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NieR

2010

i have not played replicant ver. 1.22 at all and i imagine it may be some time before i do, but i wanted to take a moment to say a couple things about this game. mostly, i wanted to talk briefly about nier's particular place in recent games history in the west.

think of what video games looked like in america in 2010: extremely dominated by AAA western games design, to the point that many games by japanese developers were coming from increasingly disadvantaged development studios trying to keep up with what sold. jrpgs were at an all-time low—call of duty and gears of war reigned. final fantasy was as maligned as it would ever be. from japan, we saw the likes of binary domain, quantum theory... lots of cover shooters and miserable militarized shootmangames. (don't get me wrong: binary domain is cool!) there were certainly examples to the contrary, mostly niche games in staple genres, but this was the prevailing flavor of the day.

so: demon's souls? while not a massive departure from western aesthetics, it clearly signified a resurgence in fresh, inspired games from japan. i don't think it would be a significant stretch to suggest that nier may have benefitted somewhat from the renewed interest demon's souls (and, sure: bayonetta) elicited, but much more than that i'd say it owes its success and its legacy entirely to itself. nier came out swinging: fuck you, this is japanese games. bullet hell shooters, farming sims, references to zelda and resident evil, the sheer weirdness of it... it was a game that seemed to be proud of japanese games, unwilling to bow down to the demands of the western market. and i think the success of this approach speaks for itself. just look at how things have turned around over the last decade! and these days, how many games can be praised for this level of sea change?


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