The return of the Japanese games industry – Reader’s Feature Tech| Innovation
A reader celebrates recent announcements such as Onimusha and Streets Of Rage 4 and declares that Japanese gaming is back for good.
I’ve never really liked the term ‘retro’ but if you’re a gamer of a certain age the last few weeks will have been a feast of good news. Capcom in particular have been knocking it out of the park, but Sega have also seemingly awoken from their slumber, with even signs of life from the undead Konami. Bandai Namco and Square Enix have been trucking along okay for years and Nintendo have had their best creative streak for years, with sales to match. So is this the point at which we can say the Japanese games industry is finally back on its feet?
Although you could see a decline in influence start in the PlayStation 2 era, Japanese gaming’s real problems started in the last gen. They completely failed to adapt to the new technology and the PC-orientated Western style of doing things. This combined with the rise of Microsoft, who more than anyone helped to make Western online shooters the most important genre in the world – something which Japanese developers are completely unqualified to make.
Like all trends online shooters aren’t quite as pervasive as they were, at least not in terms of endless Call Of Duty clones, but rather than just wait things out Japanese companies have seemingly got a handle on modern tech and once again are making some of the best-looking video games in the business.
Everyone seems to have been blown away by the graphics for the Resident Evil 2 remake, which is made using Capcom’s own engine. The same tech is being used in Devil May Cry 5 and I assume most of Capcom’s new games going forward. A lot of Japanese companies have just caved in and used Unreal Engine but I found it interesting in GC’s interview with Capcom that they also praised their engine’s ability to very quickly prototype new ideas – so they’re obvious doing it themselves for a reason.
I’d imagine the reception to Resident Evil 2 at E3 was directly responsible for this week’s annoucement of an Onimusha remaster and, again in GC’s interview, they all but announced that Resident Evil 3 would be next. They didn’t exactly pooh-pooh the idea of remaking Dino Crisis either, which previously would’ve been unthinkable.
Then we have Sega who out of the blue announced Streets Of Rage 4. Sure it wasn’t them making it, and they didn’t seem to be doing anything more than licensing the name out to someone else but at least it’s something. And coming the same month that Shenmue I & II are finally released again on modern formats it’s hard not to feel optimistic.
Especially when even Konami are, sort of, getting in on the act. They’re obviously the most reluctant to get back in the game, so to speak, but we do have the new ‘R’ series that’s brought back Bomberman and Hyper Sorts. And if the rumours are true Castlevania as well. It would certainly seem madness not to capitalise on the boost Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has given the series, and at the very least I expect the rumours of a compilation of older titles on Switch to be proven true.
From Software are still doing well, and now have Acitvision as a publisher. And not only are Platinum still going but by some miracle they’re actually thriving and have their biggest hit yet in NieR: Automata. Which, lest it be forgotten, was a shock sequel in its own right, never mind who’s making it.
Maybe it’s all coincidence that that all this good news is hitting all at once I take it as proof that Japan has finally got back into gear and are well on their way to reclaiming their position as the spiritual home of video games. Variety is always a problem in video games and having a strong Japanese scene instantly makes that less of a problem.
In the dark days of the last gen it almost seemed like the Japanese games industry would give up its independence and become just a developer factory for America, just like the UK is now. But thankfully that has been avoided and the country that brought you Mario, Sonic, and Chris Redfield is finally back and at something like full health!
By reader Rodan
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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