Three SNES Style controllers reviewed

Third party retro controllers are a dime in a dozen, and the current market is full of retro-styled USB controllers. Some range from decent to excellent, while others are just absolutely abysmal from the get go, not worth the plastic they’re built from. While this started a straight up review of a really, really terrible SNES-styled USB controller, I decided to make it a comparative review instead.

I’m going for a limb and assume most of my readers have used both SNES and GameCube controllers. The SNES controller is often claimed to be one of Nintendo’s best, if not the best. It certainly does great many things right, but it’s not the Saturn controller. It does so many things just right, like the placement of the shoulder buttons and the height the buttons sit in. D-Pad, while a bit loose, is nevertheless an excellent all around D-Pad, if not slightly inaccurate when it comes to the diagonals. It should also be said that the shoulder buttons are rather mushy and have no tactile feel to them. It’s not terrible by any means, but that’s perhaps something that can be extended to the whole controller; it feels slightly mushy. It’s not age either, this controller is pretty great condition, and my old-stock one bought few years back feels the exact same.

It must be mentioned that the mushy nature is by design. It allows some leeway movements and inaccuracies here and there, but also make the controller sturdier and able to take more physical trauma. It’s the same idea as with why you want laptops and some screens to flex rather than be rigid; it absorbs impact better. A rigid controller has higher chances to break down faster as well as last shorter amount of time. That’s why you can still rock original NES controllers, like the HORI Mini Commander, without much troubles.

The slight concave nature of the back also makes your fingers sit nicely and add slight grip to it. I feel a need to mention that the four-colour buttons are also a very nice sight, something the US version and the pictures USB controller didn’t do and it still looks terrible.

It’s no real wonder that SNES controller gets remade by other companies now and then, and one of the most sought after GameCube controllers is HORI’s SNES-styled controller for good reasons.

Perhaps the biggest pro and con at the same for HORI’s controller is that it opted to use the GC controller layout, but that’s hardly something that should be held against it. After all, it is a controller meant for GameCube. That said, if it had opted for the standard layout used in the original SNES controller (and thereafter in almost every other controller) it would have made a great all-around controller, starting from emulation to using adapters to different consoles like the Switch.

There really isn’t much to be said about it, outside that it’s probably one of the most faithful replication HORI does done of an official controller. Outside the layout, most of the mushy feeling you have in the official original is there. Even the slight mushiness of the GC original is in the buttons, but they’re no less responsive. Of course, the D-Pad crowns the controller, as standard GC controller had tiny ass D-Pad that was almost useless. This was the time when Nintendo’s D-Pads begun going downhill anyway and everybody moved their emphasize towards the controller sticks.

Despite all that speal about faithfulness, HORI did change the back of the controller. It still has that slight concave nature to it, but it also has raised sides for better grip. Coming straight from the original SNES controller this might feel weird, but once you begin playing with it, your hands find their natural spots and holding the controller becomes natural. However, it is an unorthodox solution to a degree, and you’ll be aware of them every time you pick it up. It’s a solid controller that I would recommend any GC owner to have for their D-Pad gaming, despite going for stupidly high prices.

So, if the HORI controller is a good example how to take and adapt SNES controller, how does Tomee’s USB SNES controller compare against it?

First impressions; it’s shit. While it weighs about the same as the real deal, there’s something you can deduce by just looking at it. Mostly that it is extremely cheap.

The cheapness really shows itself everywhere, but the sides are the worst. You can see that the mould has been re-used so many times that it has become faulty. It’s just not this one bit, but all around the controller. None of the plastic is really all that good, and corners have been cut wherever possible. Start and Select are now hard plastic instead of soft rubber too. Even the cord is the cheapest USB lead you can find, the kinds that just snap in two if you look at them long enough.

While the overall form fits the hand just like the SNES original, nothing else really matches the level of quality. All buttons have twice as much travel and require extra effort to press the contacts down. It’s like first pressing the buttons down, and doing a second level press to make them activate. It’s extremely easy just to press a button and have nothing happening.

