Tecmo Koei in the Fall

Alas, Fall is here. This is my favorite season in general because of the holidays that come up as well as the many releases and announcements that come around this time of year.

Well, I seem to only want to talk about Tecmo Koei because I keep feeling that they could do better than they already do, but numerous variables hold them back from being a favored company. It’s rather odd, seeing that they do actually put effort to fulfill fan demands. I still feel like they place an unreachable carrot constantly dangling in front of a donkey rather than releasing an actual solid game worth the hype in explosive popularity. At least what they show is indeed what you get. No further surprises, everything releases as expected and becomes predictable after a certain point.

A numerous amount of releases from Tecmo Koei occurred this early September, namely: Atelier Meruru Plus, Atelier Escha DLC and its English announcement, and Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate. They made announcements of other games, but I cannot cover a series I did not follow through on its release. Tecmo Koei seems to like to do their simultaneous announcements and same month releases, as March and September provides a good 6 month distance. With Tokyo Game Show happening this month, naturally this was a great time to announce new games. There couldn’t have been a better time and place to announce new releases.

As I don’t have a Playstation Vita, I cannot comment on Atelier Meruru Plus. The direction with the series is correct: having a vita version with all the existing DLC with bonus content, at a starting price of $39.99. Although a physical copy once again would be nice, at least the game itself has everything to offer. This is a good direction to go, even though I still disagree with their lack of marketing which is no different than when they released Atelier Totori Plus. This time there was less of an evident outrage because they made sure to clearly announce it would be released September 3rd, 2013 months beforehand. It’s also possible there was no Atelier Meruru Plus marketing to once again, not get in the way of their massive Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate promotions. Either way, there isn’t much to say for promoting Atelier Meruru Plus since they did indeed say all the DLC would be in and special additions would be added if you have an Atelier Totori Plus complete save file. If anything, Tecmo Koei is much bigger on marketing present and future releases, rather than looking back at a technically older release.

Regarding Atelier Escha DLC, at least a new boss and map is provided which challenges the player. For the costume DLC being released two months after the game released I find the timing poor, as it’s released long after players already completed the game. With the news from September 19, 2013 the Tecmo Koei European branch has mentioned Atelier Escha will be released in English along with other games for Spring 2014. Tecmo Koei Europe has mentioned that they are using the same outsourced resources that NISA did for translation since NISA no longer has anything to do with the Atelier series. The outsourced company is called Actill. Even if Tecmo Koei weren’t using the same outsourced resources, they clearly could translate anyways. As promised, with the Atelier Ayesha debacle, Tecmo Koei has announced that Atelier Escha will indeed be dual audio. The game will be quite interesting to look forward to, as it furthers the successful new game elements presented in Atelier Ayesha while re-implementing old preferred mechanics found in the Arland series. You end up with an explosive alchemy game with big combos, big damage, and big alchemy.

The third major item I noticed from Tecmo Koei is Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate coming out. With its release, vanilla Dead or Alive 5 is effectively dead. As much as I dislike a complete game override, it’s fairly clear that vanilla Dead or Alive 5 already rotted away within a year. Personally I went with Core Fighters to enjoy the new system perks, but no matter how many improvements there are to the game, it’s not exactly new. The only thing I wonder is now if Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate was planned during the production phases of Dead or Alive 5 and release new content bit by bit to milk the consumer, or if Dead or Alive 5 didn’t work out as intended as this was quickly developed to make up for the shortcomings. One thing’s for sure: this release supersedes the original. At a $39.99 price, it’s fair if one has not bought Dead or Alive 5. Core Fighters however, is a new attempt in which I conceptually agree, allowing newcomers to test the waters. The funny thing is that said newcomers would also flood the online lobbies and in a way, the quality of combat is lower too because of the free system. The pricing system for itemized portions are well thought of, though only makes sense if you buy very little.

