it was clearly too early to show in-game footage. As for Bandai's presence, among a mass of licensed anime titles, some of which we'll get to later, one of the most interesting game was Q?'s Every Extend Extra, a PSP game produced by Tetsuya Mizuguchi and based on a PC 'dojin' shooter title, with musical elements also to the fore - it looked distinctly exciting and abstract all at once. Bandai is actually supporting some of the more innovative Japanese developers significantly, since Masaya Matsuura's NanaOnSha-developed Tamagotchi DS, from the creator of Parappa The Rapper, was another title shown at TGS, albeit one already on store shelves. However, this isn't a straight virtual pet conversion - the plot involves plenty of mini-games, as you run a retail shop that other Tamagotchi use. Plenty of more obvious Bandai titles, often crossed over with anime in some way, also dominated the company's stand, particularly the return of the .hack series for PlayStation 2 in .hack//G.U.. In addition, a Samurai Champloo action title for PS2 was announced, capitalizing on the success of the breakout anime series, and Dragonball Z and Super Robot Taisen console titles were also showcased. Overall, though Westerners might consider the Namco titles significantly more interesting than Bandai's, both parties put up a respectable showing. In addition, it'll be interesting to see what happens when Bandai characters get their hands on some of Namco's game engines, post-merger.

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