MGSV And The Changing Hype For Japanese Blockbusters

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This may or may not be my last blog post before Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain lands so I guess I should finally put words to how unusual the hype for this game has felt for me. It’s one of my most anticipated games of 2015, but my anticipation doesn’t seem to be the same as everyone else’s. I think it’s because as Hideo Kojima ends his involvement with the series it’s starting to become something that’s not quite for the same people who were enamored with the original Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2.

What I feel in anticipation for Phantom Pain isn’t what I felt in anticipation for MGS2, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, or Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The kind of hype I felt back then — akin to the kind of hype people felt in anticipation of Final Fantasy VIII or Final Fantasy X, honestly feels like it’s part of a different era now. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel that same communal mega hype for a boxed Japanese product again. Maybe Zelda, maybe Soul Calibur, but that’s it.

I get slightly surprised when I see people online displaying that same old hype for Phantom Pain, posting fan art and counting down the last 100 days until launch. Maybe it’s because I follow Kojima on twitter and have been getting retweets from fans all over the world whose lives were changed by Metal Gear, and mine must wasn’t in the same capacity.

Actually, a lot of the reason I used to be hyped for Metal Gear games is I didn’t have regular access to them for years on account of not owning a PlayStation console until late 2005. Like Final Fantasy it was a game made all the cooler by being out of reach. When I finally got a PS2 and started playing all the games I came at them from a slightly different perspective but still came to enjoy the series a lot. I think one major difference this caused in me though is I have a greater fondness for the games that have come since MGS2 compared to the fans who don’t like how much the series changed post-MGS2. I also have a greater appreciation for the 2nd MSX game, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. However, I’m also not quite as wrapped up into the storyline of the series as most fans. I fully analyzed and understood MGS2, and am fascinated by Snake Eater’s story in isolation, but these aren’t the most important things in the world to me.

This brings me to the reason reason I’m getting Phantom Pain day one — for the actual video game.

Online I’ve seen a lot of people disappointed that Snake won’t be as talkative here as in previous games or that there will be less of a focus on cut scenes in proportion to interactive gameplay, but I really don’t care. I’m anticipating Phantom Pain as its own video game rather than as a part of the Metal Gear story. Konami’s gameplay videos showing the expansive and malleable stealth action sandbox, along with the playable demonstration of this which Ground Zeroes provided, are what ultimately made Phantom Pain a worthwhile $59.99 purchase for me. The recent gameplay demonstration of the expanded Mother Base system just put it over the edge. I still can’t even fully process what Metal Gear Online will add to the experience when Konaim finally adds it.

I think the other reason the anticipation I feel for Phantom Pain is so different is because of how Japanese blockbuster games feel overall these days. For starters there aren’t that many of them anymore. They’ve been crowded out of the console space by the likes of Halo and Call of Duty. Maybe for some fans that makes the appearance of another numbered Metal Gear or Final Fantasy game feel even more like a real event, apart from COD or Assassin’s Creed which predictably arrive every year. You just don’t know when the next major installment in a series as influential as Street Fighter or Zelda is going to arrive which just makes it feel more out of reach until it does. But overall I just don’t spend as much time devoted to those games anymore since the influx of all these western games on console and especially Steam.

What’s funny is the timeframe in which I got my PS2 — my first PlayStation system, sort of coincides with the peak of Japanese dominance of console video games. Outside Nintendo systems and games I kind of missed the prime era of all the fandom I just described. Now I just see all these people trying to catch the last vapors of it and can’t really get into their thought process.

BULLETS:

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2 thoughts on “MGSV And The Changing Hype For Japanese Blockbusters

  1. Machocruz says:

    Japanese AAA/AA* is having/going to have a bit of a comeback in my opinion, what with From’s games, MGS, FFXIV, DQXI, Zelda U, Persona 5 and I believe it is due to Japanese studios finally becoming more comfortable with HD development workflow.

    I too feel a different kind of anticipation for major Japanese releases, for the same reasons asyours, plus some others that get into the topic of Japan’s particular cultural/game design sensibilities. I won’t get into it here, but let’s just say that if they made an ARMA game, it would still contain 80s action film type characters and a cooking mini-game. Coincidentally -or perhaps not so- MGSV looks to have the kind of intricate systems and complexity akin to what you’d find in the more “hardcore” (hate that word, but you know what I mean) PC games i.e. builders/management games, simulations/tactical sims, etc.

    *I include AA because I still don’t think From Software has really become an AAA developer, even after Bloodborne, and also to cover Dragon Quest Heroes, which is my next major console game after MGSV.

    • Machocruz says:

      Forgot to add: I think the hype for MGSV started to pick up fairly recently, when they really started showing off how deep the game’s disparate systems go. That’s how it got me.

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