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Friday, 30 March, 2001, 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK
X-Box steals the show
Game-players looking at Microsoft's new X-Box
Microsoft says the launch of its X-Box is still on target
Computer game fans in Japan got a sneak preview of the next wave in technology as the Tokyo Game Show opened on Friday.

Bill Gates AFP
Bill Gates: "Very thrilled" about new technology
More than 400 new titles and platforms were unveiled, but all eyes were on Microsoft's new X-Box console.

Games company Sega confirmed it would develop 11 games for the console in time for the machine's launch, and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said he hoped to have a total of 12-18 titles available.

He also said that the console would have a dedicated team of Japanese designers, who would make the handset smaller to fit in Japanese hands.

This comes after Microsoft announced a deal with Japanese internet company NTT to allow X-Box gamers to play against each other over the internet.

Net access

"The partnership with Sega is a long-term agreement that's very important to us," Gates said.

A poster for the Tokyo Game Show AFP
Poster: The Game Show lasts for three days
"Sega has committed to put 11 of their best titles on X-Box. We have specifically announced four - Jet Set Radio Two, Panzer Dragoon, Gun Valkyrie and Sega GT."

X-Box will be a rival to Sony's Playstation 2, and will be available in the US and Japan later this year.

Net access is one feature that Microsoft hopes will give it the edge over the Playstation 2, which has yet to announce any internet tie-ins.

"We see Japan as the centre of this business," Gates said, underlining the importance of the Japanese market by dedicating 100 designers to X-Box's Japanese software team.

Costume affair

More than 50 game makers and software providers have stands at the three-day show.

A game fan in a costume from Persona 2 Punishment
A fan in a costume from Persona 2 Punishment
But it is not just industry figures present at the event - fans are also flocking there to see what is on offer, and many of them are indulging in the craze of dressing as their favourite game hero.

"It makes me feel like I'm a character in the game," said Ryo, a 22-year-old student with green hair, tinted Lennon glasses and a Victorian velvet cloak.

She was dressed as Roberia Carly, a character from Sega's Sakura Taisen III action game. Also showing off her costume was her friend Tsuna, sporting a billowing pink and blue witch's outfit based on Black Magician Girl from Konami's Yugio game.

"I made this all by myself," she said. "I even wear it to discos."

There are about 50,000 costume players throughout Japan, and many of them turned out at the show on the outskirts of Tokyo.

It was also revealed that the game Dead or Alive 3, made by Tecmo, will be released for the X-Box, not the Playstation 2 as some had expected.

'Underwhelmed'

But some at the event were not impressed with Microsoft's new baby.

"I was underwhelmed," said independent software developer Jake Kazdal. "There was nothing to show. The graphics weren't anything special.

"It's too big for Japanese homes. That's a tea table, not a video machine."

Microsoft have not announced what the X-Box will cost - a large concern for Japanese consumers.

But it did say that it will spend more than $500m (350m) on marketing in the 18 months after the X-Box's launch.

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See also:

29 Mar 01 | Business
Microsoft's X-Box goes online
21 Mar 01 | Business
Nintendo launches new GameBoy
07 Jan 01 | Business
Gates unveils Playstation rival
28 Mar 01 | New Media
Beckham signs to play in pixels
31 Jan 01 | Business
Sega scraps the Dreamcast
25 Jan 01 | Business
Playstation woes hit Sony profits
18 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Games 'more popular than films'
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