Monday, October 5, 2009

The Internet Reacts - New Rocket Knight

So 1up revealed (and confirmed a rumor from awhile back) that Konami and Climax, the same guys who did Silent Hill Origins, are working on a 2.5D resurrection of Rocket Knight Adventures, AKA Sparkster.

"The funny thing about Rocket Knight is that when you look for information on the Internet -- if you can find it -- you never see anything bad about him," says Konami producer Tomm Hulett.

Well, this NeoGAF thread sure put an end to that.

The gist of this is that people aren't very happy about how it looks. The same thing happened with Konami's Rebirth line of games for the Wii, strangely enough. I never understood the hate for Gradius, because it looks exactly as it should. Contra Rebirth, admittedly, did not look great in stills due to some lousy background artwork, but it looked fantastic in motion, and it played astonishingly well.

This whole scenario boggles my mind. Fifteen years ago when all of those fancy 32-bit systems came out and 3D was the new norm, retro gamers (which weren't even technically so old and cranky yet) were clamoring, hey, no, it's not about the graphics, it's about the gameplay! Fast forward to present, and as it turns out, it IS all about the graphics! I guess we were wrong all along!

This also makes me realize that while I browse NeoGAF a lot, the only time I end up posting I end up coming off like an asshole. It's not really intentional, but when people say things like "Contra Rebirth is a terrible game and I know this because I watched the whole thing on Youtube", then what exactly IS the rational way to react?

Anyway, I wrote a majority of this post when I was still behind the work filter but upon returning home, I'm not really sure why people are complaining to begin with. Oh well.


  1. The vast majority of the people posting on NeoGAF probably didn't play the RKA games when they were first-run and are merely bitching from the perspective of a gamer that 'came of age' when 3D was the norm, not the exception, so any complaints about the graphics make perfect, if idiotic, sense. (It's just like the constant, deafening, cauterwhaling about the Wii's 'sub-standard' visuals from the same, tired, crowd that isn't so much interested in games and how much fun they are as they are in the (utterly laughable) 'gaming lifestyle' sub-culture that has consumed vast swaths of the hobby.)

  2. Sometimes I wonder why we keep reading gaming forums, especially the big ones, but oh well...

    To be fair, the reception at NeoGAF seems mixed, and several people complain about the game not respecting the originals' graphic style, something that I agree with. Chalk it up to Japanese vs. American sensibilities or whatever, but it's not the same, and lacks its charm.

    Technically speaking, it could be a bit better frankly. It's not terrible, but given the hardware involved you would expect something capable of matching Trine, to use a modern example of a "bidimensional" game. That said, the shot linked up here looks terrific, only one level has been shown, and the game is still in development. Plus the Sparkster saga never was known as having very detailed scenarios (quite the contrary), but for its frantic pace (which imposed some technical limitations) and the impressive bosses.

    And, in the end, what it really matters is if the the remake manages to play like the original or not. We should know by now that most modern remakes rarely respect the original material graphic and style-wise, but do respect or even match the gameplay, so I don't understand why people get so worked up over something that it's still not finished (maybe far from it). All that banter and speculation is a waste of time, which could be invested in better things like replaying Rocket Knight Adventures.

    Personally, I'm glad Konami is resurrecting the franchise, and I expect them to make a good homage to such classic. Besides, they're releasing it for the PC, which is even more of a reason to be happy. Now, if they managed to come up with a soundtrack as excellent as the one they composed for the first title, I would be delighted. The Genesis sound chip rarely sounded so good.

  3. I don't see what's wrong with the look of the game. It looks good enough for me. As long as a game's not so ugly that it takes away from the fun of the game, I'm fine with it. :)


    To me it looks awesome, and frankly it could be made of cardboard and I wouldn't care because I loved RKA and I LOVE SPARKSTER!!!!

  5. I have no idea why anyone would look a gift-horse like this game in the mouth. RKA is one of my favorite games and I can't wait to play this one.

  6. It's definitely a different style of art versus the original, but I can dig it. It has a sort of CGI animated film-esque look to it (in contrast to the very cartoony Japanese original).

    And yes, I definitely agree with you about the hypocrisy of these "it isn't about the graphics!" people. If anything it's "it isn't about the graphics, except if it's graphics we like. Then it's totally about the graphics!" Definitely explains something about the excuses a few people are making for games like KOF12.

  7. I don't know who said graphics don't matter, they're one of the only ways that you interact with the game! I think a lot of people were upset that 2D games were nearly phased-out when the Playstation hit the scene, (Especially in the US, where Sony actively prevented the release of many 2D games.) and I hold the same position there as a did 15 years ago. The lack of high-quality 2D games is even worse now that arcade games are pretty much gone, classic franchises usually get low-budget outsourced sequels, and many games are download-only so you can't actually own them.

