The History of Monster Hunter World

One question has plagued the Monster Hunter fanbase ever since the reveal of Monster Hunter World.

“Why?”

Nintendo fans have been crying. Fans of other platforms have been cheering. But now we here at Unseen64  (Liam Robertson video game historian) have a complete understanding of the history behind Nintendo’s relationship with Monster Hunter.

”They raped us.” The female Capcom employee told us, in a small voice. “They raped us.”

In 2009 Monster Hunter fans were shocked and outaged to hear that the series, which had previously found great success on Sony’s PlayStation Portable, had suddenly switched platforms mid development. Instead of the HD Monster Hunter fans had been clamoring for, what they got was a watered down version of what they had gotten on other platforms.

“It was awful.” Our source babbles to us, completely distraught. “Nintendo tricked management into signing a years long exclusivity contract. Every week, a man in a Mario Hat and mustache would come in to check on us.”

Nintendo, it would seem, had an iron grip on Monster Hunter Tri’s development. “Every time we would come up with a cool new design or gameplay feature, Nintendo would stop us. ‘Isn’t that too expensive?’ they would say, and then promptly stomp all over it.”

The Mario Man, as he was soon to be known, became a sort of boogeyman. “He was not a game developer.” The source confides in us, tearing up a little. It was a Plumber. Nintendo hired him to deal with third party exclusives for one reason and one reason only. To show us that they thought we were shit.”

In this dystopian, controlling environment the Monster Hunter team had difficulties getting any new ideas off the ground. Adding any new features or even monsters to the game was a massive hurdle.

“To Nintendo, making new games is an alien, scary concept.” The source told us. “They have been remaking the exact same game for thirty years, for all of their franchises. They have no originality, no creativity, no passion.”

In order to add anything new to Monster Hunter in the Nintendo exclusive days, the team had to come up with ways to associate it with Mario.

“What we did when it came to Monster Hunter 4 was describe the climbing mechanic as being similar to Mario jumping on enemies. It was greenlit almost immediately.”

It was clear to everyone at Capcom that the company desperately needed to get out of this relationship. It was destroying the team and company.

“It was the relationship with Nintendo that was the root cause of all of Capcom’s problems.” The source told us. “Games like DmC, the Lost Planet games, Dead Rising, and Resident Evil so declining sales and performance because of Nintendo’s interference with our business. That trend continues to this day, with the releases of Street Fighter V and Marvel vs Capcom Infinite. Nintendo destroyed our reputation and business.”

But just when all hope was lost… Sony came.

“Sony saved this company.” The source confides in us, blushing furiously. “It was them that made Monster Hunter World possible.”

The Monster Hunter team had been wanting to make World for over a decade. The transition into making an HD, open world game would have been impossible under Nintendo’s iron fist.

But now that the team is free, Monster Hunter, and other IPs, are free as well.

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I have Knack’s Back

My life has changed quite a lot since the release of the original Knack. I graduated high school, dropped out of college, married, drank too much to celebrate the death of the Wii U, and celebrated the birth of my wife’s first child. It was a wonderful time, one that I will cherish forever.

But despite all of the changes that has come over my life, one thing has remained constant. I am still a fan of Knack. And I know now that I always will be. Although I am married now and have responsibilities, I still take the time to play through the original Knack somewhat regularly, about once every three months. It never fails to amaze me just how well the game has aged over the years. I can still pop it in after all this time and still have a blast. It remains my all time favorite PS4 game, and I know deep in my heart that it will someday be regarded as one of the best games ever made.

The same cannot be said for Super Mario 3D World. But that goes without saying.

The strength of Playstation’s new mascot cannot be denied, although Nintendo fans refuse to admit. Not only did Knack outperform Mario on it’s first installment, it has left a lasting impact, One that Mario has never reached.

My Step-daughter has a room full of Knack menorabilia. Posters of the first and second games, handmade plushies of the characters, even an unopened copy of the second game that she is clearly keeping for collector’s purposes. Every time her friends see this, they always say the same thing.

”Knack is back, baby.”

It never fails to warm my heart to see kids  enjoying a character I love in this way. Knack, to them, is a cultural icon. A hero. Meanwhile Mario is a disgusting old man who can’t even get the woman he loves to marry him.

“Knack is back, baby.”

Unlike Mario games, which from the very first sequel were highly criticized by gamers for being extremely out of touch with what fans wanted, Knack 2’s release with laughter and joy.

“Knack is back, baby.”

Watching my wife’s daughter play through my copy of Knack 2 for the first time was a magical experience. I laughed, I cried, I had a boner. It was better than any let’s player, better than anything on the Switch, better than anything has to offer.

Knack is back. And he’s not going anywhere.

 

 

 

How Amiibo saved Metroid

Fans were amazed by the surprising news this E3 concerning the state of the Metroid franchise. After years of no releases,  the vast majority of fans assumed that the series had been dead and buried with no real hope of revival.

