Okay seriously guys, STFU. Yes the Japanese have an entirely different culture than us. And yes that means the amalgamation’s of their pop culture winds up in a different place than ours. No the Japanese gaming industry isn’t dead. Granted the country can’t compete in sales with the rest of the world. The best the United States can do is match the rest of the world in sales. I realize we as a world wide civilization look to these two places as leaders in product innovation and industry standards, but Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia are pretty big too.
Japanese games are mechanically stagnant and lack innovation to paraphrase pretty much any gaming website out there that I love including but not limited to Giantbomb, Joystiq, etc. To really counter this argument we have to look at what innovation IS in gaming. Innovation is defined as “something new or different introduced“.
So is something mechanically new introduced in Japanese games? Lets look at a few examples of Japanese games.
- Vanquish (2010) introduced sliding, upside down rail shooting, and destroying the largest spaceships possibly ever experienced in gaming to the third person shooter. It could be argued that mechanically it is the next iterative step from Gears of War. The weapon upgrade system however IS entirely new for better or for worse. If your ammo for a particular weapon is full when you pick up ammo, the weopon is upgraded.
- Persona 3 (2006) fantastically melded a social simulator with a dungeon crawler and creature maker.
- Every single primary Final Fantasy engine whether you love them or hate them is entirely different from the last!!!!
- BlazBlue/Guilty Gear!!!!
- Dragon Quest IX introducing multiplayer to turned based combat on the DS!!!!!!!!
- Katamari Damacy taking the item collecting mechanic and making an INSANE game out of it!
- ZOMBIES VERSUS AMBULANCES!!!!
- Trace the Tactics RPG’s from Shining Force to Final Fantasy Tactics to Disgaea and you will see LEAPS in innovation.
All of those are Japanese titles that came off the top of my head without even trying.
Now let’s look at western innovation. And for simplification we’ll go ahead and say Western audiences include everywhere but Japan.
- Let’s see, Kratos is still Kratos with almost the exact same controls.
- Gears of War still is a cover based shooter.
- The Halo games may or may not use dual wield and might have running.
- Oh hey Bulletstorm did its own version of the slide from Vanquish.
- Borderlands took Diablo II and JRPG mechanics and added to the FPS genre.
- The Assassin’s Creed franchise is evolving to where you can sit behind a desk and tell other people to play the game for you.
So aside from Borderlands, none of these games are really taking innovative steps in their sequels. And just to be clear, I own every single title I just mentioned (although I only own the first Gears). Actually the argument could be made for Gears’ Horde Mode since every multiplayer 1st or 3rd person shooter since has used it. But its also one of those cases where its not unique or innovative anymore.
Probably the most innovative section of the western industry would be Bioware and Valve. From Mass Effect to DragonAge, love or hate these games Bioware takes old game design and make giant leaps and bounds of innovation. While the Baldur’s Gate mechanics can be seen in DragonAge Origins or the first Mass Effect, there’s no way those design ideas can be seen anywhere near Mass Effect 2 and DragonAge 2.
And Valve. Do I really need to convince you of Valve’s innovation since almost every game they release sets a new industry standard?
Look its different strokes for different folks. I realize you FPS fans love your alien shootin’ soldiers, just realize that not all of us share that. And while there is certainly plenty to respected from button twitching hordes into non-existence, know that there is also much to respect about methodically plotting your enemies existence into nothingness through turned based strategy and math. I’m not the same as you. And FPS is not the end all be all creative multiplex of a genre some of the fans would have us believe it is.
Give respect where its due. Japan is not dead and Japan is not lacking in innovation. But I’m willing to bet the Japanese do get more and more closed minded to Western games the more we insult their creative abilities. The solution: Don’t be a closed minded dick! Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean its lacking in polish, innovation, or story. It just means there is yet another human being in the world you don’t relate to. We’re not the borg collective, we’re individual murderous snowflakes. This isn’t mob rules and your religion isn’t mine! Live with it. MusiM out.