Thursday, September 8, 2011

The End of Hack and Slash Warfare in the West?

These are just a few games not being released outside Japan
For those who don’t know what Hack and Slash Warfare is, it’s a term that I’ve been using to refer to games such as Dynasty/Samurai Warriors and Sengoku Basara. Due to the fact that they really should have their own genre from regular hack and slash games. However things are starting to look grim on this front for fans of these style of games. Cancellations, poor marketing, and lack of support where the game’s main fans are has plagued these games over the past year or so. Wonder what I’m talking about? Let’s begin the discussion shall we?

Samurai Warriors 3 released on the Wii in the US close to a year after it’s original release in Japan. But apparently it sold so poorly that Koei decided to not only choose not to release Xtreme Legends here in the west but they also chose not to release the PS3 version of Samurai Warriors 3 that has Xtreme Legends built in. Naturally since then they have also decided to not release Samurai Warriors 3 Empires here either. I’m not sure who to blame here but at least part of this was a very stupid decision on Koei’s part. The Wii market in the west was completely untested for their games. They released a game in the west on a system that most of their fans did not have and that’s why it sold poorly. Heck as mad as this makes me, I actually own a Wii but my friends who are bigger Warriors fans then me do not.

There are generally two types of Wii owners. Those “gamers” who just bought it for Wii sports because they saw all the commercials showing the elderly playing it. Secondly are mostly Nintendo fans who pretty much only buy first party Nintendo games for the system. Me personally the only Wii games I buy are ones that let me use a regular controller. So aside from a select few titles I just use it for Gamecube games and the Virtual Console.

But all that aside, I actually almost feel jipped with Samurai Warriors 3 since at least a small portion of the Xtreme Legends content is stuff I feel should have been in the main game. There are multiple characters in the main game who basically were left with no story mode in what felt like a sad attempt at giving people a reason to buy Xtreme Legends. Especially since a few of those characters were in enough stages as enemies to form their own series of 5 missions for a story mode. Maybe it’s just my obsession with Ranmaru speaking but Xtreme Legends itself only adds 3 characters that weren’t in the main game and a few modes that are arguably completely unnecessary if you take away the 8 story modes it added for existing characters. Still I would have liked the PS3 version for true HD and a better frame rate. And it almost seems stupid seeing as most the translation work is already done due to Samurai Warriors 3 already being released here.

Sure would be nice to see the graphics this smooth in the west, but nope we only get the Wii version

At around the same time we learned that Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce 2 won’t be getting a western release. This doesn’t bother me much but for the fans of that spin off I feel you. But it doesn’t stop there, now Koei has decided that while they will be releasing Dynasty Warriors 7 Xtreme Legends in the west. They won’t be releasing it for the X-Box 360, so if that isn’t a middle finger towards anyone who bought the X-Box 360 version of Dynasty Warriors 7 I don’t know what is. The sad thing is, from my understanding the 360 version of the game sold roughly around the same amount of copies as the PS3 version of the game. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I seriously get the feeling this is the last FU Koei is giving western gamers on their way out. I’m really getting the feeling Dynasty Warriors 7 will be the last we see of them outside of Japan.

Lastly to sink things to an almost dismal level, we won’t be getting any future releases of Sengoku Basara in the west. This is truly irritating because I among many others actually enjoyed Sengoku Basara more then the Koei Warrior games. Sure I may disagree with the Basara fans who say the Warriors games suck, but I still find it better. Comparing the two is a kin to comparing Grand Theft Auto to Saints Row, similar idea with their own spin on it.

For those unfamiliar with Sengoku Basara it is Capcom’s take on the Sengoku or “Warring State” period in Japan. The same setting that Samurai Warriors takes place in. Capcom has done a rather poor job trying to get the game out in the west. They released the first game in the series here under the name Devil Kings, completely renamed all the characters, and removed any historical references among other things. The game was poorly received by both critics and fans (especially those who knew it was a bastardization of it’s Japanese counterpart). They didn’t give it another try until Sengoku Basara 3 rolled around which they released here as Sengoku Basara Samurai Heroes.

Want those new characters? Too bad!
There was one major problem with the American release of the game however. No one knew it existed. There was zero marketing for this game, to the point where a lot of retailers didn’t even know it existed to order it. As a result, most of us that bought it (myself included) ended up buying it for about $20 new months after it came out because we stumbled upon it’s existence by sheer accident. Personally I discovered the game while searching for Samurai Warriors 3 stuff on Youtube. Apparently Capcom expected the game to sell 6-8 times as many copies as it did, even though that would push it over the number of sales in Japan for a game they have now deemed “Only appeals to Japanese gamers”.  Hey Capcom if you wanted so many sales, maybe you should have let us know it exists. This game got no advertisement at all, meanwhile they currently keep paying to advertise Dragon’s Dogma over half a year before it’s release. That sure is some great marketing strategy there, advertising a game to me I can’t even buy yet.

Those factors combined with the fact that it should have been ported to the 360 for it’s American release kind of sealed the game’s fate. I know some PS3 fanboys might be ready to claim “We don’t want the 360 watering down our games graphics” but they can shut up because the Wii already did that more then the 360 would have. And the thing is Capcom already knows games need to be multiplatform in order to make them good money as is seen with their Triple A titles, so this decision just baffles me.

As a result of all that however we’re not getting Sengoku Basara 3 Utage which is an expansion adding what sounds like more then 10 new characters in addition to new modes. It actually sounds much more impressive then Koei’s Xtreme Legends offerings tend to be, but once again… we’re not getting it due to poor sales and bad business decisions. Both companies seem to be taking the stand of “You can import them” which is true since the PS3 is region free as far as most their games are concerned. However this does next to no good for most of us unless they’re going to put in an English text option, which they have no reason to do for a section of fans they deemed not worth their time.

So, as things stand things aren’t looking very bright for those of us who are fans of these style games. Its’ rather sad but I suppose years of magazines bashing them for being repetitive while they singed the praises of Call of Duty has caught up. Cause ya know, Military Shooters aren’t repetitive at all right? With the way things are heading though, it looks like our only options are to just buy the most recent version of our favorite games from the genre and cherish them because they may be the last we get. For the curious, I’ll leave you with a taste of what we’re not getting and links to groups to try and change the minds of the developers.

Samurai Warriors 3 Xtreme Legends

There is a petition which can be found at
The hope of this petition is to get Samurai Warriors 3 XL, Samurai Warriors 3Z, and Samurai Warriors 3 Empires released in the west. I’ve heard that Koei said they would release them if the petition could get up to 20,000 signatures. However I haven’t found anything to comfirm that claim, but then it’s not like it hurts to try right?

Sengoku Basara 3 Utage

It’s unlikely to do anything unlike possibly the petition for Samurai Warriors 3, but for anyone interested there is a facebook group to support a US release of Utage.

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