So, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water has been out for a little while and I’ve yet to play it. Not because I don’t want to, mind you. It’s just that Nintendo of America with Tecmo/Koei have made getting the actual game a bit of a chore unless you have a zippy fast broadband connection and about 10GB of hard drive space on your Wii U or a USB drive attached to the console. The game has a “Free to Start” demo that consists of the prologue and first two chapters and if you like what you’ve played, you then pony up $49.99 to download the rest of the game. That’s fine and dandy for those who can access that, but once again, gamers who want a legal physical release have to settle for nothing unless they can speak Japanese, own an import Wii U and buy a physical copy from one of the many import shops online.
Boo to that, I say.
Granted, Nintendo is to be commended to some extent for deigning to get this new FF game out at all. Their last attempt at a localized FF game was the spin-off Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir, a Nintendo 3DS game that felt more like a noble and novel experiment in terror and AR hijinks that came as a full retail package for $39.99 back in 2012. Paying ten bucks for for an invisible game that’s a much larger download comes off as a bizarre novelty of sorts. $49.99 for a ghost of a shell, if you will open your wallet, please. The problem is (as usual)not giving gamers a choice of how they want their scary game exclusive to the console means not as many are going to be buying that scary game exclusive to the console.
I’d say the game was probably destined to suffer its digital fate here in America thanks to Nintendo wanting to go retail for as many first party titles as possible, shifting others to eShop downloads. While this assures the company saves a bit of money on the pressing, packaging and shipping front, it also assures that not as many people who may want to can or will play the game in the long run. Yes, Fatal Frame IS a niche game and always has been. But forcing it into another niche as a digital only game is a terrific and terrible idea for the future of the franchise outside of Japan.
Yeah, some of us still prefer the actual convenience of owning a physical disc than the pretend “convenience” of paying the same (or more) for a download that might require a re-download or multiple attempts at a first download if something goes screwy during the process. Hell, you can get your Mario fix as an either-or deal (digital and retail), so why not this game. Or in fact, why not some disc-based compilations of Nintendo’s eShop indies, many of which I’m sure are being ignored by enough Wii U owners that are missing out on some otherwise fine downloadable content. All these games are small enough to fit a few onto a disc and charge a reasonable price for. With digital manuals, of course to save paper.
Nintendo is a bit behind on the ball in some respects regarding physical game compilations. For the past few years there have been a bunch of PS3/Xbox 360 game collections that have been available in shops that have allowed gamers to buy into certain key franchises without spending a load of money per game. Nintendo needs to get itself and third parties on this, although given the Wii U’s sluggish sales, I can’t see most third parties jumping on this idea so late in the game. Then again, the Wii U is only three years old and some seem to be giving up on it or giving it the Julius Caesar treatment, which is too bad because the system certainly doesn’t deserve it.
Ah well – I have bigger fish to fry and plenty of other games to play. I’ll probably see what’s up with that Black Maiden at some point. But only if I can get it at a lower price or see it on a disc completely in English. Some games are worth keeping around longer than an online store’s servers will last.