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TGS: Booth Round-Up - Sega Tries Shadow-ing With Phantasy

Continuing our round-up of the major publisher booths at the 2005 Tokyo Game Show, instituted to help give an overview of the show without having to read detailed impress...
Continuing our round-up of the major publisher booths at the 2005 Tokyo Game Show, instituted to help give an overview of the show without having to read detailed impressions of every single game, we come to Sega, whose high-profile stand was located close to the main hall entrance. Particularly highlighted on the Sega stand was online action RPG Phantasy Star Universe for PlayStation 2 and PC, which looks perhaps more of a spiritual Phantasy Star Online successor than early Sega teasers would have us believe, but is still addictive-looking and visually lush, and was proving popular with attendees. Interestingly, it wasn't the only PC online game on the stand, either, with Korean MMO hit RF Online licensed for Japan by Sega, and getting a prominent showing, if a borderline quizzical reception from TGS guests. Second only to Sega's MMO show was a special Sonic the Hedgehog area, with the gun-toting Shadow The Hedgehog headlining in statuette form. Unfortunately, the console multi-platform Shadow still looks like an unnecessary spin on the already slightly clunky Sonic Adventure gameplay style. In fact, it was probably the Wipeout-like but somewhat niche Sonic Riders, which was both pretty and swift, which impressed TGS-goers more, and the long-announced Sonic Rush for Nintendo DS also looked decent. Still relatively high up the list was the Sumo Digital-developed Power Smash: New Generation, aka Virtua Tennis, for PSP, and it was running in close proximity to the former Sammy perennial Guilty Gear XX, this time PSP-bound. Both looked extremely competent. Sega Rally 2006 for PlayStation 2 also took a prominent stand position, and felt borderline nostalgic and drift-friendly, but strangely warm and fuzzy, too. Anime-friendly Bleach titles for GameCube and DS, plus an Initial D racing installment for PSP were also on show, as well as the frankly insane Feel The Magic follow-up Where Do Babies Come From? from Sonic Team. Oh, and a mysterious thicket teased for Vivarium's Seaman 2, curmudgeoning up the world again for PlayStation 2 in 2006. Elsewhere on the stand, a massive conglomeration of new budget-priced PlayStation 2 Sega Ages titles were showcased, and having extricated itself from the D3 Publisher relationship that led to the early, unfortunate Sega Ages 're-interpretations', the majority of the new titles are precisely emulated versions of the originals, including a Space Harrier collection, SDI & Quartet from Sega's System 16 arcade hardware, Gunstar Heroes, Last Bronx, and, to the delight of many fans, the first Panzer Dragoon. Sega also had a surprisingly large amount of smaller titles - 22 in total that only merited quarter-page mentions in the company's official TGS brochure, with selected Western imports such as Destroy All Humans!, KillZone, and The Getaway: Black Monday rubbing shoulders with classic shooter action from Trizeal and Chaos Field, as well as a melange of dating titles, portable MushiKing beetle battling, Sega's own Brain Training clone for PSP, and, last but not least, Super Monkey Ball DS. Overall, this was a decent, if not spectacular showing for Sega at the 2005 Tokyo Game Show, with a good diversity of games, but perhaps less stand-outs than some of its major competitors. A willingness for the company to spread its portfolio out over a larger amount of inexpensive licensed and niche titles was particularly notable, and it will be interesting to see if this pays dividends in Japan.

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