Assassin’s Creed 3 Director Says Japanese Games Get A Free Pass

Assassin’s Creed 3 Director Says Japanese Games Get A Free Pass

Alex Hutchinson, the creative director of Assassin’s Creed 3, thinks he knows why Nintendo can get away with releasing new versions of old franchises. It might not be the answer you expect.

After Hutchinson compared AC to other well known franchises, Mario and Resident Evil, website CVG asked the creative director why Nintendo can release a new version of its franchises every year and nobody says anything. Here’s what Hutchinson said:

You want my real answer? I think there’s a subtle racism in the business, especially on the journalists’ side, where Japanese developers are forgiven for doing what they do. I think it’s condescending to do this.

After CVG asked him if he was being serious, the developer continued:

Yeah. Just think about how many Japanese games are released where their stories are literally gibberish. Literally gibberish. There’s no way you could write it with a straight face and the journalists say, “Oh it is brilliant”.

Then Gears of War comes out and apparently it’s the worst written narrative in a game ever. I’ll take Gears of War over Bayonetta any time.

It’s patronising to say, “Oh those Japanese stories, they don’t really mean what they’re doing”.

For the past several years haven’t people been bashing Japanese games? And if they are not doing that, they’ve been saying that the Japanese game industry’s dominance is finished and that Western games — games like Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect — are better, no? Also, wasn’t it a Dead Space developer who called Gears of War “literally the worst writing in games”? What am I missing?

Interview: The next Patrice Desilets [CVG via GamesIndustry]


  • I think Japanese games get their fair share of criticism, except for Mario titles, which deserve harsher reviews when they barely iterate on mechanics and have virtually nothing new in terms of visuals or narrative or characterisation. Those’re barely even videogames: more like puzzle-toys; cf. Assassin’s Creed, which has immense production values and at least does interesting things with the narrative structure.

    • but puzzle toys are exactly what people want in terms of Mario games. Something that is fun and enjoyable to do and doesn’t require too much thinking over the story.

  • You’re missing the millions in sales the Japanese games get 😉
    and maybe the jealousy of some of the american devs.

    • I think you’re missing the point of the article… that’s exactly his point. The millions of sales those games get, yet the little critique they get compared to the american/european devs.

  • Alex Hutchinson just doesn’t understand. Japanese games are more often or not aiming to follow a story book narrative style. Western games often go for Hollywood style blockbusters with stories aiming for a different kind of realism to the your average story book.

    There are exceptions for both East and West but I find it hard to believe he can’t see the obvious difference in the vast majority of both sides which isn’t due to poorly written stories.

    It’s like comparing a novel to some comics or manga. There are a different set of rules and you would never expect either to live up to each others standards. There is no universal set of rules for writing stories.

    This is all in general though and it defiantly isn’t the case with all games. But to given another example think of your A-typical JRPG adventurers go off on an urgent quest to save the world. Along the way they stop off to go on a complete tangent and start helping Village people with, I dunno there laundry. It may seem nonsensical but that’s ok. The type of story allows for it like a kids story book may. However when you aim for an enthralling serious story aiming towards a high budget Hollywood story. When the main party stop off to help villagers to laundry or something unnecessary it doesn’t work. The problem with so many Western games is that they are to serious and often can’t allow for the bizarre but fun tangents among other things that Japanese games do.

  • Perhaps Westerns games wouldn’t be judged so harshly if it didn’t look as if every single asset was made by a single person working on overtime.

    Aside from slight differences, most look very, very similar.

    • But that wasn’t his point, and if it was then it didn’t back up his contention in any way. His point was that people praised Jap games while knocking Western games like Gears. But… no one did praise Bayonetta’s story for being a solidly produced narrative, they praised it for its tight combat, the closest praise was directed in the vicinity of narrative was perhaps to credit the spectacle of the whole thing, practically every review, critc or user based happily conceded the utter nonsense of the narrative.

      Personally I find his comment about straight faces ironic and slightly hypocritical, I’ve read a summary of the assasin’s creed saga, and I gave involuntary laughs more than once.

      PS: A better comparison would have been Vanquish, being that it actually shares SOME similarity with Gears, but again, no one praised the narrative of Vanquish, in fact the complete opposite.

    • Mmm. Bayonetta made 0 sense. But the gameplay and the style was what hooked me, not the story.

      I got an Xbox recently and I’m playing through Gears 1 now, and the story is pretty garbage too. Biggest difference between it and Bayonetta is characters. Bayonetta had characters in it, Gears just has random macho head. Bayonetta also has a bunch of original ideas and a cool take on the heaven/hell thing, but Gears is just a semi-post apocalyptic shooter. Everything it did plot wise Half Life 2 did 50x better years before.

  • What sillyness is this?. Firstly look at the context of the game, Bayonetta was purposely tongue in cheek, it knew it was silly, and made fun of it. Whereas Gears of War tried to be serious but failed with it’s he-men characters with 12 year old brains.

    Reviewers knew about that, which is why they don’t focus on story in Bayonetta, but on the gameplay which I think was one of the best. I’m not saying Gears was bad, but it was hard to take it seriously

  • Creative Director of one of the least creative video games I’ve had the horror of playing, just gonna file this under ‘don’t commit to long term memory.’

  • You know I never once considered “innovation” and “doing something new” to be a prerequisite to being a worthwhile experience. As far as I’m concerned if the likes of Nintendo are going to rehash games then I’m happy with it: because they’re still going to be good games!

    And this guys snubs Bayonetta, which is something I just cannot accept. The ‘nonsense’ in that game is what made it so refreshing.

  • “Just think about how many Japanese games are released where their stories are literally gibberish. Literally gibberish” – this from the franchise about genetic memory -_-

    • Whoosh, went right over your head.
      There’s a difference between a story making no sense and a story being based on unique concept.

  • Yep, I’d agree – the story in the average Japanese game is total garbage, but people give it a free pass because it’s “stylized”. Generally games like Lost Planet and Devil May Cry are very pretty, but the dialogue and narratives are stilted, formulaic, and just plain retarded.

    In a Japanese game there is ALWAYS a boss you fight, defeat, and then instead of finishing him off, you inexplicably stand motionless and have a conversation with him before he escapes. There is ALWAYS an annoying little girl who talks in a high-pitched voice. There is ALWAYS a bumbling “comic relief” character who acts as a sidekick.

    Don’t jump in and point out individual games where these cliches don’t appear, because you’ll only be proving my point about the overwhelming majority.

    • So you’re saying then that Japanese games all adhere to cliché, but in comparison to what? Western Games? In which case pull the other one, as there’s more than enough cliché and formulaic storytelling in the west.

    • You don’t watch many Hollywood movies do you? Or watch very many Western cartoon series (How many times did Dr Claw get away?) Or play any Western developed games? They aren’t cliches, they’re tropes and there’s a whole site dedicated to them. (

    • do you know why the little girl talks in an annoying high pitched voice? Because the WESTERN voice casting person did that. A lot of them actually have pretty normal voices in the original Japanese. Comic relief characters exist in pretty much all Western games that have any semblance of a story, it’s not something unique to the Japanese, neither is the boss you talk to after beating them up who then escapes. If you’re ignorant and uninformed, don’t try to act knowledgeable.

  • What franchises is he referring to specifically for releasing each year? Mario is rarely released on a yearly basis on the same console. There have been 7 mario games in the last 10 years on different systems. Not to mention there are some significant differences amongst these games (galaxy is fairly different to New Super Mario Bros).

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