Platinum Games is one of those small individual developers that somehow manage to captivate audiences time and time again, with a loyal fanbase and seemingly able to take any genre on the head and set the bar, especially with their massively popular Bayonetta series. We take a look at what makes Platinum’s games so great and a bit of history behind the company as well, as well as the future for Platinum.
Think back to 2006, where Clover Studios, a part of Capcom, has just released Okami to huge critical success. It ultimately fails to sell, as well as the similarly timed release of God Hand. Capcom’s scorn and increased threat to limit the creativity of Clover, led to the three of the main people, Atsushi Inaba, Hideki Kamiya and Shinji Mikami, to leave the company. Clover studio was then disbanded soon after. The studio that created cult hits like Viewtiful Joe and Okami, as well as some members being involved in games like Resident Evil and Phoenix Wright, was now gone. In August 2006, a new company, named Seeds Inc. appeared with multiple members of Clover working under the company, which was spearheaded by Atsushi Inaba, Hideki Kamiya and Shinji Mikami. Capcom retained the rights to the Clover games, so Seeds Inc. couldn’t work on any of its previous games. In 2008, the company rebranded as Platinum Games and signed a deal with SEGA to produce 4 titles for various systems.
The first title to come out of the doors at Platinum was the quirky, black, white and blood red beat ‘em up MadWorld, which was released exclusively (and maybe oddly) on Nintendo’s popular Wii system. It was well received, as previous games at Clover had been as well. And rightly so, with massive replayability and satisfying fighting, as well as neat presentation, it was hard to see why many would actually dislike Platinum’s first foray into games without Capcom. Yet, like the games at Clover before, it failed to really shift copies and gathered 393k by the end of 2009 worldwide. Sales probably weren’t helped by the undesired attention from many critics of video games, many of which cited Madworld as “overly violent” with Nintendo criticised for allowing the game to be released on such a family-friendly console. SEGA, however, was keen to give Platinum a sequel to the critically acclaimed title, infinite_2and put in funding for a sequel, which would eventually turn into Anarchy Reigns in 2012.
Official Website: https://www.platinumgames.com/games/madworld
In the same year, Platinum also put out a nifty sci-fi turn-based RPG exclusively on Nintendo DS. It was called Infinite Space and gave players over 150 designs for the ships and similarly with the crew as well, with full customisation controls. The game was praised for its heavy focus on command based fighting and a “rock, paper, scissors” battle system, but was marked down by the touch-screen only control system the marred the playability. The title also allowed for 2 player battles over local multiplayer, which was highly regarded at the time. The game, like Madworld, also sold poorly, with only 140k copies shifted after it’s Western release, which was in 2010, 9 months later than the Japanese release.
Official Website: https://www.platinumgames.com/games/infinite-space
Things weren’t going too well for Platinum, who were struggling to sell the games it was making with SEGA. The last effort of 2009 came in the form of Bayonetta, a mental third-person hack ‘n’ slash directed by Hideki Kamiya. It released early 2010 in the West to massive critical praise and setting the bar of the hack ‘n’ slash genre in the process. The fluid and satisfying combat wowed critics and gamers alike, along with its lush visuals and stylistic references to Devil May Cry. The soundtrack was also highly popular and a 150 song soundtrack was released. Bayonetta garnered 5 awards by major publications by the end of 2010, including 2 new IP awards and a Game of the Year award. Alongside the critical acclaim, Bayonetta also sold 1.5 million copies by the end of 2010 and finally planted Platinum Games firmly on the map.
Official Website: https://www.platinumgames.com/games/bayonetta
Riding on the success of Bayonetta, Platinum released 3rd person sci-fi shooter Vanquish the following October. The game, directed by Shinji Mikami, sold over 600k copies by the end of 2011 and received several awards, including 2 Game of the Year awards. The game was developed on PS3, unlike Bayonetta which was developed on Xbox 360, to avoid “dodgy PS3 ports” as Mikami says which was “a great success” and our recent playthrough on PS3 confirms this (expect a throwback review soon!) While Vanquish received praise for its excellent singleplayer campaign, it was criticised for its lack of multiplayer, which was capitalised by games like Gears of War. Vanquish would be the first and last game Mikami would work on at Platinum Games, and he subsequently left after the game was released. He went on to create Tango Gameworks, which became a part of Bethesda and has recently released The Evil Within. Things at Platinum go quiet.
Official Website: https://www.platinumgames.com/games/vanquish
Platinum suddenly emerged again in 2012, with the follow up to the 2009 game Madworld. It was called Anarchy Reigns was released on 360 and PS3 in Japan and 6 months later, in 2013, in the West. Anarchy Reigns was less successful with the critics but still did fairly well in a lot of publications. As of 2015, the game has only shifted 340k copies since it’s 2012 release date, making Anarchy Reigns one of the least successful Platinum Games titles to date. The gameplay was fairly mediocre compared to other Platinum titles and seemed to concern itself on being more violent than satisfying, as well as shaky multiplayer and lag issues. Anarchy Reigns was the last game Platinum made for SEGA, who had extended it’s 4 game deal to 5 so that it could keep its promise of a Madworld sequel. After the release of the game, the companies went their separate ways.
