To The Editor: After listening to half of the review of Clive Barker’s Jericho (the reviewer was too nauseating to listen to until the end), I can honestly say that although your game reviewer is meant to be taken as a parody, it’s not funny, witty or has a moecule of intellect. The reviews of games are all negative. That would be fine coming from a reviewer that knew something about video games but sadly yours does not. I would rather play the worst video game ever created (according to your narrow minded reviewer, that’s all of them) than listen to some idiot just trying to make a name for themselves.
In response to “Buy, Sell or Trade” from The Escapist Forum: that was pretty interesting stuff, see I’m one of those comes in the store raving about a game recommend kind guys who used to constantly buy useds and trade in old games at my local independent [till it got bought out] so ii gotta a little place in my heart for independents, plus i hate the saturation of the market ideology of the modern gaming industry, more money less ethics eh? but i guess as EA tell us you gotta “challenge everything” and keep your store ticking, good luck surviving the minefield of staying in the green dude.
In response to “Life After Shelf Death” from The Escapist Forum: I can understand that developers don’t earn anything from titles rejected to life beyond the shelf, but what about the user, the one who actually plays the games? This irritates me somewhat as I have been like so many others penniless and in dire need of a new gaming fix, which is where the bargain bins or second user sections come in, I remember an argument that was coming about where developers were miffed that second user sales were doing quite well and they weren’t getting their greedy mitts on the dough (cough EA cough) but hang on, they got their revenue from selling the game once, why the hell do they need another cut of the sale?
In response to “Innovation by Carrot” from The Escapist Forum: Great article. Although, having worked on a licensed game, I don’t think it’s just a matter of creative freedom that makes those “chore” projects so tedious and painful. Part of the issue is that with a license, many people outside of the studio have a very significant say in the game. If you’re making a game based on a movie based on a comic book license, you’re at the mercy of the movie people and the comic book people (at least that’s how our license worked – you pay to use their brand, subject to their review). And because those outsiders aren’t usually around the studio, it leads to bad communication and very slow and rare review/revise cycles. This leads to horrific feature creep and design by committee, which leads to a horrible game, and the studio ends up looking bad for it.
There are many things the studio could potentially do. Such as, make sure those things don’t happen by negotiating a more reasonable contract (maybe negotiate design “lockdowns” to avoid feature creep). So while I agree with your central thesis, I just wanted to point out that a studio’s first “chore” project should not be taken lightly – it’s not just taking out the garbage. There is very much a right way and a wrong way to do it.
In response to “Mario is Unmarketable” from The Escapist Forum: Frankly, I think the entire idea behind the article is flawed. You can’t simply say, “If Mario was introduced into the gaming world today, would he be successful?” because you seem to believe that if Mario hadn’t been introduced when it had that the gaming world would now be as it is. If Mario hadn’t been introduced at the time that it was, it’s highly possible that the entire home gaming experiment would have ended with the Atari and the Amiga. Even if it hadn’t ended, gaming would still be in a completely different place than it is today. It’s like trying to ask what would happen in A New Hope was released today, whether or not it would fair well in the world of Hollywood Blockbusters. A New Hope was the movie that showed it could be commercially viable to make a big budget action movie. The fact is, you can’t remove the foundation of an entire medium and then expect that medium to remain the same.
Why do people feel nostalgic about Mario showing up in sports games, games that have NOTHING to do with his turtle-smashing roots? Aside from the Mario series characters, the sports games have no connection to the old games and ruin any semblance of nostalgia. Just because Mario is in the game doesn’t mean its automatically nostalgic- sure, if he was playing soccer while stomping on turtles and jumping over platforms, all while the screen scrolled right, I might be a bit nostalgic. Even that, though, might be a stretch.
Too many of Mario’s games have nothing to do with the actions performed in old Mario games. I get it, 2bit side scroller’s don’t look and play as good as they used to but a side scrolling platformer is the essence of what Mario truly is. Its not his mustache or his jean overalls that make him unique, its the fact that his hard work jumping on turtles and collecting stars made games what they are today. I just can’t be nostalgic every time I see a character, he has to be doing what I remember him doing. I have yet to play any Mario game aside from the originals, and super Mario 64. I hate sports games, just because Mario’s apart of something I hate doesn’t change the fact that I don’t want to play it.
Mario is not a character, he’s a brand. As far as game companies go, Nintendo is fairly unique. They create their games different than anyone else. While most is kept under wraps, some things you can deduct.
Other companies usually create a game like this: “Lets make a game on a space dungeon! (insert your own cool environment here), the main character will be an emotionally constipated male with control issues (or whatever), all right! lets make that into an FPS”. See the sequence? setting, character, gameplay.
Nintendo does not do this. They test scores of gameplay ideas first. They have this fantastic inhouse engine they have been refining since Super Mario 64. Plenty of ideas are discarded, the ones that turn out good (I’ve read of Nintendo employees referring to this as “sifting for gold”) are strung into levels, which eventually get combined into a whole game and branded -its either Mario or Zelda. Ever wonder how come Mario/Zelda games have so many things to do without getting repetitive?
This is why Mario does not need a background story: He is the real “Nintendo Seal of Excellence”. To us gamers, the name “Mario” emblazoned on a game means that the game has been built to Nintendo standards. I don’t think anyone plays the Mario games for the story, do you?
Nintendo has taken very good care of Mario, Like all brands, it takes time and effort to build brand awareness.
Could you do that today? Build a new brand like that? Yes you could. But keep in mind how long is going to take, and how consistently good you need to be. It will take vast amounts of resources. And you have a lot to learn along the way. Nintendo has mastered the process over many years. They have become damn good at it.