Oh, jetlag, what baffling powers you have over me. I swear, every time I come to Japan I wake up a little earlier the first day. Five a.m., the 4:30, and today it was 4 a.m. And the event I’m covering doesn’t start until 1 p.m.! That’s four hours from now, and I’mma try and liveblog it, if they’ll let me. I know there some FFXIII and Advent Children-related news in the making, but I’m told they’ll have some other announcements. Hopefully they are not talking about that new Snoopy game. Unless it’s a Nomura-led leather-and-buckles revision of the Peanuts gang. That would be, uh, super great. Yeah.
And speaking of emo (or, rather, not emo), I had a lot of time to kill this morning. And since I’m here to look at Nomura games and I’m staying in Shibuya, The World Ends With You obviously sprang to mind. So I thought, hey, why not see just how accurately the best game so far this year depicts its subject? And I loaded up my iPhone with screenshots (since it’s the old non-3G model, it’s not worth much else here) and tried to recreate those screens in real life.
Yeah, it’s nerdy, but what else are you gonna do at 6:30 a.m. in Tokyo?
Scene one: The Moai-like head by the bus shelters.
This was easy to find based on in-game orienteering — it’s just around the corner from the statue of Hachiko, beneath a rail bridge. I knew where the buses were, but I’d never noticed the sculpture. Turns out that’s because it’s hidden in a corner by a bunch of coin lockers and surly, dazed-looking teens smoking cigarettes (I assume they’re cigarettes). Already, the game’s verisimilitude is staggering!
Unfortunately, the screenshot is impossible to replicate, and not just because I couldn’t convince the buses to line up neatly. The problem is that the sculpture faces into the corner. I took this photo while backed into said corner, my back to two walls. And the buses actually stop a bit to the right of here.
Also, no wolves. Still, it’s easy to see where the composite imagery came from!
Scene two: The gambling area.
I couldn’t find this exact image, but I didn’t go too far. Still, there’s a huge alley full of casinos, pachinko arcades and naughty massage parlors right by my hotel, and the image on the left captures the gestalt if not the specifics. Meh, close enough.
Scene three: “Outback Cafe” and the giant video screen.
Well, easy enough — this is the Starbucks at the foot of the Scramble Crossing across from the station’s Hachiko exit. Unfortunately, the in-game image is impossible to replicate without a super-expensive high-end camera lens. And I tried taking a shot up the length of the building, but then I realized the second floor of Starbucks has a bar lining its wall so people can sit and look out over the crossing. And there were lots of girls in skirts up there drinking, and I probably looked like some disgusting pervert trying to photograph their underwear. So! I went for the distance shot instead.
You may notice this building does not have a massive video wall. That is actually on the adjacent building across the street to the right. But you get the idea, and that’s what counts.
Edit: I just looked out the window and realized the Starbucks building DOES have a video wall, but it’s inside, behind the windows. And it’s only on during hours when people are actually walking around the streets, i.e. after 10 a.m. So, bump up a point for accuracy.
Scene the fourth: Hachiko looming in front of “Shibuykyu.”
“Shibukyu” is actually “Tokyu,” which I believe is a company that owns a ridiculous amount of property around here. I’m staying near the Tokyu Mark City, there’s a hotel across the way called the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, and half the stores are Tokyu something (Tokyu Hands, etc., which actually inspired a different location in the game, but I couldn’t find a screenshot for it). The logo’s about the same, though. It’s clear homage.
But, you can’t quite reproduce this shot, either. Hachiko, the famous statue of the dog who loyally waited for his master at the station every day (even after his master died), faces the Tokyu building. If you try to shoot it from the angle in the screenshot, you’ll get a big load of ugly metro station instead. But as you can see in the photo, the shot is still impossible because of all the advertising that’s been built up between Hachiko and the Tokyu building. Poor puppy.
But you know, the great thing is that I’m pretty sure you could navigate your way through Shibuya’s landmarks without ever having been here based strictly on the game. It’s not unlike navigating NYC based on Grand Theft Auto IV, except that TWEWY doesn’t penalize you for not slavishly following the plotline. I’m all in favor of real-world locations in games — even if they are somewhat idealized.
I’d have shot more, but when I sat down to photograph Hachiko it was 7 a.m. and already I was sweating profusely in the broiling humidity. I figured I should save up my energy for the liveblog, ya know?