It didn’t take long for some people to react badly to the news Nintendo had teamed up with Namco Bandai for the next Smash Bros. The past and current Smash Bros top dog, Mr Sakurai has defended the partnership on Twitter replying to fan who thinks Namco-Bandai are not good enough to work on the game, but fans remain divided. I’m somewhere in between the yeas and nays and here’s how I see it…
The logic of a partnership
Nintendo announced the game way too early, months before any work at all had even begun. One can only assume, but to me the partnership seems vital. Smash Bros is so early in development it will easily be more than 2 years untill we see it, unless they team up with someone to increase the workforce, and even then it is still at least 2 years away. Namco-Bandai might not be the dream choice, but a partner ship is needed for a game people still mistakenly think will turn up not too long after the Wii U launches. Let us not forget Smash Bros for the last 2 games has been Nintendos biggest project by a long shot.
But are Namco Bandai Rubbish?
Well yes and no. They aren’t exactly known for Triple A titles, or sharing their best games with Nintendo. Bandai is something of a joke in the gaming world. No one waits with bated breath to find out what they are working on next. However Namco are arcade gods and saints of the 2D era, and game like Soul Calibur prove they can do a good fighting game so it’s not all bad.
But is it good they are working on Smash Bros?
If it was my choice I wouldn’t have picked them. Many Nintendo fans are sour over Starfox Assault still, which Namco made for Nintendo, and they didn’t do a great job on the arcade Mario Kart either by most accounts. So there’s good reason to think they won’t do a good job with Smash Bros either. However with both those games it was never clear how much Nintendo dictated, all those changes people hated could have very well been Nintendos ideas. Nevertheless the blame lies with Namco.
Nintendo knows we don’t like other people working on their games, the only exceptions are Rare and Retro, this idea was never going to go down well. In fact Nintendo felt the need to test the waters with us on what titles Retro should work on, and they should know we trust retro totally, so they know full well this partnership would be controversial.
What is probably the bigger concern.
Well there’s two things, first is how long it will take to come out, delays raise expectations often impossibly high so Nintendo may have already put its self in a no win situation. 2nd is the effect creating 2 titles that will work together will have. They are still planning to make it play on both WiiU and 3DS. This could be a graphical cop-out for the WiiU version. It could be a cash-cow expecting us to spend too much to get the full experience. Al a possible concern is the delicate choice between offering two identical games or trying to offer unique content to each version which could cause both games to seem small and annoy people by paying twice to get the full package. not all these things will happen hopefully they will all be avoided. Ideally the 2 games will be a single package, but this dual game idea will unquestionably increase development time more, and it’s not clear fans care for this idea either.
This game and the duel game idea was thrown at us pretty much on a whim, do not think it has been carefully thought through. There is also the debate to be had on paid download content for Smash Bros which could be disastrous and seems highly likely. I personally would make money through turning it into an E-Sport rather than Paid DLC.
These will be choices made by Nintendo, but Namco-Bandai will get the blame if they fail…Probably another reason a partnership makes sense. You can be sure Nintendo will push them to the limits of their endurance and sanity. Nintendo almost always gets exactly what it wants out of a partnership, and always covers it back well. If Namco Bandai team chosen to work on SB turn out to be rubbish it will just mean the game is forever delayed untill they get it right. So basically, it will be fine but it will probably take longer to make than we think, even with this new partnership.