Why Red Dead Redemption 2 Feels Like a Japanese Game | NowThis Nerd

Howdy, pardners, I’m Andrew, and like a lot of you, I’ve been spending a lot of time moseying around the old West in ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ Now, some cowpokes are having a hard time with the slow pace, clunky controls, and dense systems, but those same qualities that are giving players trouble, are what make some of my favorite Japanese-developed games so special

'Red Dead' is a Western game made by a Western developer, but today, I want to look some of its quirks to show Why ‘Red Dead Redemption 2' is Rockstar’s Most Japanese Game Let’s start with one of the game’s biggest criticisms, the pacing It’s clear that Rockstar wants to you take your time with ‘Red Dead 2’ From the super slow looting animations and gruesomely drawn out skinning process, to the barely-there fast travel system and Arthur’s leisurely movement Most open world games are built to minimize downtime, they give you superhuman speed and easy icons that tell you where to go, how to get there, and what exactly you’ll be doing But in ‘Red Dead,’ you’re not meant to run from mission to mission, climbing towers to fill your minimap with icons to check off a list

Its content is spread across the vast plains of the frontier, in the form of a mysterious plume of smoke from a distant camp or a desperate stranger you stumble across on the way back from a hunting trip If you could help me with these shackles, I just might have a chance Oh, yes, perfect! Thank you It’s hard to think of a game that did a better job of immersing you in a setting through mechanics alone, at least, not one developed in the West

One of the first games that came to mind when I started poking around Valentine, was 1999’s ‘Shenmue’ Yu Suzuki’s quirky masterpiece could have been just another bare knuckle brawler, a ‘Streets of Rage’ for the sixth console generation But when we popped the disc into our Dreamcasts, yes, our Dreamcasts, players found themselves in complex simulation of Yokosuka, Japan in 1986 Ryo Hazuki is hellbent on finding his father’s killer, but his quest often takes a backburner to playing arcade games and UFO catchers, petting cats, and driving forklifts as he waits for the townsfolk to complete their scripted routines and schedules It’s weird, wacky, and more often than not, boring as hell, but it revolutionized how we see video game spaces

Never had there been a videogame where there was a living breathing world in which you could do boring stuff like drive a forklift! Plenty of games have convincing worlds, but Shenmue, like its spiritual successor the ‘Yakuza’ series, make you feel like you’re living in them, warts and all, You mean that badass dude with a tattoo on his arm? That's him! I've seen him around at night For details, go ask Toshiki over there! and that’s exactly what Red Dead accomplishes with its glacial pace and endless activities When I first got to the mission where the Reverend was drunk and you had to sub in for him in the poker game, I played poker for two hours straight Fortunate for you both, we're being gentlemen about this Same goes for you! It might be frustrating that you can’t just sprint through your camp, talking to NPCs and getting new quests, but if you think of it in terms of ‘slow life’ games like Animal Crossing or the routine mundanity of maintaining your friendships in ‘Persona,’ you can see how all those so-called wastes of time help build your relationship with the world, and the characters who live there

The West, as a character Japanese games are all about the tiny details, like gorgeously rendered food you’ll see for two seconds, or ice cubes melting with the laws of physics ‘Red Dead’ takes that level of detail to the extreme, like, shrinking horse testicles level of extreme, like, somebody programmed that but if you’re sprinting through the world on a mad dash to tick off sidequests, you just might miss it It’s not as exciting as ripping and tearing through a horde of death metal demons, or leading the cops on a hundred mile an hour chase in 'GTA

' But hey, action isn’t exactly Red Dead’s strong suit, thanks to its clunky Movement Arthur Morgan is hard to deal with He handles like molasses, has a hard time finding things in closed spaces, and only moves faster than a lazy amble if you smash the sprint button My hat got knocked off in a barfight, and it fell next to, like, a dead guy or something And I could not pick up my hat for fifteen minutes The game is too real

