OPINION: Why Pandora’s Tower Matters Part 2


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UPDATE: Pandora’s Tower has been announced for North America, published by XSEED Games, and scheduled to be released Spring 2013!



Pandora's Tower Matters

Pandora’s Tower was released in Europe on Friday, the 13th of April, 2012.  The game has yet to be confirmed for a North American release.  Of the three games Operation Rainfall is campaigning for, Pandora’s Tower is the most niche.

This article continues a three part series about the title.  Each article highlights a different reason Pandora’s Tower is important as a Nintendo property. We have been releasing these articles throughout our month long celebration of Pandora’s Tower.

Pandora's Tower Matters Two

Recently, Silicon Knights have been hinting at their intention to make the game that is most requested of them, a game that brings them back to their roots.  Most fans seem to think, or perhaps hope, that the upcoming game in question is a sequel to the darkly innovative GameCube title, Eternal DarknessEternal Darkness, on the Nintendo GameCube console, was a beloved game that, as a Nintendo published title, became a representative of dark games for the publisher.  Dark games are a rarity from Nintendo. The 3rd party exodus of the N64 left them without the kind of lineup diversity their new competitors now enjoyed.  Nintendo realized that if they wanted to retain a broad audience they had to cover the gap themselves.  Eternal Darkness was a great game, and an exciting prospect for Nintendo fans.  As a Nintendo published title, it represented their desire to reach out to an older audience.  This made the departure of Silicon Knights, as a Nintendo 2nd party at the end of the GameCube’s life, a particularly bitter pill.

Eternal Darkness

Eternal Darkness was a rare treat for Nintendo fans with darker tastes

Pandora’s Tower, like Eternal Darkness before it, is the kind of shockingly dark game nobody expects from Nintendo, but which Nintendo fans should be excited to see.  Pandora’s Tower could lead way to a broader age demographic on Nintendo’s systems, in the way Eternal Darkness should have.  With the Wii-U seemingly joining the Multi-Platform gaming scene, where as the Wii was exclusive dominant, Nintendo’s own exclusives will define what their console is to gamers.  Pandora’s Tower represents the rare, dark game from Nintendo.

The Story of Pandora’s Tower revels in its own cruelty.  A vegetarian must devour the innards of demonic beasts, lest she becomes one, and in the process she grows to love the disgusting act of self preservation.  This dark story is much of the reason Operation Rainfall became interested in the title.  Personally I have all sorts of theories running through my mind as I anticipate the game.  This sort of excitement was fostered by Nintendo since the original teaser poster, debuted online, revealing next to nothing about the game’s content.   In the process it drives fans crazy with speculation.  It is the excitement built upon the promise of a dark game, with mature themes, on a family friendly console.

Roundtable:

Mike D., Editor for The Nintendo Enthusiast, former Operation Rainfall PR Staff:

The very dark nature of Pandora’s Tower is one reason why I think it could be a great send off for the Wii.  Nintendo has a clean reputation as a family-friendly company, but it’s a rep that has taken its toll – whether it’s fair or not – with a certain demographic of the gaming populace.  Well, you want something dark and mature?  Try this twisted tale.

This could be a message to that demographic that Nintendo truly does intend to cover their bases.  Yes, Mario will always be Mario, and there will always be room for Wii Sports and family fun, but there’s also room for less family-centric fare.

More importantly, though, I think releasing Pandora’s Tower could show that Nintendo is willing to take risks, and willing to do so with new IPs.  A common refrain has always been that you buy Nintendo consoles for Mario, Metroid and Zelda.  There is, of course, a lot more to the company than that, but those are prestige titles that have seen significant revisions.  Nintendo will always need to freshen up Zelda to keep it relevant, but they also risk stagnating if they don’t try to comprehensively overhaul their roster of releases every now and again.  You don’t get a much bigger overhaul than a game this dark.

Ryan Tyner, Co-leader of Operation Rainfall

I remember when Eternal Darkness was first released by Nintendo. It was exciting to think that Nintendo was actually releasing a mature title. At the time, Nintendo was nothing more than Mario and Zelda to me, and this seemed to indicate that Nintendo was heading into a whole new territory. Well I loved the game true enough, Nintendo seemed content that it treaded new waters, so they got out and went right back to their old watering hole.

Not much has changed about my opinion of Nintendo since. Nintendo is still a Mario and Zelda company to me, and yes, sometime I am embarrassed that I am a grown man and I love a company obviously geared towards children. I think Pandora’s Tower, with it more mature themes, would go a long way in changing Nintendo of America’s image, at least for me, and I’m sure many others as well.

Pandora's Tower Robe

“The simple act of having Ganbarion release their twisted Dark Fantasy tale in Pandora’s Tower is a sign of good faith on Nintendo’s part” – Alex Balderas, Editor, Nintendo Enthusiast

Alex Balderas, Editor, Nintendo Enthusiast

The beauty about Nintendo is that they have become masters of such a wide variety of genres and styles that it baffles the mind. Surreal run ‘n’ jump platformer? Check. Epic Fantasy adventure with a unique mythology? Check. Horticulture-based Real-Time Strategy? Check. Mind-bending Psychological Horror Action game? Check…barely. Why not have another one?

Well, WHY have another one, even? Because, it creates a sense of trust for the consumers. The long time fans were surprised when Nintendo released Eternal Darkness, and because of it, they did not have to lie to themselves: instead, they could honestly say “Nintendo knows a thing or two about the kind of mature games I love”. And they did. And they do, as evidenced by Pandora’s Tower. The simple act of having Ganbarion release their twisted Dark Fantasy tale in Pandora’s Tower is a sign of good faith on Nintendo’s part, a blood pact with their consumers, letting them know that “indeed, mature games are still what we want to give you”.