There’s nothing good to say about this controller, but what do you expect from a cheap Chinese piece of shit? This controller cost around five to ten bucks, depending on where you buy it, but it’s not worth even for a project controller because none of the parts of any worth and the PCB is terrible. I didn’t take any pictures in my hurry, but there was corrosion there. This is a terrible waste of natural resources, but seeing there are tons of Tomee products out there, these things still sell. Thank God this one was donated for review.

This entry doesn’t really have a rhyme or reason to it, does it? Mainly to showcase two extremes of third party controllers, where build quality is directly tied to the price range. However, if you consider my other controller reviews, especially the HORIPAD3 Mini for PS3, there is a sweet spot in the mid-budget range where you get high quality enough controllers. it would seem that any controller under twenty dollars in the current market will always be trash, waste f everybody’s time.

Consumers letting to make best of themselves

Electronics is one of the better places to look for when trying to find consumer actions that are based solely on PR and brand loyalty. This is a topic I’ve talked few times around before, but with our 900th post, it’s time to take a different take on the consumer.

Anything has its hardcore fans that are willing to sit tight and spend money on the brand whatever it is. Be it emotional connection, great PR, lifelong ties to, whatever. The most important bit is that the consumer is hooked in and stays hooked. Apple is great in this. Their products themselves are not the best quality, don’t have the best designs and overall wouldn’t fare all that well in direct comparisons on the same level with other manufacturers. Apple’s marketing has managed to turn their PR and ad campaigns into a great social engineering project, where sale an alternative lifestyle rather than product itself. Apple’s marketing slogan between 1997 and 2002 Think different embodies this to a tee as an alternative style. You can argue however you want on the pros and cons of Apple’s PCs and phones, but when you start comparing Apple’s products to e.g. Microsoft’s, the way they sell the lifestyle to the consumer leaves no question which one has consumers worshiping them.

Just like in any field of life, no consumer is an expert in all. While some people may know ins and outs of cars and how to pick up the best value car, the same consumers probably wouldn’t know the best value clothes. Value in itself is a great marketing motif that any and all companies utilise. I’m sure you’ve seen Best Value being slapped around somewhere, but never found out how the value is counted. Consumers know that the advertisement is false to a degree, but accept that it most likely means more bang for the buck. At least it should. In case of most low-tier products, it can mean higher quantity of goods over quality, meaning the 700g chicken sauce you bought that cost as much as the 400g one tastes terrible and has been diluted with water.

As such, each and every corporation knows what sort of consumer they have and how to strike true with them. If you consider yourself immune to marketing, consider how you get your news and what your political views are. Politics and moral stances have always been one of the best ways to sell your stuff to someone, especially when it comes to information sources. We naturally hover towards information sites that either deliver news we care most about, or just give the best kind of news we want to hear. Even this blog is fault in this, seeing I tend to use sites like Nichegamer as sources. However, I do try to find the originator, if possible, in order to combat this personal bias. It is easy and even natural to lose yourself in this bubble and consider people outside as some sort of dumb opposition. This sort of Them mentality is rather often snidely encouraged for the sake of trying to tie the consumer further to the source.

Am I slowly painting a picture of consumer being gullible bastards? Yes, everyone in their own unique ways. It’s a science how to affect any demographic in the most favourable way and marketing has been taken to the next degree to the point of consumers nowadays not even realising when they are being advertised at. While legislation often limits how we are advertised at, the fact that your favourite character drinks Coca-Cola does affect you at some level. Repeat that a number of times and your association with the brand will become softer.

Internet ads are one thing. Another is are the companies’ own PR sections and dedicated corporations that specialise in long-term advertisement and social consumer engineering. One or two members of these groups can simply begin to use an image board, a discussion server or the like and begin to argue for the product they advertise for. This sort of invasive and subverting strategy works much better than direct ads partly because it is unexpected and partly because discussions tend to be trusted more. With direct marketing you know what to trust and what to expect. On a forum, you’re on a far less sure ground who is there to discuss and who is to sell you stuff. This should be expected on forums and sites ran and maintained by companies themselves. After all, you’re there mostly to be promoted at, as far as the staff is concerned.

