The Tokyo Game Show ended a little over a week ago, and some notable announcements were made. Among these were the debut trailers of Asura’s Wrath, developed by Cyber Connect 2 (and published by Capcom, known for its successful Street Fighter series), and Vanquish developed by Platinum (Bayoneta) and guest directed by legendary Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, published by Sega.
What jumped to mind is how the previously mentioned games have striking similarities with U.S. best-selling titles. Asura’s Wrath could be seen as Japan’s response to God of War. And Vanquish plays very much like Gears of War with a slight Halo/Crysis flair to it. That said, I strongly believe that even though those Japanese titles look similar to the U.S. ones, it’s only a surface similarity. I had the chance to play the Vanquish demo, and I can already tell you that not only is it on par with Gears of War as far as gameplay and look and feel, but when you get a little deeper, it’s actually much better. It uses bullet time (like Bayoneta/Viewtiful Joe), adding a hyper-mode where the main character gets on his knees like a rock star and gets propelled at dizzying speed by the jet engines on his back! Yeah pretty cool…
I haven’t played Asura’s Wrath but, from the trailer, I can tell that not only is the narrative loosely similar but the action is just as brutal, if not more, as in God of War. But it distinguishes itself by creating totally over-the-top situations. At 0ne point, one of Asura’s main opponents summons the help of a galactic proportioned Buddha to crush Asura with one finger. But the true innovation, and what makes this title unique, is that the developers put serious effort into making every aspect of the game interactive. Even the “cut scenes” are part of the game play; you’re never allowed to sit down and relax. Players are constantly engaged in the beautiful graphics and required to perform tasks in order to reveal Asura’s story.
I hope these titles sell well in the U.S. and Western markets, and that U.S. developers start paying attention to what makes a game truly engaging. (Believe it or not, the amount of gore or violence doesn’t matter.) What makes them unique is that the player gets a new experience that builds upon the skills of other games they are familiar with and probably have mastered. Challenging engagement is not only gratifying for the player—it should be the developer’s number one goal.