Ah, do you remember that glorious era earlier in the 2010’s when all your gaming dreams seem to be coming true thanks to Kickstarter? It was like that Oprah meme, where you could see her saying “YOU get a Vita port! And YOU get a Vita port!”. A few years down the line, and we’ve come to realize that, actually, very few of those games ever got released, and those that did get released, rarely made it to the Vita.
Yesterday we put up a piece to showcase the fantastic documentary made by our friend James Christensen about the development of “Mighty No. 9”. The game was the darling of every news outlet dedicated to gaming, and it was one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns in history up to that point. Why? Because it was a game inspired by “Mega Man”. From Keiji Inafune, one of the people who worked for decades on the CAPCOM franchise.
“Mighty No. 9” would become one of gaming crowdfunding biggest cautionary tales, however: it went through development hell, Inafune did several more crowdfunding campaigns in order to raise money for stuff after the original funds were gone, people were not getting their rewards, and, infamously, the Vita and 3DS ports were cancelled (not that it matter that much, as the game was apparently not great).
It would sadly set a trend: not much later, “Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night”, another game inspired by a classic franchise (this time Konami’s “Castlevania”) would promise all the side-scrolling metroidvania you could possibly ask for, and have it on your Vita, too. Unfortunately, Koji Igarashi, a former “Castlevania” producer himself, would also fail where Inafune had previously: “Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night” got its Vita port cancelled, too.
Not all games suffered the same fate: “Shovel Knight”, another retro-inspired IP went on to successfully run on the Vita, and it did so greatly. It did, however, leave out one of the extra perks promised by developers during their original crowdfunding campaign: a Super Smash Bros. like fighting game. They cite technological limitations, but from the article linked above, you can see my feelings about that.
Truth is, it’s mostly small indie developers and publishers that have been keeping the Vita alive for years now (aside from AMAZING support from publishers like XSEED, Idea Factory, Atlus and a couple more). Publishers like eastasiasoft, who continue to accept new submissions for physical Vita releases, and Ratalaika Games, who just today announced a new game for the system… they are the true heroes for owners of this handheld.
I know we’re not in 2013 anymore; we don’t fall for every fool’s gold crowdfunding campaign that gets put on KickGoGo. But it does make me think about the hundreds of thousands of dollars that went to those games that never made it to the console, and the amount of games we could have gotten, the amount of amazing games that could have been developed by people who really knew what they were doing, if they had gotten the money instead.
I guess we’ll never know.