However, a source close at Nintendo has given this author an exclusive look behind the curtain at Nintendo, and just what exactly triggered the change in attitude towards our favorite female bounty hunter.

In 2014 there was absolutely no chance of any future Metroid games. The franchise, following Other M, had hit a dead end, both creatively and sales wise. Nintendo had been willing to support the series due to the critical acclaim the series had gotten in the west, but Other M dampered their confidence in the brand and character of Samus Aran. Nintendo did not know what to do with the character in 2014, and therefore she was dead to them.

And then Smash Bros launched.

Nintendo fans vastly underestimate just how big of a deal that game was to Nintendo. Not only did it cement the fate of the Wii U (Contrary to popular belief, Nintendo stopped actively starting developing new Wii U games after 2014, after that point it was merely a matter of finishing what was already in development) it also introduced the big success story for Nintendo that year. Amiibo.

This hasn’t been something that Nintendo has actively talked about in public, and I imagine they won’t until their Amiibo centric software launches, but Nintendo has been paying VERY close attention to Amiibo. Namely, how well specific figures sell. You have the obvious ones, of course, like Mario and Link that always do really well. The Fire Emblem ones have been doing really well as well, to no one’s surprise.

But the one that caught everyone off guard was the best selling figure in North America. Samus Aran. Samus is so popular here that she can compete with sales of the others on a global scale. This led to management at Nintendo talking.

People loved the CHARACTER of Samus Aran, but not necessarily the games she was in.  Brainstorming began. What could they do to reinvent Metroid for a western audience?

The answer, to Nintendo, was simple. Produce a Metroid Prime 4. However, forming a team out of the blue to create a new entry Prime series would take years. Retro was not available due to work on their new IP, and Nintendo felt that a new Metroid Prime needed new blood.

They needed to take the series in a bold new direction. They needed to experiment with Metroid to findd something new and exciting. They needed to bring Metroid Prime back in full force.

They made Federation Force.

But despite what fans might think,  Metroid was already in recovery by this point. Metroid Prime 4 itself was already in the early planning stages. Tanabe was bringing the core creative side together, speaking with MonolithSoft and other Nintendo subsidaries to try and find interested talent. At this point, Nintendo was not interested in merely putting a single game together. Nintendo wanted to assemble a team that could take Metroid to new heights and do fresh things with the genre and series.

Federation Force was always supposed to be merely an appetizer for the upcoming Metroid Prime 4, much like how Donkey Kong Jungle Beat essentially served as a proto type for Donkey Kong Country Returns. It was made to experiment with new ideas and concepts for the Metroid franchise without having to bog down a big budget game with them. At that point, it was not decided whether or not Metroid should have multiplayer. Nintendo understands that it does not suit the series well at well, but they believe that most westerners buy first person games under the expectation that it has quality multiplayer.

Federation Force’s release and reception led to Tanabe coming to a final decision. The newly assembled Metroid team would focus first on creating a extensive, unique single player experience.

Sakamoto, although not actively working on the project, saw Tanabe working diligently on a new Metroid game. Although still reeling from the failure of Other M, Sakamoto found himself thinking more about the series in general, and his relationship with it. He was now the man in charge of the 2D games, while Tanabe handled the bigger, higher budget Prime games. And that made him realize, if nothing else, that he should give 2D Metroid one last shot.

Enter Mercury Steam, who had approached Nintendo with the hopes of making a new Metroid game. Sakamoto turned down their initial pitch, but offered them the chance to make Samus Returns.

When both of these games were announced at E3, fans got the impression that Nintendo had listened to their complaints regarding Federation Force and Metroid in general. But in reality, the backlash towards events never really factors into the decisions at all. Following the massive success of Samus Returns and its amiibo, Sakamoto and Mercury Steam are already planning a proper new 2D Metroid for Switch. One that very may well launch alongside Metroid Prime 4 in 2018.

Make no mistake, Metroid fans. The reason that Metroid lives is because YOU BOUGHT THE AMIIBO. It was the Amiibo that encouraged Nintendo to take risks with the franchise, it was Amiibo that made Samus Returns such a huge hit. It was the Amiibo that made Nintendo realize just how beloved the Metroid universe really is.

 

 

Is Miitopia a good game?

The past month has been a bit of a blur to me. I’ve been so busy with life and playing so many games that I have not found the time to even begin working on a new blog post. As I write this, I am still playing ARMS and Splatoon 2, have only just finished Hey Pikmin! And am now on my way to clearing Miitopia. I can’t imagine there being much more after the Dark Lord’s Castle, so it’s only a matter of time until I defeat the final boss and save all of Miitopia. But one last question remained on my mind:

Is Miitopia a good game?