Then again, we leak so much information of ourselves in daily Internet use, that corporations have no trouble deciding what to advertise to us. Consumer behaviour has become extremely easy to gather and predict.

It’s not all that hard to keep the consumer hooked to you, once you’ve got them in. You just don’t need to make any stupid decisions that would damage the image of the product overall, and you’re golden. The recent brouhaha about Battlefield V is a good example how a company can try to change the product in a way that should in theory appeal to another audience through changes that made the base audience unhappy. Don’t go around saying that if your customers don’t like it, they shouldn’t buy it, Unsurprisingly, wallet voting has worked and now the game’s been delayed in order to add more authenticity to it.

The most important thing after you’ve hooked the customer is to keep feeding their more goods to spend on. The whole thing DLC really is to keep raking in the profits after the initial launch of the game, or just give the core title free and milk the money out from everything else. After all, the consumer will pay for what they value, even if in reality the value is not there.

For the customer, it is a bliss and blessing to be able to buy something they crave for. For the seller it is nothing short of normal and standard business, and they can always cook up more stuff for you to buy and them to market you at in equally many ways and forms.

Consumers, after all, are easily lead. All of us.

Dead or Alive 6 might end up a rush job

I didn’t really mean to write about DoA‘s T&A again so soon, I’ve intentionally been skipping the subject with each new news item. Same with China slowly having an economy bubble bursting there, which I’ll hope to touch on Sunday. As it always turns out, DoA6‘s director Yohei Shimbori can’t seen to handle his spaghetti. The title’s already a PR nightmare when it comes to the fans, as they’re effectively being treated like dogs in the heat who need their nads cut off. On the other hand, it’s DoA, you can”t escape two decades worth of high fidelity graphics and extraordinary physics simulations for human body. Hell, the series was build on honking tits and beauty, don’t make me laugh.

This is where Shimbori’s sensibilities seem to be in, as he takes the credit/blame for the game’s visual design; it had too much fanservice. His aim is to show that DoA6 is a real fighting game, which is like saying you’re trying to showcase that a plate is a plate by changing the picture printed on it. Renewing the engine to another that lacks most physics elements DoA‘s previous titles had and made the games have a unique look. Now, with that latest Dynasty Warrior engine, everything’s so damn rigid. Argument that realism would drive home that DoA6‘s a real fighting game is also extremely stupid, as pretty much every fighting game out there looks unrealistic. Street Fighter has exaggerated hands and feet so the player can recognize them better, KoF has that picture-perfect Chinese beauty look to it (Christ how I need to write about this design aesthetic of theirs), Tekken has explody bits in the air and demon fighting all around with dude with pizzas on top of their heads and Guilty Gear has always has fantasy rock aesthetic to it. Realism? Fighting games don’t do realism. Well, maybe Virtua Fighter. Nobody ever questioned whether or not DoA was a fighting game series, but if Shimbori really was intending to raise the series to new heights, he would have stopped doing these platitudes and concentrated squarely on the gameplay. Screw damage modelling or using a new engine, fix the game gameplay to be less a copy of Virtua Fighter and something of its own instead.

Let’s not forget what Simbori originally said why they changed the looks of the game; he wanted it to look cool, after EVO players told they felt embarrassed playing the game. Looking behind the PR speech, it’s clear that the goal is to lessen the sex appeal of the franchise due to the flack it’s been getting, especially with Dead or Alive Xtreme 3. It’s either Shimbori wanting to cater both the EVO players and busybody jackasses who don’t have anything better than complain about digital tits, or his boss does. The way Shimbori’s replies and statements comes through with these interviews is like he can’t keep his story straight. He certainly wants to believe it all, but it’s far more likely there’s some corporate bullshit going on behind the scenes. Tecmo doesn’t want DoA to be a PR shitstorm again, despite it never really was. Again; only certain people bitch about it, and only certain grain-sized part of the audience feel embarrassed about the game. The rest don’t give a damn and just want to see the game to be true to the franchise and enjoy the visual flavour. Soul Calibur VI isn’t being petty with their body models, they’re going straight in where the sun don’t shine and make it look damn good.

