Fez Creator Says People Have Gotten His 'Japanese Games Suck' Comment All Wrong

Phil Fish doesn't want to talk about Japanese games anymore. Like, really. The Fez creator's been smothered by haters after his controversial remarks earlier this week. But he does want to set the record straight on some things.

Fish is sick of the controversy that's dogged him, saying that it's blown up totally out of proportion. "Yes, I acknowledge that I was rude," he admits. When I spoke to the Canadian designer at GDC yesterday, he said that the Q&A where he blurted out his comment was a free-wheeling, loose affair. He said it's not an excuse, but his exclamation was in the spirit of the moment.

"And people have gotten it wrong. I said modern Japanese games suck," Fish clarifies.

"Nobody's mentioned that Jonathan Blow backed me up," Fish adds. Part of the conversation that night went to the differences between the first Legend of Zelda game and more recent ones and, according to Fish, the Braid creator "actually called modern Japanese games joyless husks."

When I asked Fish to expand on his antipathy for modern Japanese titles, one thing cited specifically was how the technology pipelines in Japanese development have been short-sighted and inefficient. "All these companies made separate engines for different games and then when Lost Planet and the first Dead Rising use the same engine, for example, it gets treated like this big revelation." Fish thinks that something's really wrong with that mindset.

He's not the only one, either. While interviewing Keiji Inafune yesterday, the Mega Man creator laughingly shot out the word "sucks" as soon as I mentioned Fish's name. Inafune said that he completely agrees with Fish's comment. "I want to give him a round of applause because it's a very brave action of giving an honest criticism," Inafune said.

I'd spoken to Inafune before running into Fish and, when I told the indie game-maker about the elder designer's comments, he said he appreciated the solidarity. The influence of older Japanese games on Fez is obvious, Fish says, and it hurts to be branded as arrogant and racist by Twitter users and message board commenters enflamed by his remarks. Ultimately, he wants to put all this behind him, he said, and focus on getting his long-brewing game out into the world.


    The majority of Japanese games do suck. Soul Calibur is still fun, and fighting games in general are good. But all the JRPGs and the majority of the action games, are just... bad.

    Mostly crappy engines, generic as hell design and dull, repetitive game design and controls. Or it's taken in the opposite direction and made so twunting difficult, that it's more a chore than a game.

    But then again, that's just my opinion.

    I can't see why everyone was so upset about his comment. It's true.

    In recent memory, Zelda Skyward Sword (joyless husk my ass - I enjoyed it tremendously), Kirby Return to Dreamland, Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, Soul Calibur V, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, El Shaddai, Sonic Generations, Kirby Mass Attack, Marvel vs Capcom 3, Street Fighter X Tekken, Okamiden, Pokemon Black and White, and Asura's Wrath off the top of my head - and there are plenty more on the horizon, such as Kid Icarus Uprising, Ninja Gaiden 3, Pandora's Tower, Gravity Rush, and (eventually...) the Last Guardian. While the Japanese game industry does definitely have a lot of problems and there are a lot of Japanese games that are really, truly awful and continue to use horribly out-dated design, there are still plenty of great ones (as it always has been, Capcom and Nintendo are leading the charge) and so making a generalised comment such as this is short-sighted and all up stupid, in my opinion.

    So just to clarify, Fish is saying the game ENGINES suck because Japanese developers keep reinventing the wheel?

    Mario Galaxy would be the only Japanese games of this generation that was genuinely great and heart the same heart and soul of what makes Japanese games good. Just about every other game is exactly what Fish and Blow said, they suck and are joyless husks.

    I just looked over my collection of over 70 PS3 games and noticed only 4 Japanese games. Bayonetta (which I hate), Yakuza 4 (which is ok) Devil May Cry 4 (Blow's statement incarnate) and Valkyria Chronicals (which is actually good). Then I looked at my PS2 collection and of the 80+ games I still have about 1/3 are Japanese and are fantastic; Katamari, Final Fantasy 12, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus etc etc.

    Of course he said that. He blurted out a dumb-ass comment, humiliated that poor guy who asked the question... and the best he has is 'YEAH BUT JOHN BLOW!'.
    He isn't looking to learn from his mistake, he isn't aware of what specifically it is that many people are pissed off about - not what he said but how he said it - he needs to just stop.

    Bloody hell gamers are the most sensitive bunch of sooky lalas.....GAMERS PLEASE HARDEN THE F**K UP

      This, when you look at how people talk on online games you'd be susprised that they'd get this angry over some guy using the word "sucks"

    I'm inclined to agree somewhat, as more and more Japanese developers seem to be retreating into 'safe' (and often archaic) genres and mechanics, but its also understandable when you look at the beating many of them took on the Dreamcast and GameCube, despite those consoles having some of the most fun and innovative games. The PS2 saw a surge of creativity toward the end of its lifespan, as its massive install base reduced the risk of trying something new. But now, with the smaller install base and significantly higher development costs of the PS3, fewer and fewer are willing to take any kind of risks anymore, and have returned to what succeeded in the past.

    The Japanese development community also seems to be very secretive and insular - not just 'reinventing the wheel' in terms of engine technologies, but even in gameplay mechanics - often (seemingly) ignoring improvements made by other games in the same genre (especially western games).

    Hopefully in the near future we'll either see a huge leap in system sales, or a large number of Japanese devs going indie, and start to see a return to form.

    This whole thing makes me want to ask if this just a case of the West using their own yardstick to measure the East? I'm pretty sure that there are Japanese people that feel the same way about our games. Heck, I know I am of the opinion that a lot of modern games from *both* sides suck, just as there are a lot of games that are quite good. There are always going to be issues with games intended for one culture coming to another, so maybe this is one of those points where the markets have become too divergent. Plus, we only ever see an incredibly small subset of Japanese games, so who knows if we're missing out on fantastic games because they're not coming to our shores.

    im sure FISHY MAN is just Racists he could have been more polite.

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