Mighty Number Fail – Indie vs AAA (3)

Although there are innumerable times where AAA has defeated indie games in the rat race, there was one particular time where the failure was so great, it caught the eye of countless among the gaming community. Any retro gamer will tell you about Mega Man, released in 1987, and a great majority will tell you which one is their favorite, whether it be part of the original series of games or part of the Mega Man X series. Both parts of the franchise were legendary among gamers.


Mega Man 2 is very popularly known as the favorite among the original series, while the first Mega Man X is held as the king of the second. Whatever side of the franchise they stand on, both factions will tell you that they were wholly disappointed by the crowd-funded passion project known as Mighty No. 9. Keiji Inafune had worked on the original Mega Man, and since Capcom hadn’t released a new Mega Man for several years (due to extreme franchise fatigue), he decided to take it upon himself to create what he called a spiritual successor.

The game was fully funded within just a couple of days and, by the end, it had reached around three million dollars, several times more than it was expected to reach. This is where a great deal of mystery enters into the fray. Despite infinitely more money than they could have ever needed, the scene became quite bleak. Though fans were still on the hype train with beautiful gameplay still frames, promising Kickstarter prizes and a game mirroring the greatness of the blue bot himself, they curbed their doubts. However, for reasons unknown, the game was met with numerous delays. Many questioned how they could be losing so much time with all of the budget they could ever want and plenty of time between the start of its production to its intended release. Still! They thundered ahead and readied themselves for the release!


The fans were stomped with absolute disappointment. The graphics were not nearly as good as they initially looked in the original press release, the gameplay had very questionable extra, unneeded content, the voice acting rivalled Mega Man 8 for how terrible and stilted it was, and the story intermixed with constant interrupting character dialog was so very frustrating when you were trying to concentrate on playing the game!

Questions began flying at Inafune at a horribly extensive rate! His gross mismanagement of the game’s content and quality was called into question multiple times and their reaction to these questions boiled down to “At least you got a game.” Needless to say, contributors to the funding were not happy, and those old-school Mega Man fans were less than impressed with the game’s content. Mighty Number 9 reached the status as one of the Worst Games of 2016 across the internet.

Now, let’s be honest. It really was not a terrible game when you stand back and look at the forest for the trees. It worked, it was challenging, and the level design wasn’t terrible. Sure, some of the bosses were cheap and cringe-inducing in their tactics and while the story is abysmal, it still served its purpose for the most part. The reason the game failed in a massive cloud of hatred was because it tried to build itself as a return of a beloved franchise in the form of a fan requested game. It had all of the makings of a great game, but for one reason or another completely missed the mark.


AAA titles have had their failures in the past, and many of them failed harder than Mega Man’s would-be successor. This should serve as a lesson on par with Icarus and the burned wings, but let’s face it, if they can build you up to their hype, development companies are going to do it. Inafune could have won big with this title but failed to pull it off in the end.


However, once again, at least we have our silver lining. Evidently, Capcom caught onto Mighty Number 9’s Kickstarter success and decided that they would release their own game and do it properly this time. Mega Man 11 is set to release later in the year 2018 and it already looks smooth! Inafune may have spent multiple millions of dollars on failure, but at least his failure managed to cause another AAA win.


Wait, what am I saying?

The Sonic Spectrum – Indie vs AAA (2)


To be frank, Sonic has had it pretty rough in the past decade or so. Ever since his massive success on the Sega Genesis in three massively beloved titles, he has been the victim of some very bad luck. While many would attest that it all began with Sonic the Hedgehog on the Xbox 360 (commonly referred to as Sonic ‘06), it actually started further back than that. Sonic ‘06 is just when it really became noticeable. Going back and forth in quality from the decent success of Sonic Generations to the abysmal failure of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, the Sega Mascot has had a dual failure/success rate of gigantic proportions.

One clear example of this is the very recent fanmade super game headed by Christian Whitehead, Sonic Mania. One could say that Sonic Mania is the most success the little blue hedgehog has seen in literally over a decade. That’s not to say there aren’t good recent Sonic games by major developers, but Sonic Mania has seen success that is unparalleled by the likes of Sonic’s most recent game, Sonic Forces. Talk about a quality difference of day and night, Sonic Mania has enjoyed the highest ratings, even by some of the most sceptical gaming reviewers, while Sonic Forces has been left in it’s super speeding dust.


Even with the dream game mechanic of original character creation, Sonic Forces had very little else to offer. With poor level design, questionable controls, and the fact that you play as Sonic through most of the game anyway, onlookers were scratching their heads asking “Why create a character in the first place??” Sonic Mania blew all of it out of the water and turned that nostalgia dial to eleven. We were gifted with familiar gameplay and level design with a nice little twist here and there to brighten it up for the new generation of gamers, while leaving plenty for older gamers to ogle. Even the seemingly outdated graphics are updated and beautiful in a way that does not impede on the old-style 16-bit look.

