Bayonetta

Developer Spotlight: Platinum Games (the best games you haven’t played)

Every once in a while a development team will spring up that sadly doesn’t get the respect or sales numbers they rightly deserve.  Let’s take a look at Platinum games for a moment, and some things you may have missed.

Witch Time

Who are they?

Platinum games is a relatively new developer based out of Japan that is attempting to make new AAA IPs.  While the company itself is new, having formed in 2007, the people working there are all old pros.  The golden boys of Capcom are now behind the wheel of a new company, and are making some quality stuff.  Devil May Cry creator Hideki Kamiya led the charge with Bayonetta.  And Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami cooked up one of this year’s gems, Vanquish. That’s right… I said Resident Evil creator.

Why should I buy their stuff?

A lot of players and critics argue that Japanese development is dying a slow death, and sadly, the sales figures of Japanese games in the U.S. support that statement.  Western developers know what appeals to Western audiences.  Gone are the days when it was perfectly fine for a story to be incomprehensible.  People like to know what is going on, without having to read a wiki on the game they just played (I’m looking at you MGS4). The current trend in Western gaming is “gritty” and Japanese games in recent years have failed to pull off that “gritty” vibe as well as Western devs.

So..why should I buy their stuff again?

I’m getting to that… yeesh.  Platinum games is making some high quality stuff that Western developers are NOT currently making.  You could argue that Bayonetta is a lot like Darksiders, or maybe God of War, but you would be wrong.  And again, you could argue that Vanquish is a lot like Gears of War or “generic 3rd person shooter“, but you’d also be wrong.  These games are unique because they are the apex of current Japanese development. They look astounding, and control like nothing you’ve ever played before.  I promise.

So… Why didn’t anyone buy them?

That’s not really the case. Bayonetta sold fairly well in the U.S. and Japan, but nowhere near the massive numbers of a Halo or Call of Duty game.  Since Bayonetta has been out for 12 months now it has sold more than 1,000,000 copies which should be enough to green light a sequel.  As for Vanquish about 320,000 copies have been sold globally for both PS3 and 360 since its release in October.  Again when you compare these numbers to high development costs and the success of other AAA studios you see a wee cause for alarm.  Black Ops sold 5,600,000 copies on its first day…scary

So why should you care?

I said it once and I’ll say it again, video games are art.  And if we don’t want art to get repetitive and stail, we have to embrace new artists.  Both Vanquish and Bayonetta are unique games that were sadly overlooked in 2009/2010.  I urge you all to pick them up and give them a shot, you will not be disappointed.

Check out these videos of art in motion.

Witch Time

And Vanquish

  • Micah G

    I’ll try not to be extremely racist… I still have some reputation I would like to keep intact. I just never have liked the style of Japanese games, which all seem similar to me. Strange music that always sounds like the first clip, overly rapid fast attacks with ridiculous color beams from giants weapons as seen in the second clip, and then the voice acting… I point you to the third clip for that one. “He was our partner… yah know.” The games never capture my attention as unique works. This is because, in my not so humble opinion, Japanese games always contain those similar graphical and auditory styles. They all seem similar, and therefor generic, so I just don’t look into them. “Oh look, another skinny giant breasted woman with a polearm and really long pieces of fabric flailing about with lots of powers that involve primary colors.” I’m sure people in Japan say the same stuff about American style and this is obviously just my opinion. Plus, I’m still pissed about Pearl Harbor.

    • Ash

      Interesting point sir. I think you’ve officially become our site’s first “troll”. I do understand what you’re saying though. A lot of Japanese stuff is over the top, but I think they mean for it to be. Many Japanese games are not meant to feel or look like a Mass Effect or a Call of Duty. They are purposefully more lighthearted and silly (hence the colors). It’s really like comparing shotguns and chainsaws.

    • helloscientist

      I think the light hearted nature of Japanese games might come from how serious society is over there. I’ve never been to Japan so I don’t really know, but my guess is it’s a a way from them really unwind…….or maybe it has something to do with the U.S. dropping two atomic bombs on them.

      • Micah G

        Not true,

        “In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response.”

        Primary intent here is not to get you guys fired up… I just don’t like Japanese games.

  • I think the breaking point for me was Lost Planet and Dead Rising (both Capcom games). Japanese games seem to favor speed runs, and time attacks. I can’t get into that, those mechanics encourage playing levels over and over to memorize the layout. In the process, I feel like the story (or even just the vibe) of a game is lost in favor of extreme power playing.

    That being said, I’ve kept Bayonetta and Vanquish on my radar, and figured at some point I’d pick these out of a bargain bin and give em a go. I’m not ready to give up on Japanese games just yet.

    • Ash

      Scott,

      I agree with you to a certain extent. I used to love a good JRPG and remember a time when there were very few Western developers at all. It really wasn’t that long ago.

      I will say that both Bayonetta and Vanquish have no “timed” sequences, but they do rate your performance at the end of every level.

      The narratives are also a bit “odd”, but nothing that i couldn’t follow.

  • helloscientist

    I really enjoyed the gameplay of Vanquish but it was seriously lacking in story. To make an even nerdery reference Vanquish is to gritty U.S. games as the Tau are to 40K. Ultimately, that clean look in a gritty world caught my eye and was a nice change of pace.

    Scott, I’m with you in the “I don’t like speed runs” camp. Why do developers create these beautiful worlds to have people play through them as fast as possible? I feel it’s the same as an Michelangelo painting the underside of an overpass on the I4.

    • Ash

      Scott, I’m with you in the “I don’t like speed runs” camp. Why do developers create these beautiful worlds to have people play through them as fast as possible? I feel it’s the same as an Michelangelo painting the underside of an overpass on the I4.

      haha so damn true.

  • I played the Bayonetta demo, and I felt like I was on gay cocaine. Everything was so fast and I had no clue what was going on.
    The vanquish gameplay looks rad though. If the game lacks story as Mr. D-rock says, then I would probably only play until I got bored. Then it’s another game on the way-back burner.

  • Ash

    Vanquish is a bit short, and lacks any real innovation when it comes to story, but I still had a blast playing it. Visually it’s pretty amazing.