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News: Vanquish’s Space Colony Inspired By Gundam

Posted on : 14-08-2010 | By : | In : News

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Up at the PlatinumGames official blog, there’s a post from the lead background designer of Vanquish, talking about the influence of Gundam’s space colonies on their game’s visual design. We’ve talked about this obvious influence before but in particular his comment about the team being mainly of “Gundam age” is very interesting. Most of them grew up with this shared cultural experience of Mobile Suit Gundam and other mecha series spawned from the Real Robot explosion that followed in its wake, and this affects Japanese video game development to this day, just as Western video game developers share their own cultural experiences, such as Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons.

Japanese video games can do very well in the West, but much of the time the peculiar differences that Japanese games can have from Western ones is ignored in the press or simply passed off as “Japan is weird”, without exploring the particular background these differences came from, rather treating game development as if it exists in a vacuum. It’s good to see these differences explained, and this in particular is a good example of the scale of influence the mecha animation genre has had in Japanese video game development.


Comments (12)

This is a good point you bring up, Toll. It’s interesting because Gundam and its real robot setting would’ve fit right at home in America of the 60s during the space race, but now sci fi taste has become warped into sci-fi fantasy because, like you mentioned, of Star Wars its strong influence.

you got a point there

Well, Japan IS weird. But the west is weird, too. It’s just that we’ve made ourselves numb to how silly most of our tropes are and we’ve sadly convinced far too many Japanese developers to feel the same way.

Even if Vanquish is original in all these wonderful ways, the USA vs. Russia story seems more like a gimme to Western audiences than the actual creative stretch a team like Platinum could make.

I think the west owes Japan some of its confidence back, since we may have taken too much away in wanting them to evolve. Their new doom-and-gloom attitude isn’t healthy for them; negative reinforcement ends up teaching people the wrong lessons when there’s a dearth of positive reinforcement to go with it.

I don’t think there’s a confidence issue at all, as a lot of Japanese developers go their own way. Even with Vanquish, whilst the story may have a nice cultural nod to the West – the game (the important bit) is inspired by Casshern – a very Japanese IP.

I’d go as far as to say that I wouldn’t worry about a game that Shinji Mikami was working on might be adversely affected by his trying to be “too Western”, as he has proven his ability to unite the game design philosophies and settings from both sides of the Pacific in his past games to great effect, taking the strong elements of both and rejecting each side’s weaker elements.

The “US vs Russia” thing I won’t judge until I’ve actually played through the game, because if there’s someone in Japan who can make that work, it’s Shinji Mikami. Hell, I kind of have high hopes for it–I’d love for someone to take down game narratives like Modern Warfare 2’s down a peg, so everyone will have to shape up in the future.

You’re both actually very right. I keep forgetting about Mikami’s track record.

To be honest, though, all it takes to dethrone Modern Warfare 2’s story is to make sense and not have tasteless shock value moments.

I agree with you and about the Japanese developers it’s their choice to add both sci fi perpetives in the game (sorry for spelling error) And Casshern is a great Japanese hero altogether

No multiplayer makes me sad. =(

Sad to say, that fact alone will probably only make this a rental for me.

After looking at the video and while writing this, the boosting reminded me of the Border Break review. They probably don’t have anything in common game wise anyway.

It’s cool though about the colonies. Also, on that note I don’t think that the colonies in Gundam are Gundamish in any way. Aren’t they based in some sort of real life theorizing on what space colonies would be like?

Let me fix what I said about the multiplayer aspect. If the game is difficult enough then that’s fine I’d be more than happy to shell out it’s retail price. I just don’t want it to be some easy check point style carnival ride. I want to get something out of it.

The space colonies in Gundam are what are called “O’Neill cylinders” or “Island 3 habitats”, and basically the entire cylinder rotates so that the people living inside on the surface feel a sense of gravity as they rotate around. Basically it’s a giant version of a merry-go-round; it’s moving you in a circle, and you feel “pushed” towards the outside of the circle.

While most of Gundam today is kind of crazy, and even the original series has a lot of Super Robot tropes, the original series really was designed as a “what might the future be like?” science fiction instead of the setting merely fitting the story the author wanted to tell. The idea was that the mobile suits would be evolved forms of the machines which built the colonies, and the colonies themselves were based in solid scientific principles.

As for the multiplayer component not being present, I can’t imagine it having worked. The game they’re designing is simply too fast to have teams of crazy guys with rockets strapped to their supersuits to have been playable. Keep in mind that even in slower games such as Halo 3, it’s often hard to tell what shots “hit” and what shots “miss”, because of the time it takes data to get from one Xbox to another. Good programmers can alleviate this somewhat, but you’re never going to get around the fact that some players might be one-tenth of a second “ahead” than another player, and one-tenth of a second is a lot of time for a character to move around in.

They probably should have put in a co-op mode or something of that sort, but considering the amount of enemies/objects onscreen, that might not have been possible. Co-op usually means they need more enemies for the players to fight, but the programmers have about half the power to render those additional enemies with. It’s tough.

Wow all of you guys have a point there about the game and a nice concept too

The robots in Gundam were initially designed to construct these Space Colonies and to provide humanity further expansion into outer space.

Unfortunately, the factions that designed these robots (mobile suits or mobile armors) had the bright idea of supplanting weapons onto these and began to wage war.

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