Vanillaware does one thing but it does it very, very well. Sidescroller action games with lovingly rendered handpainted graphics and a very distinct style. Okay, maybe not GrimGrimoire which was a sidescroller RTS with lovingly rendered handpainted graphics. But Vanillaware fills a niche, a niche that desperately needs filling. I understand that there is a breed of gamer that says 'it's not the graphics that make the game' but in a any visual medium, I don't fucking buy that. The gameplay in every Vanillaware game has, at it's lows, been sufficient, and at it's highs buttery smooth and intuitive. They have perfected a system. What they're aiming for is an aesthetic. And they certainly hit the nail on the head.
The artistic style of Vanillaware games is sort of the bastard love child of Mark Schultz and Lisa Frank, but in a good way. You have Schultz's level of rendering and exceptional attention to detail with that late 70s kitchen-sink fantasy style that the revival of Lord of the Rings brought on, but the colours in their games are vibrant, bordering on garish but not quite. Every character is larger than life and seems to breathe, like your playing in an actual illustration. Muramasa's boss monsters are a particular favourite of mine, although the Queen of the Dead in Odin Sphere also gives me chills.
Games like this don't really get made anymore, so seeing more of the same from Vanillaware isn't necessarily a bad thing. Innovation is a great thing to be sure, but there's also something to be said about perfecting something that's already pretty damn good.
Also Saints Row the Third looks fucking batshit awesome.
Current Mood: accomplished