Sony has defined itself as high-tech. The Playstation bested the Saturn at producing the new graphical style sweeping the nation(s) – 3D. The PS2 had an emotional processor that would listen to your washing machines personal problems and keep your whole house in harmony. And the PS3 is a gourmet meal that makes all other systems look like that Chinese buffet that gave you food poisoning last summer.
A brilliant strategy for Sony. In a broad sense, the industry is entirely dependant on technology so it seems to follow that the company with the best technology will triumph. Wait, these consoles can play games, too?
Well, that changes everything. The PSP, Sony’s super powerful handheld, is being trounced in Japan by an inferior system that can’t play movies and doesn’t even use an optical format. The Nintendo DS’s success has made at least someone in Sony’s ranks realize that simpler, more creative games are still worth designing as Sony itself developed the critically acclaimed Loco Roco.
Good for Sony, now I actually want a PSP. But this is also terrible for Sony. Loco Roco being one of the best games on the high tech PSP makes Nintendo look smart — they based their whole handheld on quirky, creative titles.
Thinking about the implications of Loco Roco has also elucidated Sony’s faulty logic behind the PS3. The success of the PS2 is an indicator that technology doesn’t mean much. A creative hit like Katamari Damacy, which clearly inspired Loco Roco, was not a graphical marvel. Even beautiful PS2 games like Shadow of the Colossus and God of War were done on the weakest of the three systems. Think of how God of War could have looked on an Xbox. Who gives a shit, the game was fun!
The PS2 has shown how good games and not technology sell systems. For all intents and purposes, the PS3 is the 360. Hardware innovation may sell systems, as Nintendo hopes, but, unfortunately for Sony, adding more RAM and more processor cores is not innovation, it is just basic evolution.
By creating Loco Roco, Sony has defeated itself. It has shown that gameplay and creativity trump graphics, sound, and processing power. To force the whole debate into a strained analogy: The PS3 is not a gourmet meal; it is a diploma from an Ivy League school. You learned about as much as you would’ve if you had gone to a good community college, but it cost you a lot more.
It can be argued that if Loco Roco bombs then this whole editorial is moot. There are enough gamers who will realize what Loco Roco represents, but if the title does poorly then it means little overall. Perhaps the most delicious prospect for Sony detractors is the idea that no matter the fate of Loco Roco, it makes Sony look foolish. If it sells and is the next big thing, then what I’ve said is only reinforced. But Sony has also gone on record as saying they don’t need exclusives from third parties any more and that their own games will carry their systems. If Loco Roco fails to sell, Sony still looks bad, not just because they made it but because it runs contrary to their plan for success.