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  • The people who wrote that Cross Review don’t understand anything!

    Posted on September 10th, 2009 keving 2 comments

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    So says Ryoichi Hasegawa, the former Sonic Team and Naughty Dog dude whom I think I either drank with him once or attended his GDC panel, one of the two. Maybe both.

    These days he’s back at Sega as their localization manager; his latest project,  House of the Dead: Overkill, comes out 9/17 in Japan. Famitsu gave the game straight 6’s in this week’s issue (a fair bit lower than the US/European reception), and Japanese blog My Game News Flash did an informal interview with him about it.

    Hasegawa: Good to meet you. Let me get one thing out of the way: The House of the Dead: Overkill, coming out next week from our company, got straight 6’s in Famitsu’s Cross Review, but please don’t believe that.

    Q: Boy, that’s rough. Is the game fun?

    Hasegawa: Oh, of course it is. The people who wrote that review don’t get it! The four people who reviewed it don’t get what makes it fun at all!

    Q: I saw a movie of it yesterday; was Biohazard and stuff like that a pretty big influence?

    Hasegawa: It’s less Bio and more just really over-the-top — not silly, but just incredible. People speak English in this game, but the dialogue’s crazy; they say “fuck” enough to make it into Guinness. You have zombies eating something under this human-meat mixer. But it still got a D rating [age 17 and up] from CERO, not a Z. We worked with Nintendo to stretch the limits of that. It definitely lives up to the “Overkill” name. So of course it’s a fun game.

    Forget about the Japan game business for a moment — it’s extremely uncommon for someone in the American game industry to openly call out a magazine’s review. EA obliquely criticized OXM’s review of Dead Space in last month’s Game Informer, which looking back I’m very surprised GI’s editors allowed them to do without asking OXM for a response. In Japan such criticism is practically unheard of.

    I can’t criticize Hasegawa for his frustration, but I don’t find Famitsu’s scores for Overkill outrageous out-of-hand, either. I do not really trust the mag’s cross-reviews for big-name titles any longer, but once their number scores go below 7, the reviewers are usually bringing up real and believable issues. It’s the same deal with reviews on Amazon or game forums, I suppose — you can sort of get constructive guidance from a negative review, but positive ones often seem “planted” even if they aren’t.

    The bigger problem with Famitsu right now is the very obvious score inflation applied to AAA games in the past couple years. Does anyone think there’s any possible way Final Fantasy XIII won’t be awarded a 40 this winter?

  • The Game Developer Research Institute is pretty great

    Posted on September 10th, 2009 keving 10 comments

    I mentioned it in the past, but you should go there because there are hours of reading nestled within for the patient old-game fan. I’ve seen it get zero real attention from the game scene — maybe it has, I don’t know — but it deserves a lot.

    A few exciting bits of trivia from a quick jaunt around the site’s interviews:

    • Sonic Spinball was completed in a half-year-long crunch because Sega realized Sonic 3 wouldn’t make Christmas ’93. I always thought it was a great game and I have a newfound respect for it after learning this.
    • Tose trying to learn how to program 3DO games is a classic example of Japan-US bureaucracy culture clashes. Also, working at Tose is not a hot idea if you like promotions, going home at night, or if you’re a lady.
    • Unsurprisingly, working for the company that coded Razorsoft’s releases wasn’t so great, either.
    • There was an Akira-themed title, complete with a Wolf3D-style section, in development for the Game Gear.
    • There was a Road Runner-themed game in development for the Genesis in 1993 that didn’t get released because the main designer couldn’t decide whether the playable character should be Road Runner or Wile E. Coyote.
    • RPG Genjin sucked. (The translation on the page is a little off; it should be more like “I played a sample ROM from Hudson, but…hmm…I think it not coming out was definitely the correct choice.”