On Final Fantasy XIII-2, Game Production, Shooters, and Zeldas

The Disappointing 13th Final Fantasy Gets a Sequel…
…and yet Firefly got canceled. I wish Square had had these funds back in my childhood when they had to pick and choose which games to localize. Their first move should be posting their NES and SNES catalogs on the Wii. That’s easy money. They don’t even have to pay to translate the old games they didn’t localize because fans have already done all that for free!

Is Game Production Going South in the Major Studios?
Game production is like movie production now because the technology is so complex. When your budget is big, you’re also more risk-averse. Big name titles prop up many a company’s bottom line even if the ideas in those series are already exhausted.

There are still great original games being made, like Flower, Ghost Trick, and Mother 3, but you have to be more discerning and buy based on word on the street.  The gaming review industry is still more centralized than book and movie reviews, which means the company can potentially pay off the big magazines for high ratings.  (Some fans suspect Famitsu in Japan of reviewing major-label games dishonestly, but only James Cameron would have enough money to pay off all the contributors to Rotten Tomatoes.)

I wouldn’t be surprised if the DS became the home of innovative game production. It’s inexpensive to develop for, has the biggest customer base, and isn’t as limited as its handheld predecessors.

Why Are Shooting Games So Much More Popular in America?
My blind speculation is that most kids in Japan have never even fired toy guns before: their superheroes and historical idols use fists, katanas, or Kamehamehas, and firearms are illegal in the country. I went out to the shooting range with the Boy Scouts, but their Scouts sure don’t. In Detective Conan, for the most part the criminals have all the guns; Conan kicks soccer balls or fires a tranquilizer dart. Even the giant robots (Ultraman, Gundam, et al) are anthropomorphic and use a lot of hand-to-hand combat. So Japanese gamers naturally wouldn’t have the same familiarity or excitement toward first-person shooters that we do, and some would feel uncomfortable about playing those games.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the PastZelda 3 vs. Zelda 64
Miyamoto wouldn’t want us to fight over these two games, and surely he wanted every title to be better than the last one, but there are some things about A Link To The Past that I hope current players would appreciate. One is its consistently beautiful soft 2D look. Over the course of the game, you see the whole color palette. There are a ton of items, all of which all have their own uses. There’s so much to do in the world, which at the same time isn’t too big to get around. The bosses all required strategy, and the dungeons could be real challenges: I remember the ice level in particular. The 360 degrees of movement you have is nice (though you can only regularly attack in four perpendicular directions), and the play control is quite responsive. 3-D Ocarina of Time relies on targeting, which is cool, of course, but limiting in its own way because the target guides you.

Perhaps Zeldas don’t age as well as Marios and Sonics. JUMPING is WHAT MARIO DOES! so Super Mario World is ageless, and the fun of Sonic is barreling forward as fast as you can, whether in two dimensions or three, but by nature, the more Link can do, the better. That said, A Link to The Past was special, and Link’s Awakening on the Game Boy was also fantastic. That one had a lot of unique features and was practically the only game in my Game Boy besides Tetris. Also, the SNES and GB Zeldas had great plots: simple but moving.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

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3 Comments on “On Final Fantasy XIII-2, Game Production, Shooters, and Zeldas”

  1. msvanessab Says:

    now see, didn’t we have this discussion already? i distinctly remember seeing this elsewhere… :)

  2. Jericho Says:

    Good idea about Square putting all of those (already translated!) classic Super Famicom RPGs that never made it over here onto the Wii Virtual Console. Front Mission, Bahamut Lagoon, Seiken Densetsu 3, Treasure Hunter G, Rudra no Hihou, and so on. On the Enix side they’ve got Lennus 2, Mystic Ark, Live a Live… the list goes on. It’s a license to print money. Nintendo could do the same with Mother 3, while I’m at it. Unfortunately, they won’t, so we have no choice but to emulate.

    I think shooting games are more popular in the U.S. because the military in general is more romanticized and idolized here. U.S. culture itself has become somewhat militarized over the past decade. I feel like Japan is the other way around and lacks that kind of militaristic pride. As a result, shooters probably don’t sell there. Silly games with spiky-haired effeminate teenagers with swords, on the other hand, have mass appeal in a way that they don’t here.

    As for Zelda… it’s a tough call, but I prefer LTTP. A lot of this is due to the color palette being so much richer in that game. Rich color palettes often don’t translate well to 3D games, which tend to go for realism and dull colors. An exception to this is Wind Waker, which combines 3D with a colorful cartoon look. While not my favorite Zelda by any stretch, I like WW for having so much positive energy in the visuals.

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