Tag Archives: ubisoft

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: “Just looking around is a joy”

Patricia Hernandez in her review of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle for Kotaku:

The game’s zones are numbered similarly to Super Mario Bros.’ in that there are worlds sectioned by levels—1-1, 1-2, and so on. Each area has its own Pixar-esque landscape, all themed in the most video-gamey way possible. Fire and ice world! Lava world! Obligatory starting-area-basic-forest world! It all seems crafted from clay. I don’t think I saw a sharp edge throughout my adventures; that cartoon aesthetic, combined with the top-down camera, made me feel like a kid mashing together dolls from different sets.

You can poke and prod some stuff around the overworld—there are some light environmental puzzles, and coins to collect—but just looking around is a joy. The haunted world, for example, is dotted with Boos, pipes stuffed with candles, and turbulent waters squeaking with rubber duckies. You move through these worlds controlling a party of three characters. I would run through everything and watch in awe as Mario stuck his arms out at top speed, Rabbids trailing behind him maniacally. The characters’ animations oozed so much personality that, dozens of hours in, I still stopped to appreciate them.

This echoes similar sentiments I published in my E3 recap:

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is the game I’m most looking forward to. It’s gorgeous and surprisingly deep. I can’t recall ever seeing the Mushroom Kingdom in such detail.

I waited two hours to play 16 minutes of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle at E3. Madness. But as crazy it was, the immaculate detail of the game’s Mushroom Kingdom saved me from feeling it was a complete waste of time. Simply stunning.

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Just (Quietly) Dance

Xavier Poix, Managing Director of Ubisoft’s French studios, in a corporate update interview on UbiBlog:

Is the Switch going to revolutionise the market like the Wii did?

XP: The Wii attracted a very large audience – including kids and families – because it offered, on one hand, the motion controls, allowing for intuitive interactions with the console and on the other hand games with a strong social component. These aspects gave us the opportunity to develop Rabbids and Just Dance, for example. The Switch will probably have a similar impact, thanks to the mobility offered by the console. You don’t have to have a home console and a mobile console anymore; there’s one console, which is mobile, that you can bring anywhere.

Nice to see these comments, but that line-up doesn’t strike me as all to weighty. I see the value in the audience Ubisoft is targeting, especially after their experiences on the Wii and Wii U, but what of Ubisoft’s AAA games like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Watch Dogs? How will those hold up on the Switch?

And has anyone reported on the Switch’s speakers? I can’t imagine Just Dance being a thrill in handheld mode.

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A Tale of Two Trailers

Chris Plante, Polygon:

The trailer is misleading. I know when Assassin’s Creed Unity is released, this isn’t the game I’ll get. It will be about movement and daring escapes and history and spectacular set pieces and drama. That’s the game I want to play.

But marketing plays a role in game development, especially at the level of multi-million dollar AAA games. And if the studio gets the sense that non-stop-bloodshed is what the audience wants, they will ensure that’s what it receives. Only if we speak up, will the studio look at its audience differently. Until then, they will act off the rapturous applause they receive at E3 when a someone’s head explodes like a watermelon thrown off a 7-story building.

If you’d like an example of a trailer that conveys a different marketing method, look no further than the history-focused vignette Ubisoft ran yesterday in Europe. It hints at fictional conspiracy theory near the end, but overall it’s a fine primer on the history of the French Revolution. Maybe Ubisoft has divided their marketing, targeting different audiences with different trailers. Maybe this is them having their cake and eating it, too. Marie Antoinette would be proud, even if she never said anything about cake and that idiom is English.

Fantastic piece by Plante.

The two trailers mentioned, in respective order:

Revolution Gameplay Trailer

Inside The Revoltion

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No females in Assassin’s Creed Unity co-op

Alex Amancio, Ubisoft creative director, as quoted by Polygon:

It’s double the animations, it’s double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets, especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work.

Because of that, the common denominator was Arno. It’s not like we could cut our main character, so the only logical option, the only option we had, was to cut the female avatar.

How was this not mapped out in pre-production?

UPDATE: The Internet is ablaze. The sad part is that this title will still rake in millions, likely billions. We continue to give time to a developer that does not give time to its audience or games. If it’s not ready, don’t ship.

Paul Tassi, writing for Forbes, on the 2013 Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag announcement:

I like the Assassin’s Creed series, but indefinite annual releases could prove to be too much of a good thing. Of course, this is asking a company to choose the artistic integrity and quality of its series over money, which in this day and age almost never happens. Ubisoft seems to think they can maintain both, but that seems like a hard bet to take.

I’ve said my piece on Twitter but I’ll repeat: If you subscribe to the idea that it’s just a game, great. Include diversity. If you subscribe to the idea that video games influence behavior, great. Include diversity. If you subscribe to the idea that production time ran out, delay. Include diversity.

Whatever angle you approach this from, whatever lens you look through, there is no good excuse for a AAA game co-developed by ten studios and arguably the most successful video game developer and publisher in the world not to include diversity in a game-mode dependent on diversity.


Official statement from Ubisoft to Kotaku:

We recognize the valid concern around diversity in video game narrative. Assassin’s Creed is developed by a multicultural team of various faiths and beliefs and we hope this attention to diversity is reflected in the settings of our games and our characters.

Assassin’s Creed Unity is focused on the story of the lead character, Arno. Whether playing by yourself or with the co-op Shared Experiences, you the gamer will always be playing as Arno, complete with his broad range of gear and skill sets that will make you feel unique.

With regard to diversity in our playable Assassins, we’ve featured Aveline, Connor, Adewale and Altair in Assassin’s Creed games and we continue to look at showcasing diverse characters. We look forward to introducing you to some of the strong female characters in Assassin’s Creed Unity.

This statement feels pretty vapid.

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