Shimbori and the dev team have been in damage control mode since the initial launch trailer, there’s little doubt about that. The constant mantra Don’t worry, we haven’t show you all yet works exactly once, and then you need to showcase what you mean. Thus far, DoA6 hasn’t shown anything outside the norm. Hell, showcasing the norm has been an improvement in itself. While there was no doubts that most characters would return in their most iconic outfits, it says how weak their approach and attitude when instead of just saying the costumes are in and then showcasing them, Shimbori goes on about how the new designs will be more worldly because they’re inspired by American comics. Because y’know, Europe and the rest of the world don’t have their own comics going, especially China. There would be something in there if Shimboru would have used the comic book movies as an example, but he specifically meant the comics themselves from.

Do the game’s supposed to be launched in February 15th 2019. That’s not a whole lot time to develop it, considering the game was around 20% finished in August. Something will be missing from the title, and if modern fighting games are anything to go by, it wouldn’t be surprising if DoA6 ends up being just another platform to drive season on. The last few months will be all about trying to get the game produced to the point that it can be pressed, shipped and stocked. It’s more likely that the end of the year is their real deadline, the rest is trying to fix anything that doesn’t work.

I’ve been grinding the same gears with DoA6 for how many times now? This’ll be the last entry on the subject for now. Reality is that the campaigning against DoAX3 worked and Tecmo has changed their view on the franchise. The voice made heard was loud enough to cause backpedaling. Whatever the fans say or do at this point won’t change how DoA6 will be finished. All the stuff thus far added and changed have been nothing short of expected damage control. The only way for the consumer to say that this shit doesn’t fly is to make a clear-cut statement and voting with their wallets. None of the fans and core audience will do it though. Some will think that this is just one-time fling or that the series will return to its roots once the whole boobie-panic blows itself off. The history of the franchise or the long-time core audience doesn’t matter with this game. Only its PR fame and hoped higher revenues do.

VR has yet to break through

CEO of Unity Technologies John Riccitiello has a grasp on reality concerning both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality kits. He was speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt held in San Fransisco this month and argued that there has yet to be a true launch of consumer grade VR and AR devices out there.

Price of course is his first point of contention, which is true. Looking at standard local prices, HTC Vive VR system costs 700€, with Oculus Rift being around 550€. That is extremely larger sum of money, especially when you remember that you need to have a computer to run it, adding to the cost if there’s a necessity to upgrade. You’re easily looking at a package worth a grand, which is far too much for just to set up a platform for extremely limited offering of software. VR will stay as an expensive piece of technology until computing technology, and technology in general, undergoes a massive advancement beyond headsets and screens. Computer Gaming Monthly’s prediction from 1991 that VR would be affordable in 1994 has been overshot by two and a half decades now and counting.

Second point is control and function. Riccitiello argues that the user does not have enough control over the systems. The way the input has been designed limits the content it can have. Most VR titles follow the same by-the-rules input and control method with the wands or controller. The best way to enjoy VR at this point is to get a full racing setup with wheel, pedals and a good seat to get the best experience out of it. As it stands now, both Oculus and Vive are using what essentially amounts to newer versions of Wiimotes.

Riccitiello is right that the current level of VR and AR technology is launched for developers. Game developers love to play with the latest technology and dabble with it to see what’s possible and what’s not. Nintendo is a good example of this in general, considering they’ve tried new things with their controllers throughout the years and included a 3D screen for the 3DS. All the tech stuff like this in Nintendo’s products are mainly intended for them to to explore, and the whole VR and AR boom follows the steps. Consumer end is not considered, only what they are interested in.

In Riccitiello’s mind, there has yet to be a commercial launch. The software that’s out there does not meet the expectations or the standards for consumer use. Better technology is worth jack shit if the games for the end-consumer are the exact same we had twenty years ago.

