E3 2014: Scalebound Proves that Platinum Stays in Business by Being Exclusive

Hideki Kamiya's newest project looks stunning, but probably wouldn't have come into being without its status as an exclusive.

News by Bob Mackey, .

One of the bigger surprises of Microsoft's E3 2014 showing came when Platinum Games' Hideki Kamiya took to the stage to announce his company's newest game -- an exclusive for Xbox One.

As a fan of Platinum -- even in their days as the Capcom offshoot, Clover -- I've always wondered how they continue to exist when so many other Japanese developers have fallen. Each of their productions feels just as lavish as an AAA game, but with a degree of complexity and strangeness that alienates the mainstream crowd. Even the Wii U's The Wonderful 101, with its incredibly goofy atmosphere, has an extremely intricate fighting system that's as complex, intense, and rewarding as anything you'll find in Devil May Cry.

It's hard to believe Bayonetta 2 would exist without its status as a Wii U exclusive, just as it's hard to believe Scalebound would exist without being tethered to the Xbox One. Admittedly, it's a strategy Microsoft tried with the 360, and one that didn't work out quite as well as they'd hoped. Though their console was big, beefy and American, they extended a hand to people who associated video games with their Japanese legacy. Hence, not one, but two role-playing games by the creator of Final Fantasy himself! Of course, those games happened to be Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey, two RPGs that held their ground but didn't exactly set the world on fire. The Kamiya connection feels different to me, because he's not just a name -- he has a studio full of immensely talented people to back up this reputation.

This stands as a smart move for Microsoft, because Scalebound seems to be more than an ersatz Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest engineer to pander towards a very specific demographic. True, the protagonist is basically Dante-lite, complete with an overblown sense of coolness that rides the uncomfortable border between sincere and tongue-in-cheek -- seriously, that whole "nonchalantly listening to tunes while performing superhuman feats" was laughably lame when Jessica Biel did it in 2004's Blade Trinity.

Still, Scalebound seems to be presenting itself as a game where everything you fight is a screen-filling monstrosity, which could be an interesting take on the tedious yet oddly compelling battles of Monster Hunter -- and I'm definitely not the only person to make this comparison. Based on my experience with Platinum's games, I don't expect Scalebound to hit any sooner than 2016, but I'm just happy Kamiya's team has another chance to make the kind of game they do so well.

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Comments 10

  • Avatar for docexe #1 docexe 3 years ago
    Mmm… It seems to me like “How to train your dragon” with a mix of the coolness and campiness from the Devil May Cry series, which in the hands of Platinum actually sounds incredible.

    So far, this game and Sunset Overdrive are the highlights of what I have seen of Microsoft’s conference and, at least for me, the only solid arguments they have made in favor of the XBOne.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #2 Kuni-Nino 3 years ago
    The trailer didn't look good to me at all. Kamiya has always produced games with inspired visuals: Okami looked like a brush painting, while Viewtiful Joe looked like a comic book come to life, so seeing Scalebound look like something out of Phantasy Star ripoff was really disappointing. All the wild energy I expect from a Platinum game wasn't there.

    Since I'm a Kamiya fan though, I'm putting my trust in him. He has never made a bad game and has about three masterpieces under his belt. I won't write this game off especially because it's just a CG trailer. I hope it turns out for the best.
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  • Avatar for #3 3 years ago
    My wife could see my pain as they announced this, since I'm done with Xbox, which means no new Platinum for me.
    But this was a a huge get for Microsoft. Smart move. Platinum always make great games.

    They needed it. Sunset Overdrive looked tired. I guess if you never owned a Playstation console and Insomniac games were completely new to you, it might seem okay.
    What I saw was an average looking shooter with repeated creatures from Resistance and the same old sliding on rails of Ratchet And Clank.
    Even the character was like a slightly more irritating Ratchet in personality.
    Like I said, it looked tired. Very generic level Insomniac running on neutral. So not exactly a system selling help for the One.

    But, if I didn't refuse to have anything to do with Microsoft as a company, that could have tempted me to give in for a console.
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  • Avatar for docexe #4 docexe 3 years ago Well, you can certainly trace most of the mechanics of Sunset Overdrive to other games from Insomniac, but I like the premise and the self-aware humor. True, it’s not really original if we have to be honest, but it looks distinct and more “vibrant”/”playful” compared to most of the other shooters that are coming to the next gen consoles, at least to me.

    Granted, I would not buy a XBOne based on that single game.
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  • Avatar for bobservo #5 bobservo 3 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino It's definitely less visually interesting than Platinum's older games, but I think they've had to make some compromises to stay around.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #6 Kuni-Nino 3 years ago
    @bobservo Maybe. In interviews the devs have mentioned that they're always experimenting with art styles especially for different markets. Since MS is publishing this, it could be PG playing it safe with an inoffensive look for the western markets. That could explain it's lack of Japanese zany.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #7 SatelliteOfLove 3 years ago
    Thanks Microsoft, for letting them work their oft-overlooked magic once again.
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  • Avatar for bobservo #8 bobservo 3 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino That's what it seemed like to me -- Vanquish took that same approach (even if some of the robot designs were great).
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #9 VotesForCows 3 years ago
    It looks terrible...but I'm assuming it'll play brilliantly. A shame for me - I won't be getting an X-Box. Glad Platinum are still in business though!
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  • Avatar for Meho #10 Meho 3 years ago
    I still kinda hope this turns out to be a timed exclusive and it gets a "proper" release on Playstation 4. I mean, Bayonetta launched on Xbox 360 as an exclusive too, although with SEGA publishing and was then ported to PS3 by a SEGA team. In my perfect scenario (since I do not plan to buy an Xbox One unless more bombshells like this are dopped), the game launches on Xbox One but since it's a console that has less of a chance to be successful in Japan regardless of content it offers, agreement is reached and Sony funds porting the game to PS4, insisting that this is a definitive version of the game yada yada yada...

    One can dream, eh...
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