For a while now used and abused North American video game developers have been using Kickstarter to make their dream projects happen, but so far Japanese game makers (who are often even more trod-upon than their American counterparts) have mostly sat the Kickstarter thing out.
Well, the crowd-funding revolution finally came to Japan this week when Keiji Inafune gave Capcom the finger and successfully funded (in record time) Mighty No. 9, a blatant new take on Mega Man. This isn’t just big news for fans of the blue bomber — it also means other creators cast out by the Japanese video game industry now have the opportunity to carry on the spirit of the series they created. Here’s a few Japanese video game series in need of a Kickstarter-funded spiritual successor right damn now…
Team Silent were on an amazing roll in the early 2000s — they made three of the best horror games of all time with the first three Silent Hill games, then made a merely pretty good one in Silent Hill 4 and were immediately disbanded by Konami. Since then Konami has desperately tried to recapture the Silent Hill magic using a number of western developers to mostly disappointing results. You don’t even want to know how much I’d pledge to get Team Silent back together working on a new horror game.
Yeah, I know the Phantasy Star series continues on as a series of bland MMOs, but I don’t care about those — what I want is a new single player Phantasy Star in the vein of the first four entries in the series. Rieko Kodama, the designer and world-creator for the best games in the series (the original Phantasy Star and Phantasy Star IV) has basically been sitting in a backroom somewhere at Sega for the past decade. There are few things I’d love more than to see her make another epic scale sci-fi RPG.
Since leaving Square-Enix in 2004, Hironobu Sakaguchi has created games (like Lost Odyssey and The Last Story) that contain a fair amount of Final Fantasy DNA, but he’s never gone so far as to make anything that could be called an outright Final Fantasy successor. Well, as Inafune showed with Mighty No. 9, there’s really no point in being subtle, and I think it’s time for Sakaguchi to reclaim Final Fantasy’s soul before Square-Enix kills the series off permanently.
Okay, this is a bit more obscure than most of the other entries on this list — for a short period during the late-2000s a small company named Cing teamed with Nintendo to create a series of really excellent visual novel-style adventure titles for the DS and Wii. Over a short period they produced games like Another Code, Hotel Dusk and Last Window. I absolutely adored those games, but unfortunately not long after arriving on the scene Cing declared bankruptcy and disappeared. Are you still out there Cing? I want to give you my money.
The guys at Platinum Games continue to scrape by and get their games made, but you get the feeling they’re not living up to their full potential. Their games always feel a little rushed — like they’ve been tossed together on the cheap. They certainly haven’t had the opportunity to work on anything as epic as the cult-classic Okami since breaking away from Capcom. I think fans would be willing to give them that opportunity.
And so this list ends the only way this list could end — with us talking about Shenmue III.
Shenmue III is one of the great while whales of the video game industry — Sega’s legendary game designer Yu Suzuki has been trying in vain to get the game made for well over a decade now. The game has been restarted and cancelled numerous times, and Suzuki even recently tried to revive the series on mobile phones, but it’s all been to no avail.
Shenmue III will probably never happen (Yu Suzuki finally left Sega in 2011), but I’m pretty certain a Shenmue spiritual successor would set Kickstarter records. Never mind the fact that it would probably be a pretty good, groundbreaking game — I think gamers around the world would open their wallets simply because we all need some damn closure on this story.
So those are my picks. Any Japanese series or game creators you think need to go the crowd-funding route?