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Where is the 3rd party support? Ten lesser known developers [top ten]
The Nintendo Wii is an interesting phenomenon. Coming off of the disappointing sales of the Gamecube, 3rd party publishers and developers were a bit wary to jump into the next Nintendo home console right away, especially after Nintendo announced that the Wii would come with a (very) non-standard controller and a decided lack of hardware power next to its competition. Yet the Wii took the industry by surprise and soared in the marketplace, quickly becoming not just the best selling home console of the generation, but setting itself on a pace to, perhaps, become the best selling home console of all time. We are approaching the two year anniversary of the console and it is still difficult to simply walk into a store and buy a Wii; they sell out almost as fast as they come in. Surely 3rd party support has followed?

Well… yes and no. Though we are seeing more and more 3rd party support for the machine day to day, there is still a stigma surrounding it. The consensus seems to be sure, the Wii is selling very well, but mostly to “casual” gamers who don’t want full, complex video games. For the most part, support for the type of games “core” (I really hate that term) gamers get into is still going to the Xbox 360 and the Sony Playstation 3. Look at the major home console projects from EA, Ubisoft, Squarenix, Capcom, Namco, and the other major players and you will find nary a Wii project to speak of.

This was also the case with the Nintendo DS for awhile, though that attitude mostly wore off once the DS commanded such an overwhelming lead in the handheld market that publishers and developers would have had to be blind to not see the sales potential. Is it possible that the Wii can follow in the footsteps of its younger brother? Only time will tell.

However, look outside the major players in the industry and you will find a fair amount of smaller developers, whether longtime industry veterans or newly established development houses, who are eager to support the Nintendo machines. Some of them are working in tandem with publishers who “get it,” others are going off on their own and praying to god a publisher picks their projects up; either way these developers are quickly making a name for themselves in the circles of the Nintendo faithful. It is the purpose of this article to help that process along, and perhaps expose our meager readership to some decidedly interesting developers and games they may have missed out on.

I apologize in advance if this list seems a bit skewed towards the Wii. It’s not that the DS doesn’t have its unsung heroes; it does, and I have covered some of them below. But I feel that the DS is a bit of a safer bet for 3rd parties right now, while the Wii is where the big chances are being taken, and these Wii developers willing to take risks need all of the support they can get. So here goes…
Posted: 10/13/08, 22:19:17  - Edited by 
 on: 04/08/13, 01:46:29
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5th Cell
Notable games released: Drawn to Life (DS), Lock’s Quest (DS)

Notable games in development: ???

Website: http://www.5thcell.com/

5th Cell is a company with a plan. Starting out as a cell phone game developer, they decided awhile back to break into the general video game industry. Their ultimate goal, as stated in various interviews, is to create games on the major home consoles. However, knowing that the leap from cell phones to home consoles is a pretty big leap, they decided to use the handhelds, more specifically the DS, as a stepping stone towards their ultimate goal.

Their first project, a side scrolling platformer called Drawn to Life, got a lot of hype for allowing the player to draw their own objects that were used within the actual gameplay. Though it debuted to only “decent” scores, it went on to become a huge sales success, especially with the younger crowd, even spawning a Sponge Bob edition (though they did not develop this one.) Lock’s Quest, on the other hand, has received both high scores and a lot of love from all kinds of gamers, with its unique blend of castle defense and RTS gameplay, high production values (for the DS) and a lot of hidden depth. Whether it can hit the same kind of sales Drawn to Life did remains to be seen, but the overall quality of the product bodes well for the future of 5th Cell.

5th Cell is being mum about any current projects that may or may not be in development, but they have hinted that they are finally ready to move onto the home consoles, while retaining support for the DS as well. Could a Wii game be in the works? One can only hope.

Beatin' down in Lock's Quest.
Renegade Kid
Notable games released: Dementium: The Ward (DS)

Notable games in development: Moon (DS), Untitled project (Wii)

Website: http://www.renegadekid.com/

Renegade Kid put a lot of thought into their name. They wanted to come up with something that showed they were willing to step outside the boundaries, but also keep a fun-loving quality to their work. I think they succeeded in their choice, but what about the actual games?