 


Ride the Comix was a VR game in Disney Quest attractions

The VR industry has grown for sure, but it has not expanded. It would appear that VR has a better market in commercial applications in general than consumer end. The Virtual Reality dream, a headset that could launch you into other worlds, does seem to be more a pipe dream than anything else. As I’ve mentioned previously, it is the 2010’s 3D television boom. However, unlike 3D TVs, this one will survive in some form due to the overall saturation of the market and the sheer force of the pipe dream. Ever since the Sensorama was out in the 1950’s, companies and developers have been aiming to realise something that would be “true” Virtual Reality.

If you take anything from this, VR and AR are nothing new and have half a century’s worth of development and commercial ventures behind it. This is the crux of it; all of it is technological research and development, and even then it’s all extremely limited in the end. Oculus’ latest tech shows what each new VR device has done; expanded on the technology rather than trying to find better ways to do VR.

What does this technological progress give to VR sets it already doesn’t have? To beat the dead horse; there needs to be progress in the software side more than in the hardware.

Is Riccitiello right in that consumer launch for VR has not been made yet? Perhaps not in the current generation, but VR history is full of consumer grade releases. VFX1 Headgear, Victormaxx Stuntmaster VR headset, Virtual Boy and Glasstron all were released for the consumer end, though they were not fully dedicated VR products on themselves. However, that’s where the whole evolution of software would come in, as showcased by Ride the Comix above.

Perhaps the largest crux on VR and AR is that there is no public discourse of them. When Oculus and Vive were new, they were the hottest shit around to talk about, and PSVR soon followed. Hell, some PSVR titles have been patched to work outside the VR goggles to increase sales.

Riccitiello’s positive view on that VR will keep rising is probably right, but the rise will be slow if things won’t change for the cheaper and more efficient. The expectations of the general consumer from what Virtual Reality should do not meet with what the developers’. That is not a blueprint for success, but for stagnation and at worst, failure.

No killer games for Olympics

A while back I discussed whether or not esports should get into the Olympics or not. I’ve been touching on the subject few times of during the past few years, throw Olympics to the search bar. Now, the Olympics committee has made a definite statement in negative, but for all the wrong reasons.

The International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach won’t allow video games, or esports for the matter, to enter the Olympics before violence is removed. To quote;

We cannot have in the Olympic program a game which is promoting violence or discrimination… …So-called killer games. They, from our point of view, are contradictory to the Olympic values and cannot therefore be accepted.

This is, of course, rather bullshit reason.

Games don’t promote violence. They may contain and even glorify it to some extent, but it no less play than any of combat sports. If we consider boxing and other harsher contact sports, electronic games are less violent than sports in general due to the lack of any sort of physical damage or contact. Visually, electronic games are more visceral for sure, but on comparison of promoting violence games and sports are not on the same level; sports has caused far more violence through the history than any game, even if we start counting only from the genesis of modern electronic games. This is no real argument of course, but it is an inane as what Bach offers.

As for discrimination, no electronic game promotes discrimination. I am sure this is more or less just showcasing how inclusive the Olympics is, but just as Bach’s own organisation, electronic gaming is all about how good you are. You won’t be getting into any teams or play over a championship if you don’t have the merit for it. Whether or not Bach truly believes that electronic games is dicks-only club, he couldn’t be more wrong. It’s just that men and women tend to like different kinds of games and there’s nothing wrong in that.

Furthermore, Bach says a game, which is rather interesting. If he finds a game that would truly promote violence and discrimination, then why not pick up another that doesn’t? This shouldn’t even be mentioned, but games can’t do either really, only their consumers and developers can. They are inanimate objects after all.

Killer game is rather old-fashioned way to describe any game with excessive killing and violence, essentially any modern R-18 title from God of War and Devil May Cry. Carmageddon and the like fall into this category as well. Anything with excessive killing, really.

