PS3 News: It's Okay, Hutchinson, Just Admit You Made A Little Mistake - PS3 News

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It's Okay, Hutchinson, Just Admit You Made A Little Mistake

Really, we won't crucify you for what you said. Doing so would sort of prove your point, anyway, wouldn't it?

But you have to admit, you made an itsy-bitsy mistake there. We'll call it "itsy-bitsy" for the sake of remaining rational and objective; this isn't about a personal attack or a knee-jerk reaction due to personal opinion. This is just about observing another observation, and calling it into question. Nothing more. So let's all remain quite civil.

Now, the only way I see how the media can play favorites is through review scores. Editorials and op-eds are merely fan rants most of the time, and they rarely impact sales or even the general consensus concerning the quality of a game. Opinion pieces can get some negative juices flowing but they have to reach a fever pitch for them to reach the developers and publishers. No, we can only quantitatively assess any bias with the average review scores, as I see it...and as anyone can see, at Metacritic or GameRankings, Japanese games are most certainly not getting the benefit of the doubt. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The lone exception here might involve first-party Nintendo games, which somehow and beyond my comprehension just automatically receive nothing less than a 9 anywhere, and with little rationale to back up the score. But that's a very small part of the Japanese industry; the other part involves all the third-party games that come to all consoles. And last I checked, very few of those score exceedingly well. The mention of Bayonetta is interesting, because it did score very well, but not a single critic ever said it had a great narrative. So I'm not really sure why Hutchinson used that as an example of the media ignoring flaws in a game just because it's Japanese. That's just plain...bizarre.

If anything, Alex, the media, and especially critics, have held most Japanese productions to a higher standard and thus has resulted in lower scores and general disappointment all around. Or have you not noticed Final Fantasy this generation? Leaving the customary 9+ scores and adoring fans behind and replacing it with 7s and 8s and legions of fans who feel downright betrayed...? There is not a single Western-developed title or franchise that has received a fraction of the flak Final Fantasy has received this generation. And many are none too pleased with the direction Resident Evil has taken, either.

At the same time, I can't find anybody who doesn't sing the praises of the best Western-developed titles, like Uncharted, God of War, Gears of War, and of course, Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed. They are generally the highest-scoring, best-received, most popular, most beloved games out there. And oh, let's not forget that the single biggest name in video games today is Call of Duty, which has millions of gamers giving it a "free pass" on a whole lot. Japanese game makers haven't enjoyed a "free pass" in any sense of the term - unless your name is Nintendo between the years 2007 and 2010 - this entire generation, as far as I can see.

Perhaps what Hutchinson is referring to is nothing more than nostalgia, in that a great many journalists (myself included) have professed a desire to bring back some old gameplay mechanics that we've lost. But we're not stupid, Alex. We know the programmers wrote the dialogue for the old FFs back in the 16-bit days. We know the writing and voice acting even today is sub-par when compared to the more professional approaches seen in Western productions. We do know this. And because we know it, there's no chance in hell we're giving those devs who continually disappoint us a free pass. If anything, we just grow more and more bitter because they're not performing and not keeping up.

Lastly, in regards to story, I have to say- Although the storylines weren't as deep, the character portrayals and developments in older games, especially JRPGs, remains unparalleled. You can attack the narrative in FFVII all you wish; nobody is ever going to forget Cloud. But you know what? Alex said the narrative in Gears of War was pretty good (which it isn't, but whatever), and I'll give you every cent I have if the majority of gamers remember Marcus Fenix in 20 years with that same aura of respect and awe.

Tags: ubisoft, alex hutchinson, assassins creed, japanese games, gaming journalists

8/17/2012 11:42:32 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (29 posts)

Vivi_Gamer
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 12:19:16 PM
Reply

Well I'm not a Mass Effect fan, so I am not going to hound on at him or the company - But in all seriousness he is welcome to that opinion, but it is not one which many JRPG fans like myself will appreciate.

As for Gears of War, I have never understood why people give it acclaim for its story/script. If anything I just remember bulky men in mecha, which I've never cared for. Uncharted, which is similar in gameplay (and far more fluid in my opinion) has some really great characters and moments in the game series which can be very emotional for an action game, I never felt that with GoW.

I have no problem with Assassins Creed, I remember quite liking the 2nd game, but I have yet to play the ones after, It's just something I need to gain interest in again and continue. But even so while the story was interesting, I can't say there were many memorable moments from the 2 titles that I played storywise.

Oh and that sulking cat photo (I'm pretty sure it's a cat...) never fails to amuse me :P

Last edited by Vivi_Gamer on 8/17/2012 12:20:29 PM

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homura
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 12:42:43 PM

That angry wet cat maybe planning for revenge. Haha..

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 12:54:07 PM

It's good you won't get on his case about Mass Effect, Ubisoft didn't do that one :)

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Vivi_Gamer
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 1:09:57 PM

Of course :P I only mention them due to forming the worst backlash from fans in gaming history and still feel they should be presented as an embarrassment to the gaming community at any time possible. - Lets not get side tracked though o.0

Last edited by Vivi_Gamer on 8/17/2012 1:10:12 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 1:20:01 PM

I see, sort of.