Despite increased support over the years in all kinds of genres, the DS still has one major lacking in its library; quality M-rated games. Not content with simply selling to an already established market, Renegade Kid took a huge chance with their first project and created a flawed but still loved M-rated FPS / Horror game on the DS named Dementium: The Ward. Next step is to bring the horror to the moon, in the aptly named, currently in development “Moon.” However, they stress that Moon will not be a mere rehash of their previous work, but will have its own feel and gameplay elements. I believe them.

Renegade Kid also recently announced a Wii project, but details are scarce. Other than a vague hint at utilizing a “famous” horror icon and a bit of art work (check their site… it sure looks like Dracula to me) we don’t have much to go on. They have a pretty solid background in FPS and that is a genre that is certainly lacking on the Wii, but it wouldn’t be much of a renegade act to simply stick to the genre you know now would it? We shall see soon enough.

Moon has erm... more than one... dark side?
High Voltage Software
Notable games released: Gyrostarr (Wii Ware)

Notable games in development: The Conduit (Wii), Animales de la Muerte (Wii Ware)

Website: http://www.high-voltage.com/

Unlike the two above, High Voltage Software is a long time industry veteran, probably most famous for their work on the Balder’s Gate: Dark Alliance and Hunter: The Reckoning games of last generation. But it wasn’t until recently that Nintendo consoles got much love from High Voltage.

Not content to announce just a single Wii project, High Voltage jumped into Wii development with various projects at once. Gyrostarr, an early Wii Ware game, got some criticism but had some cool ideas involved. Animales de la Muerte, another Wii Ware game currently in development, looks to potentially bring back some of the fun of classics such as Zombies Ate My Neighbors and Smash TV.

But their big project is The Conduit, a full FPS created specifically and exclusively for the Wii. You can tell from interviews that this is their baby. In a radical move, High Voltage spurned looking for a publisher early on so they could focus on creating exactly the type of game they wanted to make without any outside interference. And it seems to be working. The Conduit received many best of Wii awards at E3 and continues to look better and better with every new build. Whether it will turn out to be an A-level game or just a fun diversion, you have to respect the philosophy and dedication behind it. And with three Wii games within the first few years of its life, I think it is safe to assume that we will see more High Voltage projects in the future.

Massive alien destruction to be had in the Conduit.
Telltale Games
Notable games released: Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episodes 1 and 2 (Wii Ware)

Notable games in development: Sam & Max: Season One (Wii), Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 3 (Wii Ware)

Website: http://www.telltalegames.com/

If you are anything like me, you got your hands on the Wii, played around with the Wii remote for awhile, and thought “wow, this would be perfect for the point and click Adventure genre!” Yet until recently the only real standout has been Capcom’s Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure. Telltale plans to change all of that, and soon.

PC gamers know and love the Sam & Max series of point and click Adventure games for many reason, from the crazy storyline and unique brand of humour to the subtle puzzles and other sublime gameplay elements. Telltale is best known for its revival of that franchise, with a much praised series of episodic games that, packaged together, is known simply as “Sam & Max: Season One.” A perfect fit for the point and click Wii remote, Telltale is bringing the season over to the Wii this fall in all of its insane glory.

But that’s not all. Fans of Strong Bad’s Internet escapades have already gotten their hands on the first two episodes of a PC / Wii Ware point and click adventure series and more are coming. Even more exciting is the fact that Telltale seems to see the logic in developing its point and click games for both the PC and the Wii simultaneously; hopefully this bodes well for future Telltale games making their way over to the Wii. And if Telltale opens the door with Sam & Max, perhaps we may see other Lucas Arts point and click Adventure games hit the Wii?

