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Forums - Gaming Discussion - Is Hideo Kojima the most overrated video game storyteller out there?

 

How do you think Hideo Kojima is regarded in gaming?

Overrated 38 62.30%
 
Rated appropriately 19 31.15%
 
Underrated 4 6.56%
 
Total:61
JackHandy said:
JuliusHackebeil said:

I was expecting this sort of comment earlier. Now I think we should not dismiss intelligent gamers who get it and don't like it as much as we should not dismiss gamers who don't get what Kojima is trying to say (with mgs for example) and still think it is just cool shit.

But I would be curious to hear what you appreciate and get out of Kojima games, since quite a few comments in this thread (mine included) were rather negative.

Kojima's games are brilliant because they are to gaming what Hemingway's novels are to literature. He utilized the iceberg theory, whereby there's the main, easily-digestible (and quite good in its own right) story and game and also things happening underneath which reflect the game's real story. And while some might disagree with that sub-level stuff, it's hard to deny its brilliance... especially considering how deep and thought-provoking the subject matter is. 

Of course, again, the risk you run is a lot of people walking away wondering, what was that? But as an artist myself, I think it was worth it. After all, those first MGS titles are some of the highest-reviewed, and critically-acclaimed games of all time.

Oh, and they also sold well.

As a former artist (wishing to draw again someday), I feel like there is no artist out there who is flawless and perfect, everyone has their flaws and I strongly feel that Kojima is not without his flaws.


You say he is underrated, but I disagree and think that he is fine with his storytelling, but that he suffers from injecting pieces into his stories that really didn't need to be there, or were made for fan service (which to some normie folk can be distracting and immersion breaking, and that is fine to think that, even if said normies aren't artists, you don't need to draw to be able to notice this).

I also feel like his reliance of celeb connections is something that gets in the way of him wanting to tell a story, because usually artists wish to tell their own stories, not "oh I need curt Russel to star in this or my story will never be epic" (because let's be honest, that's Kojima's inner fanboy coming out, and I see this as a common trope amongst my artists friends who wish to collab with other artists). 



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JackHandy said:

Kojima's games are brilliant because they are to gaming what Hemingway's novels are to literature. He utilized the iceberg theory, whereby there's the main, easily-digestible (and quite good in its own right) story and game and also things happening underneath which reflect the game's real story. And while some might disagree with that sub-level stuff, it's hard to deny its brilliance... especially considering how deep and thought-provoking the subject matter is. 

Of course, again, the risk you run is a lot of people walking away wondering, what was that? But as an artist myself, I think it was worth it. After all, those first MGS titles are some of the highest-reviewed, and critically-acclaimed games of all time.

Oh, and they also sold well.

As a video game person in general Kojima is super famous, perhaps the most recognisable name in the industry. In that Hemingway is doing him a disservice. Kojima is more like the Shakespeare of video games.

But as a writer in particular, Kojima is not even comparable to somebody like J K Rowling, or Dan Brown, let alone some actual master. This is where we disagree hard and the thread might get really interesting.

I think you are talking in particular about mgs. So what are the surface level and real stories in mgs? And how are they good? (I liked mgs4 fine, but I have not played enough mgs to be able to really judge the whole series. Still I am going to clearly argue against so that you can clearly argue for.)

The amount of clones and alternate versions of your main character is inversely proportional to the quality of the story. Makes it feel like a dime novel.

As a general rule, the plot should spend more time happening than being explained.

There are some very heavy themes in mgs. But I would argue it is not only about the themes but also how you communicate them. And that is lacking.

The sweaty hot female doctor in part 4 is sexy, yes, but charcters like that would have no place in any serious novel or movie. And that she hooks up with Otacon - that is satisfying and funny, but not good in any profound way above teenage boy wish fulfillment.

And it is not just her. The fat guy in rollerskates comes to mind. And the vampire. And Drebin with his pet monkey. There is a curcuis of odd ball characters that I have a very hard time with.

As far as I can tell, Meryl seemed like a somewhat interesting if underdeveloped character in part 1. But in part 4, when she wears a wedding dress (marrying a man she seemed barely interested beforehand, don't get me started on the ridiculous proposal scene) and her father shows up the schmalz and corniness is off the charts. As is the case with Raidens family reunion. As is the case with Otacon and the girl crying in front of the sunset. As is the case with many moments of the series.

The game says war has changed, that everybody is just fighting proxy wars. And so the game heavily tackles the theme of the absolut meaninglessness of war. But what we get are still big hero moments of our main characters fighting the good fight. These are the good guys. A way to clear distinction for a game about war. (I know it tries some gray area stuff, but fails in my regard.) Snake insists that he is no hero. But he is the one who saves the day and the world. The games big themes are in opposition to the happenings and writing that better suit a corny edgy action movie than anything approaching thoughtfullness.



I never bought into the "the story is confusing and has to be discussed for hours, therefore is must be deep" perspective. Mice and Men is a deep story... and easy to follow. Being a good story teller, IMHO, inherently means being able to tell a story that people can follow. Let us say I am a professor and nobody in the class can understand me... are the students unintelligent and I'm simply brilliant or am I bad teacher?

Outside MGS1 and MGS3, Kojima's stories are a mess.  He isn't a good story teller.  



I loved the first 3 MGS games and Peace Walker.

4 was okay but it was quite a mess in comparison.

Story wise its overall good in my experience.



Cant say much about his other games since I havent played anything else from him yet.



