Devil's Third screenshot
Devil's Third screenshot

I wasn't going to write a preview for Devil's Third, the first game from the Tomonobu Itagaki-fronted Valhalla Game Studios. Reviews hit next month ahead of the game's August 28 release, and I thought that would be enough for a fairly low-key release. But then I played it. This is a game so jarringly bad the sooner you know not to go anywhere near it, the better.

At numerous points during the campaign I felt compelled to shout out for colleagues, eager to see their reactions to sequences so horrendous or bizarre that the game's forthcoming release seemed like a cruel joke on Wii U owners. Nintendo is publishing this, but it really shouldn't be - and there remains some confusion over whether or not Nintendo of America will be releasing the game in its territories.

Given that Devil's Third has switched its game engine numerous times during development and was at one point to be published by the now-dead THQ, it's probably not a surprise to see the game near release in such a torrid state, but it's no excuse. Parts of the campaign feel like the kind of out-of-nowhere Xbox 360 releases we used to get now and again, clearly made in about 8 months with a budget that would struggle to cover a Big Mac Meal.

Worse still, when the game hits rock-bottom the shambolic mess of budget Wii games come to mind. Visually I was shocked by just how ropey it all looked. I don't expect Uncharted 4 on the Wii U, but it's not unfair to call Devil's Third an ugly game. Ninja Gaiden 2, Itagaki's previous game, wasn't exactly a technical showpiece, but it exhibited a sense of speed, style and flamboyance that is nowhere to be seen here.

All games have their supporters, and given Itagaki's involvement here there's no doubt Devil's Third will somehow manage to snag a couple. But they will be demonstrably wrong. The core idea - mixing the hack 'n' slash mechanics of Ninja Gaiden with the FPS action of Call of Duty, is admirable - but that's really the only praise the campaign deserves. In development for about five years, it's hard to see where all that time went. Each gameplay option feels so under-baked, the innards have been left to slop all over the place.

I've got the point where I'm used to the game's badness, tolerating it if not forgiving it, but still I'm repeatedly taken aback by the sheer dross that frequently presents itself - a vehicle section I recently played seemed to be from an era when quality control simply didn't exist. Charging along a snowy hilltop in a jeep fitted with a gun turret and rocket launcher, the player in charge of both aiming and driving, the sheer stupidity of taking down numerous attack choppers and ploughing through metal gates clashed with controls that occasionally seemed to stop working.

It's a mess of a sequence, made laughable by the addition of a boost button that turns the jeep into a speeding nightmare even Richard Hammond would have second thoughts about driving. Halo: Combat Evolved on the original Xbox featured better vehicle mechanics (14 years ago), and I hated that ending. You've got to laugh, especially when the main character's arm stretches to more than double its size as you rotate the turret. In other games a funny bug, here it might have been stranger had it not massively glitched.

'It's so bad, it's good' can apply to parts of Devil's Third, but not once did I think the developers were in on the joke. Yet the vehicle section is one of the more enjoyable parts. You're mostly taking out mindless guys in boring environments before battering a boss character - which more often than not are tests of endurance rather than skill.

That's all for now. I'm yet to play Devil's Third's multiplayer modes, which could, although not likely, be the game's saving grace. By all means wait until reviews, hopeful that I'm wrong or all games journalists are wrong, but by my early reckoning Devil's Third will go down in history as one of the worst games Nintendo ever published.

If you want to see it for yourself, Burns and Scammell played it earlier:

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9 Comments

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Mox_Demon's Avatar

Mox_Demon

Framerate looks fine, about what the Wii U can handle. I can't take a guy with a cape or snuggie seriously lol.
Posted 19:21 on 15 July 2015
Ephidel's Avatar

Ephidel@ MJTH

As far as I was aware, it was a similar case to Bayonetta 2 in that they couldn't secure funding for the franchise so Nintendo saw it as a ripe opportunity to swoop in and "buy it", essentially, for the Wii U.

Itagaki's name probably helped them decide to buy it, Nintendo have always been very Japanese, so it just "made sense" to them.

Whilst Bayonetta 2 turned out to be a hit, looks like the Devil's Turd will be anything but. Yet more proof that Nintendo need a Western voice in that Boardroom imo.

Also, I think that Scully guy forgets that the NES, SNES, N64 and Gamecube are all part of what shaped the templates for console manufacturing, and they all had equal or greater hardware than their rivals, which allowed them to support amazing First and Third Party Titles. It was never a case of Nintendo becoming like Sony or Microsoft, because Sony and Microsoft copied Nintendo, and it's Nintendo who need to remember that whilst "innovation" is great, you shouldn't risk jeopardising your bottom line by doing so.