That wacky dog and rabbit duo return... Sam and Max.
Kuju Entertainment / Headstrong Games
Notable games released: Battalion Wars 2 (Wii), Geometry Wars: Galaxies (Wii and DS)

Notable games in development: The House of the Dead: Overkill (Wii)

Website: http://www.kuju.com/

Don’t be confused about the two companies in one header, I’m not trying to cheat and sneak in 11 developers in my article; Headstrong Games is very much a part of Kuju Entertainment. A recently formed branch of Kuju, Headstrong was created for the purpose of focusing solely on the Wii and none others. Doesn’t it just make you warm inside to hear a thing like that?

Kuju is probably best known for its work on the Nintendo exclusive Battalion Wars series, both the original on the Gamecube and the sequel on the Wii. Yet they were also responsible for taking Bizarre Creations’ Xbox Live Arcade Geometry Wars series and greatly expanding it in the Wii and DS versions, which were very well received by both press and fans.

In a surprising yet somehow logical move, Headstrong Games has teamed up with Sega for the next iteration in the House of the Dead series, subtitled Overkill. A slick trailer has been released (check Gametrailers.Com) and it looks like the series is certainly in good hands. I may have to break down and buy that Nyko Perfect Shot after all…

Geometry Wars only looks like pure chaos to the untrained eye.
Cing, Inc.
Notable games released: Trace Memory (DS), Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (DS)

Notable games in development: Little King's Story (Wii), Trace Memory (Wii)

Website: http://www.cing.co.jp/e/index2.html

The Wii may still be a bit lacking in point and click Adventure games, but the DS has flourished, in no small part thanks to Cing, Inc. A company founded by industry veterans, Cing has managed to fly under the radar a bit, despite having several quality titles to their name.

Cing brought DS owners a unique adventure in Trace Memory, following the story of a girl who has to solve the mysteries of her very strange family background. The game was fairly well received, but often criticized for being a bit short and shallow. Hotel Dusk: Room 215 followed, this time centering around a detective seeking out the secrets of his friend’s disappearance years past in a vaguely haunting hotel. The game was both much longer than Trace Memory, and much deeper, including several characters who all had their own mysteries to unravel.

However, the title that may finally break Cing from its underground status is the very hyped Little King's Story, which is slated to hit the Wii this December. One part strategy, one part action, and a small dash of Pikmin, the game stands out among other Wii titles with a very strong style and unique gameplay variety. And as if that wasn’t good enough for Wii owners, Cing recently announced that Trace Memory would also be coming to the Wii. The brief teaser trailer showed what looked to be the protagonist from the first grown up a bit, though it hasn’t been officially stated if it is a sequel or not as of yet. Either way, it is great to see Cing finally bringing its love to the Wii, and we should all be looking forward to their current and future projects.

I guess there are no shaving kits at the Hotel Dusk...
Treasure Video Games
Notable games released: Sin & Punishment (VC/N64), Bangai-O Spirits (DS), Bleach: Dark Souls (DS), Bleach: The Blade of Fate (DS)

Notable games in development: Sin & Punishment 2 (Wii)

Website: http://www.treasure-inc.co.jp/index01.html

If you have never heard of Treasure Video Games, I seriously question your gaming credentials. Treasure has longtime been a champion of the hardcore, creating unique games that… gasp.. are actually challenging! Recently they have branched into the mainstream a bit more with licensed titles, including their Astro Boy games last generation and their DS Bleach titles this time around, but anyone doubting that Treasure is still for the hardcore first and foremost should grap a copy of one of those aforementioned games; they are far from your typical licensed games developer. Astro Boy on DS will kick your ass over and over, and you will like it and beg for more.

In a rather unexpected move, Nintendo announced awhile back that the Virtual Console would be including previously Japan-only games, and Treasure’s corridor shooter Sin & Punishment was among the first to finally hit Western shores. Imagine Starfox on-foot missions… now imagine them not sucking but actually kicking total ass… this is what Sin & Punishment is. The “import” sold so well on the Virtual Console that a full-fledged Wii sequel has recently been announced; and thus the hardcore cried tears of joy.