The overall outlook is starting to become pretty clear on what Sonic games should have been doing the entire time. There have been successful titles that go outside the fast-running platforming of his original games, but those have been so few and far in between. Now we have two that are mapped out and marketed very near one another for a comparison that paints a very clear picture. Sonic fans are now hoping and praying that Nintendo takes some serious notes of this outcome because it’s clear that even true blue Sonic fans are getting fed up with the treatment that he has been getting as of late.


It was a one-hit knockout. This contrast really goes to show you that innovation and imagination can create some serious greatness compared to just throwing money at a problem in hopes that it improves. AAA Gaming has been under some serious fire for lack of ideas in the ways of Sonic franchise fatigue, cash grab titles, and using nostalgia as a way to lure old school gamers into spending their money for games that have little to no effort put into them. This fan game may have been distributed by Sega, but let’s face it, it’s an indie game through and through. Now Sonic fans are hoping that the Sonic Team can learn from this experience, but at the same time, given his very questionable past treatment, there is really no telling what they have in store for our blue radical dude. All we can really do is stay tuned and drink water.

Check out part one of this series, here! In part one, we introduce the series as well as take a look at a horror concept that both Indie and AAA developers had no clue how to implement.

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Through Silent Hills on Allison Road – Indie vs AAA (1)

The argument between the two forms of game development has been going on for quite some time. While it is true that there are pros and cons to both small house indie development teams and big name AAA companies, there has been a noticeable trend of the games they have been producing. Though it is quite often that the big name developers have stomped the indie game competition, the opposite has also been very true. Then there are times when both types of game developers have dropped the ball for one reason or another.


A very infamous example of when both types of developers failed to produce a single promised product was the game demo simply known as P.T. (or Playable Teaser). Konami was in the works for the new project of the franchise Silent Hill, titled Silent Hills. The hype train was so huge for this game that many were already calling it the ultimate in survival horror without even knowing the actual core game mechanics. However, the P.T. was so innovative and so amazingly detailed in its tone, atmosphere, storytelling and graphics that no one could possibly blame them. It was a horror experience that did not rely on jump scares to creep a player out. Both Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro were matched up to produce this game themselves, and what they were planning was seemingly made of pure awesome sauce.

However, as many of you know, what the fans got was a big goose egg. Without warning or explanation, Silent Hills was cancelled and the fans were not happy in the least. Another party that was not happy about this was their shareholders, as Konami’s stocks plummeted as a result. Soon after, Hideo Kojima was fired from Konami… more or less sealing themselves to a fate of their own making. While they did survive the backlash from that decision, it was not a fun day for anyone.


But alas! A ray of hope came about gamers in the form of a group called Team17 and their upcoming project, Allison Road. Gamers were treated to a brand new spectacle of survival horror very similar to P.T., in fact so similar to P.T. it was very quickly called the spiritual successor to the non-game Silent Hills. For an indie game, the preview looked amazing, creepy, and surprisingly well detailed. Beyond anything, Allison Road gave Silent Hill fans some solace from the heartbreak of Konami’s screw-up. After scaring the pants off of onlookers and showing us that we may still get a swell consolation prize, once again, fans were completely shot down by disappointment. Team17 cancelled production of Allison Road. Once again, fans’ faces hit the dirt with an audible THWACK.

Now there is something of a happy ending to that tale, as the project Allison Road was picked back up soon after its cancellation by another group called Far From Home. However, with very little to no updates on the production’s progress as of January 2018, it is clear that we will not be seeing Allison Road anytime soon.

The good news, though, is that after two complete failures by both an AAA Gaming Company and Indie Game group, a third and successful attempt was already in the works. The P.T. style of survival horror was noticed by yet another AAA Gaming company. Capcom took notice of P.T.’s success, and since Konami pulled the plug on their game, they decided to pick up the slack and produce one of the best games of 2017, Resident Evil 7.


So, in the end, yes, it was an AAA Gaming company that saved fans from a completely dismal experience, but what a bumpy ride! You would think that such a focused concept would have been handled a little better, especially with such an enormous fan feedback. It got to the point where people started to suspect the whole concept was cursed; doomed to failure before its own inception. While the whole story is still fraught with unanswered questions, in the end, we got a game of the year out of the deal and the Resident Evil series has had a soft reboot to a seemingly much brighter style of gameplay. Let’s hope they can keep the ball rolling.

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