Friday, March 7, 2014

Azure Striker Gunvolt Makes Me Question The Need For Mighty No. 9?

Keiji Inafune, the creator of acclaimed series such as Megaman, Dead Rising, and Onimusha has unveiled a new game from his recently formed company, Comcept. Since leaving Capcom, Inafune's studio has dabbled in all sorts of games, but this new title, tentatively called Azure Striker Gunvolt for North America, is probably the most familiar. Teaming up with Inticreates, the studio that developed the popular Megaman Zero and ZX subseries, it looks as though Inafune is getting back to his roots with a good old fashioned side scrolling action game. But there's something familiar about all this...

Yeah, not even a year ago, this same thing happened, but the game was called Mighty No. 9, and it went to Kickstarter to find funding. I was a very early supporter of Mighty No. 9 (and donated a considerable amount), but I generally don't like the fan interaction on these types of projects, and the long wait before anything resembling a finished game is shown off is agonizing. Add in some completely terrible and unfounded drama over something incredibly stupid, and Mighty No. 9 has kind of soured in my eyes. Meanwhile, Gunvolt comes completely out of nowhere, looks completely finished, looks AWESOME, and didn't require any kind of financial contribution from me to get going.

So what happened here? If Comcept and Inticreates were already creating an amazing looking sidescroller that looked to channel Megaman's spirit, why the need for kickstarter? Why the need for so much fan mongering and hyping? It's a little confusing.

Now, it should be noted that Gunvolt is only slated to release on the 3ds, which is honestly the platform that 90% of fans of Megaman or sidescrolling action would be anyway. Mighty No. 9 is shooting to launch on a staggering amount of platforms, so maybe Gunvolt is actually a smarter project. Going after a single platform that there is definitely a market on, and taking advantage of that unique hardware is generally a smarter idea than just trying to jam your game on to everything that plays games. Lots of side scrollers in particular, including Mutant Mudds and Gunman Clive, have seen significantly higher sales on the 3ds than other platforms, such as PSN and Steam, combined. Sales trends would seem to indicate that the audience for side scrolling action games is mostly on Nintendo's handheld. This isn't surprising, though, considering side scrolling action would tend to appeal to very dedicated players, most of which are going to be playing on a dedicated handheld. 

In any case, I'm excited for Gunvolt. I'm much more excited for it than I am for Mighty No. 9 at this point. The lack of fan interaction, community management, crowd funding and grandstanding in this project has refreshed my outlook on Inafune's new company. Whereas Mighty No. 9 seemed to put literally everything before the actual game, Gunvolt has done it right.

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