Can Treasure really revive such an old franchise to great success though? Well, they just did it on the DS. Bangai-O Spirits is the sequel to a much praised Dreamcast game, and unlike most classic revivals, it lives up to and even surpasses the original in many ways.

Treasure has gone on record in the past stating that they actually prefer to support the underdog console to let their unique brand of games stand out more. What does this mean for future Nintendo support when both of its machines are owning their respective markets? Difficult to say, but with the way other developers are ignoring the Wii it might be the perfect market for a developer such as Treasure; a market where its often oddball games can truly stand out, yet also a market that is millions upon millions strong and growing larger every day. Hopefully Treasure sees it the same way I do.

I'm not sure what my sin was, but this is far from punishment.
Level 5
Notable games released: Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS), Professor Layton and Pandora's Box (DS)

Notable games in development: Dragon Quest IX: Protectors of the Sky (DS), Inazuma Eleven (DS), Professor Layton and The Last Time Travel (DS), Ninokuni w/ studio Ghibli (DS)

Website: http://www.level5.co.jp/

Level 5 may be a new name to Nintendo-only gamers; they have worked primarily on Sony consoles in the past. Responsible for developing several big name games, including the Dark Cloud series, Squarenix’s Dragon Quest VIII and Rogue Galaxy, you will find nary a PS2 RPG fan who isn’t familiar with the prestigious developer. However, neither the Gameboy Advance nor the Gamecube saw a single Level 5 game last generation.

It may be premature to declare a shift of allegiance, as both the PS3 and the PSP are still seeing Level 5 support. However, it seems the DS is now their platform of choice. Working with Nintendo on the highly successful Professor Layton series of puzzlers (think the type of puzzles in actual puzzle books but with a slick anime presentation surrounding it… very fun stuff,) Level 5 has made a name for themselves on the DS. The third game is already in the works, and it seems, at this point, that the series may never end.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Squarenix shocked the industry by announcing that the insanely popular (in Japan) Dragon Quest series, up to this point a home console exclusive, would be moving to handhelds; and chose the DS as its resting place. Sony fans rioted, and Nintendo fans rejoiced. Level 5 would, once again, be handling the development.

And as if that isn’t enough, Level 5 recently announced a deal with the highly revered Studio Ghibli Japanese animation studio (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) to work together on yet another DS title named Ninokuni. Throw in an interesting looking soccer RPG in Inazuma Eleven and the DS support never ends.

I have only one question for Level 5 though… where is the Wii support?

Doesn't Professor Layton look just dapper? Wait, what does dapper mean?!
Grasshopper Manufacture
Notable games released: No More Heroes (Wii), Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse w/ Tecmo (Wii), Contact (DS)

Notable games in development: No More Heroes Desperate Struggle (Wii), Flower, Sun, and Rain: The Endless Park (DS), The Silver Case (DS), Suda51 Untitled Horror Project w/ Mikami (Wii)

Website: http://www.grasshoppermanufacture.com/

Grasshopper Manufacture, headed by the eclectic man with a punk rock flair known only as Suda51, has been hanging around the industry for a long time; since back in the original Playstation days, to be precise. This is a fact that often surprises gamers, as the first whispers of Grasshopper didn’t appear in the West until late in the lifespan of the Gamecube / PS2, when a collaboration game with Capcom / Mikami titled Killer 7 was announced. The game debuted to love it or hate it reviews and weak sales, but the overall excellent (and obviously punk-influenced) style, bizarre story and unique gameplay made the game a cult hit, and Suda51 became a household name in the game industry.

However, Grasshopper really broke out with its Wii title No More Heroes. Still sporting a similar style to Killer 7, the game had a bit… just a bit… more mainstream appeal in its gameplay and more straightforward (yet still very bizarre) story. Selling over 400k copies might not seem like such a large feat, but it is by far Grasshopper’s best selling original IP to date, and it was apparently enough to justify a sequel; No More Heroes Desperate Struggle was recently announced for the Wii.

