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30 in 30: Platinum Games

Vanquishing Japan's demons

Although Osaka based developer Platinum Games was only founded in 2006, and is - at least on paper - a fledgling studio compared to many of the other venerable developers being celebrated in our 30 in 30 series, its roots are buried deep within the Japanese gaming industry.

What we now know as Platinum Games started life as Clover Studio, an independent development house funded by Capcom and populated with the finest talent plucked from its own research and development teams. The studio was set up with the encouragement of creative freedom and innovation as its driving force.

Before its closure in 2006 (just three years after it was founded) Clover created a number of popular Capcom's properties such as Viewtiful Joe, Okami and God Hand, the characters of which have gone on to become iconic for the Japanese developer and publisher.

From its ashes was born Platinum Games, a studio that inherited both key members of staff and its laser-like focus on innovation and creation of interesting new properties over sequels.

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OVERVIEW

Founded: 2006
Location: Osaka, Japan
Killer quote: "We seek to ignite a Japanese games revival. And our troops will have the highest morale. We're in this fight for the long haul."

KEY PEOPLE

Shinji Mikami
Before the pre-PlayStation era the name Shinji Mikami didn't carry the same weight it does today. His early years at Capcom were spent making themed quiz games as well as Disney licenced titles such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Aladdin and Goof Troop. But it was his next game that truly put Mikami on the map...

Shortly after wrapping up work on Goof Troop, with his eyes set on the PlayStation and Sega Saturn, and his mind inspired by Sweet Home, another Capcom title, he began work on a horror game set in a mansion. That game would go on to become Resident Evil.

Mikami has said Resident Evil was a game born out of his disappointment for Zombie, a film by Italian director Lucio Fulci. After being underwhelmed by the movie Mikami set out to make a game that would satisfy both his and others inclinations towards horror fiction in a way the movie had failed to.

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The end product was Biohazard, known as Resident Evil in the west, a revolutionary game that drew heavy inspiration from George Romero's zombie movies and used cutting-edge technology to harness the power of Sony's infant PlayStation console. Upon release the first Resident Evil quickly became one of the most successful PlayStation games ever. Resi is considered by many horror gaming enthusiasts as the first game in the 'survival horror' genre, making Mikami its de facto father.

Much of Mikami's design decisions in Resident Evil have gone on to become ingrained into the DNA of the genre, with aspects such as its control scheme becoming the standard for any and all survival horror games, and after the release of Resident Evil 4, most third-person action games too.

Following Resident Evil Mikami went on to be a big player in the creation a number Capcom's most popular franchises including Viewtiful Joe, Devil May Cry and the Ace Attorney series.

Atsushi Inaba
Before becoming the CEO of Clover Studio Inaba worked on R-Type Leo for Irem as well as Samurai Showdown for SNK.

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After riding a carousel around the Japanese game development industry Inaba eventually landed at Capcom with hopes working on a new Resident Evil game, which he did. However, although the project started off as a new Resident Evil title title underwent some significant changes over the course of development and came out the other as Devil May Cry.

Following the closure of Clover Inaba headed up Seeds, Inc. which went on to become Platinum Games.

Hideki Kamiya
Like the Inaba and Mikami, Kamiya's tenure at both Capcom and Clover are punctuated with blockbuster franchises such as Resident Evil, on which he was a planner and director of its sequel, Viewtiful Joe, Okami and Devil May Cry, all of which he directed.

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Post-Clover his name is most prominently attached to Bayonetta, a stylish third-person action game in the same vein as Devil May Cry.

PLATINUM GAMES WE LOVE

Bayonetta
Bayonetta owes much to Devil May Cry since it is unashamedly cribs the Capcom action game, but given that people behind it wrote the blueprint it was difficult to hold it against Platinum.

One of most 'exciting' aspect of the game was its titular character Bayonetta, a leather-clad, curvaceous witch armed with revolvers inconveniently strapped to her high heels. As if that wasn't enough of a quirk the sexually charged femme fatal used her hair to summon all manner of demons.

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At it's core was thoughtfully created, finely tuned combat system that had the kind of depth usually only found in fighting games. Bayonetta was a pure, fast and furious gaming experience from the first swing of the sword to the final firing of a bullet. More than anything it reminded us of the kind of fun you can have with a game that doesn't take itself seriously.

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