  8. I have faith in Konami and I think this game is going to rule. Even if they do think the game looks ugly, it's still in alpha and noone has even freaking seen it in motion yet! This is why I stopped following video game news sites like this... Screenshots tell you next to nothing. Let's at least wait for the trailer. C'mon.

  9. Oh God... They're going Diablo 3 now and doctoring screenshots. This is ridiculous.

  10. Umm...while I'm not a hater, I like that cel-shaded look WAY better. 0_0

  11. i think the new RKA game looks awesome. i don't know why they could think it has bad graphics at all.

  12. If I remember the 1Up schedule correctly, I think they're revealing the trailer tomorrow (Friday).

    The main issue so many people have with older games is "that they look old", obviously, a claim which can be argued by saying "how it looks doesn't matter." Graphics (and music, etc) play a big part in the emotional component of a game, and can enhance or detract based on that, but completely writing off a game based off a few screenshots is shallow and childish.

    I think you're right that it's more an extension of anger, that people feel retro properties aren't being treated well and are seen as an easy way to cash in on nostalgia. It's naive to say stuff like this doesn't exist (if I were in charge of anything, I'd keep Backbone as far away from anything as possible) but there are more than a few exceptions that disprove this (biggest being Bionic Commando Rearmed), which are largely ignored because it would defeat whatever short-sighted argument is trying to be made.

  13. Sometimes it seems like people who argue over whether graphics matter aren't even sure which side they're on. I suppose some people honestly don't care about a game's aesthetics or visual quality and see the game as a cold set of rules, but I think most people actually mean that advances in technology don't improve games' visuals. In others words, of the gamers who (correctly) think a lot of Xbox 360 games look worse than a lot of NES games, half might say it's because graphics don't matter and half would say it's because they matter a whole lot!

    I agree that you can't completely write-off a game based on its first preview, but I also think the warning signs are there: It's an outsourced, low-budget, 3D game where the character is somehow less expressive in the eight 720p screenshots on 1up than at almost any given moment in the original games. There are some games that fit that description but still turned out well like Bionic Commando Rearmed, but I'm having trouble thinking of others, so I don't think it's fair to write off my concerns as availability bias. (Although I'd love to hear the rest of the games that people have in mind.)

    I think there would be less pessimism among hardcore fans if these outsourced games were in sister series like Maximo, but I also think they wouldn't sell as well.

  14. There are still a lot of Japanese games that are technically outsourced but still hold fairly well - Mega Man Zero and Mega Man 9 are all by Inticreates, and Contra/Gradius Rebirth, as well as Fantasy Zone IIDX, are all by M2. It's true that things aren't quite as consistent on the Western side - Contra 4 is another decent one, but then you have stuff like Golden Axe: Ghost Rider. (I think the new TMNT Reshelled is pretty alright, but that doesn't appear to be the popular opinion.) Climax might not have the best development history, but outside of Shantae, neither did Wayforward. Keep in mind that the producers at Konami are the same for both these projects - they know how to treat these properties with respect.

    My snarkiness isn't directed towards you BTW, it's more towards the snap judgmenty nature of the internet.

  15. Of the games you named, the only ones that were outsourced and had 3D graphics were the bad ones: Turtles in Time Reshelled and Golden Axe Beast Rider. Inticreates was formed by ex-Capcom staff, and Keiji Inafune was involved with their Mega Man games, so they deserve to steer the series as much as anyone. I'm not a huge fan of Contra 4, but I'll agree it's better than a lot of outsourced revivals. (I am warming up to Wayforward's work: I didn't like A Boy and His Blob on the NES at all, but the Wii version looks like it might turn out great, and the DS Shantae game also sounds promising.) I think Japanese companies tend to match the aesthetics of Japanese games better, so I'd say M2 and Flagship have done consistently good work, but Artoon's Yoshi's Island sequel was pretty bad.

    It seems like the 2D revivals turn out better than 3D ones. I know it costs more to make 2D graphics--especially if you want them to look like KOF 12 or Wario Land Shake It--but it would be great if 2D games made a comeback. (Maybe they could offset the cost by not making games so damn long!)

  16. Indeed, I think you're right...I just remembered all of the Hudson and Sega PS2 remakes which...yeah, most of those didn't turn out so great. The new WiiWare Adventure Island wasn't so hot either.

  17. The trailer's out:

    And, this game is going to be AWESOME!

  18. In all honesty, the graphical style reminds me of Little Big Planet (heck, the screenshots of the game look like the characters are action figures brawling in some guy's tree house) which is VERY NOT A GOOD THING and shows me that the developers don't get the mythos of Sparkster and are trying to cover this up by making it look as shiny as possible.

    The game mechanics of this new title could be the most innovative system ever concieved for the series, but if it feels like I'm playing with toys instead of having the experience of controlling the most awesome possum ever strapped in plate armor and darting around like a gundam because he's wearing a rocket pack who needs to save his kingdom, its princess, and eventually the world from INEVITABLE DESTRUCTION, then I won't play it.