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StarTopic BitSummit X-Roads August 6-7, 2022 |ST| Your χ to Japanese Indie Games

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Tingle
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Welcome to Famiboards' first (and hopefully inaugural) BitSummit thread! Now in its 9th (!) year, BitSummit is Japan’s premiere indie games expo. Despite running for so long it’s remained a relatively obscure event to many Western enthusiasts largely due to a lack of coverage outside of Japan. I can’t make any promises that this thread will convince people to pay more attention, but my hope is that by having a designated place to discuss the event and news coming out of it that it’ll help raise public consciousness about the event and encourage more coverage in the future.

Sorry not sorry for the terrible Kingdom Hearts BBS reference in the title

The Basics​

First things first, when is BitSummit this year?​

This year’s show is BitSummit X-Roads and is happening Saturday August 6th and Sunday August 7th. Much like the Tokyo Game Show, the first day of the show is strictly for business with the second day open to the general public.

What is BitSummit exactly?​

BitSummit is an annual video game show / conference specializing in Japanese indie developers although there is a small presence from teams from outside of Japan. Probably the best way to think of it is something like the Indie Megabooth on a larger scale mixed with Tokyo Game Show.

You can learn more about the show on the official website: https://bitsummit.org/en/

Where is BitSummit held?​

BitSummit is held annually in Kyoto, Japan which is the big hotspot for indie developers in Japan and is home to several of the indie developers behind the show such as Q-Games (PixelJunk series), 17-Bit (Galak-Z), and Vitei (Steel Diver).

It’s also home to a certain company I'm not going to name. However, I will say that many of us on this forum should be very familiar with them.

Is there a schedule?​

Here's the official schedule if you can read Japanese: https://bitsummit.org/10th/
Luckily, Gematsu has an English version available: https://www.gematsu.com/event/bitsummit-x-roads

Panels of note this year:
  • 8/6 10:35 to 11:05 – Introduction to asobu, a Community that Supports Games to Go Global, with ElecHead as a Case Study – An introduction to asobu, a community that supports games for global expansion, with the developer of ElecHead discussing their own experience as a case study. Featuring Anne Ferrero (asobu manager) and Nama Takahashi (ElecHead developer). - ElecHead is one of the indie darlings of the past year and we have our own ST celebrating it
  • 8/7 10:30 to 11:00 – RPG Time! The Legend of Wright – Featuring Tom Fujii (Deskworks director) and Fujikawa-Q (Weekly Famitsu editor). - Legend of Wright was recently featured in Nintendo's June Partner Showcase
  • 8;7 12:25 to 13:55 – Special Interview with Raw Fury‘s Gordon Van Dyke by Layer-Q – Gordon Van Dyke talks about the development of the Kingdom series and more. Featuring Gordon Van Dyke (Raw Fury co-founder) and LayerQ (content creator). - I can't speak to the Kingdom series, but Raw Fury is one of the indie publishers in the West I always keep an eye on.

How about a map?​

Here you go: https://bitsummit.org/ja/venue_map/ This is a bit more English friendly and you can click on most exhibitors for a page with a trailer for what they’re showing if you’re interested

So where can I find coverage?​

Unfortunately, BitSummit tends to run under the radar for a lot of non-Japan centric websites. The 2020 show (BitSummit Gaiden) picked up a little more attention due to the online-only nature and dearth of gaming events that year. However, there was very little coverage of last year’s show by Western media largely due to the event not allowing foreign visitors due to the pandemic.

With 2022 being open again to everyone my hope is that we’ll see broader coverage again, but your best bet is going to be with sites like Siliconera and Gematsu that specialize in the Japanese side of the industry

What can we expect this year?​

Honestly I have no clue! That’s kinda the neat thing I think about this show, there’s a lot of unfamiliar name so it’s a complete mystery what gets talked about during the show. Much like the Indie Megabooth that used to make the convention circuit.

That said, typically Inti Creates announces their next game at BitSummit and they literally just released Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 so there’s a good chance there will be some exciting news if you’re a fan of their games.

