Can you recall the difference between Project Dark, Project Draco and Codename D? Can you tell your Shadows of the Damned from your Rise of Nightmares? We are past Tokyo Game Show 2010, but we are not past the confusion.
I spent last week on holidays, as far from the mother brain of Kotaku as you dear readers. From my distant perch I read the news about the hottest new video games being made in Japan.
As I observed the news from Japan, I had flashbacks to that grand American video game showcase event, E3. My flashbacks weren't to the real E3 2010 I attended in LA in June, but the simplified version of E3 2010 immortalised by Cracked.com with one image:
If two European development studios and two American ones could concoct the three video games above, could we look to other nations for more innovation?
September brought us the Tokyo Game Show and new looks at...
I guess it depends on how widely you distinguish the flavours of dark-but-gaudy monster/god/demon-fighting.
A week after TGS and I'm still struggling to sort it all out. A friend snarked that, as much as Western developers repeatedly re-make shooters, Japanese developers keep re-making Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden.
That's an oversimplification, of course.
This doesn't look like the stylish third-person action of Devil May Cry...
Nor does this...
But, in the same Tokyo Game Show week that we learn that the new Devil May Cry is called DmC, what are we supposed to make of Japanese designer Suda 51 asking us to shorten his Shadow of the Damned not as "SotD but as "DMD"?
Of course, Ninja Gaiden is making a comeback too at TGS. Imitators be wary.
There may be no real problem of cloning, not if you look broadly enough. Look to the Wii or to The Last Guardian and Ni No Kuni (the two games pictured above) and you'll see plenty of games that have the kind of overlap that can leave a viewer not obsessively following these games confused about which game is which.
This is the problem with game expos that avalanche a bunch of games upon us. They blur together?
Were you, like me, stumbling to recall the difference between Project Dark, Project Draco and Codename D? They are nothing alike, once you get past the names: a sequel of sorts to Demon's Souls, a sequel of sorts to Panzer Dragoon and something new from Suda 51.
Anyone can get confused about these things... just jump 39 seconds in here and try to say you wouldn't have made the same mistake:
Thematic overlap of these games is a culprit. The sameness of all those game names doesn't help. Against the relief of all of the above, Steel Battalion, a game ostensibly about an invasion of New York City has a name that stands out, even to those who don't remember the original. And with not a monster in sight, it seems just a shade different.
The criticism that games are so similar to each other is an oversimplification. Not every game from Japan is alike, no more than those from America or Europe are. But as the industry dumps a new batch of games into the public consciousness at each of these big gaming shows, it's easy to see, from the outside, how and why this all blends together.
Did you get tangled up because of all these games as well? Maybe there's wisdom in naming a new Japanese game [duodecim] after all.