IGNcube today learned that Canada-based development studio Silicon Knights has ended its second-party status with Nintendo Co. Ltd. The company will effective immediately be allowed to develop software for multiple consoles including Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation platforms
Seems odd given how much Dennis praised Nintendo every opportunity he had.
As someone pointed out on GA, SK’s worth as a developer has been massively overinflated by Nintendo fanboys who bought into Dyack’s hype and industry insider status.
In the last 9 years they’ve released, what, 3 games? Legacy of Kain, Eternal Darkness, and MGS: TTS. All three were mediocre-to-decent offerings with a few good elements: Kain’s visceral, dark take on 2D Zelda; ED’s rethinking of typical survival horror mechanics; and, well, MGS:TTS touched up a fan favorite with better graphics.
I can’t say I understand the avid fandom some folks had for this company. I guess it’s because A) SK promised more darker, grittier, more “adult” content for Nintendo consoles, and B) Dyack did a great job whoring out his company and his design philosophy in various Internet communities.
Blood Omen 1: LoK and Eternal Darkness were instant classics upon their release.
MGS:TTS is harder to say because I dont know how much leeway Konami gave SK to work on it. From what I understand, Konami had complete control over the story, cinematics, voice work, sound. Basically Konami barred access to everything that SK excells at.
Weird. I seem to remember a lot of Eternal Darkness backlash around this forum when it came out. In fact, it was only here that I heard anyone say much negative about it. Everyone else hailed it as the second coming of survival horror.
I’m pretty certain that Soul Reaver is the ONLY reason to speak well of the Legacy of Kain/Blood Omen series. Of course all the games since then have muddled into one big heap of disaster in my mind–so I’ll leave specifics out of it, but as far as I’m concerned, Soul Reaver was the game that provided for the franchise’s right to existence.
At the time when Eternal Darkness came out, I was a regular over at the IGN GameCube boards. My choice of board was completely arbitrary, but my role there was to argue with everyone. Since I could find a place of agreement with them in thinking that Eternal Darkness was a fantastic game, I never had anything bad to say about it. However I had a sneaking suspicion that the Dyack hype would come back to bite them in the ass. The funniest/saddest aspect of it all, is if I went back over there now, they’d probably be claiming they never liked ED anyway.
So what’s the deal with Too Human? I’d still like to see more stuff from SK, and honestly I think that going Nintendo 2nd party doesn’t maximize the worth of a company, so I have no beef with this split. This is better for both of them.
Soul Reaver? What fun is a vampire game where the main character is an undead undead who can’t suck blood? For all the flaws in the series’ Kain more than makes up for it. I pretty much see the LoK games as entertaining diversions where the real payoff is Kain’s dialogue. If they boiled down the gameplay to mindless action, helpless victims to prey on and cutscenes where Kain is his most arrogant self, and ditched most of the stupid puzzles, I’d be a happy camper.
Could be that Denis and SK weren’t happy about the lack of advertising and support for Twin Snakes? That and a number of other issues. Hopefully Gunmetal will fill us in but I doubt he can.
I tend to agree with the idea that they were not producing enough content given the second party status. When you look at the output from other areas within Nintendo, SK is slower to produce games. Eternal Darkness is great though and I thoroughly enjoyed playing through Twin Snakes and will probably do so a couple times.
They were never part of Nintendo though, only contracted to be exclusive to the platform. That’s a different situation from Retro.
From what I saw, the clever tricks when you went insane were wonderful the first time they happened. Everything else about the game was average (which is to say, the control scheme was miles ahead of it’s competition, Resident Evil).
Eternal Darkness is one of the slickest games of the last few years. Firmly entrenched in a strange middle ground between Lovecraft’s Cthluhu Cycle and Moorcock’s Eternal Champion saga, it tells a story that covers a couple thousand years and does it pretty damned well. I loved the insanity effects, the minor differences between characters, the way the story slowly unfolded as you played through each chapter, the fact that you could target body parts on your enemies and it mattered (lop a zombie’s head off and it can no longer see you to hit you), and the magic system was brilliant.
Voice acting from some of the top talent in the business, graphics that have been unfairly maligned since the game’s release, and some of the best sound work on the Gamecube (which is saying something). There’s a lot of hatred being leveled at this game over on the Gaming Age thread, and I don’t understand it at all. Other than the Silent Hill series, ED is one of the only horror games that holds up to repeated playthroughs.
That said, yeah, I think SK was granted savior status prematurely by a fairly desperate fanbase. Three games in nine years isn’t a great track record. Although at least their two original games were good and great, chronologically. Twin Snakes was good as well, but it seems SK had relatively little to do with it beyond the programming work. Dyack says in the article that SK will do more games on Nintendo platforms if they so choose, so it mostly looks like SK has been given a chance to expand their potential audience more than anything else.
I do wonder about Nintendo and their second party developers, though. Here’s two down, and will Factor 5 make it a trifecta? Nintendo should hold on to those guys, IMO.
Dyack’s a pretentious hack and SK take years to make middling games that only achieve poor sales. Smart move Nintendo.
The games SK want to make - dark, story-riddled monstrosties - will never do the kind of sales they are capable of if they’re tied exclusively to Gamecube. Smart move Silicon Knights.
Blood Omen is pretty nice, I hated every single one of the 3d ones though, so apparently I’m in the minority. They seemed like gothy tombraiders or something, hated 'em, still dont ‘get’ why the series turned into those. (I assumed at the time that any sequels would be rpgs continuing Kain’s story)