The upcoming Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails may have missed its target of a Q4 2013 release, but that doesn't change the fact that Dakko Dakko's title is a promising exclusive for the Wii U eShop. That exclusivity is representative, in part, of the company's design focus, aiming to utilise unique aspects of hardware for the best possible gaming experience.
In a recent interview with Official Nintendo Magazine, Dakko Dakko's Rhodri Broadbent reflects on the various debates over Wii U development in recent times, and makes the case for a console future of diversity rather than homogenisation.
In recent weeks there has been a bunch of concerned chatter online about out-of-date information and needless negativity around Wii U development. I think it comes down to approach and expectation as to how much fun (or otherwise) a developer will have making games on any platform. To me, bringing your game to a Nintendo system should be about taking advantage of the toybox of possibilities they provide you with in terms of the controllers, the two screen setup, Miis, and so on. There's so much to use, learn from, and build on.
Some developers quite understandably simply want an easy way to bring their established game over to a new platform. In that case, the more similar the system and the development tools, the happier they'll obviously be. Those developers make up an important and sizeable chunk of the industry, but it shouldn't be the dominant one and it shouldn't be the only voice we hear. As both consumer and developer I want unique systems, and games tailored to those systems, playing to strengths and mastering the quirks and charms of the target hardware. If that has to necessarily mean that certain elements won't be the same as they are on another games machine, then so be it. In fact, that's better. Choice is always good.
What is disappointing to me about the recent online chatter hasn't been the not-at-all surprising revelation that some developers get unhappy that games development isn't always easy on pre-launch hardware. We've all been there at some point. What's disappointing to me is that there appear to be so few of the larger publishers interested in making things specific to a platform any more. We'll be much poorer off as gamers if cross-platform homogeny sets the agenda for platform holders. A platform's individuality and its exclusives are what you'll remember in 20 years time. And Nintendo has already ensured that Wii U will be fine with regard to those.
Broadbent echoed the sentiments of a number of other download developers, meanwhile, in emphasizing the importance of online stores such as the eShop in promoting creative, innovative games.
I think the eShop and similar digital stores are going to be the lifeblood of games systems from here out. As big budget development of the 'hollywood experience' blockbuster titles drains more resources from the big publishers, they can release even fewer experimental or original titles, so it'll be essential for smaller developers to continue to step up and fill in the void. It's of vital importance for gaming that the huge (often quite incredible) productions which fill up high street retailers and use up so much development resource don't deprive new generations of gamers of the sort of vibrant, varied and unusual games that have made gaming so exciting for so long. The digital stores are making sure that more people have more ways to bring their game ideas to market, so their importance and continued prominence is assured.
Do you place great value in unique systems that break the mould, such as the differences in controller inputs and concepts from Wii U to its rivals? Let us know in the comments below.