Three and a half years into the Wii’s career, developers remain strangely reluctant to put the motion controller to what is surely its highest and noblest purpose: swatting lumps of pixel-gore out of gung-ho NPCs with four or five feet of chilly, computerised steel. There’s been the odd, clumsy stab in this direction at intervals, with No More Heroes perhaps the most notable contribution, but Wii operators as a bunch seem more interested in the entertainment possibilities of turning door handles, pointing torches at things, playing the sci-fi version of Operation! and, needless to say, shooting stuff.
We can attribute some of this disinterest to the less-than-surgical sensitivity of the Wii remote itself, in its original, out-of-the-box form. What serious attempts at samurai thwacking the platform can boast – Ubisoft’s Red Steel, for example – are to scientific swordsmanship what a food blender is to Antoine Carême, furious masturbatory gestures carrying the day against more calculating swipes and parries.
Nowadays, though, we have access to the incremental technology miracle that is Wii Motion Plus. And with it, Red Steel 2 – a considerably more stylised, no less frenetic slab of shoulder-disabling melee mimicry, into whose Samurai-Western-flavoured company we were ushered last week. Expect more detailed thoughts on the game next month, but suffice to say you can block somebody’s swing, skip round to their right, uppercut them into a mid-air combo and finally slam-dunk them into fountains of spangly victory loot without turning your wrist into a perpetual motion machine.
A Good Thing indeed, as we later confessed to Jason VandenBerghe, the game’s Creative Director. VandenBerghe’s credits include copious Bond games and The Godfather for EA, and Call of Duty and Guitar Hero for Activision. He is also quite possibly the friendliest man on the planet. Never have we had our knees amiably slapped so many times in the space of 20 minutes.
VideoGamesDaily: There’s been a lot of noise in the past few months about whether “hardcore” gaming can succeed on the Wii. I’m sure it’s something you’re asked about all the time.
Jason VandenBerghe: Yes, the great hardcore gamer jihad! You’re right, I am asked about this quite a lot. So, do you want the short answer or the long answer?
VGD: Your choice!
VandenBerghe: I think many developers and fans want to pose the question as ‘there are no hardcore players on the Wii’ or ‘there are hardcore players on the Wii’. This question is not interesting to me because I’m not making a game for hardcore players, I’m making a game for gamers, which includes hardcore players – they are welcome to play the game as well, no problem, I’m a hardcore player myself!