Evolution of an artform is inevitable
As something grows and becomes more mainstream, it seems standard for certain ideals to be the focus of those creating the aforementioned art. As the popularity of film increased, we saw summer blockbuster movies fill cinemas with shallow stories and over the top special effects; while high quality films are released every year, they just aren’t the ones that hold the attention of the masses.
With the increase in popularity of the gaming industry, we’ve started to see a similar effect: third and first person shooters are swamping the market. And, while some are still amazing games, it’s easy to see that many have forgotten where gaming has come from, and the numerous forms videogames can take.
But, like film, not everyone has forgotten the passion behind their art form. There are still developers out there that either challenge the norm or try to bring a taste of what gaming used to be; to the muddied waters us gamers currently swim through. While the developers, or titles, I mention below may not be to everyone’s tastes, it’s hard not to see the following list as an inspirational look at what is still being created in this amazing industry.
CyberConnect2 love anime and videogames so much that it seems to be their goal to create the best interactive anime ever created. The Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm titles released this gen have set the standards for graphical presentation of an anime franchise, and when they were given the freedom to create their own IP nothing seemed to hold them back.
Not only did they, in my opinion, perfect episodic gaming with Asura’s Wrath, but they did it in a way that made it feel like an anime series. This is a team that surround themselves with inspiration and do everything they can to deliver an experience they can be proud of.
Avalanche Studios are fans of fun; you can see it in the games they make, and you’d be hard-pressed not to cling to their latest releases with a smile permanently stretched across your face.
Just Cause 2 is an open world sandbox of mindless fun and enjoyment, and despite having a story that would only take 8 or so hours to complete, it’s not unusual to spend 40+ hours in the universe that they created.
You’d think a game that fun might just be a one-off coincidence, but just like that they go and release the downloadable title Renegade Ops; a game that was clearly inspired by the top-down / side scroller vehicular shooters of the early 90s. As long as Avalanche Studios are free to be themselves, fun titles will continue to come from them.
It takes skill and talent to take a franchise that hasn’t ever really seen success in the videogame industry and turn it into a high-rating game franchise. High Moon Studios surrounded themselves so fully with the Transformers license that, by the time the game released, Hasbro had announced that the newly created story was now canon to the franchise.
It’s only with true dedication and commitment that something so pivotal to an already established license can be achieved, and for it to also include high quality gameplay it’s a win / win situation for all involved. The Cybertron series has shown that High Moon Studios are true fans of both Transformers and the videogame medium.
When the first footage of Arkham Asylum released, Rocksteady Studios may as well have been unknown. Before long, more and more footage surfaced and it showed two things: that they truly know what makes the Batman franchise what it is, and that they were going to finally release a Batman game worth playing.
Arkham Asylum was Batman fan service at its best, and actually made gamers feel like they were the Dark Knight himself. Nothing was spared when it came to ensuring that this was THE Batman game to end all Batman games, and the masses were overjoyed to find their favourite voice actors from the animated series were taking their place in the corresponding roles in the videogame.
It’s nice when an unknown developer comes out with a game that captures an audience, it’s even better when it introduces new gamers to some of the old tropes of retro gaming. Shadow Complex was everything people have been asking of a new Metroid game, but set on Earth with a Nathan Drake look (and sound)-a-like. This was retro gaming with a true modern coat of paint and it’s saddening to see that no-one (including ChAIR themselves) have tried to carry on the excitement that game brought to XBLA.
It’s a shame to see them on iOS duty for Epic Games, but at least the quality given to their releases has raised the bar for what is doable in the mobile market.
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