W. Eric Martin
I noted in my first report on the May 2016 Tokyo Game Market that my wife, son and I took more than four hundred images at the show — then I posted only a dozen pics in that report, and at that rate I could post once a day about TGM for the next month and still not get through all of the images. Unacceptable! Let's see whether I can pare down my paragraph-long descriptions to highlight the games at a faster clip.
The highlight(?) of Tokyo Game Market might have been トイレを汚したのは誰だ？, which translates roughly to Who Soiled the Toilet? No fewer than three U.S. publishers took home a copy of this hidden-role game from 北野克哉 (Katsuya Kitano), a crap-filled Resistance in which players either try to soil the bathroom or keep it clean without anyone guessing which side they're on.
Part of the gameplay in トイレを汚したのは誰だ？ involves players trying to flip poo chips into the round box, which represents the toilet. Do you have poor aim, or were you actually trying to drop your load on the floor? That's what everyone wants to find out!
Here are some of the role cards in トイレを汚したのは誰だ？, which probably wouldn't fly on the U.S. market. (Timebomb is not from the same designer/publisher, but was simply being sold at the same table. Many hidden-role games show up at TGM since they tend to require few components to work.)
The Japon Brand stand highlighted some of the licensed versions of game designs that originally appeared at Game Market and at the Japon Brand booth at the annual Spiel convention in Essen, Germany. JB's Nobuaki Takerube told me after the show that Japon Brand has now registered with the government and become a more official organization instead of being the loose network of designers it has been in years past. He also noted that it's only after this May TGM show that he and others start deciding which games will comprise the Japon Brand offerings at Spiel in October, so at this point it's impossible to say which games will make the cut.
マジョマジョ -迷いの森と４人のウィッチ, which I think translates to MajoMajo: Lost in the Forest with Four Witches, has players running through a card forest in which the landscape disappears in order to trap a little boy with their witch. At least I think that's what the game is about. Only a Japanese speaker would know for sure...
I mentioned in my first report that cute cats could be found in many places at TGM. One of those places was in Maigo-Neko, a deduction game from 有泉誠浩 (Shigehiro Ariizumi) in which players are lost cats wandering around town, trying to remember the characteristics of their house so that they can find their way home. Take note of the adorable puffball cat pieces!
Another stand, another cat game, this time from 有限浪漫 (BoardGameCircle), publisher of the delightfully odd Donburiko, which I covered in 2013. I know bupkis about these three titles, alas, so I'll just say "Kitty!" and move on.
Take The "A" Chord is a jazz-themed trick-taking game from Saashi & Saashi. I need to get this (and many other trick-takers) to the table soon. It's been far too long since I've turned tricks...
Saashi & Saashi's other title at TGM is Coffee Roaster, a solitaire game in which you roast and "taste" coffee beans, trying to bring out the optimal flavor (while avoiding smoke and a burnt taste) in three of the game's 22 varieties of beans.
I know the name of the designer/publisher — 安東和之 (Kazuyuki Ando) — but beyond that nothing.
The May 2016 Game Market was my third time attending the show, and by this point I recognize most of the offerings from Tagami Games. Have I played any of them? No, but one of the steps that you take toward knowing a subject is knowing what you know and knowing what you don't know. You need to have a base from which to explore, and while I'm still building the base at this point, I'm getting there.
Admittedly the language barrier at TGM is an issue. You can already see that from some of my meager descriptions above, but the barrier goes both ways, with JP designers having a hard time getting information about their games to an audience outside of Japan. A few years ago, I think this wasn't a concern for most of those at Game Market; they created their games, sold them, then moved on. They had a small audience of enthusiasts, and they catered to that crowd.
Then Love Letter happened. Now a greater number of publishers at each TGM that I attend seem to offer English rules, whether in the box or (as it says on the sign above) "registered on the BGG". Most designers still don't include English rules, but more do as they've realized that their audience isn't limited by the waters around Japan. Their creation could potentially appeal to anyone anywhere, so they're making the effort to meet that audience halfway, to move beyond the enthusiasts who are so crazed for variety that they'll struggle through Google translate for hours to determine 85% of how a game might work. I certainly appreciate the effort, and I bought a few games that I wasn't sure about simply because they did include English rules. If it turns out they won't work for me, at least I'll be able to pass them along more easily.
Cute dogs also show up in force at TGM, as in this game by フジモトが作ります (made by fgmt), but my guide Ken Shoda told me that cats are now the favored pet over dogs in Japan.
This booth presents the TGM newcomer, of which I still consider myself one given my lack of Japanese, with a typical problem: You approach the stand to discover the name of the publisher — TDS — that you've never heard of and three titles about which you know nothing. Solution? Sigh, take a picture, and move on.
A first look at ドラフト戦国大名 ("Draft Sengoku Daimyo"?) from 遊志堂 reveals an area control wargame (possibly), with each player having a bank and personal action sheet — then you see all the cards with text on them, sigh, snap a pic, and move on.
A1 Casino is from first-timer 岸田 ひとり. That is all I know.
Hey, Suburbia 5★ is no longer the only game with a "★" in its title thanks to チップ★ ("Chip ★"), a longer-playing game (90-120 minutes) from なまはむ (Namahamu) with a setting that European and U.S. players will feel right at home playing: You each represent a princess and need to determine which princess will be crowned queen at the end of the game.
The other game in the upper right — まっぴ～！ ("Mappings!") — seems typical of what happens at TGM as the publisher offered fifty copies for reserve, met that limit within ten days, then carried an additional ninety copies to TGM for sale to walk-ups. Will more than 140 copies of this game ever exist in the wild? Who knows?