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homura
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 12:36:05 PM
Reply

Nice! hehe.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 12:54:59 PM
Reply

Kitty got wet indeed. There is no basis for his claims.

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Highlander
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 1:29:42 PM
Reply

::Applause::

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telly
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 2:52:10 PM
Reply

Discussing the perceptions of eastern vs. western game narratives is a really interesting subject. But I seriously can't think of a single Japanese game this generation that has received praise for it's narrative (or much else, frankly.)

I wonder if he was trying to say that even celebrated western games take a lot of flak when there are problems with their narratives -- Gears of War for example, or Uncharted in some circles, etc. -- while it can seem like crazy, nonsensical narratives in Japanese games don't get as much attention because we're used to them. I suspect we hear people talk about the problems with the narrative in a game like Uncharted or Gears because the games clearly strive for American cinema-inspired stories, characters, genres, etc. While Japanese games maybe still shy away from cinema-style storytelling and gravitate towards more experimental/eastern-style storytelling. Maybe that makes those games' stories less likely to draw the ire of critics?

Again, just speculation on my part that that's what Hutchinson was driving at. Bottom line, his comments didn't make a whole lot of sense.

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xenris
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 3:20:17 PM
Reply

Good article.

Last edited by xenris on 8/17/2012 3:25:33 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 3:22:45 PM

http://www.psxextreme.com/ps3-news/11744.html

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 8/17/2012 3:22:54 PM

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xenris
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 3:26:40 PM

Your quick World >.< I meant to edit my post saying I saw the link at woven into the article but you were too quick.

I think he was definitely off base.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 3:26:30 PM
Reply

This is what happens when you marinade in scripts not put together by professional fiction writers.

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frostface
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 8:08:21 PM
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I agree with this guy.

People are too focused on the words and lose sense of the meaning imo.

Even some Japanese developers will probably agree with this guy. There's so much focus on the fact that he plucked Gears and Bayonetta out of the air as comparisons that his real meaning is lost. Forget that he even mentioned Gears or Bayonetta. Trying to micro analyse why he mentioned these two games is to lose sight that the guy actually has a very valid point.

It's not new news that the Japanese have been dragging their heals in making an effort to turn out the quality that the western developers have been putting in as of late. Sure there's a huge market for that Japanese flair in gaming that's almost become a niche market but that doesn't automatically ensure that everything coming out of Japan smells of roses.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 8:19:36 PM

You're really not getting it. I said in the article we all acknowledge the lagging on the Japanese side.

It's the part where he says there's a media bias towards Japanese products where he's dead flat wrong, and everybody who follows this industry even in the slightest knows he's dead flat wrong. It's precisely the opposite.

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frostface
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 9:21:52 PM
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Then I guess I'm not getting it because I still believe this guy is right. Maybe he could of worded things better than to use the word 'racist' but I still believe fundamentally he's not too far off the mark.

I also get that other people (reviewers too) also know his meaning and in some small part may also agree with him. I don't believe that reviewers are just tip toeing around his opinion just because they don't want to prove him right.

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Rogueagent01
Saturday, August 18, 2012 @ 3:32:58 AM

I have to ask then, what japanese games have recieved high praise from critics that did not deserve them? Other then what Ben said about Nintendo which I have seen and agreed with for the last decade.

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Beamboom
Saturday, August 18, 2012 @ 5:26:22 AM

Rogue: Final Fantasy 13. Although I think it floated more on the legacy of the franchise than it being Japanese in itself.

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Highlander
Saturday, August 18, 2012 @ 6:27:00 AM

Really beamboom? I thought FFXIII was pretty well castigated in the press as a series of kill-tubes and what not. It was not heavily praised for much except the polish and production values. I'd also have to say that one game out of hundreds it not a representative sample. The majority of Japanese titles this generation have been unfairly criticized.

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Beamboom
Saturday, August 18, 2012 @ 7:01:27 AM

FF13 has a meta rating of 85% and in my eyes that makes it one of the most overrated games this gen.
Although, again, I don't think it was cause it was Japanese, the free pass were more likely handed out because it had the FF label on it.

Like I mention further down here, generally speaking I don't see Japanese games being treated that much different than other games. There are variations of score and review qualities, sure, but not more so than with western games.
I'm simply boringly neutral in this topic. :)

Are there any Japanese games for PS3 you would say should have received praise for its story qualities but failed to do so?

Last edited by Beamboom on 8/18/2012 7:30:09 AM

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ddsfan2
Saturday, August 18, 2012 @ 1:13:22 PM

Beamboom, there were a lot of well written Japanese games this generation, although the Yakuza games were not well praised for the most part. I personally found their stories to be very entertaining and mostly well written, with very engaging characters. Perhaps some would disagree.

