March 21, 2011
Japan Week: Day 1 Capcom
To start this week long dedication to Japans finest in gaming, I have decided to start with the company that pulled me into arcades over and over, Capcom. Capcom has made several great franchises over the years, including reinventing the survival horror genre on the home consoles. They have given us the blue bomber, the Hadouken, and the Umbrella Corporation. They made the PlayStation 2s first million unit selling title, started the early 1990’s fighting game arcade surge, as well as redefining the modern fighting genre. Capcom has clashed with Marvel, SNK, Tatsunoko, and now Namco. Capcom has predominantly developed action, fighting, and some entertaining puzzle games (Super Puzzle Fighter).
I loved the American arcade scene growing up, I spent birthday money, Christmas money, and whatever other money I could get and would rush off to the arcade. This is all thanks to Yoshiki Okamoto, the producer for Street Fighter 2. Street Fighter is still the premier fighting game of the world and has held the attention of this writer for quite some time. Though the more recent Super Street Fighter 4 and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 are taking up my fight stick time, nothing will compare to standing at the Street Fighter 2 cabinet at my local arcade and Wal-Mart trying to win with either Ryu or Chun Li, my two characters of choice. The HD re-releases on the XBLA and PSN is one of the best uses of 15 dollars out there. Street Fighter has touched fighting fans across the world and has given us some of gaming most iconic characters, as well as two horrible live action movie adaptations and one seminal anime movie; thought the first live action movie was total cheese and enjoyable as complete camp, the more recent one was an abomination and I will never watch a movie with Chris Klein again, Charlie deserved a better actor, if you can call him that. Rant over moving on.
In 1996, Capcom and series creator Shinji Makami released a new terror on the world; Resident Evil. Release on the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn, the series took the horror genre and turned it upside down. Spawning several sequels and off shoots, despite having some speed bumps in the way of off shoot games (Resident Evil Outbreak and Dead Aim) turned out a few console defining games (Resident Evil (PS1) Resident Evil 4 (GameCube). The series also created one of the most recognizable cities in gaming, Raccoon City. After the first three Resident Evils and serving as director for Dino Crisis (PS1), Makami would be appointed as producer for Capcom’s Studio 4. Studio 4 would go on to produce such titles as Devil May Cry, Resident Evil Code: Veronica, Dino Crisis 2. He then moved on to the Capcom 5 which would include Resident Evil 4, P.N.03, Viewtiful Joe, Killer 7, and the never released Dead Phoenix. Resident Evil 4 would go on to be the best in the franchise and define the 3 person over the shoulder camera that many of today’s action games incorporate. P.N. 03 went on to be a failure, while Viewtiful Joe and Killer 7 went on to be critical hits, but never found the sales numbers. His most recent game, Vanquish, which was developed with Platinum Games (the former Clover Studios) and was published by Sega, was a third person shooter heavy on the action and “rocket slide mechanic” but light on story. Makami is currently working with Goichi Suda and Grasshopper Manufacture on a third person horror game entitled Shadows of the Damned.
Last but not least we come to my favorite (now former) Capcom employee, Keiji Inafune; the father of Mega Man. Inafune has been a key to the success of Capcom throughout the years, and of late been the vital in implementation western game design into Capcom’s modern titles. My childhood consisted of a cornucopia of his games. Mega Man 2 is still the finest of the original set of games while Mega Man X is by far my favorite of any game in the series and in my opinion the epicenter of SNES gaming, again just my opinion. Inafune is responsible for the X and Zero character in the X series, and wanted to put Zero as the main character for the series. After continued work on the Mega Man series and its spin offs, Inafune was hard at work at creating a game that would show off the PlayStation 2 power, this project was Onimusha: Warlords; it would go on to become the first million copy seller on the platform. Inafunes next project would surface on the Xbox 360 as a post console launch game, Dead Rising. I can still remember reading EGM’s initial preview of the game and stating it was complete crap. The game would release to great critical reception and later becoming a platinum hit, the sequel also under the watch of Inafune was released just this past year. Inafune was then promoted to Global Head of Production; Capcom would then seek out western developers to work with. Out of this new venture he would serve as producer on Lost Planet, Lost Planet 2; and as Executive Producer on Street Fighter 4, Super Street Fighter 4, Dark Void, and Bionic Commando; the latter two being failures both commercially and critically. October 29, 2010, Inafune announced that he would be leaving Capcom after a 23 year stint.
Capcom, over the years, have given the industry some great franchise and some lows. With Marvel vs. Capcom 3 having been released in February, an impressive lineup for the 3DS launch including Super Street Fighter 4 3D Edition, their hugely successful Monster Hunter series, Capcom will be a huge industry player for years to come.