Promoted blog: Seventh generation surprises - Destructoid


Promoted blog: Seventh generation surprises

10:00 PM on 11.05.2012
Promoted blog: Seventh generation surprises photo

[Dtoid community blogger crackedbat shares some of the things that surprised him most about the current console generation. Want to see your own words appear on the front page? Go write something! --Mr Andy Dixon]

As the Wii/DS era draws to a close, many are wondering if Nintendo will be able to replicate the success, or at least do half as well as they have done in that eight year span. The 3DS is treading slightly above where the DS was at this same period of time, but I’m sure most fans and analysts will tell you that there is very little to no chance of the 3DS selling as well as the DS. On the DS, a game like Cooking Mama could sell five million copies. On the 3DS, Cooking Mama 4 has only just edged the quarter million mark (though that may have to do with them charging forty goddamn dollars for the game). The casual audience that was once there is no longer with us, and only time will tell if those who flocked to Wii Fit will do the same for Wii Fit U

As the games industry enters another console generation of big budgets and uncertainty, I’m reminded of how things were back in 2005/2006. The future of gaming was just as much in the air as it is today. Xboxes were dying left and right, the PS3 was selling for an absurd amount of money, and Nintendo was placing all of its eggs in the motion control basket. The endeavor proved to be a success for all three companies: the Xbox 360 has more than doubled its predecessor's sales, the Wii has become Nintendo’s best selling console, and the PS3 proved that if the company backing you is large enough, you can overcome anything. In this time period we also saw a real competitor to Nintendo’s handheld empire emerge (and no, I don’t mean iPhones) and the DS become the best selling videogame system of all time (or it’s still behind the PS2, depending on your source). None of these things surprise me, but there are some facts about this console/handheld cycle that, had you told me this in 2006, I would have called you a dirty, rotten liar. Here are just a few that come to mind.

The best Silent Hill game was for the Wii

Be honest, who saw this one coming? I had never played a Silent Hill game before Shattered Memories and now all I want to do is go back and see where the series started. People still complain about how the Wii is underpowered and can’t make realistic graphics, and yet here we are with a title that proves those complaints wrong. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories has the most realistic graphics on the system, period. The story and controls matched the excellence in visuals, with the only real complaint lodged with the chase sequences (I enjoyed them, some reviewers didn’t). It wasn’t enough that Climax Group, a developer not particularly known for its stable of excellent titles, made the best Silent Hill game, but that they released this game a year after they released Silent Hill Origins, a slightly worse-reviewed game. Then there are the other Silent Hill games that were released this generation: Silent Hill HD Collection is a disaster of a game, Silent Hill: Homecoming continued the downward trend started by Silent Hill 4, and the best thing you can say about Silent Hill: Downpour is that it’s not as bad as Book of Memories. 

Sony ended up the big loser in the Motion Control Arms Race

I know: some will argue that we the consumers were the big losers of the Motion Control Arms Race, and I could certainly agree to that point when looking at Kinect games. But I’m not going down that road. Instead I’m still reeling from the fact that Sony was the big loser of the race when they were really the ones who started it in the first place. Before the Kinect, before the Wii, there was the EyeToy. I’m sure most people remember this as a camera you used to play rudimentary mini-games. It was gimmicky, but it had potential; potential that I thought Sony had realized when it announced the PlayStation Eye and two very important games: Eye of Judgement and Eyedentify. The former was the first card-collecting videogame that actually included a real card collection. The latter was probably nothing more than a tech demo, but it was an incredible idea that Sony basically abandoned. Nothing really came of the the PlayStation Eye until it was combined with the Move, but by then the time had passed for Sony to do something amazing and instead it spent the race playing catch-up. 

A visual novel game would be a hit in the US

Visual novels are a really Japanese thing. In fact, most visual novels never leave the country. So it was a surprise to me that the US would see several games from this sub-genre that were not only fun, but also sold well. First there is the Ace Attorney series, which has sold more than four million copies worldwide. That success was followed by one of my personal favorite games of all time, Hotel Dusk. Though we never got the sequel in the US, it was seemingly a critical and commercial success with VGChartz putting it at half a million copies sold. That was followed by the Professor Layton series, which may or may not be a visual novel depending on your definition of the game (I don’t consider it one, some others do). Finally, the genre hit its apex (possibly) in 2010 with the release of 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, a game that was way more successful in the US than it was in Japan, something I thought would never be true of a visual novel game. 

Some of the best developers would go under

Bizarre Creations learned the hard way that there is no room for two hyper realistic racers on one system. After releasing four Project Gotham games in six years, that last of which sold over two million copies, the developer shut down after its James Bond game fizzled. Factor 5, the developer I thought could do no wrong when it came to flying games, did wrong when it released Lair. The developer went out of business shortly after. Activision got rid of Underground Developments and Luxoflux in 2010 and then killed Radical Entertainment in 2012, EA closed down Pandemic instead of giving them money to make Mercenaries 3 or the Dark Knight game they were working on, and developers owned by THQ were dropping like flies over this past console cycle.

First party studios were also shut down, like Sony’s SOCOM developer Zipper Interactive. Even developers who focused on Nintendo were not able to survive. After making the fatal mistake of creating Bomberman Zero, Hudson Soft was unable to produce a hit on the Wii or DS beyond Deca Sports. Internal squabbling with Konami didn’t help and its three “big” Wii titles (Calling, Rooms: The Main Building, Lost in Shadow), which all failed miserably. Hudson Soft is now wholly owned by Konami, a company surviving on Castlevania, Metal Gear Solid & Pro Evolution Soccer. Ouch.

Nintendo didn’t make all the best games

It’s pretty safe to say that with each generation, Nintendo usually comes out on top as the best developer. Not just with its own systems, but across the board. In the NES/Master System days it was Super Mario Bros. 3, in the SNES/Genesis race it was Super Metroid, during the Saturn/N64/PlayStation battle The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time came out of top, with the Dreamcast/GameCube/Xbox/PS2 free-for-all Sega actually came out on top barely with Soul Calibur, but Nintendo still had the best game on the GameCube with Metroid Prime and of course Nintendo dominated its handhelds. That all changed with this generation.

If you were to look at the overall picture, then yes Nintendo is on top again. Super Mario Galaxy is the top rated game of this generation while Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the second highest rated game. But this generation is different. There aren’t just Wii games, there are also WiiWare games just as there are DS and DSiWare games. While Nintendo has the best Wii game hands down, it does not have the best WiiWare game. That belongs to Team Goo and World of Goo. It doesn’t even have the second best game on the service (Cave Story). Instead, Nintendo had to settle for third with Fluidity (when counting games with at least 10 reviews. It’s sixth when looking at games with at least five reviews.). On the DS, Nintendo had to settle for third again as both Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and Chrono Trigger DS are ranked above it. Finally on DSiWare, Nintendo really didn’t seem to show up to the party at all. If you don’t count Flipnote Studios (which is more of an app than a game) and count games with at least 10 reviews, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge is the number one game. Nintendo’s highest rated DSiWare game is The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition. 

That’s all I could come up with off the top of my head, though there are others I left out (like how the Wii received the best version of Shaun White Snowboarding or how the Wii received the best JRPG of the generation). Obviously with that final factoid, Nintendo is trying to do right by the 3DS and currently has the best 3DS game and eShop game, but time may change that. Maybe this last generation is the one where other developers finally caught up.

If there are other strange things that you noticed about this past/current console/handheld generation I’d love to hear them!

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