Effectively, what Bach wants to get through, is that due to the visual nature of video games’ contest, they can’t be accepted to the Olympics. Well, outside him pandering the same shit everybody who seems to hit certain clique at his age, but that’s essentially what it is. He even boils it down to a point;

Of course every combat sport has its origins in a real fight among people… …But sport is the civilized expression about this. If you have egames where it’s about killing somebody, this cannot be brought into line with our Olympic values.

This is anthropomorphising games and game characters. While there is an applicable argument between the lines, games are about as much killing someone as any combat sport is. Nobody dies in an electronic game, they’re digital objects after all.

The true argument Bach makes is that the depiction of contest is uncivilised. To him and the committee, they’re a lesser sort of game to play. Make no mistake, this is a haughty high-stance they’re taking, considering the Olympics to be at the peak of cultural ladder near or at the top of the crowning position. The standards Bach sets up for electronic games can’t be met during his lifetime, simply due to the cultural gap between the people who consume sports and people who consume esports. There is overlap, make no exception, yet consider for a moment the stereotypical views about people who do and watch sports against people who play and watch electronic games. There you find what Bach drives after rather than the PR platitudes he puts out.

In the same breath, Kenneth Fok of Asian Electronic Sports Federation mentions American gun control and access to firearms to be part of the problem, which is another pandering platitude, which has no bearing on the subject. This comes just a shooting incident in a Madden tournament in Florida, twisting the two together despite both faulting the aforementioned rather than esports. While this blog shouldn’t take part into the whole gun control debate, it is far larger problem that ties deeper into society than just how guns are controlled. That is extremely easy and lazy way out to avoid the harsher issues that would take far longer time to sort out.

Whether or not esports got into the Olympics doesn’t matter, that’s not the issue here. The issue here is the continuing misconception about electronic games and violence, a discussion that has taken many forms in the culture. It’s not just electronic games either, considering violence and pinball were associated with each other, with the same applying to classic penny arcades and other similar establishments. The difference between high-class sports and everyday Joe’s coin cabinet in the cultural ladder and class difference can be felt in Bach’s argumentation. While some would see this a stretch, do keep in mind that electronic games, video games especially, are cultural continuation and carries the same spot in the general culture landscape as their predecessors. To put it rather harshly, let the peons play their games, the nobility shall play tennis.

It wold be possible for a game designed specifically for the Olympics to be accepted, but that’d be putting the merits of video games into question as legit format on their own. Even more so as an art form. Rather than trying to appeal to the Olympics or other similar events and organisations for legitimacy considering gaming, gaming should keep trucking forwards and find itself properly. Despite what Bach wants to think, gaming is, ultimately, just as civilised activity as sports.

Music of the Month; Knights Errant


We’re getting there lads

At this point, I should just give up on planning what to do, when or how. While not intentional, ever since my career shift my plans have been thrown out of the window. Just this week I was thinking how I should do whatever I had planned, but then noticed how the month was at its end. Might as well stop planning.

However, I do have two things I want to do this month, despite my current track record; typing out a comparison between Muv-Luv Alternative Integral Works and the Codex. This wouldn’t be a review, not exactly, but rather a somewhat throughout view how the two books are different from each other and why. There are large differences, but I’ll cover those when we get to the post itself.

The second planned stuff is Switch related, Hori’s portable USB hub stand. The standard Switch dock is one of the worst designs Nintendo had done to date. Not only it seems to scratch the screen of the main unit, but it’s also absolute waste of plastic. It’s an interesting brick that looks like a two-minute hack job. Nintendo fucked this one up badly, but again, we’re get back to it in the review. I’ll most likely ditch the original shell and purchase one of those DIY kits that require you to salvage the original PCB from the official dock.

There’s been a lot of post materials in the recent weeks that I never got around. These would’ve made good posts unto themselves, but might as well discuss about them here in short.

