The 26th Next Generation World Hobby Fair took place at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Tokyo over the weekend. The event is hosted by Japanese publisher Shogakukan, well known for their Koro Koro and Shogakusei magazines geared towards the elementary school demographics.
Most of the major publishers showed their upcoming summer titles mainly on the Wii and DS systems. Capcom had the playable version of Megaman ZX Advent for DS, the sequel to the action adventure game Megaman ZX. The game takes places a few years after the first game, and this time, players will control one of the two new characters: Gray and Ash. Like the previous game, utilizing the different Megaman models will allow different moves and attacks for the character. For example, the Megaman Model A allows you to perform the standard dash and kick jumps, plus you can now shoot homing shots by locking on to as many as eight characters. Megaman ZX Advent is one of the Megaman 20th Anniversary titles, coming out in Japan on July 12.
Meanwhile, Konami showed off its latest Winning Eleven (aka Pro Evolution Soccer) title, but not quite what everyone is expecting. They showcased J-League Winning Eleven 2007 Club Championship for the PS2, an updated version of last year's J-League Winning Eleven 10 + European League '06-'07. This includes teams from the Japanese soccer clubs J-League, and other European leagues such as France's Ligue 1, Netherlands' Eredivisie, Spain's Liga Espanola and Italy's Serie A. The new feature in the game is the Fantasista mode where you choose a professional football player and raise him to become the top football player in the world. The game is due August 2 in Japan. Konami's booth also showcased Dewy's Adventure and Pawapuro Baseball for the Wii and card-based game Jushinden: Ultimate Beast Battlers for the DS.
As for Namco Bandai, their booth had a playable version of Kekkaishi for the Wii, based on the manga by Yellow Tanabe. The game is a 3D cel-shaded action adventure game and players can choose from characters Yoshimori and Tokine. Based on the demo, battle seems to be random as you walk around the field map. Players first need to plot a point where the enemies are located using the Wiimote, then swinging it downward will unleash the kekkai or barrier to eliminate the enemies. Boss battle also follow a similar format except bosses have a health gauge so it will take more than on barrier to take it down. This can be played either alone or with a partner, so you can have both characters walking around and fighting demons and monsters together. Kekkaishi is slated for a fall release in Japan. Taiko Drum Master DS was also at the booth where you use two stylus, one colored red and the other blue. Each of the stylus is used for the red notes (surface) and blue notes (edge) correspondingly. The game will hit stores on July 26 in Japan.
Sony followed its Hobby Fair traditions with their booth looking like a Japanese summerhouse, including carnival games like shooting games and fishing. Of course, they probably would prefer the kids to play video games, so the booth offered playable PS3 titles such as Boku No Natsuyasumi 3 (My Summer Vacation 3) and Hot Shot Golf 5. For the handheld, PSP titles Ape Escape and Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters (surprisingly renamed as a numbered-title Ratchet and Clank 5 in Japan) were available for demo play.
In the end, Nintendo drew in the most crowds with their summer Wii and DS titles. Donkey Kong Blast and Mario Party 8 were playable at the booth with waiting times averaging about an hour each. The recently released The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass was also playable, and interestingly, we caught a glimpse of Slide Adventure Magkid, which we reported previously. The technology behind the slide controller is pretty much similar to the optical mouse that we use today. This is attached to the GBA cart slot leaving the DS afloat. Basically you are moving the entire DS unit as if it were a mouse, and the lower screen displays the playable character as the screen scrolls while moving the unit. The main mode is where players control the Magkid, which has magnet powers and can absorb enemy powers like Kirby. A variety of mini-games are also available such as Whack-A-Mole and card games such as Memory. Slide Adventure Magkid hits store shelves in Japan this August.
So that about wraps it up for yet another World Hobby Fair here from Tokyo. We hope to cover some of these titles with more details in the coming weeks.