Not to ignore the DS, Grasshopper released the surprisingly light-hearted game Contact, though it didn’t fare as well as its console brethren. Ports of two previously Japan only PS1 games are to follow.

Finally, another collaboration with Mikami (now at his new studio Platinum Games) has recently been announced for the Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3. Not much is known about it except that it falls within the horror genre; and with Suda51 involved it is safe to assume that it will be very, very bizarre. Whether the multiconsole development will hurt the Wii version in the end has yet to be seen, but it is a good sign that a Wii version is even being made.

There is nothing more punk rock than bucking mainstream trends and putting art before sales, something Grasshopper Manufacture and Suda51 seem happy to do with their constant, often “mature” support on Nintendo consoles. Let’s hope they remember their background and stick to the punk rock ideals.

Travis is the very definition of badass in No More Heroes.
Platinum Games
Notable games released: ???

Notable games in development: MadWorld (Wii), Infinite Line (DS), Mikami Untitled Horror Project w/ Suda51 (Wii)

Website: http://www.platinumgames.co.jp/

Platinum Games may be the only developer on the list without a single title to their name; but don’t fret just yet. Platinum is essentially the key members of former Capcom development house Clover Studios, known for their unique style and excellent gameplay, both of which rival the best in the industry. Though short lived, Clover was behind the Viewtiful Joe games and Okami on PS2 (which was recently given a second chance with a port to the Wii, handled by Ready at Dawn.) These guys know their stuff.

Once again bucking the trend (a common theme today,) Platinum Studios looked at the Wii market and the types of games being put on it… and decided on the exact opposite for their first project. MadWorld is a hyper-violent highly stylized (think Sin City) game that is almost certain to throw Jack Thompson up in arms (wait, are Jack Thompson references still funny?) Yet the violence is meant more as a parody and shouldn’t detract from what is sure to be an excellent game of the highest calibur. Early previews are looking very, very good.

Infinite Line on the DS takes things in a whole other direction entirely. An anime-based science fiction RPG, the major gameplay hook is the ability to upgrade your ship, but the rest of the game looks pretty darn sweet as well. I would almost hazard to say it might have a bit of Skies of Arcadia in it, though it is too early to tell. There is no doubt in my mind that this is going to turn out to be one of the best RPG experiences on the DS.

And finally, Platinum contains the other half of that Suda51 / Mikami collaboration referenced above. Two very skilled and very unique Nintendo supporters working together on the same game, it sure sounds like a dream team to me.

Platinum Games is still a fairly new studio, and as they had a bit of trouble really breaking out into success as Clover Studios, they still have a ways to go to prove themselves as capable of creating games that are both artistic and have real market potential. It’s difficult to predict if their currently planned games will be successful, and what direction they will go in the future, but I certainly hope to see more Nintendo support from what looks to be one of the freshest and most exciting new developers in the industry.

That's... a decent amount of blood there in that MadWorld.
There are a lot of other 3rd party developers doing a lot of neat things, but I simply didn’t have room for them all, so I’m going to throw out some quick shout-outs. Vanillaware’s upcoming Wii 2D sidescrolling RPG Muramasa: The Demon Blade looks very slick at the moment. 2D Boy just released the very highly praised World of Goo on Wii Ware, an amazing feat considering the size of the development team. Frontier Developments’ LostWinds was by far the best Wii Ware title for months, and a second chapter is planned. Blue Tongue’s de Blob and Budcat Creation’s BlastWorks: Build, Trade, Destroy are two Wii underdogs; both of them are awesome games that not enough people are talking about. And though it will probably never make it over to the West, Skip's Captain Rainbow looks to be a very interesting and hilarious take on the lives of washed up classic Nintendo characters.

And I want to throw another game company into the mix. I know this was a focus on developers, but I wanted to call to mind a single publisher whom I think is going above and beyond in regards to the Nintendo Wii at the moment. This would be Marvelous Entertainment. If I had to make a list of my most anticipated upcoming Wii games, a large portion of it would be Marvelous published, including the following, among others:

Arc Rise Fantasia
Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility
Little King's Story
Muramasa: The Demon Blade
No More Heroes Desperate Struggle
Rune Factory: Frontier

So if you are the kind of person who follows specific publishers, throw Marvelous up on your list, they are doing a lot of exciting things right now.