The first is Langrisser I&II getting remade once again. While I intended to cover a lot of materials about Langrisser in past few recent years, Re:Incarnation did me in. The game’s trash and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. There is also the mobage, which both looks and plays better than the 3DS bastardisation. Whether or not Extreme was right to go back to basics and remake the first two games once more is up the question, but at least they’re not fucking up from the get-go like they did with Re:Incarnation. The first two games in the series are the most revered, and after Dramatic Edition, bundling them together seems to be par-for the course. While the new designs by Ryo Nagi aren’t bad, they’re terribly generic. Extreme probably realised that Satoshi Urushihara’s artwork is part of Langrissers charm and will include DLC code for his illustrations to replace the modern ones. It’s a great touch for the longtime fans and an option for newcomers. I admit that I have a bias for Urushihara in general, but what’d you expect from me? Of course, modernisation brings out changed UI and such, but that’s again expected. You’re remaking the games, after all, might as well improve all little things that were little cumbersome the best you can.

I’m just hoping the music will keep its synth-rock roots more or less intact. We’ll just have to sit back, wait and see.

Of course, when talking about Langrisser, somebody will mention boobs. This is a nice way to discuss the new physics engine in Dead or Alive 6 and how PR can function. Whether or not Yohei Shimbori, the director of the game, just sucks at PR or intentionally wanted to cause an uproar by discontinuing the Soft Engine only to come out much later to say that they’re going for more realistic physics engine is up in the air. It reeks of being planned so DoA6 wouldn’t fall off the discussion chart against Soul Calibur 6 and the like. While he states that he thought there’d be misunderstandings, nobody really should believe this. Either they had the new physics engine in mind from the get go and never stated this to cause controversy, or they had to go back and plan how to mend the situation for their favour. DoA used to have characters the flowed nicely, but with this new engine, everyone and everything looks extremely rigid and unnatural. Hopefully they’ll be able to achieve the natural flowing effect Soft Engine had to it down the line. Fat chance, I know.

Whether or not Shimbori stating that reducing the bust size was to make the characters appear more human was calculated shot or not doesn’t really matter, as all this ends up being him trying to cover his bases. Furthermore, it’s ignoring that bug busted woman exist in abundant numbers and flatties should stop being jealous of them. Dead or Alive Extreme 3 raised some hell and was never released in the West, but ended up being Play-Asia’s most selling title because of this. It’s pathetic that a game series that had fan service as its most prominent selling feature for years now suddenly tries to become visually more serious. Will they make the fighting more realistic and cooler to go with the graphics? Of course not, even when they should have put the effort into the gameplay and remove it from being a weaker version of Virtua Fighter. They’re lowering the standards for the game’s play with retarding the countering and adding Fatal Rush, which is essentially one-button super alá Soul Calibur V‘s Critical Edge.

We’ll see how all this translates into sales.

 

 

Sega’s Mania effect

So after couple of decades of failed starts, concepts thrown around and DMCA’d fan titles, Streets of Rage 4 is a thing that’s coming out. Finally, might I add. Sega and Streets of Rage fans, rejoice.

 

I have to say, these redesigns are pretty damn nice

There are three companies involved with the game, outside Sega as the licensee; Lizardcube, who were in charge of the recent Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap; Guard Crush Games who have a history with beat-em-ups (or belt-scrolling action games if you’re Japanese) like Streets of Fury; Dotemu, who function as a publisher. Lizardcube is in charge of graphics, while Guard Crush Games handles the programming, though Dotemu has the handle on game design. This is pretty nice package, as Lizardcube has a pretty nice, French comics style that fits so many of these older titles’ revival, and Guard Crush Games seems to have a handle on programming just fine. Y’know, the hardest part of making a game.

I’m probably going to make a comparative post regarding the character designs, because both Axel and Blaze got a real nice new lick of paint.

There is exactly two things this game needs to do in order to be accepted by long time fans and be at least a relative hit with the general audience; faithfully replicate the Streets of Rage formula, and expand on it. This is effectively what Sonic Mania did, and it has been hailed as the best Sonic the Hedhehog game to date, which isn’t too hard to accept.

