Platinum Games Talks of Bayonetta, Clover Studio, and Wonderful 101

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

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Platinum Games

In the words of Atsushi Inaba, Platinum’s executive director and producer, “Our real goal for the first five years was simple: stay around. Survive. That was it.”

And they accomplished that with flying colors. In that short time they have released five games (though we are still waiting on a Western release for Anarchy Reigns), each with their own sense of style but the same level of quality, despite the studio’s small size. An interview from a previous issue of EDGE magazine was recently made available online, revealing some insight into Platinum’s history.

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As most of us know, Platinum was formed by ex-Clover employees, the Capcom owned company that released such classics as Okami, Viewtiful Joe, and God Hand. A common misconception is that Capcom was the one who disbanded Clover. But that is not the case—it was of Clover’s own choosing.

President and CEO of Platinum, Tatsuya Minami had this to say: “When Capcom decided to disband Clover Studios, or, should I say, they decided to leave, I was thinking of leaving myself. So I spoke to Mr Inaba, and we had a lot of options. We could have become an in-house studio for another publisher, but the best option was becoming independent.”

The death of Clover is a much easier pill to swallow in that light—the developers had simply done what they wanted and needed to do at Capcom. As Platinum, they moved on to partner with Sega, a partnership that was not always a happy one.

From undershipment of Infinite Space, to the lack of advertising for most (if not all) of Platinum’s titles, the developer and publisher had a bumpy relationship. But it was not all bad, they learned some lessons along the way.

Speaking about the Bayonetta PS3 port handled by an in-house Sega team, Inaba said, “The biggest failure for Platinum so far, the one that really sticks in my mind, is that port…One thing I will say is that it wasn’t a failure for nothing. We learned from that we needed to take responsibility for everything. So on Vanquish we developed both versions in-house. We learned, so it wasn’t a pointless failure, but it was a failure nonetheless.”

Platinum Games Bayonetta

Not the best port, but because of it Platinum takes porting more seriously.

On top of teaching them that lesson, Bayonetta is responsible for selling the most out of Platinum’s five games at 1.35 million copies. At the time of development they seemed to only have one goal: out do Devil May Cry.

“When I think back to Bayonetta,” said director Hideki Kamiya, “DMC came out seven years beforehand. And within that time span, many action games were released. When those games came out, everyone compared them to DMC. And I was thinking, ‘What? You’re seriously comparing them to a game that’s really old? This is what we can make now.'”

And they sure showed us, Bayonetta was the next evolution of the DMC styled action game, cementing Platinum Games as a developer of quality titles, just as good as their Clover days. As one of the best Japanese studios around, they have strong opinions about the western media’s almost insistence that Japanese developers are falling behind.

“I don’t like it when people lump Japanese developers all together into one group,” Inaba said. “Frankly, I think it’s a joke. What do these people know? Think about western developers. There are many western developers making terrible games, and then you see one like Infinity Ward making a game that sells 20 million and everyone goes, ‘Hey, western developers are amazing!’ There are tons of terrible western developers, just like there’s tons of terrible Japanese developers. To lump studios together in great masses misses the point.”

Despite western stigma towards Japanese game development, it seems Platinum has earned interest from a number of western publishers.

“We have a lot of talks and a lot of contact with western publishers who want to work with us,” Inaba said. “I think they respect us and recognize what we can do. They always want to work on very action-oriented titles, because they think we’re the best action game developers in the world.”

It’s true that their titles have been focused on over the top action and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance continues and expands on that pedigree early next year, but they also have another game in development. For Nintendo they are working on the “mass-hero action” title The Wonderful 101 (formerly titled Project P-100) for the Wii U. Colorful, cartoony, and gameplay similar to the Pikmin series, it is a departure from their usual violent, mature titles. And they might be interested in expanding their range of games even farther.

“Whenever we talk with western publishers,” Minami said. “it’s always about something with a very heavy action style to it. Nobody comes to Platinum and asks for an RPG.”

Could this be a hint at what’s to come? With other unannounced titles currently in development, anything is possible! The future is bright for Platinum Games, here’s to another five years just as strong as the past half a decade.