    

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Kyuu said:

ICO and SotC are just masterclass in simple yet profound storytelling. We need more Fumito Ueda's!

Just to emphasize and reiterate: Absolutely agreed - we need way more Fumito Ueda's.

He seems in some ways like the antithesis of Kojima. While both do weird, out there concepts, Ueda does not explain much at all. And his characters seem grounded and normal in comparison to Kojimas wacky ensemble. Ueda does not convolute and overcomplicate his plots either. He is vague alright. But he seems to tell one coherent, arching, logical (mysthical) story with understandable character motivations driving the plot.



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I would argue Ori has a wonderful story, but told with body language, visuals and musical score. Much better way to tell an impact story than having people talk for 30 minutes.



I don’t think he is. Because there’s another guy who is far more deserving of that title. I’m not much for these “worst of” or “Is X the most overrated?” discussions… at least not anymore, but I do have one from back in my more pessimistic days: Hironobu Sakaguchi.


He’s often praised as the best writer for the FF series, and while I really enjoy the early FF games, the stories are not their strong point. I found Sakaguchi was only ever able to do derivative storytelling, nothing really great or original.

For example, FF1, the game is janky as hell, but in that mess I find a fun game to play even to this day. What I don’t find great is the story. Sakaguchi created the fiends of power that are rotting away the various 4 elements of earth… Making them weaker/less useful. This is fine, until you get to the second fiend (Fire) where that whole concept is abandoned completely. They still bring up that the fiends are causing the world to decay right to the end of the game, even though that hasn’t been the story since fighting the first fiend (Lich, fiend of Earth). FF1’s strongest components were the art and music, IMO, and it feels more like accidentally great gameplay—but IMO when remasters tried to “fix” it they ruined what I liked about it… threw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak by replacing the magic system with mp, and adding in ethers and such.

Sakaguchi is often given undue credit for FF4 and FF6, which IMO are the greatest games of the Nintendo era Final Fantasy series. FF4 and FF5 were worked on during the same time, and Sakaguchi’s main focus was FF5, while design of FF4 was largely handled by future Chrono Trigger director Takashi Tokita. FF6, Sakaguchi handed the reigns over to Kitase early on.

So, to many FF4 seems like a triumph for Sakaguchi, since he wrote the story, right? It’s better than any of its contemporaries to that point… but that’s because of lead designer Takashi Tokita. Once again, the music (Uematsu) and art (Amano who designed, Tetsuya Takahashi who implemented) took high seats, but also battle system (Itoh) and scene direction (Tokita). IMO, FF4 was without rival until Dragon Quest 5 (which I didn’t play until a few years after it’s release). Tokita also reworked Sakaguchi’s story, heavily cutting around 75-80% of the text he deemed as unnecessary. But overall, the story felt a lot like a Star Wars fan fiction recycled into a fantasy world with elements of earlier FF games brought in.

Speaking of Star Wars fan fiction. When Sakaguchi was in charge of the first concept of Final Fantasy 6, Terra was a dude and a rogue partner of Locke associated with a rebellion against an Empire. While the rebellion remained in the form of “The Returners” as did the Empire, the game changed drastically once Yoshinori Kitase took over with Sakaguchi’s influences mainly being for loose concepts and framework, the cast much expanded and the initial characters (Locke and Terra) being drastically different from their origins. Kitase employed people across the dev team to write stories, among them Soraya Saga who’s join Tetsuya Takahashi to write Xenogears, and Tetsuya Nomura (of Kingdom Hearts Fame) who took the stories in far more creative directions. Kitase took the stories written by his team and unified them into what is (IMO) a giant leap in storytelling over its predecessors.
Other elements made FF6 game great, too. Uematsu once again outdid himself with one of the greatest soundtracks of all time. The game was more cinematic than ever, Tetsuya Takahashi (who was getting really into mecha at the time) made sure of that, including taking complete control of the intro scene to the game which blew minds when it first came out.

Anyway, I felt like in the early fandom that Sakaguchi took all the glory that was due to others. While it seems silly now, in older FF Internet communities there was a lot of Sakaguchi worship, and they basically gave all the credit of FF4 and FF6 to him, even though he barely did anything on FF6 on the development layer—they credited him when Kitase was the real General on the Battlefield here. Tokita eventually found his glory working alongside Masato Kato and the legendary scoring by Yasonori Mitsuda, but he really should have had it with Final Fantasy 4.

I’m not saying Sakaguchi is worthless as a writer, but he received a tremendous amount of undue credit. His writing is mediocre at best, and much of his credited success is due to heavy overhaul or near complete reworking by other writers. I’d also say he was a poor leader as well when power was placed in his hands—mainly because of his seniority and ability to stay on top of company politics (which hurt Tetsuya Takahashi). His jealousy is probably the main factor that tore classic Squaresoft apart. Many of their key talents, including Mitsuda, Uematsu, Tetsuya Takahashi, Soraya Saga left Squaresoft. The story of Spirits Within was bland and derivative, and not feeling deserving of the Final Fantasy label. His downfall was swift, and ended with his resignation and exit from Square in 2003.

I don’t know a lot about Kojima, but I do think he’s a substantially more talented of a writer than Sakaguchi from what I’ve played (mostly MGS1 and 3). And I’m not terribly familiar with the fanbase, but from my experience, Sakaguchi was usually regarded more highly than him. At least Kojima’s fans seem to be fans of Kojima’s work, and not crediting other people’s work to him.

Last edited by Jumpin - on 15 November 2022

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