There are a number of other Japanese games with strong storytelling this generation, (Catherine, Nier, El Shaddai, Trails in the Sky, 428, Imabikisou, Steins;Gate, Infinite Space and a number of others) but most of those games that I can think of were praised by critics, although nowhere near the extent of praise for Mass Effect, Heavy Rain, or Uncharted 2/3. I should note that I'm a huge fan of basically all the games that I noted from East and West.

I'm not a huge fan of Final Fantasy XIII, (its gameplay is definitely stronger than its story though) but I don't see how it is getting special treatment that other overhyped blockbusters aren't already getting.


Last edited by ddsfan2 on 8/18/2012 1:17:12 PM

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Mr_Sterg
Saturday, August 18, 2012 @ 8:25:06 PM

I agree with you. Pisses me off when ex: Super Mario galaxy gets 7/10 on story because seriously its the same crappy story every Mario game. It should get 1/10. Yes the gameplay and the lvl design etc. is worthy of its 10/10 score but cmn the story is not a 7/10 (gametrailers). And best part when they do the avg./final score the game gets a 10/10. Beats me.

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Rogueagent01
Sunday, August 19, 2012 @ 3:15:51 PM

@ddsfan2, I am so with you on the Yakuza games. They have really good stories as well as solid gameplay but because their graphics aren't BF3s they get little respect from critics. Nier was also a really good story that should have got more recognition.

@Mr_Sterg I agree with that as well, however I would say that I am biased in my assesment as I don't like platformers and I hate Mario. Some critics over the years have picked on certain franchise(FFs) for making too many games, yet they never pick on the Mario character which has been in over 200 games, talk about milking a cow to death. I wish Nintendo would just stop using Mario, but of course they never will since people will continue to buy the games.

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Rogueagent01
Saturday, August 18, 2012 @ 3:41:09 AM
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This is just another example of Ubi loosing sight on what gaming is. And you know what I was going to buy Far Cry 3 but now after this and the last few interviews from Jade I might just have to boycott this company for awhile. They are really starting to get on my nerves, and I hope that they just realize that talking to the media may not be in their best interest for awhile.

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Beamboom
Saturday, August 18, 2012 @ 5:35:19 AM
Reply

Personally I find myself in the middle here.

On one hand I don't see this alleged bias *against* Japanese productions, on the other hand I don't see them getting a free pass either, not metascoringly speaking (dang that was a cool word!).

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, August 18, 2012 @ 3:13:22 PM

You don't see it because you've never really been part of the JRPG crowd.

Fans of that genre have watched anything not named Final Fantasy get underscored since the original PS days. For instance, most hardcore RPG fans will tell you that Suikoden is one of their favorite games of all time...it got a 6.5 at GameSpot, and even worse in other places. For a game that relied so heavily on a GREAT narrative, Hutchinson's claims that we give Japanese games the benefit of the doubt when it comes to story...yeah, obviously not true. Look at Legend of Mana or Vandal Hearts as well.

That trend hasn't really changed in later years. The White Knight games this generation are good examples, as are a couple of the Atelier installments. Furthermore, even Japanese games that aren't RPGs absolutely get slammed by critics this generation. And rightfully so many times. But there's certainly no evidence of a bias TOWARDS Japanese games, as Hutchinson claimed.

That's utterly preposterous.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 8/18/2012 3:14:05 PM

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Beamboom
Saturday, August 18, 2012 @ 3:58:23 PM

I don't think his comments should be read as aimed particularly at Japanese RPGs, but rather Japanese games in general.

Ergo he also talk about games like Metal Gear Solid, Yakuza, Binary Domain, Katamari, Lollipop Chainsaw, Resident Evil, Vanquish, Bayonetta, Dead Or Alive, Catherine and so on.

Jrpgs are, as we know, just a tiny slice of the total amounts of Japanese games being released and I really don't think he had any particular genre in mind here.


Last edited by Beamboom on 8/18/2012 4:09:39 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, August 18, 2012 @ 7:49:40 PM

I'm aware of that. But it still doesn't work. I don't see how the narrative in any of those games, if it was seriously lacking, got a "free pass" from the critics. I certainly never did. I'm one of the first to stand up and say the writing, acting and general storytelling for most Japanese games this generation has been inferior to Western productions. And I'm hardly the only journalist to say that.

So as I said, there's just no evidence of some pro-Japanese bias. None. Unless he's also saying games like Yakuza, Vanquish, Bayonetta, Catherine, etc. didn't deserve the scores they got for other reasons. And if he is...he's wrong there, too. ;)

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Beamboom
Sunday, August 19, 2012 @ 1:21:12 AM

I agree that there generally speaking is little pro-Japanese bias. I haven't seen that either. Hence my neutral stance on the matter.

And while I can accept (for the lack of a better personal insight) that there may be some anti-Japanese bias to be found towards the jrpg genre I also suspect that is also the genre where you find the most pro-japanese bias.
There simply seem to be a lot of emotions surrounding this genre. That much I have observed. :)


Last edited by Beamboom on 8/19/2012 1:29:32 AM

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