Staggering into the light in Tokyo, SPOnG brings you the full skinny on what Microsoft has planned for the Xbox 360 in Japan. The conference began with Xbox Japan lead Takashi Sensui admitting that the 360 has 'very much underperformed' in the country, a fact not lost on the largely Japanese audience, comprised of press, retail executives and various third-party publishing representatives. Microsoft also issued a no photo or video directive, enforced by a small army of patrolling security staff.
A short, somewhat baffling explanation of XNA followed, along with the underlined commitment to the Xbox 360 FIFA bundle and the promise that every attendee would be taking home their very own soccer ball...
Sensui did point out that some areas of 360 have been a success, with the Xbox Live Marketplace seeing 520,000 downloads in Japan, a higher rate, per unit, than anywhere else in the world running at 5:1.
It is this online strength Microsoft is seeking to build on, announcing some massive additions to the Xbox Live Arcade service. Sensui announced non-specific support from Konami, Hudson, SNK, Namco, D3 Publisher and Bandai. Games highlighted including Galaga and Pac-Man. Various Anime HD exclusives were also announced with Zegapain perhaps the biggest, though we'll defer to Lupos on that.
The bigger announcements then began rolling in. A trailer for a new online Gundam game was shown, bringing the first real spark of cheer to the crowd. This was immediately followed by the announcement that Namco's Culdcept Saga would be going online over Live.
Final Fantasy godfather Hironobu Sakaguchi then took to the stage, bringing about absolute silence. Sakaguchi's like Elvis in Japan, just not fat and still alive. And a maker of role-playing games rather than brilliant rock 'n' roll tunes, followed by really horrible 70s ballads. Sorry. The big news he offered was that Blue Dragon, the RPG currently underway at his new Mistwalker studio will be launched during winter of this year. He also outlined that a demo of the developer's next title, Lost Odyssey will be released in Autumn.
An undisclosed Final Fantasy game was also promised for 2007, not by Sakaguchi, we hasten to add. To pour petrol on the fire was the announcement that Tri-Ace is developing an unnamed action RPG exclusive to 360.
A new Sylpheed game was then on the block, with Game Arts announcing a joint project with Square Enix known as Project Sylph, an astounding shooter from what we could tell. This revelation stirred more interest than the distant promise of a Final Fantasy.
More attendees left muttering that no 'Tales of' game from Namco was on offer, a title which Microsoft reps have touted repeatedly, if off the record, as being in the bag. The other surprise no-show was Sega Phantasy Star Universe, another game various sources had confirmed to many journalists on the run up top the show. Indeed, the complete lack of new Sega software came as a great surprise to many, though it is expected that Sega will comprise a major part of Microsoft's E3 conference this year.
Let us know your thoughts after the jump.