And now we shall move onto a conclusion of sorts. I don’t know about anyone else reading this, but personally I like to support Nintendo as much as possible. I’m a multiconsole gamer and buy the games I want first and foremost, regardless of what console they appear on. But I admit I do tend to follow the Nintendo consoles a bit more than my others, and I like to see them get support a bit more as well. When it comes to two anticipated games, one on a Nintendo console and one on another, with all other things being equal, I will tend to lean towards the Nintendo game. That’s just me though. Whether you are a Nintendo-only gamer or a multiconsole gamer, I would highly suggest to throw these ten developers on your radar, both in checking out their currently released games and looking towards their future projects. What direction they will go from here, and whether Nintendo consoles will see more support from these developers (and others who are sitting on the sidelines at the moment) may very well depend on how well their current and soon to be released games fare in sales.

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Posted: 10/13/08, 22:19:17  - Edited by 
 on: 04/08/13, 01:46:29
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Hey Neg Worlders... I want you to chime in on this article.

Which of the above developers are you most excited for?

What are your most anticipated games from the above developers?

Agree / disagree with the list? What other smaller developer do you think deserves to get in the spotlight? What other projects are you looking forward to?
Posted: 10/14/08, 00:10:50
A lot of either unnoticed or unknown devs are starting to set the bar rather high. Personally I'm all for it. There's a lot to love on that list in fact, I still need to get No More Heroes I before the sequel comes out, lol...

I'm still hoping that the bigger names will trend more towards at least doing some proper work on the Wii, but if not, I think there's plenty of smaller studios that know they can make a name for themselves if they put out quality product in place of the big names that are continually failing to do so.
Posted: 11/11/08, 21:42:58
I think the main problem with the wii is it's child-centric view on the gaming community. Also it seems like Nintendo only releases the new peripherals when its for a first party game. Either they are trying to establish they are only in there tech stages or they are completely daft. So from a third party view i think it would be in there best interest to stay away.Before Nintendo release something that could have made game play in their game leeps better.

F.eks wiispeak and motionplus(which makes the console full functional control-wise) For Developers l'm excited about, I would have to say squareenix. I feel they always pull they best on of any game they developed, Innovation-wise and graphically. Also just looking on there Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles game with wii and ds functionality shows it. So far the only other third party developer that im impressed with as are Grasshopper,Platinum Level 5 and,High Voltage. The rest just seem to be picking up on nintendo's dropping--which is their and Nintendo's fault i'd say..this is the end of my very unorganise tangent...
Posted: 11/20/08, 09:35:58
Level 5 is spread very thin, but I was sure they announced Wii support 6 months/a year ago. Not that I can find any trace of that now...

Good list - and it's nice that it's a mix of Japanese and Western developers, although the Japanese ones seem to be getting friendly with Wii more quickly. I had no idea Cing was involved with Little King's Story! I thought it was all Town Factory. I see you're right though, and the bigger development team seems to be paying off, judging by recent impressions.

If only this and Fatal Frame were out for the holidays, there'd be a lot less to whine about.

Posted: 11/20/08, 17:48:05
Yeah the Little King Story delay hurt a lot.

And Fatal Frame well... it just doesn't exist in the West, at the moment, for reasons no one can figure out. At least you guys got Disaster! Pretty much since Mario Kart the only "gamer" games we have gotten from Nintendo in the US for the Wii are Wario Land Shake It, Animal Crossing (total rehash, apparently) and the Art Style downloadables.

For once Europe comes out ahead?
Posted: 11/20/08, 19:26:21
<-- Imported Wii from the US, and now cries in public everytime walks past Disaster display.
Posted: 11/27/08, 02:40:00
Damn Y-Alpha, you screwed yourself!

