Tokyo Game Show 2014. I swore that I wouldn’t go this year unless Square Enix would stop playing with my heart and give the world a release date for Kingdom Hearts III. Of course I was hoping for the impossible. Expecting a release date for KH3 is equivalent to expecting a release date for Detox. You keep hearing industry chatter, a sound bite here and there; but no product. For years now.
I caved after being convinced by my friends and woke up before the sun to catch the train to Makuhari Messe, a huge convention center in Chiba. Ironic that this event is named TGS instead of “CGS.” (Makuhari Messe is also a few stations away from Tokyo DisneyLand, which is also not in Tokyo). As usual I was late for the 8:00AM rendezvous with my friends. Ryugasaki: the only place in Japan where public transportation is limited and never on time. It almost reminds me of Philly.
We arrived at TGS at least two hours earlier than last year. Which meant we spent far less time waiting outside baking in the sun. Still, it was a long wait. Doors didn’t open to the public until 10:00AM. We entered a little bit after that time and headed straight to the Battlefield booth. The line was already closed for the day. It was barely 10:20! We rushed over to the PS4 booth to get in line for Bloodborne and a few other titles. We waited in line for fifteen minutes only to find out that these titles had reached player capacity for the day.
I started to feel bad for not meeting my friends on time. That fifteen minutes could have made a difference between us beating the crowds and getting in line on time. I was worried that it might turn out to be like last year, I only played one game at TGS 2013. We got out of the PS4 line and tried out luck at Square Enix. I kept my fingers crossed for anything Kingdom Hearts related.
Surprisingly, the lines were low for all the games at the Square Enix booth. And they had a demo for KH2.5! My friends tried their luck waiting in line for a relatively unheard of Final Fantasy game. I got into the Kingdom Hearts line. Not long after we entered, the lines filled up to overflowing. We just missed that rush.
Certain games tend to attract certain demographics. In the KH line, there were people of all ages. I felt less awkward for being in love with a Disney game that I played in my youth. The fans around me shared my feelings of nostalgia. As soon as I put the headphones over my head I could hear the opening harp strokes of “Dearly Beloved”. I began to smile, for I was no longer at the loud, electrifying TGS. I was back on my basement couch. Cooling out on a lazy summer afternoon in ’06. PS2 controller in hand. Doritos at an arm’s reach. Youthfulness reclaimed.
About fifteen minutes later my preteen years were cut short and I was escorted to the exit along with the other gamers. By now TGS was even more packed than it was an hour ago. Lines all around me were being closed for the day. My friends and I decided to chill out for a bit and play a few rounds of the new Super Smash Bros. game for 3DS. To those in the States who don’t have their hands on it yet, MegaMan is legit.
In the afternoon we headed to the Microsoft booth to play one of the few games with a reasonable wait time: Halo’s Master Chief Collection. It was an hour long; considerably shorter than every other line still open. I thought I had enough of Halo myself. I practically grew up with the franchise. But as soon as I heard the deep-voiced announcer enunciate, “Slayer!” I was taken back to that basement couch. This time, instead of my neighborhood friends crowded around my family’s television, I was with three of my good homies in Japan. The game still felt the same, yet the graphics were more insane. A new type of nostalgia.
After a round of Halo, we decided to make our way home. Near the station was a local burger and taco spot. Capitalizing on this rare opportunity, I ate all the tacos and loaded nachos I could fit into my stomach. Afterwards we stopped by the conbini for another round of drinks and went our own drunken separate ways.
Videogames have a special place in my heart even though I no longer play them as much as I used to. They remind me of a simpler time. A time before full-time work, student loans, and rent. A time before responsibility it seems. It felt good to take a trip down memory lane and be a kid again, even if it was just for a day.