News: Default Software Is Bravely Confirmed for the West

Bravely Default Flying Fairy SLIDER
The OST is as magical as the artwork.

Nintendo Direct Does the Business

For owners of Nintendo consoles Nintendo’s Nintendo Direct presentations are quickly becoming the only game in town. Previous Nintendo Direct presentations have seen the announcement of Monolith’s tentatively named X, along with the Wind Waker remake for the Wii U – and this week’s Nintendo Direct was no different. Chief among the week’s 3DS-centric announcements is the fact that Square Enix’s Bravely Default [tentative title] has now been confirmed for a Western localisation, with Nintendo as the publisher. The title has been given a vague 2014 release date for America, yet we may intuit that it will likely be released in early January on account of the fact that Nintendo of Europe have confirmed a 2013 release for PAL regions. Bravely Default is still very much an unknown quantity, yet it can be confirmed to have one of the most exquisite soundtracks of any Square or Enix gaming properties since the turn of the century. In similar localisation news Shin Megami Tensei IV has been confirmed for an American release on the 16th of July – just two months after the Japanese release. Finally, Wii U’s Pikmin 3 has been laughably penciled in for an August 4 release – missing the console’s artificially extended launch window by some months. Nintendo’s post launch support of the Wii U has been shockingly poor, with even this mid-tier Nintendo offering many months away. It never pays to prematurely count a Nintendo console out, but Wii U looks dead in the water at present.

Nintendo also lighted upon this occasion to unveil the the first screens for New Yoshi’s Island and their A Link to the Past sequel for the 3DS – and… the results are not all that great. Both games look significantly worse than their SNES counterparts, and, while New Yoshi’s Island still manages to look somewhat attractive in spite of this, the new Zelda game would not look out of place on iOS. On a more positive note, the Zelda footage revealed several game mechanics not present in the 1991 original; namely the ability to turn link into a drawing in order to travel to inaccessible areas through the walls, and an increased emphasis on traversing a dungeon’s verticality – thus making use of the 3DS’ mostly awful 3D capabilities. Finally, Earthbound is at long last set to make its debut on the Virtual Console [yay!] but Lusipurr will not be able to play it [boo!] on account of it being released solely on the lackluster Wii U. Did Nintendo not think that 3DS owners might like to play a bit of Earthbound?

Dr.Strangelove SLIDER
“C’mon, do me a solid, matey!”

Journalistic Complicity Is the Real ‘Evil Within’

The father of Resident Evil, Shinji Mikami, has this week announced his first proper survival horror title since the universally acclaimed Resident Evil 4. In an era when survival horror has largely fallen to shit, the announcement of The Evil Within should be met with universal enthusiasm, and to a large degree it has been, and yet some have been decidedly soured by the experience – including The PA Report’s Ben Kuchera.

For a long time now video game developers have been getting far too friendly with game journalists – and this can cut both ways. Sometimes this can lead to developers becoming very publicly upset with reviewers when a game they have worked on gets trashed by someone with whom they have established a personal report. Other times this ‘special relationship’ leads to a publication compromising their journalistic independence in order to maintain their privileged insider access. This can happen in the form of ‘Gameinformer’ early reviews, which one has never known to dip bellow 8.9/10, or it can happen in the way that occurred this week with the unveiling of The Evil Within.

Zenimax, the parent company to Shinji Mikami’s Tango Gameworks, has worked out a sweetheart arrangement with gaming tabloid, IGN, whereby IGN supplies very soft and uncritical early impressions of The Evil Within in exchange for exclusive early access to the game. Meanwhile, every other gaming site is left to transcribe IGN’s empty platitudes into their own words, which is a grave disservice to both readers and journalism as a whole. While the game will be properly judged in the fullness of time, early impressions will be shaped almost exclusively through the prism of IGN, when they almost certainly should not be.

Japanese JRT Presentation
Even the choking grasp of the JRT has its limits.

Japanese Game Market Grows Despite Being Mauled by JRT

As James masterfully explained in his excellent editorial this week, the Japanese economy was once the envy of the world until years of decline led to a legacy prosperity tax, the JRT, essentially choking the Japanese economy of vital economic participation. No industry seems to have borne the brunt of the JRT more than gaming, as increasingly pessimistic consumers cut back on expensive discretionary purchases like gaming consoles; this has taken a bite out of handheld revenues and has essentially decimated the home console space. With this in mind, analysts have long wondered at what point the plunging fortunes of the Japanese gaming market would find a floor to this downward trend, and thus establish a new stable baseline for market performance. This week it would seem that the Japanese market has established this new floor, and thus 2012 marks the first time in five years that the Japanese market has not contracted.

