Things X 5 – October 15, 2012

by Francois Joron

Playing Bayonetta for the first time a week ago made me realized how important Japanese games are to me. Growing up with a NES and pretty much sticking to Nintendo consoles and handhelds since then, I always had a soft spot for Japanese games. But the truth is, Japanese games are not as prominent as they once were in the west. Benchmark franchises like Final Fantasy, Resident Evil or Ninja Gaiden are now competing against AAA productions like Mass Effect, Dead Space or Uncharted and the later group drives tons of copies over here. Some Japanese developers appears to be struggling with this new reality. Resident Evil 6 and its lukewarm reception amongst critics and gamers is the perfect example of a major franchise trying to achieve a so-called western appeal. “If you talk to gamers in the west they love Japanese games, and they don’t want Japanese gamers to make western style games,” say Puppeteer director’s Gavin Moore in a Eurogamer article about the state of Japanese games. A must read.

According to various sources, Satoru Iwata has big plans for Nintendo in 2013. A lot of changes have already happened: a new building in Tokyo (closer to established Japanese developers Konami, Square, etc), restructuring of several development teams inside Nintendo, a new division lead by Miyamoto with younger staff working on small scale games, and more. It’s a lot of changes, that I assume will spark creativity within the company. I really like some of the initiatives Nintendo took recently, especially the partnerships they’ve made with other studios that gave us things like Metroid: Other M or smaller things like all those Nintendo-centric costumes in the upcoming Wii U version of Tekken.

Nintendo have posted a full breakdown of the Wii U hardware through a Iwata Asks feature.  It’s full of nerdy technical stuff and let’s you see the Wii U totally naked so you don’t have to break yours open on launch (laugh). And of course, they are still teasing us with a transparent console. (laugh)I finally decided to transfer all of my DSiWare downloads from my DSi to my 3DS. This meant losing all my save data for each and every games I had installed on my DSi but since I have barely touched my DSi in the last year, it was a minor annoyance comparing to have all of my games in one convenient place. Going back to the excellent Trajectile or experiencing Jason Rohrer’s Passage once more has been a lot of fun, but it’s Alpha Bounce that took much of my gaming time this weekend. Upgrading your ship (basically your paddle), equipping weapons and exploring the thousand of levels (if not millions, according to the developer) makes this “brick-breaking RPG” quite an addicting little game. The music is quite cool too and the game’s random aspect brings out some weird things.

Starting next week and up until Wii U launch, my Things X 5 features will be dedicated to the Wii. It will serve as a goodbye to one of my favorite consoles. You can expect a lot of random facts about Nintendo’s little white box for the next month or so.

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