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Posts Tagged ‘Resident Evil’

As I’ve written before, Sony’s big draw for me (and many others) during the original Playstation era was the level of respect they had for the audience.  Ridge Racer, Tekken, Wipeout, and the Resident Evil series all made their home debut on the system, and all elevated their respective genre to new heights.  Sony marketed to a slightly older audience (remember ‘UR Not E‘?) and introduced an exciting brand of popcorn entertainment.

Fast forward to this Valentine’s Day, and Sony offered up ThatGameCompany’s latest ambitious think-piece, Flower.  For the record, I LOVE this game.  The design is breathtaking, with no HUD and a minimalist control scheme.  The music is subtle and, at times, even a bit somber.   In my short time with the game, it made me think about how our planet functions, mankind’s impact on it, why the movie The Iron Giant is underappreciated, and how various faith’s interpretation of God are different.  Like any good pice of art in any medium, Flower makes you THINK.

It scratches itches that I didn’t even know I had, and makes me want to DEMAND a full apology from Roger Ebert on behalf of theentire industry.  But the million dollar question is, “how many people will really dig this game?”  Perhaps more importantly, “how many people need to buy (and like) Flower for it to be a success?”  Between this game, and PSN exclusives like Echocrome and FlOw, and weird avatar chat/meeting space Home, I can’t help but wonder if Sony may be getting too arty for it’s own good.  It came up in this month’s EDGE Magazine review of Prototype, and I think it’s a valid point.  After all, art that pushes the envelope to an extreme will almost always have a high point of entry that limits commercial success.

Microsoft has exclusive GTA4 content, Gears of War and the HALO franchise to satisfy precisely the type of gamer that Sony connected with over the last two console generations.  Third parties like EA and Ubisoft certainly keep that audience entertained on Sony’s big black box, but I can’t really see Little Big Planet connecting with them.  And with a big gulf in hardware prices in this economy, can Sony afford to let such a big audience go?

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One element of appeal I completely missed in my Mega Man 9 post was the cost factor.  As I said before, I applaud the aesthetic direction Capcom’s taking this one.  But I hadn’t really considered what that lo-fi design choice could mean for the bottom line, until I read Chris Kohler’s great piece on Koji Igarashi and the latest installment in the Castlevania franchise.

There’s already quite a bit of negative press surrounding Castlevania Judgement, and with very good reason.  How the hell does a head-to-head fighter fit in the Castlevania universe?  Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood were terrific recent entries in the series, so it’s not like Konami forgot how to make a good vampire-slaying game starring the Belmont clan.

The fighting game approach it just feels like Konami’s blatantly going back to the well to take advantage of die-hard Castlevania fans, and sullying their sturdiest franchise in the process.  And it gets so much sadder when you realize Igarashi couldn’t get the budget for a true followup, so the Konami braintrust’s next move is “toe-to-toe brawler.”

And that’s why Capcom’s decision to go 8-bit is so brilliant.  Mega Man 9 will feel like a true followup in the series, probably even more so than Mega Man 7 and 8.  It can be cranked out by a tiny staff (compared to most current-gen development teams), and delivered via Wiiware for what EA probably spent on snacks on bottled water for the Madden ’09 build cycle.  And, they can bench test a bunch of new, fresh-out-of-school designers before dropping them into more heavy-duty design teams for the next Resident Evil or Lost Planet games.

I hope Konami thinks about taking Castlevania back to its roots in similar fashion.  Of course, a new  Zombies ate my Neighbors wouldn’t hurt while they’re at it.

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