In the fiscal year 2012 the Japanese gaming market grew by roughly 4.6 billion dollars – or 1.2 percent. That sort of growth might appear somewhat meager to our well-rounded Western eyes, yet it is a damn sight better than previous years of negative growth. This result appears to be largely hardware based, as hardware sales were up by five percent to 1.8 billion dollars, while software sales were down by 1.2 percent to 2.8 billion dollars. The real sting in the tail of these numbers comes by way of the fact that the Japanese social market grew by a much faster rate than the traditional game market in 2012, and is now valued at 4.3 billion dollars – just 300 million dollars less than the conventional games market. The reason for this is once again thought to be, unsurprisingly, the JRT, which kicks in at a higher rate for physical goods than it does for mobile downloads.

15 comments

  1. I really want Pikmin 3, but I don’t want it to be the sole reason I buy a Wii U. Sigh.

    Also, IGN has been playing softball with the big industry players for a long time now.

  2. The soundtrack to Bravely Default is exquisite. I hope the game lives up to it.

    Four Warriors of Light was a huge disappointment. As you rightly pointed out earlier, it felt like a second-string effort. Here’s hoping that BD:FF is much tighter with regard to gameplay and plot.

  3. The battle system sounds fantastic in concept, and the scenario writer is a visual novelist who was drafted in especially for this project – so it sounds like they have at least made the effort.

  4. Well, BD received well in Japan, yes? Famitsu scored it 38/40 (hush, I’m well aware of Famitsu’s problems). But much does depend on the localization, I suppose. Mechanically, meaning the battle system, I’m sure it’s safe to say the game isn’t a train wreck. No?

  5. Mel: Famitsu gave Nintendogs a perfect score. They are no longer relevant to anything.

  6. Maybe Nintendo is under the impression that Earthbound is the only thing missing from the Wii U. Once that is released, they probably expect sales to jump to five million per month. Earthbound is a system seller.

  7. @James: I do not doubt for a moment that Nintendo deliberately refused to re-release Mother 2 solely so they could have that up their sleeve as a ‘get out of bankruptcy free’ card. I hope that it doesn’t do a damned thing for them.

  8. @Lusi: If that was their plan with Mother 2, then I’m certain it wouldn’t work. Earthbound/Mother is perhaps their most niche property in the West.

    What I think is happening is almost what I hoped for: That Nintendo would get desperate and begin catering to their core userbase. You know… the people like like good games. The title of the last Nintendo Direct could have been “Having to Try Again”.

  9. Sweet, maybe now people will realize how mediocre Earthbound is since it’ll be readily available.

    As for LttP, I had the GBA version when I was younger but I didn’t enjoy it very much. I’d probably enjoy it more now, but I no longer have the cartridge so I’ll just get it when it inevitably makes it’s way to the Virtual Console.

    Never played the Oracle games, so I’m looking forward to trying them!

    I was okay with paying $50 for SMT IV even without the bonus stuff, so that makes it all the better.

    Super excited for Bravely Default, but I’m not a fan of the long wait.

    Everything else doesn’t really interest me.

  10. @Mr. Lostman You shut your whore mouth. Calling Earthbound mediocre, there is an orange dildo chair waiting for you in the Lusipurr.com lobby!

    @Lusipurr Maybe Nintendo was worried that the JRT would destroy any possible profits from Earthbound. Now they realize they have to risk it.

  11. Who wants to guess that Nintendo will release Earthbound, and then all of that game’s fabled anti-piracy measures will activate?

  12. Commenting a touch late on this, but I am very excited for this release. I picked up a 3DS last month upon hearing of it’s impending stateside arrival. Shin Megami Tensei IV also played a role in my decision. Here’s hoping it proves to be a sound one.

  13. So far the stuff I’ve heard about BD:FF has been largely positive, though I wouldn’t say it is shaping up to be the greatest JRPG of all time. It sounds like the game bogs down a bit fairly early on with a lot of non-main-plot stff which kind of distracts from the overall story–but, later one, it gets back on the rails and improves substantially.

    There are plenty of games like that (Lunar strikes me as one) and I’ve enjoyed them reasonably well. Here’s hoping I can do so with this.

    (That said, the battle animations–using the same awful fugly 3D polygon bs from FFIII DS–is atrocious. They should go back to 2D sprites rather than persist with that stuff.)

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