Project X Zone seems to be quite normal fare for Monolith. If you’ve played their Endless Frontier game on the DS, or it’s Japan-only sequel, or kind-of prequel Namco X CAPOM on the PS2, you know what to expect. There seems to be no new tricks as such, but then again, Monolith fans expect no changes to the format.
Will PXZ come to the west? Probably not, but the 3DS is in dire need for games that would attract customers’ attention. This game would attract some, as this kind of crossover games are rather rare in the west. In Japan crossing over franchises is an old tradition almost, but then again what prevents eg. Super Robot Wars crossing the pond over here is the licensing issues. It’s actually a sort of miracle that we ever got Tatsunoko VS CAPCOM. Sure, we lost one character, but literally nobody cared about him anyway.
The other game coming for the 3DS is New Super Mario Bros. 2. Why now, and not during the release of 3DS? The simple answer is; 3D Land did not sell well.
2D Mario sells. Miyamoto and the creative minds at Nintendo do not want to make 2D Mario. 2D Mario takes work to make into a product that people would enjoy immensely. Being creative minds, they want to make what they want. Never a good business practice.
Why is the 3DS failing? Because it has no games that people want to play. The DS took off when New Super Mario Bros. was released. Nintendo’s trying to replicate that success much like they tried to replicate Monster Hunter’s success on the PSP.
3DS has the same problem as the DS did during its first year, as its games are mostly ports and N64-eaque games that people do not want. When the DS went from portable N64 to a portable SNES, the customers’ attention was gained. Contrary to the popular belief, Brain Age and its kin were part of the DS’ popularity. It hit the Deep part of the Blue Ocean. Nintendo didn’t compete in the Red Ocean where all other companies were at. Like they are doing now with the 3DS.
While it’s true that gaining new customers is harder than keeping your existing customers, it’s even more harder and unrewarding to steal customers from another company. The Red Ocean, where everybody competes, is a place to avoid. It’s not about innovation or making something or surprising the customers with something different. It’s about making a product that a customer who does not know you exist notices you. Brain Age did this. Wii did this with WiiSPorts. NES did this with Super Mario Bros. Arcades did this with PacMan.
But making games like WiiSports doesn’t interest Miyamoto’s lackies, or the man himself. This kind of games have nothing to do with creativity, but craftsmanship.
So, will the New Super Mario Bros. 2 be a new breakthrough? Will it be the new standard of 2D Mario as Iwata so proclaims? It is too early to say, but at this point it is apparent that the budget is low if the screenshots are anything to go by. Give a 2D Mario same treatment as 3D Mario, and you have a hit in your hands.