I’ve Had Enough Unnecessary Ports
I was debating the situation with a friend: if that’s the case, surely a system with a simplified, but still more tangible, control system like Wii would be a more suitable match – there’s a huge potential audience there, too, and the game would still have to be downgraded in the same way it has been for iPhone.
He posited that any console owner who really wanted Street Fighter IV would already have bought it on a HD system. I disagree with that view, given the size of Wii’s userbase in comparison to the other current generation consoles, but if we give that viewpoint credence for a minute, trace that logic and say they want to capture a new, portable audience, it still doesn’t make sense.
The iPhone is frankly a bizarre choice if you’re wanting to port a console fighting game and have it retain its quality. Why not go for PlayStation Portable instead? You might finish with less sales – and that’s my question answered, I guess – but more than likely you’d end up with a more accomplished product, given that you’d still be able to use a semblance of the original control scheme by use of the buttons.
BOTH ENDS OF THE SPECTRUM
Since I’ve started with Capcom, I’m going to continue to use their porting examples, because they seem to be responsible for both some of the best and most nonsensical port jobs in the industry.
One of their favourable examples is in the transition of the Ace Attorney series from Game Boy Advance to Nintendo DS. Very little was actually altered, but they identified a new market that would be potentially receptive to their product that did not require them to compromise the gameplay. That’s fair enough – some things are just natural fits, and those are really the situations where porting is acceptable to me. I never had the hostility towards the Ace Attorney games turning up on DS that I do towards Street Fighter IV’s upcoming iPhone appearance, simply because the games did not have to be hammered to fit to a system they did not suit.
On the other hand, the Ace Attorney WiiWare ports are harder to justify, given that the majority of people using download services are hardcore-oriented and so may have played the DS versions anyway, and also the fact that they’re just conversions of the handheld games for a big screen.
If a new piece of hardware comes out that a developer genuinely thinks could be exploited effectively to improve their game, again I have no issue with that. Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is the best version of the game, solely due to its usage of the Wii Remote pointer. It’s when games are squeezed onto systems just for the sake of it and end up as inferior shadows of their former selves that I worry.
Where Wii’s Resident Evil 4 port succeeded, Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop failed miserably because it was ported from a system with higher specifications and its high enemy count gameplay was completely unsuited to the lower-powered Wii.
In an ideal world, nowadays developers should be trying to take advantage of each system separately due to their uniqueness. Of course, in reality, this just isn’t a possibility because of costs and other business aspects.
I think the thing I dislike the most about ports is that they take resources away from original projects – not necessarily new intellectual properties, just original content in general. However, I accept that as a requirement in some cases so that companies can continue to make any original titles at all. In that respect, I must hold my glass aloft to the 20-odd versions of Street Fighter II. I’d be a lot happier about the practice, though, if every port actually made sense. By Mike Mason
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