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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Percy's Predicament

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - The name of this game is actually perfect for an article title.

Once upon a time, a new Texas-based game developer named Maestro Interactive Games decided to release a game on the Wii U. That game is named Percy's Predicament, featuring a penguin rolling around in a ball. It's out now, trying to take advantage of Everything Is Better With Penguins. Here's the launch trailer.

It plays nothing like Super Monkey Ball, by the way (you control the penguin, not the stage). If you like the jazzy sound of 0:56 like me, then you'll appreciate Maestro's self-described vision:
 "Maestro Interactive Games was founded in 2012 by Monty Goulet. Our vision is to create the highest quality gaming products with a focus on art, design and audio. We plan to create new and exciting titles immersed with addictive and compelling soundtracks.

It sounds cliche but we are making the kind of games we want to play. We appreciate good art, thoughtful design, engaging stories, and of course powerful, emotional audio, and we truly believe there are plenty of gamers out there that agree with us."

Focus on art, design, audio, and high quality? Addictive and compelling soundtracks? Well, YEAH. That's KoopaTV's values right there. We LOVE games with powerful audio, and we love engaging stories in our games. As proof of their commitment, they even have an embedded soundtrack on their website. So what's the deal here?

Percy's Predicament is Maestro's first videogame ever, and it's only on the Wii U. In other words, it's that Nintendo indie support effort. The same kind Two Tribes tried to give before their demise. Unfortunately, the game is absolutely getting trashed on Miiverse. Why? Well, even though Maestro has a commitment to art, their first game ever doesn't visually look the "highest quality". That's perfectly explainable. And it should mesh well with supposed Nintendo gamer values, right?

Yikes, and it looks like there aren't any player checkmarks anywhere.

Maestro actually got founder Monty Goulet to make an official Nintendo-green-checkmarked account on Miiverse, perhaps trying to emulate the kind of close indie developer-to-gamer relationship that Two Tribes had. It doesn't seem to be working if you look inside those (as of publishing, two) posts.

This is basic, guys. Small developers starting out can't afford all the niceties AAA developers have. Remember, all my talk about how the Wii's standard-definition graphics were a good thing and how the 2DS making 2D okay again is also a good thing? Here's your case-in-point of how an install base friendly to the results of lower development costs is a more attractive prospect than forced high ones. It's why so many developers who, I hope, would love to make console and handheld games are stuck developing mobile games. They haven't been "spoiled" beyond repair yet. Lower development costs are still acceptable on mobile platforms. I have no doubt that Maestro wants to spend more on production values, but they don't have the capital to do that. Maestro is PROUD to support the Wii U!

I think, even if you aren't going to financially support them by buying Percy's Predicament, you should at least refrain from trashing them. It's to Nintendo's benefit if Maestro succeeds, and once again, their values mesh well with KoopaTV's. And those values are the ones that will drive the game industry back to amazing status.

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