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

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.

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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