Itagaki gives a qualified apology
How times change. In a time not long past, mentioning the name ‘Itagaki’ would instantly evoke an image of an obnoxiously frank anti-Playstation troll making unapologetically hardcore titles for the masochistically inclined, and for anyone not following his fortunes closely this would undoubtedly still be the case. If readers were however to take account of Itagaki’s present circumstances, then they would be hard-pressed to reconcile the afore mentioned rebel with the more diplomatic (by Itagaki standards) multi-platform developer, looking to strike a kinder balance with respect to the difficulty of his games. In a recent identity negating interview with Edge Magazine Itagaki has apologized for the difficulty of several of his games, acknowledging that he made the boss character in Dead or Alive 4 too difficult, and admitting that he had planned for Ninja Gaiden 2 to have had a more accommodating difficulty level, but alas, ran out of time:
Look, I’ll say it: the boss character in Dead Or Alive 4 was definitely too difficult … I’ll apologize for it. I’m the one who did that, and I’m sorry … But, look, Ninja Gaiden, it was absolutely intentional that it be that difficult … That game was a revival version of a classic game for old-school gamers, so I wanted to make the hardcore happy … Ninja Gaiden II, though, I really wanted more people to enjoy that, but… we ran out of time for balancing. That was a tragedy. Really.
So, does this candid admission have the ring of sincerity to it? Might this not mark a turning point in reflective introspection prompting a more collegial approach to industry colleagues? Has Tomonobu Itagaki finally acknowledged his limitations as a game designer and as a human being? Not a chance. No, Itagaki has just collided headlong with reality’s brick wall. Without Tecmo’s corporate aegis to provide succour to his petulance, Itagaki has had to confront the broader economic reality necessitating the targeting of the mainstream gaming audience, in order to ensure that his new title Devil’s Third achieves adequate sales to keep afloat his fledgeling development house; Valhalla Game Studios. Itagaki can no longer afford to play the adolescent console fanboy, as the responsibility of managing his own studio has required that he immerse himself wholeheartedly in the sycophantic world of corporate ingratiation. He now has THQs concerns to assuage (as his publisher), and must also (one assumes) play nice with Sony (I like to think that he dies a little inside each time). But rest assured that Tomonobu Itagaki is not sorry.
XSeed give a qualified Tales update
Don’t get excited, please. Bamco’s much maligned Western Tales fans have been sorely neglected to the point where any shread of localisation information is like a shining ray of hope in the barren winter they call their lives. Needless to say that when asked earlier this week on Playstation.Blog whether XSeed intended to pursue the localisation of Bamco’s abandoned Tales games, Localisation Specialist Tom Lipschultz set tongues wagging when he replied “Might be hard to pry those away from Bandai Namco. But we can try, I guess! We’ll look into it. Just keep your fingers crossed.” After tossing that live grenade, Lipschultz apparently later thought better of it, returning to the forum, initially stating that the issue couldn’t be further discussed publically, before attempting to temper expectations that discussions would be resolved with a favourable outcome:
Like I said, we’ll do what we can. But honestly, from Bandai Namco’s point of view, campaigning to get *us* to release their games is probably not encouraging in the slightest! If you guys want to see more Tales games released stateside, you should let Bandai Namco know you’d like to see THEM release the titles. Let them know you’re interested! Might send the wrong message to them if you tell them you’d like to see other companies release their games, y’know? That’d be like saying to George Lucas, “Dude, I love Star Wars! Won’t you please let Tim Burton have the license to it?” George Lucas would just be like, whaaaa…? ;)
So what should be made of this? Regrettably little. The fact that Lipschultz mentions this on a public forum is probably a fair indication that XSeed have put some serious thought into acquiring some Tales properties, yet Japanese companies tend towards the fiercely intransigent when it comes to entrusting others with their intellectual property (with the exception of Enixsoft, Konami and Capcom who will gladly farm their franchises out to the lowest bidder). It is probably not realistic to expect a positive outcome to this endeavour, yet this would be a genuine shame for all parties involved, as XSeed offer Bamco a better way forward with their Tales franchise. Tales localisations are uniformly slick, yet the series is never going to be popular enough in the west for the reams of high quality voice acting to be economically justified when the retention of the Japanese audio track and a smaller printing run might have injected some much needed profitability into the series.
As a side note: I really do wish that George Lucas would swear off making Star Wars films.
Molyneux on bad touch babby
Microsoft’s Kinect is a useless piece of hardware. It stands to reason that a useless piece of hardware would be populated by useless products, and lo it is so. Yet even by the standards of Kinect Peter Molyneux’s Milo program is an odd concept with seemingly little legitimate use for non-creepy purposes. So how might Molyneux’s initial presentation of the concept to his Microsoft superiors have gone? If it was anything like the explanations he has been giving in interviews, then it is a genuine marvel that it ever got off the ground:
Like all of us with children, you may want to spend time with your kids but life is just too busy. At that point, you are introduced to Milo when he is at his most vulnerable and most lonely. One of the first things you are asked in the game is, ‘Do you see yourself as a guardian angel to Milo? As an imaginary friend? As a real person?’ And you are asked that specific question and … As you experience things with Milo you unlock this mechanic called ‘potential’. The more potential you unlock, the more the sort of person Milo is becoming will change.
If you have not by this point felt a gnawing chill settle in the pit of your stomach, then you are not human, and are likely a paedophile. It is at this point that the unsavoury conversation moves beyond plausible-deniable sleaziness, to settle beyond the pale where sex offenders doth dwell. When asked if his Milo software would ever see a commercial release, Molyneux replied:
I think so, eventually. I do. There’s a lot of huge mountains to climb before that happens. The reason for that is it is enormously contentious for us to do a game, a story, an experience, about a boy. You are immediately appealing to all the dark thoughts of humanity. I actually love that, the idea of being so contentious that it makes people turn around and say, ‘You can’t do a story about a boy.’ But, for me, doing that in that way is absolutely right. After all, for me one of the best films I saw last year was about an old man and a Boy Scout.
… What does one even say to something like that? By now I would usually have made a subtle insinuation that Peter Molyneux has been misusing Microsoft development dollars in order to glut the sordid appetites of Kudo Tsunoda and himself, yet here we have Molyneux thumbing his nose at common decency, revelling in his digital man-boy relationship simulator, so anything I might add would be rather moot at this point. Suffice it to say that he and Microsoft have had words over the Milo program’s grubby content, and that you shouldn’t expect to see it on store-shelves, ever.