Sitting at a pitiful metacritic score of 69, Miitopia at first glance looks like a relatively poor title in all sorts of aspects. The characters aren’t particularly complex, the environments are simplistic, the combat is bare-bones, and seems to be tedious to play. And those criticisms are spot on.

But as I continue to play Miitopia, continue to level up my characters, unlock new jobs, and make my way through the game, the more I realize that I am hooked on Miitopia in spite of all of it’s problems. The question is… why? What makes Miitopia stand out from other RPGs like it?

The answer, of course, is the customizable aspects. The game gives you complete freedom in just WHO you will meet on your adventure. It gives the game a very unique feeling to it that other games can’t really imitate. It offers you the chance to decide for yourself who the characters are, much like casting characters in a play.   Which makes the game a very personal experience. That is what makes the game special.

 

 

 

THQNordic is the most arrogant third party developer so far this gen!

It’s very surprising to see this happen, considering how there are actually quite a few THQNordic games on the way for Switch. But all of these games are smaller in scope compared to other projects they are working on such as Darksiders III.

And now, due to an interview with the company, we now have an idea of why that is.

This is partly due to the firm’s belief that 3DS will soon be replaced by Switch – depsite Nintendo’s assertions to the contrary – and the relatively low power available in the platfrom holder’s new console. Pollice notes that even Battle Chasers, a 2D turn-based RPG game based on comics by notable artist Joe Madureira, has been “a challenge to get running smoothly on Switch” and open-world sci-fi RPG Elex is “just too demanding right now.”

In short, THQNordic is simply too lazy to make a proper port and optimize the game correctly.

Despite what internet critics want you to believe, it really is not all that difficult to port games onto different hardware if, and that is a big if in the current industry, the developers are willing to put TIME and EFFORT into making it happen.

THQNordic, in saying that a fucking 2D TURN BASED RPG IS DIFFICULT TO GET RUNNING ON SWITCH, really demonstrates just how poor their coding is.

There’s been a tendency to blame Nintendo for the lack of real third party support in the past twenty years, but I genuinely laugh at that assessment. And it’s due to entirely to statements like this. The excuses given as to why Switch doesn’t get ‘real’ third party support are impossible to take seriously. It’s clear, to me, that developers are simply not putting in the effort to properly create a proper version of their titles for Nintendo platform.

All multiplat games CAN and SHOULD be getting releases on Switch. #MakeTheSwitch

But that is only one half of this story. What makes THQNordic the most arrogant third party so far this gen?

This little gem.

“De Blob is the perfect indie game. On the Wii, it was a bit underrepresented – it should have been on Steam in the first place, it would have been a massive success. Although it’s not that hardcore, in terms of the visual style, the mechanics are so cool and it’s so relaxing. I remember when we looked into that, I was playing it with a Wii emulator and I felt like I could play it forever.”

THQNordic is downright delusional. They really do think that their shitty painting game would have been a huge hit if it wasn’t on Nintendo platforms. Honestly, I think the only reason the game is even remembered is because it was on Wii, when a ton of other third party developers were foolishly developing for Playstation360 and not the market leader that generation.

I hate De Blob, by the way. I bought it because people were comparing it to Splatoon when it was revealed, and quickly grew bored with it. And that’s why this next bit infuriates me so much.

“Before THQ went bankrupt, they had an online De Blob game [in development] which was basically like Splatoon,” says Pollice. “It was never released, but I think they invested a couple of million into it. They were making it for Asia. It was pretty far [through development], it wasn’t far off soft-launch. But it was funny, because when Nintendo announced Splatoon I was like ‘hey, I’ve already seen that – that’s literally De Blob Online’.”

Wow. Just wow. Talk about desperation. Talk about being petty. Talk about being a complete piece of shit simply to write off the much better IP and company.

This reminds me of how Pretendos in 2014 were pretending that the concept for Splatoon was stolen from some cancelled Xbox arcade game. That’s what these statements say to me: That we came up with Splatoon FIRST. It doesn’t matter that the game didn’t actually come out, and that the first game wasn’t all that popular, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A HUGE HIT IF IT WAS ON STEAM AND NOT NINTENDO.

It’s this kind of bizarre logic and inability to actually write flexible code that is going to lead to the Worldwide gaming crash, I feel. Companies are putting out these huge games that no one really has any interest in. Darksiders II, for example, was slammed for not being nearly as polished as the first game, and I’m sure that Darksiders III will follow the same trend.

Having established, fairly popular IPs is only going to take you so far if you don’t respect the audience that actually likes or plays your software. Blaming Nintendo for your own ineptitude at developing games is not going to win you any favors with anyone, especially not Nintendo fans. Especially considering their biggest game so far, Darksiders III, is blatantly Zelda influenced.

THQNordic needs to #MaketheSwitch

A Wonderful Remake: Wonderboy!