I know you guys are behind in a lot of release dates, but does the US ever get games Europe doesn't? It seems lately I hear about all these games Europe is getting that we aren't, I wonder if it is ever the reverse?
Posted: 11/27/08, 19:42:16
There was a long delay for the Euro release of SSBB, but on the whole things have really turned around.

Back to the list though, you made a heck of a call with your first pick. Check out 5th Cell's new DS game Scribblenauts. :O
Posted: 12/06/08, 16:57:21
Ha ha WTF... that looks awesome! Well, it looks like the kind of thing that could turn out very good, or very bad. I wonder how many different items it actually has and if they sort of hint towards stuff, or just throw you out there and make you see what you can do? The second seems good in theory, but then you have to wonder if there would be much challenge.

Still, that is precisely the kind of unique game the industry needs to see more of.
Posted: 12/06/08, 18:09:09
I decided to take another look at this a year later and see how fruitful these developers have been.

10. 5th Cell- Sort of came out of nowhere to be the media darling with Scribblenauts. The actual game may not have quite lived up to the promise, but still... great attempt and hopefully we will see even more innovation from them in the future. Would probably move them higher up.

9. Renegade Kid- Moon released and was kind of... eh. Haven't heard much from them since, though I think they are working on Dementium 2. Keep in mind they are a VERY small developer, as in like 5 guys or something, so it's impressive work.

8. High Voltage Software- You know, pre- Conduit release probably most media sources would have put this developer near the top of this kind of list, but I dunno. I'm really starting to question if they're not all hype and not much talent.

7. Telltale has been pretty much kicking along. Strong Bad series was great, Monkey Island sounds good.

6. House of the Dead apparently turned out pretty solid. Not sure what they are up to now.

5. Little King's Story pretty much is awesome, though I've heard Trace Memory on Wii isn't too hot. Still, look forward to see what Cing has in the future.

4. Still too early to call, but Sin & Punishment 2 is looking HOT. I really hope Nintendo tries to build an ongoing relationship with Treasure.

3. Layton 2 is awesome, Dragon Quest IX looks at least respectable, Ninokuni looks cool from what little we have seen... Level 5 continues to impress me.

2. Still kind of waiting to see what else they have in them. No More Heroes 2 should rock though.

1. Not sure if MadWorld *quite* lived up but I still think they have a ton of potential. And I've heard good things about Infinite Space.

I dunno, I think my list was pretty solid. Now, if you had to add anyone new to the list, who would you add? I'd probably put Next Level on there somewhere myself, they had already done a good job with Mario Strikers Wii and then did an excellent job with Punch-Out!! (and take off High Voltage, sorry, they are now on probation and need to prove themselves to me.) Not sure how well Next Level would do with one of their own projects, but I wouldn't mind seeing it happen (and yes I know they have done some mediocre games for other publishers, but I mean a Nintendo guided and published title.)

I want to add AlphaDream because Mario & Luigi BIS ROCKS (and Partners in Time was decent,) but they haven't actually proven they can do anything besides M&L games yet. So I dunno.

I think 2D Boy (World of Goo) has totally proven themselves, as well as Kyle Gray (Henry Hatsworth) and they are supposedly teaming up for a WiiWare game, so I think that's a sort of dream team that is definitely on my to watch list. Gaijin Games has been doing good stuff with the Bit.Trip games on WiiWare as well.

Anyone else you guys would throw onto the lesser know developers to watch for list?
Posted: 10/17/09, 07:00:06

Marvelous should be given more props as well.

Next Level Games needs to be at the top of that list.

I think Grasshopper definitely deserves to be up there. NMH2 is already looking brilliant, and that's coming from someone wh never got around to playing the first game (same as a year ago this time, ROFLMAO!!).

Agreed on 2DBoy and Gaijin Games.

Renegade Kid seems to have grown too quiet.

Level 5 needs to be near the top.