Q&A

Q: Can you tell me some history about the show?
Sure! BitSummit was started in 2012 by Dylan Cuthbert (yes, that Dylan Cuthbert) and some friends. The first show only had 200 attendees, but it’s grown significantly since then with 11,000 attendees in 2018 (which was the last show I could find attendance numbers on).

Q: What’s with the Darth Vader looking guy with a Famicom on his head?
That would appear to be Prof. Sakamoto, an 8-bit chiptune artist from Japan who is the opening act for this year's show.

You can learn more about them on their website https://www.p.sk-mt.com/
Or watch this episode from Archipel’s old Toco Toco show:


Q: Got any links to coverage from past shows?
I think the best, or at least most by volume, coverage I’ve seen in the past was from USGamer (RIP) which was largely driven by Kat Bailey from 2015 - 2019 and was what initially put the show on my radar. You can find a fairly complete archive of their coverage with these two links:
https://www.usgamer.net/tags/b/bitsummit
https://www.usgamer.net/tags/b/bitsummit-2016

In particular, I highly recommend their primer on the show from their 2016 coverage: https://www.usgamer.net/articles/a-brief-guide-to-bitsummit-japans-indie-expo

PCGamer covered the show in 2019 which makes sense with PC being the platform of choice for indie developers, and hopefully they’ll be back this year with the show open again to the rest of the world: https://www.pcgamer.com/were-at-japans-indie-festival-bitsummit/

Eurogamer has been known to throw out a piece or two about the show but not anything specific coverage-wise:
https://www.eurogamer.net/bitsummit-and-the-thrill-of-unearthing-new-games
https://www.eurogamer.net/a-snapshot-of-japans-indie-scene-in-2017
https://www.eurogamer.net/bitsummit-2016-the-futures-bright-for-japanese-indies
https://www.eurogamer.net/inside-japans-indie-scene

And lastly, here’s Rob Fahey over at GI.biz reflecting on the 2016 show:
https://www.gamesindustry.biz/rubbing-shoulders-with-the-greats-at-bitsummit

Afterward​

If you got this far, thank you for reading! I think this was my first ST for this site and I'm glad I finally found the time to write one up even if it's a bit barebones compared to some of the absolute titans of OPs we have around here. Hopefully you found this informative or interesting, and any feedback for future STs is welcome!
 

big lantern ghost

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Great job on the OP. I’m gonna follow this thread to keep abreast of things! Always some neat stuff at BitSummit. I haven’t kept up with Japanese indies at all, so I’m prepared to be surprised!
 
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shoptroll

shoptroll

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Looks like Inti's announcement leaked out early (video is currently unlisted):

Castlevania knockoff with waifu’s, guns and coop?! Sounds fun

Getting some real Bloodstained vibes here. I know that team put out an updated content roadmap for the rest of the year so I doubt a new project is getting announced soon but I did like that they were collaborating with the Bloodstained team.
 

Mandos

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Looks like Inti's announcement leaked out early (video is currently unlisted):



Getting some real Bloodstained vibes here. I know that team put out an updated content roadmap for the rest of the year so I doubt a new project is getting announced soon but I did like that they were collaborating with the Bloodstained team.
So it turns out this is a Gal Gun spinoff starring 2 of the main characters from double peace that are part of a demon hunting clan. Not inherently a bad thing tho, just the dev team liked those characters and decided to give them their own game
 
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Tangerine_Cookie

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Looks like Inti's announcement leaked out early (video is currently unlisted):



Getting some real Bloodstained vibes here. I know that team put out an updated content roadmap for the rest of the year so I doubt a new project is getting announced soon but I did like that they were collaborating with the Bloodstained team.

So it turns out this is a Gal Gun spinoff starring 2 of the main side characters from double peace that are part of a demon hunting clan. Not inherently a bad thing tho, just the dev team liked those characters and decided to give them their own game

I was personally hoping for a new Blaster Master (They totally have to do their take on Blasting Again after the Zero trilogy, come on!), but i don't think i mind this at all! Getting Portrait of Ruin vibes from this.
 
