Hello Master Malstrom
I’ve been thinking over a few theories as to why videogames must have story, why we must sit through hours of lacking, why we cant just have the story be optional, it all came back to this:
We’ve seen the rise of the indie game scene, games made by those with a huge case of nostalgia who’re too alienated from todays games. Games that vary from either being a bit plagiarizing but fun, or managed to re-capture things that really should’ve stayed buried in the past (Five Nights at Night Trap).
But what about the gamers that preferred the “disc era”? Enter Metal Gear Solid, a game well remembered for its rich story and characters that managed to live a healthy franchise only until recently. Naturally everyones forgotten the clumsy combat, but everyone wants to be “The next Kojima”, everyone wants to be a “quirky genius” with “rich stories and quirky characters”, everyone wants to inject their games with “story”, everyone desires to feed into their ego.
I’m probably one of the only few who picked up the original MGS, couldnt be bothered to drink “story”, and found the game more frustrating than fun. It plays very much like a modern game with linear levels, “realistic” environments, and between infinite responding enemies you’re handed 10 min lectures that seriously should’ve been shelved for a film. Each time I heard a codec call, I felt inclined to simply let go of my controller but yet I couldnt, I must keep pressing X.
With how “story” has become in todays times I can no longer say “a story”, it is no longer a noun. It is a virus infecting all forms of entertainment. No longer do we talk about “good entertainment”, no longer do we laugh or react to our TVs, we sit zombie-fied with some bogus agenda ready to project “progressive social values”, “rich complex character and other such nonsense. Again, our bull-headed egos shame us at the thought of simple humor.
One has to look into TV animation to see this at work, we forgive geometric Flash-animated animation because “It has a rich character universe”, it has “rich story telling”, “the characterization is top-notch”. Instead of laughing at well-crafted humor, or in other cases enjoying energetic gameplay, we give in to our egos and talk about “character arcs”, “strong independent female women that dont need stupid men to help them and have attitude issues”. No longer is it hunters and Wabbits, its average-folk with dead moms going into huge fantasy worlds to find new mother-figures. If it isnt that, its a “comedy” written by writers who’re too scared to joke about society, wouldn’t want to hurt peoples egos after all.
We forgive MGS’s clumsy gameplay because “story” distracted us. The only change is that you can now no longer lose the game, we wouldn’t want you thinking our game is hard or anything, cant have you going to the forums getting frustrated with an actual challenge. We dont want to hurt your ego.
Thank you for reading, hopefully this e-mail will shed some light on the subject.
A question that I have been asking myself much more lately is “What is the type of person who is playing this game?” Yamauchi said that JRPGs were played by ‘depressed gamers’ who like ‘slow games’. This is funny and not completely untrue. One can go to WoW and see that the type of people who still play that game are… how should I put it… the underclass of society? If you do not have real achievements in the real world, you will be seeking achievements in a digital world.
I’m noticing that the consumer who is shelling out hundreds of dollars for Retro games are the Westernized version of the Otaku. They love anime and ‘Japanese culture’. They will pay $200 + for Mega Max X2 or Earthbound. Games that are not anime or ‘Japanese culture’, they completely ignore even if they are very good games. For example, F-Zero for the SNES is about $10. It’s a fantastic game! But it is a ‘hard’ game, it doesn’t celebrate Japanese culture (whatever that means), and it isn’t anime. Therefore, the Otaku Angels of Death pass over it. 7th Saga is another example.
I’m surprised that the Disney themed games haven’t skyrocketed in price. I’m talking about Ducktales (NES), Rescue Rangers (NES), Goof Troop (SNES), Mickey Mouse (16 bit), Aladdin (16 bit) or even the Star Wars games (which is now Disney). It isn’t the ‘beautiful drawings’ that the Otaku Angels of Death like. They are specifically targeting “Japanese cultured” games. These type of characters made temples on gaming message forums over games like Ico.
I believe games, specifically Nintendo games, are now deliberately being designed for the Otaku Angels of Death. Zelda is now Wind Waker style all the time. Mario and his stupid RPGs are all for the Otaku (who else could they be for?).
We might have made the mistake that Metroid Other M was Sakamoto’s love child. Otaku Angels of Deal LOVE game gods. The Sakamoto angle of Metroid Other M may have just been for marketing purposes for a game ENTIRELY DESIGNED for the Otaku Angels of Death. Metroid Other M has everything the Otaku Angels of Death would want. It has STORY. It has CHARACTER. It has ‘Japanese Culture’. It has MANGA. And yet, it is not Metroid.
The dirty little secret about early Nintendo games is that the vast majority of gamers had no idea they were from Japan. It’s true! Why would any American think an 8 bit game was from Japan? Donkey Kong was, culturally, King Kong, a Western movie. Mario wasn’t Japanese, he was a plumber from Brooklyn. Zelda was about westernized theme of fantasy of dragons and swords and castles and things. Metroid was about the movie Alien.
The truth is that every Nintendo commercial success has been devoid of ‘Japanese Culture’.
Iwata made a huge error in trying to get Nintendo to ‘export’ “Japanese Culture”. Has Japanese Culture ever sold in the West? Not even anime sells in the West. The people who consume such stuff are considered freaks by society (rightly or wrongly).
There is a reason why the HARDWARE was transformed into a shape that didn’t offend the Western nose. The Famicom does look like a piece of shit toy. The NES still looks cool and iconic. It is why the Gamecube was considered a toy, at best, while the Wii style was accepted. Yet the Wii U, offensively Japanese, completely rubbed the Western nose the wrong way. We don’t want our home console to be a handheld, Nintendo!
Nintendo has had a very hard time accepting the fact that people don’t give a shit about 3d. Now, they need to accept the fact that people don’t give a shit about ‘Japanese culture’. The type of people who work at Nintendo are not representative of the general population. We do not watch anime. We make fun of people who do watch it.
Iwata was very, very wrong about cultural gaming trends. It has been the Otaku Angel of Death legend that RPGs began in Japan and only became popularized with ‘Final Fantasy 7’. The truth is that RPGs began in the West and became popular in Japan with Dragon Quest / Zelda / Final Fantasy because they emulated the popular RPGs of the West like Ultima and Wizardry. The MMORPG was pioneered by the West and World of Warcraft was a western game. Skyrim, which showed how well RPG sales can be done, was a Western game.
Video games also originated from the West.
This doesn’t mean to besmirch the Japanese accomplishments to video games (especially their craftsmanship). But if you get the timeline wrong of the past, you cannot invest properly for the future. Why Nintendo keeps putting Japanese culture at us tells me they are not interested in selling.
Wii Sports sold so well because it was scrubbed clean of Japanese culture. But over time, Nintendo kept trying to put it back in with all this emphasis on the Miis and such making no one want to like it.
Anyways, I am going far off tangent. The Otaku Angels of Death (which is what they are, the locusts of gaming) are responsible for The Decline. Look. Fire Emblem will NEVER be a mainstream game. Why does Nintendo want to be a niche console? Investors should demand an answer.