Whether we love it or hate it mobile/social gaming is here to stay and could ultimately become the de facto standard when it comes to how we game. Games found on the App Store may not beat titles set for the PlayStation 3 or the next iteration of Sony’s console, but mobile gaming is no longer a small niche market that merely consists of Bejeweled and a side-scrolling Tony Hawk game that looks like a four-year old created it.
The surge in the mobile gaming market is now so huge that acclaimed video game creators are jumping on board. Previously we really haven’t seen video game devs make the leap to mobile platforms in a huge way outside of a few small things like Sega’s Yakuza spin-off for the Mobage service in Japan. Now gamers in Japan are getting some more goodness as DeNA, the company that runs Mobage, has announced several notable game creators will be creating exclusive titles for Mobage and other mobile platforms.
As part of DeNA’s Super Creator initiative which seeks out to gather amazing talent that wows all of us (I like to imagine that it’s a Justice League or Avengers type initiative). To put mobile gaming on the radar in a way that’s never been done before in Japan, DeNA has enlisted the services of Suda 51, Keiji Inafune, Yuji Naka, Yoshifumi Hashimoto and Noritaka Funamizu. Most of you out there should recognize a few of those names as those men are responsible for some of the best video games to be released in the past twenty years.
DeNA hasn’t openly revealed a ton of details concerning the games in the Super Creators initiative aka the Fab Five Project of Awesome, but they did reveal a few basic details. In a somewhat surprising move, Suda 51’s project for DeNA will be a spin-off of No More Heroes. Suda has yet to actually say what the game will entail and how it’ll fit into the NMH timeline. But considering that the No More Heroes game is set to be released on mobile phones, I don’t think it’ll be a NMH game as we know it and will likely take inspiration from the old-school side-scrolling adventures that were featured in No More Heroes 2.
Details on the games from Keiji Inafune (Mega Man) and Yuji Naka (Sonic the Hedgehog) were equally scarce but still manage to sound interesting. Keiji’s title will be coming to us from his newly formed company Comcept and his game is dubbed J.J. Rockets. Exactly what J.J. Rockets is and what genre it falls under hasn’t been revealed at all, but one can hope that the game will draw inspiration from Keiji’s old games such as Mega Man. Title information on Yuji Naka’s game wasn’t revealed, but the man behind Sonic is developing a game for DeNA that has adventure aspects and that also utilizes positional information (GPS/tilt mechanics?). Without even seeing a single screen of Yuji’s game I’ll take a guess and say that it’ll include a cartoony art style much like his new game Rodea the Sky Soldier and will probably go on to become an underrated gem.
Harvest Moon fans in Japan will probably flip out as Yoshifumi Hashimoto will be creating a new Harvest Moon title for DeNA. Since mobile phones these days have nifty features, the new Harvest Moon title will utilize the weather information that’s provided and use that in game in some capacity. A feature like real-world weather may seem a bit silly or shallow, but at least it’s a bit out of the box compared to what we’ve seen in the past. Perhaps the most Japanese centric out of the Creators Initiative announcements, Noritaka Funamizu will be developing a game called Nama-ge, of which nothing was revealed about.
DeNA’s acquisition of several games from high-profile developers may not mean a lot to most gamers since there’s a good chance none of these games will ever be released outside of Japan. But outside of No More Heroes fans flipping out at a new title being prepped (perhaps serving as a prelude to NMH3?) I still find it interesting that we’re seeing such a thing happen. Developers of course want to try out new things and perhaps execute ideas that they normally wouldn’t be able to do on the consoles since mobile games aren’t that expensive to produce. But will we ever get to the point where Hideo Kojima’s new project is an App game instead of a HD console game? I doubt we’re still a few years away from seeing mobile gaming completely overtake console gaming in a huge way but such a thing is a possibility based on how things are shaping up so far.