I’ve been playing lots of great indie games on the Switch since it came out. But nothing has quite impressed me in the way Wonderboy has. Perhaps it’s because I’m a sucker for old school classics, but Wonderboy has, despite being little more than a graphical overhaul for a Sega Master System title of all things, has really won me over due it’s simplistic charm, tight gameplay, and interesting aspects.

It’s amazing to me how such a simple, short game could have so many pleasant secrets, great levels, and overall be such a treat to play. The game expertly balances accessibility (Being easily able to understand where to go and what to do) with rewarding gameplay. Aside from a brief exposition dump at the beginning of the game and at the end, you are completely free to do whatever you like for the entire game.

There is not much to do, mind you, besides go on an adventure. But the lack of guidance on how to proceed was strangely refreshing to me. Initially, I assumed I was cursed and that returning to my human form would be the priority. As it turns out, that is not the case. Instead you go from one transformation to another, each with their own unique abilities.

Unlike Shantae, you can not switch between the characters at will. And at first, I thought you couldn’t switch at all. What seems like it would be an odd limitation seems like a brilliant move. Unlike Shantae, where it’s super easy to just fly over obstacles and then transform again to solve a puzzle, Wonderboy has a very specific path it wants you to follow. The fun in the game is figuring out that path, and what equipment and secrets you need to have to make it easier on yourself to succeed.

The game never stops feeling rewarding, up until the very end. The final area is quite long, and with no checkpoints. But the journey itself was so rewarding and so addicting I never once felt frustrated or bored as I trained myself to fight the final boss. This game, in spite of it’s age, is very likely a new favorite of mine.

Crash and burned!

I find it amusing how I posted an article a while back talking about upcoming PS4 releases and somehow still completely forgot that the Crash trilogy remaster had come out today. In fact, if it weren’t for an excellent post by Roland of the Pietriots (https://pietriots.com/2017/06/30/crash-bandicoot-was-shit-20-years-ago-and-is-still-shit-today/) and a few 4chan threads gloating about review scores, I would have completely forgotten to notice or care about this release at all.

And there’s a good reason for that. I have played Crash. Recently. For the first time. With very high expectations considering the repute the original trilogy has among Playstation fans as being a top notch trilogy of platformers.

I was baffled by what I got.

Crash, in the simplest terms, would not even be considered a mediocre platforming trilogy if it had launched on Nintendo consoles. It would be singled out as bargain bin trash, the way that Bubsy games are treated today.  I’m confident in saying that if Crash was not a Playstation exclusive, no one would think all that highly of it.

In fact, no one does seem to care about this trilogy anymore. All anyone can say when bringing up the quality of this series revolves around Playstation in some way. “Remember how big Crash was in the nineties?” Well, I don’t. Speaking as someone whose first experience with a Playstation console may have been playing Crash 3 in a Target, there was nothing all that interesting or memorable about the game I played. Besides, of course, how finnicky the jumping is.

And that’s the core of the problem, I think. Crash features more than just bland level design, ugly character models, and not even being a true 3D platformer. Crash Bandicoot is a platforming game with ABYSMAL PLATFORMING.

This cannot be stressed enough, I feel. The core reason so many people consider Crash a difficult game is due to the fact that the jumping is unresponsive and incredibly weird. It’s not snappy, the way a Mario or Donkey Kong Country game would play. I would describe it was more… floaty. In a bad kind of way. It’s very easy to miss very precise jumps because you expect the character to handle like any other platforming character would.

When dissecting what was wrong with this, I compared the title to two great titles that came before and after it. Donkey Kong Country 2 and Super Mario 64. The difference in quality in those games is downright staggering. It’s embarassing how DKC2, a SNES game, looks and sounds much more impressive than the Playstation’s flagship platforming series. Super Mario 64, on the other hand, did something that no one else had ever done before. Create an open 3D environment to run around in.

Roland, in his post, lamented the lack of standards among Crash fans, and I’m inclined to strongly agree. Liking Crash over superior Nintendo platformers is the video game equivalent of turning your nose at Dracula because you’re a die hard Twilight fan. No one who seriously plays platforming games would give Crash a second look. Now that I’ve played the first, I have no desire to ever return to it. It was that poor of an experience for me. Even DKC3, a title that I did not like too much, was far more engaging than that piece of crap.

I think it speaks volumes to the quality of Naughty Dog’s output that, twenty years later, no one is nostalgic for their original breakout hit at all. Not the devs, the fans, and certainly not people like me. Try comparing that to the way that the Donkey Kong Country games are treated online, or Super Mario 64, or perhaps even NES cult classics like DuckTales.

Those games became classics because the fans kept them close to their hearts all these years.  They shared them with friends, discussed them online, returned to them whenever that itch started to really bother them.

No one, NO ONE, feels that way about Crash Bandicoot.