Official Website: http://www.sega.com/games/anarchy-reigns
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Hideo Kojima had wanted to create a game focusing around Raiden in which there was a heavy amount of swordplay. Kojima Productions couldn’t achieve it, so the game was shelved. In steps Platinum with a crazy idea to continue the development, which Kojima eventually agreed. The game would be Metal Gear Rising and was a spin-off from the globally popular Metal Gear Solid series. The game was met with critical applause and has achieved 1.7 million sales in its lifetime so far. Kojima has since hinted at making a sequel to the stealth meets hack ‘n’ slash title, with the possibility of making a franchise from it, however, Kojima also stated in 2013 that if a sequel was going to make, Platinum would have to be the developer. Kojima and Etsu Tamari have since both pitched ideas to Platinum Games, but they both claimed that Platinum “did not seem interested.” The last word of a Rising 2 was from a Konami survey asking if gamers would like to see a sequel to the series. It’s unknown if Platinum will ever pick up the reigns to a sequel in the future.
Official Website: http://www.konami.jp/mgr/
The Wonderful 101
The return of Hideki Kamiya onto the gaming scene, 4 years after the release of Bayonetta, sent a few shockwaves out to the industry and left them awaiting the result of his partnership with Nintendo. The quirky hack ‘n’ slash style game had the player combine 100 wonderful heroes together to make weapons to fight their way through the game’s story. The story was spectacularly written and was praised highly by critics. The shortfall was that the controls weren’t as tight as they could be and that it was often unforgiving with its difficulty, and that the multiplayer was universally agreed that it was tacked on at the end of production. The Wonderful 101 did well with the critics (we liked it too) but the sales fell way short of expectations. We haven’t found a clear number of sales past the initial set of sales, but it didn’t look promising from the initial forecast, with many highlighting the games failure to sell to be down to the Wii U hardware’s poor sales at the time, not that stopped the partnership with Nintendo.
Official Website: http://thewonderful101.nintendo.com/
October 2014 brought around the second, and so far final, collaboration with Nintendo. The sequel to Bayonetta was first pitched to SEGA, who promptly refused to fund the title and split with Platinum after Anarchy Reigns. In steps Nintendo who agrees to fund the project for it’s Wii U console, in exchange for The Wonderful 101 also being made. The game received several perfect scores from publications and was highly praised all around for improving on the original in nearly every way, once again setting the bar for the hack ‘n’ slash genre. We gave it a 9.5/10 (our highest score so far) and also awarded it both our Game of the Year for 2014 and our Favourite Soundtrack of 2014. And it wasn’t just us that awarded it Game of the Year, several other publications gave it awards as well. Sales-wise, Bayonetta 2 has sold over 610k copies worldwide in the 4 months (5 months in Japan) it’s been on sale. Bayonetta 3 could happen in the future but that all depends on sales targets, which are unknown to us, but we can only guess that if a sequel arises, that the Wii U game met the expectations.
Official Website: https://bayonetta2.nintendo.com/
The Legend of Korra
The most recent title from Platinum Games. It’s a hack ‘n’ slash based upon the popular TV show of the same name. The game was received poorly by the critics, as most anime-based games do, and sales data is not yet available. It’s the lowest scoring game in Platinum’s 6-year history as a game developer and Activision don’t seem to be overly keen to talk about the title at all. Eurogamer review says the game’s shortcomings were the “hallmarks of a work-for-hire project rushed to meet a Christmas deadline”, and considered the game “a misfire that means Platinum’s name no longer guarantees quality”. And we’re inclined to agree with that statement, which is a real shame as every other game to date has been, at the very least, enjoyable.
Official Website: https://www.platinumgames.com/games/the-legend-of-korra
Scalebound and the Future of Platinum Games
This wasn’t going to be the single segment, however, we know so little about the Platinum and Microsoft collaboration we had to combine the sections to keep the formatting neat. It’s another Hideki Kamiya title, however, it isn’t going to be the same as any other title Platinum title so far… and it’s going to be Xbox One… and that’s all we know. We can’t even excite you with a release date. We’re hoping more news will come at E3 this year and we’ll keep you informed as always.
So what’s next for Platinum Games? Well, president Tatsuya Minami said in the recent New Year message video that there were several projects that Platinum are working on but can’t say anything about yet. We’re hoping for a Bayonetta 3, maybe a Metal Gear Rising 2 and a sequel to The Wonderful 101, but also to be excited by whatever original ideas Platinum has in store for us. Let us know in the comments what you’d like to see from Platinum in the next year or so!