Japan you break my heart.
I am deeply disappoint. You provided me succour throughout my childhood and adolescence, only to vacate the field of play when I needed you the most, and have most cruelly dashed my hopes and dreams for the current console generation. But enough of that, It is not the purpose of this editorial to once again sink the boot into the floundering Japanese software industry (well, not just that anyway), rather it is to express my bewilderment as to why Japanese industry going-ons are still able to catch my attention in the way they always have, despite the fact that I’ve largely given up on the possibility of a qualitative turnaround.
Force of habit is a funny thing. Were I a child or adolescent currently enjoying my formative years amidst the seas of dross floating out of Japan, then the Japanese gaming industry should hold very little interest for me beyond their knack for making consoles that don’t explode. In short there would be no formative attachment, no unwarranted association of quality game design. Were I a child of this century I would view Western development as the bright new frontier of the modern era and have been weaned on a diet of space marine FPS and calling people fags online, and NOT on Japan’s adorably absurd giant robots and calling Oliver Motok a fag online …
I was not a child of this century however, I was a child of last, wherein I was showered with the bounty of an INDUSTRY in bloom. I came to associate Japanese development houses with quality, refinement and expansive game design, and I also grew rather accustomed to their aesthetics. The aesthetics that I love are perhaps the only thing that hasn’t changed about Japanese gaming, when perhaps they should have. Japanese games continue to try and visually compete with the West when they are, by and large, utterly incapable of sustaining this current trajectory, a trajectory which has had a demonstrably negative impact on virtually every other facet of game design.
The games coming out of Japan are literally all facade and no fucking potatoes, and yet I am frequently engaged by their advertising, because let’s face it, the one thing that Japanese developers/publishers still know how to do is put together an advert which looks like the type of game that I imagined five years ago that they would be capable of producing by 2010-2011. Resident Evil 5 looked to be terrifying and amazing, Devil May Cry 4 looked exhilarating, Final Fantasy XIII looked to all the world to be a Final Fantasy game, and so too did the Last Remnant. What they were in fact was cut down shadows of what they initially appeared to be. I understand this, and still like Pavlov’s dog I drool at the mere mention of forthcoming details of Square Enix’s make believe epics. Because I am an idiot.
How many of you were bitterly disappointed by FFXIII and yet still lap up details of Versus and Agito XIII? How many of you thought that Resident Evil 5 was a joke made in very bad taste, and yet still think that Resident Evil Revelations looks quite promising?
Like a junkie I want this monkey off my back, but after years of abuse it just isn’t happening. Contrary to what you would think, the more Japanese games disappoint me, the hungrier I get for more Japanese games. Because there is one solitary remaining spark of optimism left in my being that I have not yet managed to snuff out. Why?
I honestly wish that I was a massive fan of rape sims, because then Japan could never disappoint me.