Castlevania, Disgaea and Katamari aren't exactly huge sellers themselves. None of those games have passed 500k this gen actually, and Muramasa's outselling some of them even.
Yet they still get major attention from sites like IGN/GameSpot/GameTrailers for being popular, even 'core' games and their sequels are hyped. This would only further prove my point that Muramasa is being labeled as 'miche' only because it didn't have a marketing push when it was released. In other words, since people didn't hear about it on TV or from an article on IGN hyping it, they automatically default to thinking its a 'niche' title. Although in the case of Muramasa, there were multiple articles/videos on sites like IGN/GameSpot/GameTrailers previewing the game.
I'd call it "niche" but that's mainly due to the merits of the game itself. I mean it a Japanese made side scrolling 2D action RPG. Those might've been big in the 16bit days, but they're practically an endangered species now and usually reserved for nostalgic enthusiasts like me. In fact, I can count all the likeminded games we've gotten this gen on two hands and the only one that sold really well had Mario in it. :/
These days, I'd also call Castlevania "niche" to be honest, though it definitely still has some brand cache.
On consoles, I would definitely agree there's a limited amount of 2D side scrollers being made. However, on handhelds, we're being flooded with them still. So I guess I have a different view of the situation. I mean, while some people will call a game like Muramasa niche, I'm also seeing many people starting to call the entire JRPG genre 'niche'. Yet we have games from both genres selling in the multi-millions.
What I was trying to get accross was that terms such as 'niche' are being used to describe games people precieve to be unpopular or they personally don't think are as good as another type of game, not based on sales or actual popularity. And for the most part, I feel that comes from their lack of being hyped for the game personally (due to a lack of marketing for the game compared to highly advertised western games like Mass Effect, Halo or GTA).
I dunno, the only similar games (JP made sidescrolling ARPGs) I can think of this gen are...
- Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (DS) 2005
- Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (DS) 2006
- MegaMan ZX (DS) 2006
- Super Paper Mario (Wii) 2007
- MegaMan ZX Advent (DS) 2007
- Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS) 2008
- Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii) 2009
- La-Mulana (WW) 2010
- Cave Story (WW) 2010
...that's not much. If we extended out to similar western games, then there's Shantae 2 and (sort of) Shadow Complex? :/
And with those examples, half of those sold very well (above 500,000) and were also considered popular by both fans and critics. So I really don't see why they are considered 'niche' by some people. Because there's not 100 clones of those games? Because they're very diverse and don't conform to one specific type of gameplay? Again, it goes back to what is 'niche'. Is it a definition of lackluster sales or the lack of a genre being popular or a vague perception of each indavidual to what is 'liked' by others? I definitely believe most of those titles, including Muramasa, are not limited to the first two traits. As for the third, I'm arguing that its pure speculation.
As for my comments of saying there's a lot more games on the DS, I thought you were pointing to 2D Platformers in general, not just 2D action platformers such as Paper Mario and Cave Story (which even then, are on the border of the same genre as Metroid/Castlevania/Muramasa).
Er, Super Paper Mario's the only one above 500k afaik? Maybe DOS managed it too?
And these aren't platformers, they're all action RPGs and adventure games (though they do have some degree of "platforming" in each). Cave Story's chief influence is actually Metroid.
No, you're right, they're all avg around 300,000 each in sales. Yet my point still stands. Why do these games, such as the recent Castlevania and Mega Man games, classify as some of the best in their genre or 'core' titles, while a game like Muramasa is considered 'niche' by some? Especially when Muramasa is only 100,000 units away from them in sales and also considered one of the better games on the Wii by 'core' fans.
I guess what I'm trying to lock down is, I don't think one game should be labeled as 'niche' just because it doesn't conform to the standards of what's the best selling game out there or what some people precieve as 'popular'. As I already gave examples, stuff like Katamari Damacy and Disgaea are hardcore Japanese and hardly anyone would consider it a 'core' title by the standards of today. Yet since it came out last gen, when the PS2 was king, those games were considered 'core' and hot stuff. And may I venture to say Odin Sphere got the same treatment for being on the PS2. So now I just find it rather hypocritical that now Muramasa, Odin Spheres spiritual successor, is getting labeled as 'niche', possibly because of the system its on and because the style/genre it uses.