The Dead Are Rising in Tokyo (and Damn, Are They Hung Over)


Okay, first thing: That DS game I mentioned in my last dispatch, about the cursed RPG that kills its users seven days after they play it? Yeah, I found it. So that's one more mission accomplished.

More importantly, I got to fulfill a lifelong dream of sorts—and of all outlets, Game Revolution should really have an achievement-badge for something like this— on the last media/'business' day of Tokyo Game Show 2009…by indiscriminately laying waste to a whole shambling shitload of zombies in Tokyo. In Tokyo… in a Mexican cantina. A Mexican cantina not far from the Shibuya club-district, in fact. And all of this in Reno, no less, or at least something very close to it.

(Yeah, I know—it totally sounds like the Japanese whiskey talking…but I've got photos, video, and about 150 witnesses who will back me up on this. Perhaps I should elaborate).

The outer walls of the Zest Cantina in Tokyo's Ebisu area are a suitable functional, Beyond-Thunderdome-ish, exposed-corrugated-metal affair—it looks exactly like the kind of place you actually might want to make your last stand, when the Zombie Apocalypse does finally come. Inside, the pop-culture referentia veers off in a different direction—it brings to mind every multi-tiered, wooden-railed, sawdust-floored, Hollywood-Western watering-hole that's ever exploded into a saloon-wide, bottle-smashing cowboy brawl (with perhaps some indirect overtones of From Dusk 'til Dawn's gloriously disreputable 'Titty Twister'). This, then, is where Capcom decided to have their over-the-top, 'reality TV'-themed 'TERROR IS REALITY XVII' event for their forthcoming Zombie-Apocalypse gorefest, Dead Rising 2.

(Author's note: Capcom has gotten a lot of shit from us in the past—mostly blowback from some press events that, for one reason or another, went awkwardly, epically, excruciatingly awry in terms of excessive length, crippling disorganization, lack of sufficient prior notice (and/or available alcohol), and general, free-floating, neuron-jamming tedium. I'm here to say that their execution of—and choice of venue for—the Dead Rising 2 event officially re-balances the record in Capcom's favor, so now we're gonna have to pick on some other high-value target. Just out of my ass, I'm thinking—EA? Maybe LucasArts ? Reader suggestions are, as always, much appreciated).

Whereas the original Dead Rising was a fairly blatant homage to the zombies-as-mall-denizens societal-comment snarkery in both George Romero's original Dawn of the Dead and the remake, Dead Rising 2 takes place in casino-studded “Fortune City,” styled on Reno. Capcom didn't waste any time: Moments after arriving (and almost immediately having an alarmingly blue drink thrust into my hand by one the the tallest, hottest 'ring-girls' I've seen in a long time), I was turned loose on one of the game's single-player challenges: To eliminate, in the space of ten minutes—with whatever weapons came to hand—a minimum of 300 zombies shambling around a casino floor. There's nothing quite as dehumanizingly gratifying as going on a zombie-killing rampage amid blinking banks of slot machines, craps tables and gaudy casino bars, wailing on hoards of the shambling undead with common or outrageous weapons that come to hand.

The impromptu casino-resort-based arsenal included bar stools, golf clubs, light machine guns, decorative swords, electric guitars (they make an entertaining, power-chord “Bwammp!” when you clock a zombie upside the head with one)—and my current personal favorite, twin chain saws mounted on opposite pole-ends, allowing you to go all Darth Maul on the collective zombie ass converging on you from all directions. There were also what appeared to be bottles of booze, which I assumed to be potential, desperation weapons—but when I'd push the action button, my onscreen character would just tip the bottle back and chug it, which at least felt natural, so whatever. We were promised an in-game 'reward' if we killed off the requisite 300 zombies (I took down 542—he said, puffing out his chest just a bit), and we got it: A wheelchair, jerry-rigged with multiple full-automatic weapons for state-of-the-art, handi-capable mass zombie slaughter.

Fun as it was, all of this was just prep-time, a little practice for the main event—a game competition with a very cool grand prize: A custom leather jacket, painstakingly modeled on the one worn by the zombie-slaughtering, in-game hero. The booze-fueled event and the multiplayer gaming competition itself took the form of a flashy, over-the-top, wrestling-entertainment styled 'reality TV' show (also found in the game) called Terror is Reality XVII (wherein the human survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse compete in televised, competitive mass slaughter of the undead in various creative ways, for the purposes of pay-per-view entertainment). A fur-coated, blinged-out, hands-in-the-AEY-yah 'MC' (who could and did rock the absurd, cringe-inducing, nerve-grating, yo-yo-yo ostentation as well as any BET awards mouthpiece) took the stage to stir up some excitement before the competition—but the aforementioned hot ring-girls were up there with him, so I agreed with my snipers up on the second level that it wasn't worth the risk of taking the shot. Some other time.

From what I saw watching the performance of my many fellow game-players, I had as good a chance as anyone at the nifty grand prize—but, hellfire and damnation, the first round of the competition didn't even start until some hours after guests first started arriving… and by that hour, I had pressing business in other quarters of Tokyo (like I said in my last post, the Japanese belly-dancer knows everything and everybody) and I'll be damned if I'm going to blow off a guided tour like that. Even if I had won—by no means a foregone conclusion—I think PETA might come right after me on general principles if I came into possession of even one more leather jacket.

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