Which raises the question; did Sonic Mania‘s success kick this title off the ground? Both it and the new Wonder Boy were well received and raised new interest in certain section of older titles. Both of them function as data to further the idea putting the money and effort to realise a Streets of Rage title in its proper 2D mould rather than take the Final Fight route with Streetwise. After all, game genres don’t just die because new technology makes new genres possible with extra dimensions or additional gimmicks like VR. Despite how 90’s marketing wants you to believe, 2D hasn’t gone anywhere at any point. Sure, you the newfangled thing always gets pushed, but you can’t deny the customers the things they want. Just look at how well 2D Mario sells over 3D titles. That’s another dead horse I need to stop kicking.

All this data of revival games doing at least decently well is most probable reason Streets of Rage 4 got greenlit. Add Mega Man 11‘s upcoming release to the mix and we’re entering an interesting era, where old franchises are getting new releases in more budget range, but with none of the lacking elements. Hopefully more companies realise this; you don’t need AAA budget to make great damn games. Pretty much all of these classic franchises could be revived and developed at a fraction of the cost with modern tools. Easier to make profits. The only real problem is to deliver a wanted product, which didn’t really happen with the New SMB series after the first few entries. Once a franchise is revived, it needs to move forwards. Mega Man 10 failed in this term by simply being same thing again. We now have three Mega Man 2 games and that’s two too much.

Sega of course wouldn’t develop this themselves. They don’t care about the IP. Sega hasn’t given two shits about Streets of Rage since the mid-90’s, when they essentially gave the middle finger to the Western consumers. Eternal Champions used to be a big thing, but then Sega just neutered it. You can’t treat Japanese, American and European markets the same. Hell, you have to treat Europe as multiple market zones if you want to do it right. This was clear how Sega’s tactics with the Genesis in the US region only kicked off after the US branch pushed through their tactics of including a game with the console and marketing Sonic the Hedgehog their own way. If most of the data is to be believed, Sonic‘s been the most popular in the US. Sadly, Sega of Japan’s management killed all the motion their American and European sections had going on, effectively beginning their own downfall from grace. Westerners do classic Sega better than Sega themselves.

Streets of Rage 4 probably won’t be as large a success as Sonic Mania. If the game gets a physical release afterwards its initial digital showcase, we can deem it successful enough. If it gets a physical release from the very beginning, even if it was a Limited Run title, then the developers and publisher have boatloads of trust towards their targeted consumers. There are enough Sega fans that would purchase this title in an instant.

While Sonic Mania was clearly an international title, a game that didn’t have any specific region in mind, the same can’t be said about Streets of Rage 4. Both Guard Crush Games and Lizardcube are European companies, and that flavours oozes through in a very positive manner. Hell, even Dotemu is based on France. I hope they shower more than the average French. However, that probably will rub some people off, as Streets of Rage originally had a very American atmosphere to it, especially considering it was inspired partially by Streets of Fire. Hell, Blaze’s design is essentially Ellen Aim with more streetwise to her. The bits about Sega not giving a damn about the IP still stands, and their actions towards Western markets have been changing only during the last years. The Yakuza franchise is a good line to follow modern Sega in this. English dubbing usually drives sales, but there are titles where this isn’t case. Yakuza dropped this in favour of cheaper releases and simply because the fans didn’t like it. Despite Sega censoring and removing elements from some of the games, the audience kept growing. Despite this, none of the spin-offs outside the zombie romp got localised. Now that the Western audience has grown far greater, Sega’s taken the series’ position in the market into notion with better releases, and now is even considering publishing further remasters and spin-offs in the Overseas regions. Sega of Japan is slowly but surely taking a notion of Western markets.

If we’re going to go down this path, it’s relatively easy to see Sega considering the wants and needs of the Western markets to some extent. The IPs they’ve been giving up and ignoring still have a strong consumer base with nothing to fill that niche. A high quality title here and there goes long way in making profits and keeping your fans happy. I would say Altered Beast and Golden Axe could be next on the list of revivals, but seeing how terrible their last titles were, there’d be a lot of work to fix those damages in the eyes of Sega themselves.