Welcome to today’s blog, y’all! If you haven’t read the first blog I wrote about Temple Run by Imangi Studios, you should check it out.
In it, I remarked about the current state of the video game industry and how Temple Run was a welcome departure from the commercial-oriented developing practices of the former. Games are supposed to be addictive, not entertaining. They’re supposed to sharpen your mind, not render it dull.
While I criticized the modern-day industry, it has a particular characteristic that could have benefited Imangi, had they capitalized on it when the time was ripe. Now, the time is not only past-ripe, it has shriveled up, plopped to the ground, and now being picked at by insects. You know what characteristic that is?
In my last blog, I referred to Naughty Dog’s Uncharted game series as a modern-day example of how the concept of games is being turned on its head. Sure, the Uncharted games are immersive. Sure, they’re entertaining. But, in my opinion, they’re not games. They’re more what I call “interactive movies.” Naughty Dog is simply cognizant of the way the market works. They know what people buy and they simply provide it. Supply and demand. You can’t fault for them for it, really.
One commendable tendency of high-performing companies (that Naughty Dog does exceptionally well) is they franchise their intellectual properties if they’re deemed profitable. Basically, they add sequels, and expand on the worlds they’ve created. They add characters. They add stories. They diversify the output. They dabble in multimedia. To date, Uncharted is on its way to the big screen with a feature film starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg.
Naughty Dog has kept itself in the black and soaring while cementing a loyal fanbase. Even better, they don’t seem inclined to milk their franchises like Ubisoft does with Assassin’s Creed or Activision with Call of Duty.
Nathan Drake, the main character of Uncharted, has already gone towards the sunset atop his horse with his gorgeous wife in tow. The Nathan Drake story has gotten a nice little wrap up. Naughty Dog doesn’t seem (at present) intent on bringing him back to milk him dry. The company has taken creative risks with their properties, too. They’ve even killed off a major character in The Last of Us Part II (spoilers will end right here).
Naughty Dog knows how to enrich their IPs without diluting their overall quality, and that’s a given.
And that brings me back to Imangi: the Bizarro Naughty Dog. Fair comparison, no? These ARE two companies that have valuable IPs involving treasure-hunters, albeit with different degrees of success.
To Imangi’s credit, they’ve released a sequel to their smash-hit: Temple Run 2 in 2013. The sequel sports a polished feel with more advanced graphics, several unique settings, more unlockable characters, and an overall “smoother” gameplay experience. Imangi really went all out, I’ll give them that.
Now, this is just me and I don’t speak on behalf of the entire fanbase: The sequel pales in comparison to its predecessor. Sorry, but it just does. While the gameplay is more “seamless”, it came with a price: obstacles in the environment are harder to spot. Obstacles are supposed to stick out like a sore thumb, not blend in with the background. It doesn’t make for a “fair” playing experience.
Some of us that grew up playing the Nintendo 64 remember the monstrosity of Superman 64. Its controls were half-baked and the main gameplay mechanic of flying through rings was an insult to the comic book character. The developers did not give the player a fair shot at dominating the game.
Mind you, I’m not comparing Temple Run 2 with Superman 64. That would be gross.
What I’m saying is, I applaud Imangi’s efforts with their sequel. I cannot, however, applaud their lack of effort after said sequel was released. It’s been 7 years since its release and nary an announcement of additonal projects or franchises, save for Oz and VR released in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
After that…crickets. Crickets. And more crickets.
WHY DIDN’T THEY DO WHAT NAUGHTY DOG DID????
Why not develop a comic book series detailing the background stories of Guy Dangerous? Or Scarlett Fox? Or Zack Wonder, the football star? What was a football star doing in the jungle? An inquiring mind would like to know! Or an animated series? Or even a full-length feature film?
Get creative! Diversify!
It feels that the two main installments of the series have left us with a lot more questions than answers. We never got to know the characters that we’ve enjoyed playing as. There are no development arcs, either. There’s no Nathan Drake-ishness in Guy Dangerous. There’s no Elena Fisher in Scarlett Fox, either.
Let’s give some fair context. The company is run by a husband and wife, and not much is publicly known about them. For all I know, they could be raising kids and busy with other obligations. Considering that the games have been downloaded a billion times each, I’m sure they’ve procured enough ad revenue to load up their savings and be set for life. I can’t begrudge them for that.
It’s unfortunate when IPs never see their potential realized. If I had the heart of a software developer and brain of a businessman, I would’ve capitalized the living shit out of these IPs. Because why not? There is no end to creativity and there is no end to a fan’s unwavering devotion.
Thanks for reading! Leave a Like and Follow my Blog through either WordPress or Email! Take care, y’all! 🙂