Whoever doesn't know who Treasure is, is either too young, ignorant... or just uh, doesn't know who Treasure is. Honestly? They are at the top of my list. Right up there with Ninty, Konami, Capcom, Square, and all the other big JPN pubs/devs. I'm just happy more people are finally buying in to them.

Agreed on High Voltage. Needs more proof.

Also... man, how much does it suck now to look at that list, see the promise of Fatal Frame... only to have it not released outside of Japan? * cries moar *

Good bump.

EDIT: Oh, and there's a Drawn to Life Wii game coming out... I'm surprised I hadn't heard a peep about it until it popped up in an IGN add...?

Looks really cool, but I haven't heard too much about it, so I'm kinda' skeptical.
Posted: 10/17/09, 10:23:51
Everyone I've heard impressions from who played Another Code R said it was great. I don't know where you heard that it wasn't that good :-/

Seeing Platinum Games first on the list now strikes me as kind of funny, and also it reminds me of how disappointing MadWorld was for me. I last made it to the third city when I played, and the game froze while I was playing. I haven't gone back to it since. I still can't believe it got a 9 from IGN.
Posted: 10/17/09, 14:02:30
Atlus should be mentioned. They are more of a publisher than a developer, but they've put out a lot of really great stuff for the DS, and recently dropped PHANTOM BRAVE" on the Wii. Check 'em out, they're good.

Also, not sure if we can add Way Forward to the list.... CONTRA 4 was freakin' amazing. Sadly, A BOY AND HIS BLOB ended up being... less-than-expected, but still good. .... I think? Anyone play that game yet?
Posted: 10/17/09, 21:51:09

Marvelous should be given more props as well.

I was trying to focus on the developers, some publishers definitely deserve credit for what they do but I don't think XSeed actually develops any games do they? And I'm not sure if Marvelous does but it seems most of what they bring over is developed by others.

I don't know if 5th Cell is developing the new Drawn to Life? I think THQ owns the license, and they had someone else do the Spongebob one.

Everyone I've heard impressions from who played Another Code R said it was great. I don't know where you heard that it wasn't that good :-/

I guess I'm just going off of the reviews, though there is often a large gap between review scores and gamer love. To be honest though, I didn't even think the first was that great, though I loved Hotel Dusk... seemed like a big step forward.

Sadly, A BOY AND HIS BLOB ended up being... less-than-expected, but still good.

Did it? I've seen pretty much all 8+ scores for A Boy and His Blob except for IGNs, which was still solid (7.6), and the few people I've seen who have played it seem to love it. Not really the type of game you would expect to be some A-level killer ap, so I think it has come together pretty well. Generally when I hear of a retro revival (from anyone other than Nintendo) I think hmm, could be good, but will probably suck. So when they are actually good, it's better than *I* expect. Still haven't played it myself though, but it IS on my short list at the moment. But yeah actually, I'd definitely throw WayForward on there, they are doing good stuff, and now Shantae is coming back too, right? Actually they may feature heavily on a list I want to do next, which would be something like "Top 10 retro revivals on the Wii/DS" Though I guess Contra IV wasn't a revival per se, but it is the first numbered in the series since the SNES and it kind of goes back to the basics, in a way. Sort of like a New Super Mario Brothers type game, I guess. Whatever, I make up my own rules for my lists, lol.

You know, I suppose Atlus probably isn't quite as known as they should be, but to me they are one of the staple publisher/developers in the industry. I was thinking more along the lines of the non-publishers, and for the most part focusing on developers who are new or hadn't done much anyone was speaking about until recently (though Treasure and Level 5 don't quite fit that.) Ah you know how I write, I don't have clear definitions on things, I just wing it.
Posted: 10/18/09, 00:05:20
Phantom Brave is published by NIS America, not Atlus.
Posted: 10/18/09, 00:37:21
Ah, good point Zero, I wasn't thinking that time. ;-p

...still deserve mention somewhere though!

Phantom Brave is published by NIS America, not Atlus.

I was going to say that. (^__- )

...Atlus is another one of the pubs I adore.
Posted: 10/20/09, 16:08:42
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