Motion Controls are often cited as the bane of gamers due to the absolute tedium in their forced inclusion. Nintendo did their's better than anyone else and kept the controls simple, but the novelty still wore off pretty quick.

Furthermore, completely abandoning the traditional model for a gaming console because the Gamecube didn't do so well isn't exactly a rational move. Modify it, sure, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. The Wii lucked out when it became the success it did, and Nintendo's older business models worked far more robustly than their current one. The relative success of Sony and Microsoft is due to sticking to that formula and I can think of no other corporation who has better First Party titles or support amongst the Japanese Market than Nintendo. That's their edge, and they should've played it rather than listening to irresponsible "voices of change" and sycophants.

Anyone remember the countless reports over the years about how every developer actually likes to work with Nintendo, because they allow people to develop their games and support them in doing so? Anyone also remember the reports of how people hated working for Sony because they treated their employees like crap?

It boggles my mind why even in 2015, Nintendo still haven't reached the point where they'll try supporting the tried and tested business model again.
Posted 17:08 on 15 July 2015
iaopa's Avatar

iaopa

A lot more then you think, this shows your ignorance.
Posted 15:52 on 15 July 2015

DopeSloth

It's a shame the Wii U went to ***** so fast.
Posted 14:59 on 15 July 2015
MJTH's Avatar

MJTH@ Ephidel

There are hundred of potential "gritty mature games" out there. And that's not even to say that Nintendo shouldn't appeal to that audience. They should if they want broad appeal for their platforms. But why pick up this game specifically. It's looked like a shamble all the way through it's development, and the audience it appeals to can probably tell just from trailers it's in a sorry state.
Posted 11:43 on 15 July 2015
Scully1888's Avatar

Scully1888@ Ephidel

What you're basically suggesting is that Nintendo completely lose its identity and become a clone of Microsoft and Sony. That wouldn't save the company, it would destroy it.

Calling the Wii a "fluke" is pretty disrespectful: the thing changed the entire shape and demographic of the games industry.

I'll never get why some people didn't like that and decided it amounted to "screwing core fans", as you so succintly put it: Nintendo has never released quality first-party titles as regularly as it has done over the past five years.

The money generated from the likes of Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Brain Training and what have you has gone right back into games development, providing us with the Star Fox Zeroes and Luigi's Mansion 2s. These games always have the threat of underselling - look at Metroid Other M - but the money raised from the 'casual' games gave Nintendo a security net that let it take a punt on them. There isn't a chance in hell that a struggling Nintendo would have funded a sequel to Sin & Punishment or Bayonetta.

You say "trust was lost" with the Wii. Quite frankly, I don't think Nintendo will lose sleep if anyone with that attitude abandons it. There are plenty of others who can plainly see that the company continues to make premium quality games: people who are mature enough to realise that not every single game has to be developed entirely with their personal tastes in mind.
Posted 11:10 on 15 July 2015
Ephidel's Avatar

Ephidel@ MJTH

It's a "gritty and mature" game. Perfect for proving that Nintendo isn't just about a "kiddie image" and can be a "serious alternative" to the "proper consoles".

That said, if the NX doesn't get good Third Party support, they kinda deserve to fail. The Wii was a fluke and a gimmick, mass-marketed to "everyone". When that fad burned out, they should have focused on core gamers, but they didn't. They tried to recapture the "success of the Wii". It was stupid that they screwed their core fans in the first place. They traded long-term sustainability for short-term profits.

Trust was lost and gamers went elsewhere. All Nintendo need to do is be "in the race" hardware-wise, and they'll naturally cultivate an audience due to their strong exclusives and ported Third Party software.

All they continue to do is "innovate because good", like they're going to strike gold again with another gimmick. Maybe they will, I don't know, but it's a damn stupid thing to waste resources on when you have a surefire alternative. Mobile gaming is already dominated by other corporations, but now they think that's a way to go. As a way to subsidise other projects, sure, but no-one who's savvy puts all their eggs in one basket. At least Microsoft have a healthier approach to split resources towards separate endeavours.

If anything, Nintendo needs some Westernisation in the boardroom. A bit more pragmatic capitalism could see them have a sustainable profit margin where they could branch out into new ideas, rather than staking their entire future on them.
Posted 10:48 on 15 July 2015
MJTH's Avatar

MJTH

Honestly, I have never understood why Nintendo picked this up. Of all the franchises and games to save after the death of THQ, what did they see in this? It was always going to be terrible.
Posted 10:13 on 15 July 2015
Ephidel's Avatar

Ephidel

"Look at the protagonist! He's so fkin COOL! How can this possibly fail?!"

Said the Marketing Department.
Posted 09:12 on 15 July 2015

Game Stats

Release Date: 28/08/2015
Developer: Valhalla Game Studios
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Action
No. Players: 1 + Online
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 1,423 4
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