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A Look at the PlayStation 3 Slim Launch

From launch events in Akihabara to the start of the Playface Caravan in Odaiba.


The PlayStation 3 launched here on Thursday. Always looking for a chance to be last with my coverage, I waited until today to write about it.

From what I could see, there were three centers of activity to the launch festivities.

[end_p text="More on the PS3 launch, after the jump" /]

For Sony, the central event was an official countdown in Akihabara. I didn't attend the main countdown event, but more responsible sites like Famitsu.com did, so here's a second hand account of what happened.

There was a small line of just 3 or 4 people outside the shop at 9:00, although this increased to about 30 just before the 9:20 opening (maybe you should have told more people about the event, Sony?). The shop held a countdown on its big front screen, nicknamed "Yodibi," two minutes before the start of sales.

Sony Computer Entertainment Japan president Shawn Layden appeared at the event and told Famitsu something to the effect of, "I'm extremely happy that we've reached this day. You could probably say that the year end shopping season has started today. I feel like saying 'Merry Christmas.' Ha ha ha ha ha."

The PS3 slim launch was missing a blockbuster hit to back up its release (Gundam Senki doesn't count). But Layden doesn't seem to be worried. "From here on out, we will increase the software lineup. New titles will be announced at Tokyo Game Show 2009."

Just in case you were thinking that Sony wouldn't be announcing anything new at TGS this year, there you go! By the way, Sony's TGS announcements usually come just before the show, and they're usually leaked out in advance through Famitsu.

I got off my ass and made a visit to the shop later in the day. While the countdown had ended, and there were no more lines, an event was still going on outside the shop's front entrance. Visitors could sample Gundam Senki on demo kiosks, view a stage event detailing the game, and take part in a drawing to play the game on Yodibi. Famitsu says that these play sessions made use of save data that was used by Amuro Ray voice actor Toru Furuya at the recent Gundam Big Expo event.

Looking inside the shop in the sixth floor game area, I found lots of PS3-related displays and signs. The shop was recommending that people buy the system with HDMI cables, LAN cables, a wireless router, a second Dual Shock, and a vertical stand.

The shop also had a sign noting that it had sold out of Gundam Senki bundle units to pre-order. While the Gundam pack did seem to be sold out at many shops that I visited, it wasn't impossible to find one on launch day. The nearby AsoBitCity shop was counting down the units they had left and had 3 listed when I visited.

Yodobashi says the Gundam Senki units are sold out. Asobit City says they have three left. By the way, the Asobit City sign makes a big fuss for some reason about the fact that you can use your PS2 power cord with the PS3 slim.

There was one other official launch event that I know of. Publisher Spike held a launch event at the Shibuya Tsutaya for the new PS3 and for 428, but mostly for 428. The Chunsoft sound novel, which I imagine only has a name outside of Japan due to the Wii version's perfect score last year.

I got to the event when game game's director, Jiro Ishii, was signing autographs and shaking hands before speeding off, presumably en route to his session at CEDEC down in Yokohama.

See Impress Watch for some pics of a guy in what looks like an extremely poorly designed Tama outfit (Tama is one of the character's from the game).

Elsewhere in Tokyo, a new Sony promotional campaign was entering its second phase. Remember Playface? If you're in Japan, you have to remember it, as Sony has those damn celebrity faces everywhere -- on television, in train stations, and even as a giant YouTube banner ad.

Following the celebrity faces, the second phase of the promotion is a "Playface Caravan," a demo event that will hit hot spots throughout Japan over the next couple of months. The first location was the Mediage shopping center in Tokyo's Odaiba area (on a completely unrelated note, this is near the upcoming Final Fantasy XIII Premier Party location). I took the loooooong route for my travels between Akihabara and Shibuya and stopped by to see.

This version of the event, which runs through the weekend, is set in what's basically a theater lobby area. Sony has standard PSP and PS3 demo kiosks set up for such games as LittleBigPlanet, My Summer Vacation 4, Last Guy, Gundam Senki, LocoRoco 2, and Hot Shots Golf 5. The PS3 kiosks are all PS3 slim, from what I can tell.

The heart of the event is a set of four deluxe enclosed demo kiosks. These kiosks house a 360 degree camera setup consisting of 18 cameras, focused on a seated player. As players sample the game of their choice for five minutes, the cameras take still shots and video footage of their face. This will later be uploaded to the playface.jp site for contests, with such prizes as PSP go and massive amounts of store credit at the PlayStation Store.

I'll have a bit on my experience with PlayFace in a later update.

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