Red Steel Slices Into the Wii
Kikizo sits down with Ubisoft to discuss Red Steel and the part Nintendo had in its genesis.
Nintendo's new console levels the gaming field, forcing everyone to get used to a whole new way of playing. Predictably, some of the earlier titles for the system have been built around simply getting used to playing with the Wii's motion-sensitive controller, something Ubisoft's Stephanie Langlois told Kikizo was at the core of Red Steel's development.
"To play for the first time with Wii and especially with Red Steel, we really need to ask people to forget their previous gamer abilities because this is something completely different," Langlois said.
"We know that at the beginning when people begin to play Red Steel, it is probably the first time they play with the Wii controller. At the end of the game they will be used to that and probably they will be more efficient or more accurate - they will control themselves and master the moves."
Because of this, and because Ubisoft is one of the biggest third party publishers in the industry, Nintendo was eager to see Red Steel succeed. Games such as Wii Sports and Wii Play underlined Nintendo's emphasis on the casual gamer, but it was important for the company to remind hardcore gamers that the console would have something for them too.
Langlois said Nintendo approached Ubisoft to develop a first-person game early on in the life of the Wii - something "polished" that would be ready in time for launch. "Since the beginning we had their support," she said.
The game tells a story of revenge that starts in Los Angeles before heading to the world of organised crime in yakuza-heavy Japan. Lead character Scott Monroe is pulled into Japan's underbelly when his fiancee's father is killed during a mob hit that ends with her kidnapping.
Miyu Sato's father Isao stays alive just long enough to reveal his yakuza ties and the existence of an important katana. As Scott learns how to wield the sword, players are also learning how to use the Wiimote.
"It's pretty much true to Japan, with our filter in terms of look - we want to have a 30's dark movie look," said Langlois. "It's through the eyes of this American boy that you'll discover Japan, plus this dark yakuza atmosphere that we really like."
Ubisoft demoed Red Steel at the Electronic Entertainment Expo this past May, but critics questioned the sensitivity of the controls. Langlois suggests that the learning curve of becoming accustomed to the controls was at least partly to blame for people not getting comfortable with the game.
Some may write of the story as hackneyed, but then the game was built around its controls. Could it have made for anything but the Wii?
"I would say probably it could never work [on another console]," Langlois said, "because really Red Steel is about moving. It's about having the weapon in your hand. The big new part of Red Steel is that you don't have to press buttons anymore, but you're totally immersed."
"This is all the interesting stuff in the game. [If that's removed] then it's just a normal shooter and it's not the Red Steel experience."
The reception so far has not been as positive as Ubisoft would have liked. The game has received middling reviews and after just one week in Chart Track's weekly UK Top 40, the game has dropped out of view.
For more on Red Steel, check out our full video interview with Stephanie Langlois.