Kojima: Western Devs "Have Surpassed Us"

Illustration for article titled Kojima: Western Devs "Have Surpassed Us"

Once was a day that if you were playing a top-shelf console game - one that really pushed at the boundaries of the medium - it was probably made in Japan. These days, though? Hey, it still happens, especially if that game's made by Nintendo or Capcom, but for the most part - at least for the Western market - homegrown games have begun to outpace Japanese ones, especially on the technical side of things. It's a point I agree with, but I didn't make it. Hideo Kojima did:

Unfortunately, overseas game production companies, which are well-funded and extremely skilled, have surpassed us by a couple of steps...It was once said that Japan molded the world's video game [industry], but that's becoming a thing of the past. Sad as it may be, it's the truth.


Don't be so glum, Hideo! Sure, many of Japan's devs seem to be falling behind on things like graphics tech, but all the funds in the world can't buy you good ideas.

Metal Gear Solid 4 golden [GameSpot]


Nightshift Nurse

In certain respects what Hideo says is true, but before this turns into another Western development circle-jerk let's not forget a couple of things:

1) There are still several areas where Western developers seem woefully under-skilled. Front-end aesthetics such as title and menu screens are typically static, ugly and in certain cases non-existant.

Smooth transitions to and from cutscenes still seem to be a problem. I can think of several big-budget Western titles where the jumps to or from a cinematic are a bit glitchy or jumpy.

Character designs are arguably more generic/faceless - omni-ethnic (space) marine anyone? - and "fantasy" automatically means an unwavering adherence to two things: D&D and Tolkien.

Lighting still seems to be something that the Japanese have a better handle on (not to say there aren't a couple of noteworthy examples from Western devs).

Western developers just don't get fighting games, period.

2) Few of the big guns have left Japan yet. The only technical powerhouse franchises we've actually received this gen are Dead or Alive, Ninja Gaiden, Devil May Cry, Virtua Fighter, Ace Combat, and Gran Turismo (sort of). Though a few are coming very soon, to date we've yet to receive Metal Gear Solid, Tekken, Soul Calibur, Final Fantasy, a complete Gran Turismo, Kingdom Hearts, Street Fighter, the new Team Ico project, or Resident Evil.

Bottom line is the Japanese entered tis gen kicking and screaming, they simly weren't ready to move on from the PlayStation 2. This, I believe, is what really gave Western development houses the opportunity to become the trendsetters. Give it another year or three and I think you'll see things have pretty much evened out once again. It's not that I'm unhappy to see Japanese and Western houses share the spotlight, I just shudder at being treated to the likes of Lost Planet style pandering to Western tastes. Too many gamers have gotten far too wrapped up in shitting all over anything and everything that comes out of Japan (past, present, and future). I hope for everyone's sake that Capcom, Namco, Square, and the other powers that be get their asses in gear...because I think we could all use a reminder of exactly why Japanese developers traditionally set the bar on home consoles. I might go so far as to say that Western devs have only surpassed the Japanese on the technical side of things, but that design-wise they still trail far behind their Eastern counterparts. But then that's what one should expect as Western-made console games become increasingly PC-like, technical monsters that frequently surround stale ideas and stilted gameplay.