And here's another familiar TGM sight: Eight tiny card games in the space of six cubic feet. I covered ButaBabel from こっち屋 (Kocchiya) after I bought a copy from someone at Kobe Game Market, and I bought Tarot Storia in Nov. 2015 but still haven't played it, and I added Schrödinger Hero to the database but avoided it since hidden roles aren't my thing. The other five games? Mysteries.
The short description of this game from パイライト (Pyrite) is that this is a simple 1-4 minute game for players ages 5 and up that can help prevent dementia in grandmother. Since I don't know the rules, however, Nana's out of luck.
Dessin from 風呂まりもレコーズ (Bath Merimo Records) is of the "simultaneously play, then reveal" school of design, with players starting with the same cards and facing off against each neighbor at the same time to claim point cards.
I see only now, alas, while researching this game for this post, that Gem Duel from カロチンミート (Carotene Meat?) includes English rules and text on the cards as well as Japanese. Oh, well — maybe next time!
Hey! Here's a game in the BGG database: Honnoji from zhatgames, a title that first appeared in 2014 with players moving samurai through a burning temple in order to grab whatever treasure they can. While I often think of TGM as being flooded with new games each show that vanish forever, you also have the phenomenon of a designer/publisher returning to Game Market with the same title over and over again. Heck, Spiel is no different in this regard, as with (for example) the Dutch designer who shows up annually with his two-player racing game that plays on a balance beam.
Another newcomer at TGM in May 2016 was ぐるあゲームズ (Gluer Games) with 新聞記者奔走記, which bears the following name in English in tiny type: Sagazaki Regional Newspaper Boardgame.
I'd like to call out Jon Power for his assistance in getting more JP games listed in the BGG database, including Eat or Eaten from Analog(ic+y), in which bunny players struggle to take out four opposing hares or occupy the opposing burrow. This design originated from a game design challenge in which you were supposed to create a game that used only two types of cards.
NINJAWORKS' Beast Master Tale had a surprise showing (at least in my eyes) at Spiel 2015. At that show I had approached the publisher, asked for a flyer, then promptly lost the flyer amongst lots of other things I picked up at Spiel. At least at TGM I took a picture of the game.
Three games from ひとじゃらし about which I know nothing.
Here's a (relatively) large stack of 爆弾宝箱 (Treasure Chest Bomb) from publisher Comet. Note that when I use the term "publisher" for those at TGM, that typically refers to both the ones designing the games and publishing them. Comet is one of many examples of a "doujin circle", a group of enthusiasts who have decided to try their hand at self-publication.
Publisher 聖書コレクション (Bible Collection) features the games Bible League (a Bible-based baseball game), Bible Hunter: Trinity, and other Bible-inspired creations.
Sea of Clouds designer Théo Rivière (middle) represented Repos Production at TGM; here he is checking out 魔人のごちそう (Genie's Banquet) from Kotatsu Party. I recorded an overview of this co-op game and will post it in the near future.
Multiple games of mystery from 兄者 (Brother's?), by which I mean I know nothing about them.
Four sets of cars that comprise the fighting TCG Spiria Material Card Game, which despite the English title and subtitles has no English text on the heavily Japanese-texted cards. Pity.
Some of the offerings from まどりや (Floor Ya), which was still setting up when I snapped this pic; note that Lost Gemma, despite the similarity of the logo, is not a Lost Legacy variant, but a maze-based puzzle game.
Toy-like games and puzzles from ヒラメキ工房 (Inspiration Workshop), who understandably likes to highlight his press in the mainstream media.
The gloriously colorful and unfortunately (for me) Japanese-filled くるくるジュエル (Round and Round Jewel) from カンブリアゲーム (Cambria Game).
Idol PhotoGrapher (on the left) from ごらくぶ (Entertainment Section) is listed on the TGM website; the two games about critters in the sewer and sheep of varied colors are not. So many mysteries...
Snow Mansion, a design in which players secretly try to kill one another in an old house, is the work of ぎゅんぶく屋 (Gyunbukuya), another first-timer at TGM in May 2016.
Stand for ガーデンゲームズ (The Garden Games), which apparently had only one of its previously released titles, the 2015 release The Labyrinth of Cards — which I only now see has English rules for download on BGG. More preparation needed next time!
"No Mahjong No Life!" is a pretty bold claim, but perhaps Mahjong contains essential nutrients that I've heretofore been missing. しのうじょう (Shinojo) has released two Mahjong-based card games — All Green and Yaochu! — since 2014.
I appreciate the folks from Team.U.C. posing for this pic, but then I didn't return the favor as I know nothing about Turn and Build and Crush. Sorry, guys!
I typically included the booth number in my shots or paired a close-up with a longshot that included the booth number so that I could track down info later, but this bunny-based game has eluded my search efforts. Just wanted to let you know that bunnies get some JP design love, too.
Three-fifths of the titles available from CRIMAGE...
...and the remaining two-fifths.
Multiple games from ゆるあ～と, including one played on an A4 sheet of paper in which the victim of a murder tries to leave clues about the killer by eating certain foods in the vicinity. At least I think that's what is going on.
Okay, I still have dozens more images to post from Tokyo Game Market, but perhaps not in another giant post like this one as I'm not sure how easy it will be to download and view all of these pics at once.
In any case, I thought I'd close with a fun pic. The day after TGM, my family and I took a taiko drumming lesson in east Tokyo from Yukihiro, who has been playing the drums for nearly three decades. (Sign up here!) He was hosting a more experienced set of players at the same time, so we'd switch off frequently during the class, with them playing something awesome, then us learning some of the basic rhythm patterns, then them jumping on again. These students would also jump in during our lessons, possibly to help us grab the rhythm more easily and possibly just because they were all having a ball. Hard to find in the city, but highly recommended!