During an interview with CVG, Assassin’s creed 3 lead director Alex Hutchinson had some rather interesting things to say about Japanese games and how they are treated by gaming journalists. Hutchinson believes that games from the land of the rising sun get a free pass while western developed games are scrutinized harshly. With all due respect, I think this man is either doing some seriously strong drugs or is from an alternate, reverse reality. Being a denizen of THIS reality has shown me time and time again that western journalists love nothing more than to rip apart Japanese games while showering western games with praise.
The best example I can think of is the way Japanese role playing games are treated over Western ones. JRPGs are either ignored (Tales of series) or thrown under a meat grinder (Final Fantasy) while wrpgs like Fallout 3 and Skyrim are heralded as the greatest games of all time. Both Fallout 3 and Skyrim are by Bethesda, a company whose collective cock must be red from all the sucking done by journalists. This company releases some of the most bug and glitch filled games ever seen yet they are constantly showered with love. The bugs are seen as endearing. If a Japanese game where to come out with the same amount of bugs as a Bethesda game you’d better believe that journos would be in a feeding frenzy over that. This wouldn’t happen of course since Japanese devs actually bother to play test their games and it’s EXTREMELY RARE to find any bugs in a jrpg or any Japanese game for that matter, but I digress.
Sticking with jrpgs let’s talk about the biggest whipping boy of this generation; Final Fantasy XIII. When the game was released, G4TV.com’s Feedback talked about it and as you can imagine, they crapped all over it. They weren’t the only site or magazine to bash the game but this one episode encapsulated not only all of the vitriol tossed at the game but at most jrpgs in general. The game was criticized because it took too long for the story to start. When a western rpg has hundreds of hours of gameplay where you don’t even touch the main story, it’s praised. FFXIII’s supposed linearity was also critiqued yet Call of duty games do nothing but funnel players through the game and those are the best-selling, highest rated games in the industry are they not? The most ridiculous part was when someone asked if FFXIII was more like a novel or an anime. What kind of question is that? You would never hear the same asked of a western developed rpg. There are many, MANY other examples out there but this one summed up how jrpgs are seen versus western rpgs. Is this preferential treatment? Yes it is, but not for Japanese games.
Japanese devs also get a lot of flak for releasing numerous games in the same franchise. Games like Dynasty warriors, Kingdom Hearts, Resident evil ect. This is interesting because I’m pretty sure that Call of duty, Assassin’s creed and sports games get released every single year. When was the last time that journos ragged on EA for releasing Madden annually? Capcom is releasing another Resident evil game? No, no, we can’t have that, but another COD? Yes please. The hypocrisy is sickening.
While there are some Japanese devs that DO get a pass (Miyamoto, Kojima) the vast majority of them are hung,drawn and quartered by game journalists. I’ll be the first to admit that Japan has its share of problems with game development but it’s clear to anyone that the amount of scrutiny they get far outweighs the scrutiny western developed games get. I don’t know what Alex Hutchinson is smoking but I want some because it must be some really strong stuff to make him honestly believe that Japanese games get a free pass from journalists and that western games don’t.
You can read the full interview with Alex Hutchinson here.