Can’t entirely blame Tecmo Koei for any shortcomings. They suffer from a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” conflict. When they make attempts to deviate from what their game series have previously done, they get called out on it. For that same reason, when they continue to cater to demands of the existing fanbase, they also get called out on it. This causes series like Atelier and Dead or Alive to seemingly have an identity crisis. For the Atelier series it’s more or less the same since Atelier Escha immediately implements a lot of Arland mechanics, but the series continues to stay niche.

Also by being able to get dual audio on Atelier Escha gives the perception that they threw Atelier Ayesha completely under the bus showing that Japanese audio was attainable and that it was a management decision to not put in Japanese audio. Well, if the sales lost on Atelier Ayesha really doesn’t exceed the cost to getting Japanese audio, fine. Expected sales on Atelier Escha will have reasonably restored numbers since the boycotting issue on no dual audio is gone, Arland mechanics restored, and in many ways is supposedly an enhanced version of Atelier Ayesha catered to the fans more adequately. At least Tecmo Koei can tell that pissing off the fanbase is fairly stupid and they definitely have heard a good share of complaints and adjusted accordingly. The method of release for Atelier Escha will likely be no different than Atelier Ayesha come Spring 2014. Normally I’d be excited but I’m going to play a wait and see method since I could simply import the game right now if I really wanted to play it.

Speaking of Japanese audio, anyone who follows Tecmo Koei would immediately notice that their Dynasty Warrior series, specifically DW7 and DW8 have initially had no Japanese audio, but later had it added in as DLC. To display a difference between Dynasty Warriors and the Atelier Series is simple: DW is a core Koei game. As far as the possibility to why Japanese audio was available later for Dynasty Warriors is also simple: the release of the Japanese audio patch could simply be made available contingent on number of sales of the game. For instance, if there was a benchmark of x copies of Dynasty Warriors to be sold before releasing a patch with Japanese audio, this would be the case. It is clear Atelier Ayesha had nothing like this, mostly due to having different parties involved. Even if this wasn’t true, the barriers to getting voices are certainly different. Looking at it from the outside it will always look weird as to why Atelier Ayesha had no dual audio, even if the reasons are plausible. Heck I wouldn’t even mind paying for Japanese audio DLC even though I’ve already finished the game, but that probably doesn’t exist for a Tecmo Koei game since they never pulled that sort of move before.

For Dead or Alive, it has a front of being a serious gritty fighting game, and yet a lot of the promotions look like the next Paradise or Xtreme Beach Volleyball game, so it easily gets overlooked as a fun competitive fighting game among a myriad of other reasons. This makes the series have a reality issue where it’s trying to cover both grounds of good combat and appealing character designs, but still can’t be taken seriously. The game isn’t bad, it’s just not appearing to grow in popularity either despite certain improvements and overhauls. For me personally I feel like despite technical improvements, there’s something about the design that I feel has been lost from the different team. To put it bluntly, I got bored of Dead or Alive 5 within 3 hours of playing it and actually ended up playing previous iterations more. It’s supposed to be flashy, entertaining, and all that, but I can’t help but be completely bored and disinterested playing it. On a costume DLC note, I haven’t even seen one I’d remotely like. Despite re-implementing old costumes from previous iterations, they managed to not implement ones I liked in the past correctly. Will Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate only last less than a year and require a new update or annual release as well?

I’d have to hand it to Tecmo Koei for at least being smart in their placement of releases and given information. It happens to be just enough to not overly disclose information, and not enough so it’ll entice interested parties. Still, I have a feeling they have plenty of other things planned in store that are even better, so I might just pass on these next few games until I see another change in its design. In some ways it’s clear Tecmo Koei adjusted and made improvements on aspects they were called out on, whether it was their marketing, their content, or some other reason. If fans demanded a certain character or dual audio, Tecmo Koei has actually delivered it when they said they would do so in a future release.  I have yet to see them actually fail to deliver something they said they would. The trouble isn’t what they deliver, it’s what they don’t say. It’s a bit disappointing since it feels more like they’re going with the flow rather than creating something truly exciting to get hype about.


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