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Which developer is going to rock the Wii at this year’s E3?

Posted on May 30, 2009 by (@NE_Brian) in Features, Wii

Amidst the hundreds upon thousands of E3 articles on the web, it is difficult to find one that isn’t a list of various predictions for one system or another. As entertaining as these articles may be to read, the lack of variety among them can be altogether discouraging when scouring the internet for something new and interesting to read. Because of that, I felt it necessary to detail not just the blockbuster games, the company announcements and the new peripherals: I felt that discovering what system wins E3, or what game will conquer the others, while it is important, does not come near the prize of what developer will take the cake for backing any of Nintendo’s consoles. From what we know so far (which, I must say, isn’t too much), a lot of developers are putting a lot of effort into Wii and DS, but there is one that is taking so many risks and putting so much money into their projects that, regardless of whether or not they succeed, they cannot be overlooked both by gamers and developers alike. That developer is High Voltage Software.

Nintendo may have Zelda and Mario, Activision may have Call of Duty and Guitar Hero, and Capcom may have Resident Evil, but none of these developers carry the perseverance, enthusiasm and all-around spirit of High Voltage. When HVS’s hardcore first person shooter, “The Conduit” (which releases on June 23) was unveiled, people threw up their hats and cheered. Why? It was clear the HVS’s ultimate goal was to push the Wii to a limit that even Nintendo had not reached, and make a great game in the process. From interviews, previews, reviews and screenshots, it is clear that (while it may be far from perfect) The Conduit was a labor of love that in the end turned out to be as much of a joy to play as it was for High Voltage to make, and that’s really the main idea behind what they’re doing.

Watch an interview with Chief Creative Officer Eric Nofsinger and you’ll see one thing that stands out above anything else: His eyes. In each and every video that he talks about The Conduit, a spark of enthusiasm can be seen in his eyes that clearly shows his dedication to not only The Conduit, but to High Voltage as a company. Being one of the principle players in the development of The Conduit, Nofsinger is clearly a very invested game developer, putting everything on the line by making a mature title for a system on which previous mature titles have failed to generate significant sales.

Beyond just The Conduit, however (which alone would not award the company with such a title), High Voltage is risking nearly all investment by creating not one, but two more hardcore games for the Wii, both of which continue to push the system to the limit, providing both significant graphical engine upgrades, but entire gameplay mechanics that have yet to be seen on Wii.

“The Grinder” (Holiday 2010) for instance, introduces 4 player online co-up with WiiSpeak, a first for the system. “We’ve been playing a lot of Left 4 Dead and there really isn’t that kind of frantic cooperative experience on the Wii right now.” says Nofsinger, “[The Grinder is] better looking than almost anything else you’ll see on the Wii right now.” As is evident, High Voltage neither messes around with game developing or cuts corners to make things easier, and as if that wasn’t enough to set them apart from the pack, they’re doing it all while developing blind; creating new types of games on one of the hardest systems to develop on this day and age.

The second (or third, depending on how you look at it) game that High Voltage announced for Wii was Gladiator A.D. Gladiator is another type of title that Wii has not seen a lot of in its days: Realistic Mature. All of the best mature titles on Wii are stylized; MadWorld, No More Heroes, and the like. With the exception of Call of Duty: World at War, any games that are both realistic and mature usually fail to satisfy the core audience, and that is why Gladiator A.D. is such a risk; It will release on a platform that has limited exposure to mature titles, it’s a style that has been rarely seen on Wii, and the use of WiiMotion Plus is an all but unexplored area of gaming thus far. Going on this game alone, High Voltage has taken more risks than many developers take in their life-span. Tack that onto a new FPS, a 4-player online FPS, a system that usually doesn’t sell 3rd party hardcore titles, and one dedicated and enthusiastic dev team? What you get is a risk taking, enthusiastic developer that is willing to put everything on the line to do what they want and do it right. It is because of this that, regardless of a new Zelda game, an announcement of Modern Warfare 2 on Wii, or Wii Fit Plus, High Voltage takes the cake for the one developer that is going to rock Nintendo at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo.

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