Game makers put disaster titles on hold

Keen to avoid adding further distress to a shaken domestic population - as well as a concerned public around the world - Japan's game developers have delayed the release of a number of much-anticipated new titles and scrapped several others entirely.

There is even concern that the Tokyo Game Show - the largest and most important event on the electronic entertainment calendar in Japan - may be canceled or greatly reduced in scale.

Organizers have stated that no decision has been taken on the September event and that they hope to go ahead as scheduled, but the biggest hurdle will be ensuring there is sufficient energy to power the thousands of consoles showcasing the industry's latest offerings.

Held at the Makuhari Messe convention center, to the east of Tokyo, the event draws heavily on the power that is provided by the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. The facility was badly damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and is unlikely to ever be put back into full operation, meaning that Tokyo faces a dramatic energy shortfall this summer.

Of more immediate concern to players in the immediate aftermath of the disasters is the delay of long-awaited new games.

Nintendo Corp. has postponed the release of Steel Diver, while Namco Bandai also put off its latest One Piece game. Both titles are set at sea and the releases were apparently considered inappropriate in the aftermath of a tsunami that in places reached a height of 37.9 meters.

Similarly, Yakuza: Of The End and MotorStorm: Apocalypse are both set in devastated urban spaces that the developers decided was too reminiscent of areas of Japan hardest hit by the earthquake.

Given that all the titles have been in development for several years and are, in many cases, simply the latest in a series of titles, it is likely they will be released at a later date.

One game that has been canceled entirely, however, is Disaster Report 4. Developer Irem has decided that it does not want to be seen as cashing in on the misery caused by the earthquake, even though it is the fourth edition of a title that dates back to 2002. In the game, a player finds himself in a city that has
been struck by a huge earthquake and has to escape from the rubble.

Other titles that have been delayed include Major League Baseball 2K11 and the tennis game Top Spin 4.