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Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2012-06-13 06:48:58
The videogame landscape sure has changed. It doesn't seem that long ago that Sega had a console (one that didn't involve peeing). The PlayStation 2 ruled the industry, and I remember laughing at the original Xbox because it immediately crashed, just like a shoddy Windows product, the very first time I picked up a controller to demo it.
When the Xbox 360 launched, Microsoft threw gobs of money at iconic Japanese game developers. They felt that it was ESSENTIAL to feature Japanese games in order to succeed. Then-Xbox head honcho, Peter Moore, stated:
"Japan is the cradle of the game industry and the home of very creative and innovative minds, and it's vital to see the Xbox as a viable competitor in that area."
Over the course of this last console cycle, however, Japanese influence unexpectedly dropped right off the edge of the videogame earth. Their games grew increasingly irrelevant, and Japan began looking to the West for game design inspiration. Now we're getting oddities like Dragon's Dogma, which is essentially an Elder Scrolls knockoff. It features a traditional Japanese strength: mechanically tight combat, but presents a bland and uninteresting world that really isn't worth exploring or interacting with. Resident Evil is increasingly transforming into an action shooter, but is hindered by its DNA of sluggish Japanese shooter design. Japan is no longer setting the table, but instead seriously struggling to adapt to current trends.
Now we're seeing Japanese developers, like the Happy Wars peeps, simply capitulating. I'm suddenly feeling nostalgic for the days when a Zelda or a Final Fantasy release was a big deal...