East is east
It wasn’t so long ago that the Japanese game industry’s survival was being pinned on its willingness to absorb the ideas of western developers. There’s still clear evidence of those leanings today, as seen in two of this month’s Hype entries. Dragon Quest Builders (p56) was revealed to a barely contained sense of disbelief – the fact that Square Enix has joined the wave of Infiniminer- and Minecraft- inspired block-building games is almost as surprising as the fact that it chose the Dragon Quest series as the platform on which to do it. In truth, Square Enix has crafted something with its own clearly delineated ideas on player creation, but the inspiration is clear.
And Umbrella Corps (p58), though inspired by a love of bruise-inducing Airsoft sessions, looks to Rainbow Six and Counter-Strike to administer a shot in the Resident Evil juggernaut’s increasing number of arms. In it, methodical, cover-based teamplay within chokepoint-riddled environments clatters into swarms of the undead and, inevitably, the opposing team’s bullets.
But there are just as many Japanese developers doubling down on their region’s distinctive characteristics. Not least FromSoftware, which among other projects is working on a new chapter for the notexactly-unpopular Bloodborne. The Old Hunters (p54) is a return trip that promises an even sterner dressing-down for cavalier players. Then there’s Xenoblade Chronicles X (p46), which offers up big swords, even bigger mechs, and a population of colossal indigenous monsters.
Whichever approach a studio chooses, it’s clear that Japan’s game industry is still alive and kicking – and our report from this year’s Tokyo Game Show (p80) further underscores that fact. But it’s telling that for all the fearmongering that accompanied grim predictions of an industry in decline, and the insistence that western development ideas were Japan’s only saviour, this issue’s most exciting Japanese prospects, The Old Hunters and
Xenoblade Chronicles X, choose to eschew them.