Yasmine Barkani, Operation Rainfall Staff

Pandoras Tower is without a doubt one of the darker, and more mature themed games, since Eternal Darkness, and Metroid Prime Trilogy.

One of the things that defines a mature game, is that it treats its adult audience with respect, and doesn’t hold your hand but instead let you do what you yourself want.  And that’s what Pandoras Tower is good at; it gives you a certain urgency to do your duties fast. It also tries to convey, that love isn’t always defined by beauty, but instead one’s personality, and strong will.

A game can also be mature by showing adult humor, but overdoing it can come across more childish than adult. Pandoras Tower doesn’t have any of that. It doesn’t do swear words, but the whole situation in the game, makes you want it to that.

Pandoras Tower is of course also very dark themed. The games does have a very bright start by having one of the main characters Elena singing at a harvest festival, but everything gets turned upside down, when Elena gets cursed, and the festival gets cut short, and havoc suddenly happens all over. We see Elena, and the other main character, Aeron, run from soldiers as they threaten to kill the cursed Elena, and she now slowly turns into a monster.

You later arrive at the titular Pandoras Tower, which hangs in a deep and black chasm. It gives you a sense of dread, and despair while you look at Elena going through her transformation. You know that you have to climb the Tower, while Elena slows go though the curse, and when you return back to her with beast flesh, you’ll have to watch her go through the pain of eating, if she doesn’t want to turn in a horrid monster. You see her cry, but she still holds, and so do you while thinking about her in the Tower.

Nintendo needs to keep Pandoras Tower in mind, because it’s the kind of game that many gamers have been asking for years from Nintendo, and its finally made. The only thing missing is the fact, that it s still hasn’t been confirmed for America, and if it does, it will probably change many people’s views of Nintendo, and if the sells decent enough, it might encourage Ganbarion to make more titles like these, and hopefully, for a Nintendo console at that.

Pandora's Tower Heart

I hear it tastes like chicken.

David Fernandes, Operation Rainfall Staff

Eternal Darkness was probably one of the strangest games I’ve ever witnessed, to this day even games like Penumbra or Dark Amnesia, only a handful of games use these techniques to actually put fear in gamers. Where it used strange story telling devices, while stilling using the atmosphere, plus gameplay, culminating with classical horror elements like the scare cord to shock and horrify you. Unlike most it doesn’t use cheap tricks to scare you, Silicon Knights proved you don’t need to undermine players to really get under their skin. With a thought provoking mystery plot, with disturbing images bended by your own characters psyche, including the famous sanity meter, which deepens the madness. There was just nothing like it, Nintendo first Mature rated published game, and oh boy does it earn that. Using real occult practices, mythos, and going as so far as use elements from HP Lovecraft works into the narrative.

Pandora’s Tower is another crazy game that Nintendo backed up, seeing in their eyes, a product that was not only unique, but even genre defining in it’s own way. Ganbarion probably themselves played Silicon’s game and it shows. Like Eternal Darkness, the game never tries to cheapen the affect of horror, this time a coined term, “body horror” the poor heroine in our tale is slowly turning into a grotesque monster, not seen in the game over. A way to scare players, the old trick of hearing, but not showing. Of course the amount of time passed, you can see well enough what kinda disgusting beast she really will become. Use of classic pieces really goes hand & hand with the environments, meaning the towers, which itself is in a unique and chilling spot. A canyon being held together by the 13 tower chains, this is not a mere clone of another game we know all to well. Romance is on a deeper level, two characters who depend on the other. One who shoulders the burden of conquering towers so she can survive, the other does tasks that not only help him on his journey, but also gives him, and players a much needed peaceful time to cope with everything that you just done. After a hard days work, husband & wife I would say.

To me these games are not only wanted, they are a necessity. Developers like movie makers, should be able to go into uncharted territories, or be stuck in developer limbo. Creative thoughts being lost due to no trust between developer and publisher. Nintendo once again jumped the leap of faith and believed in another company to show what they got. So what did they get? A title not only different, but has a more meaningful story. Where you need to put in the work to get everything and all benefits out of it. It shows your work rather then just tell you. If Ganbarion were trying to earn that title of a true mature game, in my books they succeeded.

Tyson Gifford, Co-Founder of Operation Rainfall:

Having now played a small portion of Pandora’s Tower, I can say with confidence that it is exactly the kind of dark game Nintendo needs in their publishing portfolio.  Like Eternal Darkness before, Pandora’s Tower is dark beyond the surface; it is dark within its very substance.  It is thus necessary that the game is mature in more than just parental warning.  This is important because Pandora’s Tower stands with very little company in the “dark” section of Nintendo’s publishing history.  It is of my opinion that Ganbarion has succeeded in this task.

Make your voices heard during “Pandora’s Tower” month; Do YOU care about Pandora’s Tower?  What does Pandora’s Tower mean to you?

I would like to thank Ryan, Mike, Alex, David, and Yasmine for contributing to this roundtable discussion.  We at Operation Rainfall would also like to thank Nintendo, Monolith Soft, Mistwalker, AQ Interactive, and Ganbarion for making the games we are so passionate about.  Last, but certainly not least, we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to, supported, and covered Operation Rainfall since it’s inception last year.  Keep fighting!


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