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Original Xbox Download  Microsoft Lays Out Japanese Plans Original Xbox Downloads

Microsoft Lays Out Japanese Plans


Xbox Development
Voice chat, Blinx 2, Phantom Dust and Japanese-speaking American executives.

Every summer, following the hubbub of E3, Microsoft gathers members of the Japanese press for a strategy meeting targeting the Japanese market. The event from two years ago saw the first footage of Dino Crisis 3. Last year saw Microsoft Vice President Peter "I have a British accent" Moore announced the World Collection series. What revelations would feature at this year's event?

Held on Thursday afternoon in Tokyo's youthful and trendy Harajuku region, this year's event, dubbed the "Microsoft Game Studios Title Announcement Meeting," was lower key than previous events, but still featured enough to make us glad we went. In addition to first-ever playable demos of Blinx 2 and Phantom Dust, Microsoft revealed its Japanese plans for, in total, 11 Xbox titles developed by Microsoft Game Studios both in Japan and abroad and also gave a preview of Xbox Live video chat.

Things began with an introduction by Xbox Japan General Manager Yoshihiro Maruyama. Maruyama apologized for the recent cancellation of True Fantasy Live Online (while offering no further explanation) and proceeded to express his confidence in Microsoft's upcoming lineup. Following this, Maruyama introduced Xbox Live's video chat camera, which was confirmed just yesterday to launch first in Japan. Attendees were shown a video featuring actual Japanese people having fun video chatting with Xbox.

Following this presentation, Xbox Japan content manager Jouji Sakaguchi took the stage to introduce the 11 games set for display at the event. The first title shown was Blinx 2, with developer Artoon's Takuya Matsumoto, game director, and Naoto Oshima, company president, showing off the various features of the title and playing it in both single and multiplayer modes. Yukio Futatsugi, development group 2 manager at Microsoft Game Studios Japan, took the stage to introduce Phantom Dust, and also played the game for a bit.

The following eight games are being developed overseas and were given only brief introductions. Sudeki, Fable and Jade Empire were introduced as a trio of role-playing games. Kameo and Conker were introduced as adult-oriented titles that may at first glance seem like kids' titles. Unreal Championship 2 and Mech Assault 2 Lone Wolf were grouped together for some reason or another (action titles, we think). Forza Motorsport was introduced on its own, along with the revelation that Japan's Tsukuba Circuit course would be included (this sort of revelation seems to be a trend, as at last year's event, Microsoft revealed that Yokohama would be a circuit in Project Gotham Racing 2).


Halo 2 closed off the showing in video form. No, there was no new footage of the game on hand. The lengthy clip that Microsoft shared was actually from a presentation given by Bungie at E3, although subtitled into Japanese. Of course, this is the first time anything from Halo 2 has been shown on Japanese soil, so we're not complaining.

All 11 games, along with Xbox video chat, have Japanese release dates either this year or next. In case you like to keep up with the Japanese game scene, here's what Microsoft's schedule looks like:

Xbox Video Chat: 2004
Blinx 2: Battle of Time & Space: November, 2004
Phantom Dust: September, 23, 2004
Sudeki: 2004
Fable: 2005
Jade Empire: 2005
Kameo: 2005
Conker: 2005
Unreal Championship 2: 2005
Mech Assault 2 Lone Wolf: 2005
Forza Motorsport: 2004
Halo 2: 2004

The biggest surprise in this list is that Microsoft Japan is sticking to its promise of releasing Halo 2 this year to the Japanese market. It took half a year for the original Halo to come to Japan. With Halo 2 hitting the states on November 9, the wait for Halo 2 in Japan will apparently be a lot shorter.

Before those in attendance could get a chance to get their dirty press hands on Blinx 2, Phantom Dust and other members of the Microsoft's lineup (excluding Halo 2 and Forza, of course), there was time for a big surprise. Mike Fisher, head of Xbox's marketing in Japan, came out to share some final words to the audience. While we were expecting an English statement, Mr. Fisher spoke in full Japanese! Mr. Fisher revealed that his kid is totally into Halo.


Source: IGN.com
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