Hello, this is Shinji Mikami here.
I'm just barely keeping my head on my shoulders these days. But how about all of you? Firmly attached?
Of all the things you expect to find in a hotel room, a surreal letter from a legendary games developer isn't top of the list. But here it is, lying on the bed in the Tokyo Hilton, along with an event itinerary, a map of the local area and a pillow menu. (That last one is the only document not provided by SEGA, unless good PR now extends to offering a choice of foam or buckwheat.)
The letter continues:
At tomorrow's event, you will have the opportunity to see the very first gameplay demo of my latest title, Vanquish. I hope you're all anticipating what we have in store. (Actually, I'm full of anticipation and fear myself.)
The official title for tomorrow's event is the Vanquish World Premiere, but it won't be the first time anything has been seen of the game. A trailer released back in January revealed some of what to expect - a futuristic setting, a square-jawed hero, a sci-fi suit of armour and a world leader familiar enough to give any child of the eighties nightmares.
She was just one of a few familiar things about the trailer. Some people said it reminded them of Metal Gear Solid, others of Gears of War or Iron Man. "P.N. 03 meets Halo meets Emillio Estevez," wrote one Eurogamer reader. But the trailer still generated considerable excitement - partly because it just looked impressive, and partly due to the pedigree of the people behind it.
Platinum Games rose from the ashes of Clover Studio, the company behind Okami and God Hand. Platinum has since produced its own impressive pair of titles, MadWorld and Bayonetta. Now the studio is working on Vanquish. Heading up the project is Shinji Mikami, creator of the Resident Evil series. His letter concludes:
In tomorrow's interview, I'll answer as many of your questions as possible until my client stops me (LOL). Please feel free to ask me whatever you want.
But will he answer whatever we ask?
That question is still hanging in the air the following day as we wait to meet Mikami in the flesh. The World Premiere is being held at the Tokyo City View, a giant skyscraper in Roppongi. Punctuating the panoramic view is a big screen, standing on a stage covered in fibreglass rubble and smashed-in tellies. There's also a dented oil barrel, the kind instantly recognisable to anyone who's ever played a videogame.
In the corner of the room stands a mannequin modelling the suit seen in the trailer, looking for all the world like the love child of a stormtrooper and someone out of Battle of the Planets. On his white breastplate is written 'Augmented Reality Suit'. The unfortunate acronym is also boldly displayed. A fellow journalist wonders why the suit's visor covers the mouth rather than the eyes, as is more traditional and less totally illogical.
All will be revealed later on, but first it's time for Shinji Mikami to take the stage. He's a rock star developer all right, complete with baseball cap, hoodie, designer jeans and controversial opener. After welcoming us to the event he says, via a translator, "There's one thing I want to tell you before we actually get into the gameplay: this is not P.N. 03." Tackling the criticism head-on, then.