Having recently come off a second play through of one of 2014’s top titles Bayonetta 2, I feel highly inclined to offer some sort of thanks or a tangible token of appreciation to what has become, without equal, my favorite modern developer.
As I watched the ending credits of Bayonetta 2 roll by, I felt so elated and filled with joy. I was absorbed in the gaming experience I had just taken in. This wasn’t the first time I’d been overcome with such feelings of freedom and joy. In fact, I’m quite sure I haven’t felt this way since I last played a game from Bayonetta 2’s developer. From the release of their debut title MadWorld, Platinum Games has always pushed the envelope from a game-play perspective.
Sure, any number of developers have created better looking or technically superior titles, but the sheer amount of creativity and polish that Platinum consistently offers simply must be commended. MadWorld was undoubtedly a stand out title for the Wii, bringing on buckets of gore – highly pronounced, thanks to the color scheme – and graphic, ultraviolence to a console that was best known for the family friendly and “casual” gaming experiences it provided.
But before MadWorld there was Infinite Space, which was acclaimed critically, but if you’re like me then it slipped by you upon release. Now a boxed version with all the trimmings can run you roughly $100, making their game one of many coveted rarities released for the Nintendo DS. Here we were afforded tremendous depth in customizing our ships and characters and treated to a unique story. While both MadWorld and Infinite Space were good enough in their own rights to put Platinum on the map, it wasn’t until 2009’s Bayonetta that the team’s true potential began to surface.
Some people can tell stories of when they first saw or heard of a game and how long they’ve liked it, but I can’t convey anything similar about Bayonetta. I just remember knowing nothing about the game and then suddenly being addicted to it for months and months. There wasn’t Bayonetta and then suddenly there was Bayonetta and the rest as they say is history. Here was a game, as far from reality as a game could be, that I connected with deeply. I knew her sexualized personality would irritate pundits and otherwise unconcerned parents and that made me love the game. I knew the depth of the game’s combat and the copious amount of content in it would be lost on many that played it and that made me love the game.
The over the top characters, enemies and world, shameless humor and profanity and truly original lead character all combined with a combat system best described as perfect to result in an unforgettable gaming experience. A game that makes you smile while you play it. A game that has random arcade shooter sequences peppered throughout, evil angels touching themselves and a lead that strips away her clothes in order to attack, all for the sake of fun.
Their next outing was the PS360 sci-fi shooter Vanquish. This game follows the trend set by their previous releases in how straight up unique and original it is. The futuristic setting, characters, enemies and weaponry transported players to another world. The slide-boost mechanic allowed you to close distance between you and your foes very quickly and to look plain awesome while doing it. Like their other games, Vanquish is diverse, with slow-motion parts, low gravity segments, and a variety of enemies demanding unique tactics to defeat them. When you’re sliding beneath the clawed arm of a giant mech and slide-boosting in huge circles to avoid the hundreds of homing projectiles fired at you, you’ll sense a certain rush, a shot of adrenaline.
This is the Platinum Games secret sauce, the insane genius that makes each of their titles so crazy, so over the top, so memorable.
This Platinum Games spirit shone brightly in Anarchy Reigns, a multiplayer brawler that never picked up the traction it deserved. In a day and age where Annual Shooter 14 is the big kid on the multiplayer block, it took guts to come out with a new age Power Stone. This game too peddled the swag that has become Platinum Games’ signature, with over the top characters, humor and big action. 600 pound guy with a chainsaw for an arm? Check. Terribly stereotyped characters and accents? Of course. Playable pimp and hoe team? You betcha. Still now I can’t think of a similar title for PS360.
By this point the world had taken notice of the talent operating at Platinum Games. One could watch this manifest in a crossover project like Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, an effort that I’m certain helped the developer secure the more recent partnerships with Square Enix and Nintendo.
With MGR:R, Platinum took control of a powerhouse gaming franchise and the moniker of what is no doubt one of our medium’s most famous brands. The fantastic thing though is that they took the reins and lead the franchise somewhere it had never visited, but that Platinum new all too well: stylish action. Metal Gear is a series that has historically rewarded or flat out demanded patient, stealth game-play, but this was our chance to take one of the coolest looking characters in gaming and kick mountains and mountains of ass. And where the game-play is concerned, surprising only the most devout haters, MGR:R was a fantastic game. Guarding was scrapped for a parrying system that kept fights fast and frenetic, combined with stunning finisher attacks, a diverse combo system and game-play as fast as greased lightning.
Crossing an IP loved by millions with solid, addictive game-play helped Platinum Games get more of the exposure they so deserve. I believe we have the success here to thank for the developers involvement in the upcoming Nier game and Star Fox Zero. Before this they also branched out with Transformers: Devastation, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Legend of Korra under the Activision banner. Now we’re all clamoring to try the head-turning Xbox One exclusive Scalebound.
It seems like in roughly a decade (the developer turns 10 years old this August) Platinum Games went from relatively little known Japanese developer to trend-setting, taste-making phenomenon that everybody wants a piece of. This didn’t happen by chance or accident though, as is clear.
With the power of Nintendo, we even got Bayonetta 2, a game that shouldn’t exist but somehow does and is that much better for it, still ranking as one of the top three Wii U exclusives from hundreds of gamers – critics and users alike – via aggregate Metacritic. While there may have been commentary on a perceived lack of commercial success of Platinum Games’ titles, their accomplishments manage to speak for themselves.
I feel truly delighted to be able to enjoy their diverse and distinguished games. They make me happy to be a gamer. Here’s to Platinum Games and many more years of amazing gaming experiences. Thank you.