That’s par for the course for Rockstar, who’ve been using the Euphoria physics engine for animations since GTA 4, and while it does an incredible job of giving weight and authenticity to movement, it’s far from the responsive, tight controls of pure action games I understand how aggravating it can be when Arthur’s movements aren’t a one to one representation of the button you press, and don’t even get me started on the horses, Oh, crap! but in the context of the larger game, it works In 'Red Dead,' your inputs are more like instructions for the onscreen character, rather than directly controlling him Arthur isn’t a mute, blank slate like so many other videogame heroes, he's no Mario, he's no Link, he’s not your avatar, and he’s not a puppet that obeys your every whim, he’s a fleshed-out person with hopes, desires, and faults of his own, and he’ll follow your orders when he damn well pleases The controls remind me of games like ‘Ico,’ ‘Shadow of the Colossus,’ and 'The Last Guardian,' which don’t have the luxury of dialogue to build their characters

Movement is the only real interaction you have with them, and while they don’t control anything like traditional games, their weighty animations give Ico and Wanda the sense of being living, breathing characters, immersing you in their world without the benefit of a 2,000 page script Even in lore-heavy Japanese games like the ‘Souls’ series, or survival horror classics like Capcom’s OG Resident Evils, your motions are slow and deliberate You have to commit to every button press, and wait for the animation to play out before you can input your next move

but just like ‘Red Dead,’ the clunky controls contribute to the atmosphere The Frontier was harsh and unforgiving, and one wrong move could lead you to a painful death, Just get out of here, darn it! Allright, easy now! whether it’s at the end of a rope or the jaws of a wolf Red Dead’s movement forces you to think about the consequences of your actions, and how they play out across the game’s extremely complicated Systems 'Red Dead' is one of the most complex and cumbersome open world games ever made, and behind the curtain, there’s an intricate array of gameplay systems making the West truly wild I’ve sunk dozens of hours into it and I still can’t explain to you how the cores work, why I get off my horse with certain weapons, or how I can rob a stagecoach with my face covered and no one around for miles, but still wind up with a fat bounty on Arthur’s head Are the horses in this game psychic?! Next to those low-down polecats the O’Driscoll’s, I Googled 'polecats' to make sure it wasn't racist or anything

It means 'skunk' Great Next to those low-down varmints the O’Driscoll’s, just in case, convenience seems to be the biggest enemy in ‘Red Dead 2’ You can’t just open a menu and go from a bare face to a burly beard, you have to wait for your hair to grow and trim it to what you need Taking a bath isn’t a matter of hitting X and watching a cutscene, you need to manually wash every one of Arthur’s limbs

Why? ‘Red Dead’ doesn’t hold your hand or overly tutorialize things, it just dumps all these systems on you and expects you to figure them out In a way, it reminds me of Konami’s ‘Monster Hunter,’ which, for decades, was considered too dense and obtuse for Western audiences It make you wade through a million menus just to craft a megapotion, spam monsters with paintballs to track them across zones, and return back to base every time you want to start a new quest It’s a pain in the butt, but at the same time, the steps required help every hunt seem like an epic adventure, where you have to study your prey, sharpen your skills (and your weapons), and prepare for every possible outcome Now, ‘Monster Hunter World’ did a lot to alleviate the tedium, and while it’s still not as welcoming as most Western games, it’s a world of difference compared to complex RPGs like Shin Megami Tensei and ‘Dark Souls,’ or Persona for that matter, where you have to figure out how to build your relationships with very little help from the game itself

I mean, it tells you you have to hang out with people, but it doesn't tell you the best ways, sometimes you have to plan dates, make sure you don't say the wrong thing kinda like Arthur and his gang of merry misfits They're games that you can’t really just pick up and play

You have to invest in them, leap headfirst into their dense mechanics and figure them out on the fly, just like ‘Red Dead’ But once you’ve cracked the code and mastered the systems, you, the player, feel as skilled and powerful as your representative onscreen, worthy of the ranks of the Fifth Fleet, the Phantom Thieves, or the Van Der Lynde gang Look, did Rockstar set out to make ‘Red Dead’ a throwback to the complicated, clunky Japanese games we love? Hell no Red Dead 2 plays pretty much like a mix of the first game and 'GTA V,' the same formula they’ve used for a decade, because if it ain't broke, don't fix it But games have changed a lot in the years since ‘Red Dead 1’ was released, and a lot of the complaints stem from years of streamlining that Western audiences now take for granted

But if you take your time, come to grips with the controls, put a cigar in your mouth, hitch up your horse, and dive into the systems headfirst, 'Red Dead' can be just as rewarding, as the Japanese masterpieces that blazed the trail for it

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