VG Tribune

Hyper Japan 2018

August 2, 2018 / 3:50 PM

By: Matthew Gibson

Hyper Japan is my favourite convention in the year, largely because it’s the only one I’m actually free to go to. I’ve attended each one since 2015, and I have to say, this year has been one of the better ones. Hyper Japan returned to Olympia, the same venue for their 2016 event, yet the general structure of things was greatly improved. Whilst I preferred the general aesthetic of Tobacco Dock (which was used for last year), it admittedly felt a lot like a maze. The overall layout of this event was more organized, making it easier to navigate back to places I’ve been to before.

Not much of the actual content of Hyper Japan changed, but I’m glad I made the extra effort to try and see a lot more of Japanese culture. Chicken karaage was delicious, shogi allows for interesting strategies to take place, and I managed to see (and buy) a lot of cool art and merch. One of my favourite purchases, arguably in a VERY long time, was getting a beefy book full of artwork and promo materials for Danganronpa 1 and 2. It is in Japanese, but hey, it’s still a thing of beauty.

Look at this magnificence!

Anyway, enough waffling on, this is a game’s site after all! So, what about the games at Hyper Japan 2018?

Nintendo UK was once again at the forefront in this regard this year, bringing in a bunch of Nintendo Switch titles for attendees to get their hands on. But let’s save those games until a bit later on. Aside from Nintendo, there wasn’t really a whole lot going on in the games department. There was a ‘retro’ area for people to just chill out with some old games. There was a hefty selection too, with games from various genres like rhythm and fighting. Sadly, I didn’t get to play much in this section, but playing some Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is always a good time.

As for new games, there was only one outside of the Nintendo portion: Jump Force. Bandai Namco’s fighter full of characters from multiple Shonen Jump series like Naruto and One Piece made its way to Hyper Japan this year for people to battle it out. And, well, the demo was honestly quite underwhelming. In terms of how it looks, it looks gorgeous. The fighters and environments are well-detailed, and the flashy moves look awesome when it plays out in matches. But I wasn’t satisfied with the little bit I played. You form a team of three to take on another team, and it plays as a 3D fighting game. However, there was no option to play with a friend, which is quite a big deficit for a game in an event like this. Not only that, I felt the action was moving too fast to even keep track of what exactly I was doing. To top it all off, the match finishes when only one of the fighters on a team is knocked out, making the few fights I did have far too short to have a great grasp on the game. Whilst this is the demo, the only aspect I’m looking forward to regarding the game will be who actually makes the cut. Death Note characters will be making an appearance in the story mode, but I’m very curious to see which other anime and manga legends will be playable.

Now, for Nintendo’s side of things… They brought the games, but their overall presence wasn’t as strong as last year. There were some already-released titles like Splatoon 2 and Octopath Traveller, but their booths mainly consisted of demos of upcoming games. Nintendo Labo had its own section, showcasing the various Toy-Con currently available. Despite not spending an extensive time playing, the actual physical cardboard components are surprisingly well built for tiny versions of what they’re supposed to be. My friend and I jammed out a bit on the piano and messed about in the house. All fun, but hard to justify the price if you’re looking for a ‘core’ game to it though. On the other hand, building it can be just as fun. We were able to build one of the cars from scratch, alongside easy-to-follow instructions. I think this is where Labo’s true strength lies; in just building it and having a good laugh with a mate doing so.

I played a bit of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, and I’m sure if you’re a fan of this series, you don’t want to miss out on this game when it comes out in the next month. Dragon Ball FighterZ may already be out, but it has yet to launch on the Nintendo Switch. As someone out of the loop with the franchise, all the different characters don’t intrigue me too much. That being said, I found the simple enough controls to work quite well, providing some entertaining matches with my friend. Okami HD was another fun game I manage to play at the event, especially coming from somebody that has yet to experience the original. The motion controls worked well on the supplied Pro Controller, allowing me to draw without much hassle. I was a bit less excited from the combat, as it mainly consisted of button mashing for me, but my view is likely to change if I ever get down to playing the full game.

Two games, in particular, stood out to me from the rest. The first was Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes. Now, I’m not all that familiar with the series, but after playing the demo I just want to dive right into it. The core gameplay is a cross between hack-and-slash and beat ‘em up, swinging your sword to take down bad guys as they come in waves. The game plays splendidly when played with another player too, fitting for the type of game this is. Together with some special moves, the game can be quite exhilarating. Use your weapon too much, however, and its battery will run out. From there you need to get to a safe space and waggle your controller to recharge (no big movements are needed, so don’t worry if motion controls aren’t your thing). This creates quite an interesting dynamic in order to prevent from always going full throttle. So yeah, it’s pretty fun! I’m certainly curious about this title, but I hope I can play it without missing too much by being a newcomer.

The second was My Hero: One’s Justice. As a big fan of the anime, I was already interested in this one but worried it would just be an OK anime fighter. Despite some of these doubts still being present, the playable demo did a lot to raise my expectations. Granted, if you’re not totally keen on My Hero Academia in the first place, it would be a hard task to try and sell it to you. If you are though, like me, it is somewhat exciting playing as some of your favourite heroes or villains. Like the other fighting games I’ve mentioned thus far, you pick a team of three. The key difference is that you have one ‘main’ character, and then two ‘sidekicks’. In a fashion not unlike Pokkén Tournament, your main hero does most of the brawling, and when your sidekick’s gauge has filled up, you can call them in to pull off a quick attack of their own. It can work well to get the surprise on your foe, but the area of effect you need to pull that off feels a bit too precise. The fundamental fighting is pretty standard stuff, though, that’s not saying it’s entirely boring. This seems to be one for fans of the show, and a well-made treat at that.

Sadly, that was about it. There were great games on show, don’t get me wrong, but there was no big show stopper, so to speak. The Pokémon: Let’s Go! games and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are arguably the two biggest Switch games of 2018, and yet they were nowhere to be seen at Hyper Japan, unfortunately. Nintendo’s booths were right at the entrance to the event, so having great queues waiting to play these two would be bothersome, to say the least. Yet, I just felt something was still lacking. One of these was the lack of the excellent stage shows that were typically put on, where they display new things and even bring up some guests. This idea isn’t completely gone, as it returned to the recent Nintendo VS UK Live event, although it didn’t feel quite the same without it. There are plenty of other events in the UK for Nintendo to showcase their best and latest, but it would have been nice to have one big game at Hyper Japan, like Super Mario Odyssey for last year.

All that being said though, this was still a cracking time! It wasn’t quite as strong as previous years in the games department, but nevertheless, the games on display certainly provided a great time for attendees. Thanks to trying some new things, I’m now looking forward to games I wasn’t as excited as beforehand, which is kind of the purpose of demos, right? This was yet another enjoyable event in Hyper Japan’s life, and I’m looking forward to next year’s too. If you’re interested in anything Japan, be it food, anime, or anything else, you’d be doing yourself a favour to check this event out every summer.

About the author /

Like many other game writers, Matthew was brought into the gaming world from a young age. He aspires to be a games journalist in the future. Oh, and he's from the UK, so there's that. He also does Nintendo Podcast System, just in case there isn't enough Nintendo on this site.

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