I recall the day I received my copy of Inis's Ouendan for DS. A import delight of hilarious fun and possibly my best DS find. Yeah, the crazy tracks were japanese pieces I'd never heard of, but I feel enlightened for having heard them. Its became more than just a game to me, but another cultural exchange. I'm a sucker for anime, manga and games so I'm used to this kind of stuff, like many an import or perhaps normal gamer.
This natural led to me buying Elite Beat Agents. I knew before hand that there'd be a change in music, and while the purist gamer in me barked at the idea, I accepted it as a given to spread the good word of Inis's talent. EBA went down well in the U.S and is now doing the rounds in the u.k and europe. Its great that EBA has managed to cross the gap it has, and its good that while many Ouendan fans may not have liked the changed tracklist to EBA, and solidifies Inis's smart choice to change it, especially for such a small developer that needs exposure.
On home consoles the rise of Guitar Hero, must be a bit of a dagger in the heart for Konami. Konami who created the genre in Guitar Freaks but failed to make that vital change in tracks to appease western tastes. Unfortunately, even though they pioneered this guitar gaming madness with Guitar Freaks, Konami efforts will be a cherished memory of japanese and import playing gamers only. That's a small audience for a series with such potential. If only they had made those vital changes, things could have been quite different.
Its good to see Guitar Hero (and Rock Band) catching on with lot of gamers, especially the old air guitar generation, I guess it was only a matter of time before the likes of MTV started to sniff it. While this is a progression, is this where the game looses its cultural edge, morphing into something more likeable to western tastes and beyond. Maybe I'm worrying about nothing, but to me MTV is one of the problems with a lot of music today, so developers should be careful who they get into bed with (though Harmonix are more than likely happy with the captital and access to lots of music). Is this a sacrifice too far? If not where do you draw the line in the sand or winds of change?
Perhaps my worries are nothing really, as sometimes new things like Rock Band, while scary endeavours, are sometimes good things, born from disagreements and conflict. How they all turn out should be interesting for games. I just hope that while the likes of Guitar Hero and Rock Band have success courting the mainstream, that gamers don't forget about or miss smaller fry, like Inis games and yet smaller stuff like the impressive looking Jam Session. (I hope Jam Sessions sells well, buy the way, let alone Hanna Montana Music Jam) Good news I have heard of these two.)
One last thing, Konami are a big developer, so it makes me wonder if swallowing the bitter pill of Guitar Hero, will motivate them to raise their game, and seek to gain some market share in this genre. After all, rock music might be popular, but there are other music genre, that many might not think of venturing into. I wouldn't count TKO on Konami just yet, especially so when EA are now moving onto the bemani rhythm action type turf, with Boogie for Wii.
So come on, Konami, time to flex your talented muscle, samurai outfit, some balls and stake your claim. Surely, Snake and co wouldn't concede defeat so easily, would they?