[Gamer’s World] BitSummit Indie Games are back, the first Japanese expo with an audience since COVID

BitSummit is one of my favorite video game expos in the world, and this year’s edition was no exception.

Held over two days in August in the historic former capital of Japan, Kyoto, BitSummit is dedicated to indie games created by smaller development teams or even individuals, with an extremely diverse selection of great games from Japan and around the world. .

While smaller than the Tokyo Game Show, BitSummit allows visitors to play many games without standing in long lines, and often with the opportunity to chat with developers in person while playing.

A very special edition of the Expo

This year’s program, entitled BitSummit: X-Roads – was the first large-scale game exhibition in Japan to invite a public audience since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

After an exclusively online show in 2020 and an in-person show limited to industry workers and media in 2021, it was wonderful to feel the buzz of a fully open gaming event again. Yes, there were some concessions made in the name of safety: a reduced capacity, COVID protocols like mask requirement, and no food court (meaning no sign of the famous 57 Diner burgers that are often one of the aspects highlights of the event). But that did nothing to dampen the atmosphere of this always fun show.

IGN Japan has been an official BitSummit media partner since we first pre-launched our site in 2016. So this was our seventh year covering it, and also the year of the event’s 10th anniversary. As usual, this year we built a studio on the show floor, from which we broadcast a live feed throughout the show: from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and then from 9am to 5pm on Sunday, for a total 15 hours of live programming.

We invited dozens of game developers to show us their games, which we played live on air. And since the show was open to the public, it was a great opportunity to meet some of our audience: various fans of our weekly talk show. Shaberisugi Player He came to greet us and pose with us for selfies, which after so much time away from face-to-face events was a true privilege.

A variety of independent games, international guests

Some of the highlights of the show for me were legendary PlatinumGames developer Hideki Kamiya joining our livestream once again to talk to us about his thoughts on this year’s BitSummit; Showcasing the world’s first Grim Guardians game: Demon Purge, the recently announced delightfully retro title from veteran developers Inti Creates in which you control two sisters as they take on a demonic horde.

We also interviewed the team at Coffee Stain North about their chaotic upcoming sequel, Goat Simulator 3, a game where you play as a goat and cause as much manic mischief as you can.

We finally had the chance to interview esteemed composer Yuzo Koshiro, who made the music for the Streets of Rage games he loved growing up, about his latest project: a complete remake of his soundtrack to the forgotten gem from 1988, ” The Scheme”.


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This was also the first major game show in Japan since the pandemic began that foreign visitors could attend. Japan has slightly relaxed its immigration rules since BitSummit and Tokyo Game Show 2021, so that visitors can enter on a business visa.

As such, we got to see games from all over the world, from Britain’s Paper Cut Mansion to China’s Back to the Dawn. It also meant that our colleague Cam Shea from IGN Australia was able to attend; you can find his roundup of his favorite BitSummit games here.

Outstanding Media Award

Every year at BitSummit there is an award ceremony and IGN Japan awards our own Media Highlight Award to a game that we feel stood out at the show. This is always an impossibly difficult task, as the quality and variety of games at BitSummit increases every year. Choosing just one game out of the hundreds on display can be daunting.

Since BitSummit is an event focused on indie games, for our Media Highlight Award we generally look for a game that embodies the indie spirit, one that shows a sense of innovation and is still in the middle stages of development. But above all, it must be fun to play.

It’s a visual envelope

For him IGN Japan Media Highlight Award this year, we selected a game called It’s a wrap! In this game based on the blockbuster movies of the 1980s, players simultaneously take on the roles of director, editor, and star.

‘It’s a wrap!’

Each level gives you a scene from a movie (action, sci-fi, or adventure) and it’s your job to help events unfold in the right order by moving elements around the timeline just like you would in video editing software. . So, for example, if the star must run through a collapsing cave while being chased by a gigantic boulder, Indiana Jones-style, then the player must edit the timeline so that the boulders fall from the ceiling in the right time and that the obstructions are removed. clear so the star can avoid them. Once you’ve done this, press play and then directly control the star to avoid the various traps in real time and run and jump your way to victory.

It’s a wrap! It includes a lot of gags and references based on movies from the 80’s and 90’s, resulting in a game that tests your brain and your gaming skills while making you laugh. It is being developed by Chanko Studios, a small team working remotely and based in France and Germany. BitSummit was the first time they showed their game at an exhibition; the demo we played caught the imagination of several members of our team, including myself, making it our game of the show.

Behind the live stream: so many spreadsheets

Producing 15 hours of live content over two days is no easy task. We start planning these events months in advance, but inevitably it all comes together at the last minute. We start by finding out which games and developers will be at the show, whether it’s showcasing their game at a booth or appearing on stage for a panel.

We then discussed the details with dozens of these game companies from around the world and put together a schedule to have them on our live show. We then prepare for the day by installing games, receiving trailers, researching interview questions, etc. All I see for weeks and weeks are spreadsheets. So many spreadsheets.

IGN Japan Temporary Studio at BitSummit: X-Roads

The day before the event starts, we hit the venue to build our studio from the ground up, setting up and testing cameras, microphones, studio lights, live streaming PCs, multiple monitors, audio monitoring systems, and more. Everything must be carefully tested to avoid technical problems on the day of the show.

And just as it takes a day to build the studio, we only have an hour to tear it down and pack it all up at the end of the show.

During the show, we’re lucky enough to have developers from all the major titles come to our booth to play their games on air. But that’s not enough to cover all the best games the show has to offer, so our editors and writers also hit the booths around the show floor to play the games they’re excited about or to find new hidden gems.

Last impressions: a lot of work, a lot of fun, more to come

While I have to spend most of my time in our studio, either in front of the camera or behind the scenes, I was able to wander around the show floor a bit, where I discovered surprises like Squad 51 Vs the Flying Saucers, a game of bullets. which looks exactly like a 1950s black-and-white B-movie; I Am Zombie, a prototype from Kyoto-based developer Q-Games that puts you in command of a horde of brain-hungry zombies; and Scathe, a Doom-style first-person shooter from a small team from Scotland packed with all the demonic violence you could want.

Squad 51 against the flying saucers

2021 IGN Japan Media Highlight Award winner Akurra was showcased in a more polished state than last year, while another of last year’s most promising games, Chuhai Labs’ super-cute Cursed to Golf, was finally completed and released. just a few days after BitSummit ended.

Event season is in full swing and as I write this I’m heading to Gamescom 2022 in Germany to cover Europe’s biggest gaming extravaganza. Then it’s back to the endless spreadsheets, as September brings Tokyo Game Show 2022, where we’ll be producing more than double the content we did at BitSummit, in Japanese and English (and other languages ​​too) for IGN’s global audience.

It’s a lot of work and a lot of fun. Next year, I hope the burgers will come back too.


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Author: Daniel Robson

Daniel Robson is editor-in-chief of the video game news site. IGN Japan. read his series the world of gamers in JAPAN Forward, and find it at twitter here.

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