My Take On Nintendo And Kuju

This one strikes me as odd: British developer Kuju has announced a publishing deal with Nintendo. Apparently, they’re developing a major new GameCube title for my favourite games company.

This is odd because Kuju is not exactly known for its game quality. In fact the last three games by Kuju’s Action Division could well be called crap: licensed vehicle shooter ‘Reign of Fire’, chopper shooter ‘Fireblade’ and ‘WarHammer 40,000’ style ‘Halo’ wannabe ‘Fire Warrior’ were received pretty badly by the press. The London-based Action Division is in fact developing this. So why would Nintendo want to work with them?

I’ve heard some wild guessing about which classic franchise Kuju might be remaking, ranging from ‘Pilotwings’ and ‘Star Fox’ to the ‘Wars’ series and the obscure ‘Mach Rider’. These guesses would fit with the division’s previous work and they make even more sense when you know that Kuju is actively recruiting an AI Software Engineer experienced with “ground and air unit vehicle dynamics”.

However, the same job advertisement talks about a “high profile original title being developed for a large Japanese publisher”. Something new, then. Kuju’s main page confirms this using the following phrase: “Kuju today announces that it has agreed a major new Nintendo GameCube game development project to be published by Nintendo.”

My take on this is they’ve been shopping around some ambitious game design, triggering Nintendo’s attention. Perhaps this is Kuju’s chance to finally take the time and budget it takes to churn out something actually playable, and hopefully memorable. If anything, it makes me wonder what kind of game we’re talking about.

Come to think of it, Nintendo has been making some odd picks for their western world development relationships. What about ‘Geist’ by N-Space, which previously created a ‘Mary-Kate & Ashley’ game?

This is what seperates the Kuju story from N-Space: in the latter case we got a new game at the E3 expo, afterwards discovering who made it. This time Kuju announces a mystery game beforehand. This makes it more mysterious, but also an easy target for negativism. Here I am doubting a Kuju game can be any good — last year at E3 I simply played Geist, enjoyed it, and found out more about N-Space when I got home.

There’s another angle: I suppose partnerships like this are cheaper, plus it should be easier for Nintendo to stay in control over game development compared to working with, say, Blizzard. If this game is to be Nintendo-published, the company is bound to stay very close to the project.

Also, this could be part of Nintendo of Europe’s ongoing efforts to increase its activities, and these Frankfurt-based folks are probably eager to prove they can do what their US and Japan based colleagues can. Mind you, I have no clue whether Kuju is working through Nintendo’s Japanese, American or European departments, but I do know that it’s NOE’s intention to do things like this.

Maybe the Kuju deal is not that odd, then, after all. I guess I’m looking forward to seeing and playing their baby at the E3 expo in May, then. Should be interesting.