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shoptroll

shoptroll

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According to the details on Gematsu it sounds like Grim Guardians is going to be more of a classicvania than IGAvania

Players must master each of the sisters’ unique abilities and attributes to overcome the challenging stages with bosses awaiting their arrival. They’ll also be able to find new routes through each stage using the two characters’ abilities, keeping play throughs fresh.

 

ermitron2

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According to the details on Gematsu it sounds like Grim Guardians is going to be more of a classicvania than IGAvania



Yes I get the feeling this is more structured like the previous Bloodstained games, where they gain new abilities and then you can unlock different routes, which also makes sense with the description of changes in repeat plays. Also this could work better with the dlc similar to BMZ having other characters from the intiverse to play as (Coppen is definitely going to be in here considering his relation with the sisters)
 

ermitron2

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Its tsarting now



EDIT: Welp, there is also an official bitsummit stream now!



Adding IGN Japan live stream

 
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ermitron2

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Inti is presenting Grim Guardians now with more gameplay

Edit: A quick review of the presentation

  • It isn't a metroidvania, it follows more the line of bloodstained with multiple paths to reach the end of the level
  • They started 3 months ago the development (so we are probably looking at a july 2023 release)
  • They went with female characters as protagonist after Kirin's good reception in GV3
  • The sisters are the favorite characters of the president (and pretty much the studio) and they already had the idea to use them in an action game before.
  • No online for 2P
 
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Hero

Cappy
Inti is presenting Grim Guardians now with more gameplay

Edit: A quick review of the presentation

  • It isn't a metroidvania, it follows more the line of bloodstained with multiple paths to reach the end of the level
  • They started 3 months ago the development (so we are probably looking at a july 2023 release)
  • They went with female characters as protagonist after Kirin's good reception in GV3
  • The sisters are the favorite characters of the president (and pretty much the studio) and they already had the idea to use them in an action game before.
  • No online for 2P
Only 3 months of dev time and it already looks this good?! Goddamn
 

ermitron2

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Only 3 months of dev time and it already looks this good?! Goddamn
Yeah its amazing what they cando, bu they do mention a lot of things are missing, incluiding other paths, npc, etc, they only have what they showed of the 1st level. so there is still a lot of work ahead
 

Hero

Cappy
Yeah its amazing what they cando, bu they do mention a lot of things are missing, incluiding other paths, npc, etc, they only have what they showed of the 1st level. so there is still a lot of work ahead
Yeah, it makes sense that there'd be a lot missing still. I'm just really impressed that they have this much done already.
 

Mandos

Tingle
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Inti is presenting Grim Guardians now with more gameplay

Edit: A quick review of the presentation

  • It isn't a metroidvania, it follows more the line of bloodstained with multiple paths to reach the end of the level
  • They started 3 months ago the development (so we are probably looking at a july 2023 release)
  • They went with female characters as protagonist after Kirin's good reception in GV3
  • The sisters are the favorite characters of the president (and pretty much the studio) and they already had the idea to use them in an action game before.
  • No online for 2P
That’s pretty wild. And expected on the character picks
 

ermitron2

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On a good /bad thing, there was a lot of traffic to the site that it's down, which says a lot of the interest in the event

 

ermitron2

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Force Strike looks interesting, its a Kung Fu roguelite where you plan your fight mentally and then you execute it in"real life", a lot of options for combat (something like katana zero but with kungfu)

DHp8k5d.png
 

ermitron2

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Some bits of the last hour

Monster create: Deck builder game with monster parts, from the director of chibi robo

TQhkBQZ.png


Drive crazy: a wacky arcade game where you drive as japanese truck, with drifting and other crazy stuff happening on the road
ZMdqjde.png


OU: Looks amazing, a visual adventure game

zG86F7i.png
NgGWjj9.png
 
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ermitron2

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Had to sleep and was keeping up with the last hours of the first day. I saw this one posted on twitter and thought it was fun, a game space where you can actually interact with the wind of a fan

 
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shoptroll

shoptroll

Tingle
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Added the VODs for Day 1, Day 2, and the Chuhai Labs stream to post #2

I'll add to that post the games people have been highlighting when I have more time. So keep them coming if there's anything else that looked interesting!
 


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