Kickstarter Shout-out: RED ASH and my Concerns

To begin with, I want to say that this Kickstarter will not be set up like most Kickstarter Shout-outs that I write. Due to some controversy and confusion by some of the gaming community, I think it will be smarter to set this article up a little differently. I have honestly had to rewrite this article twice because I didn’t like the overall tone of the piece. It began to go in a negative direction, and I didn’t feel comfortable with that, because I really am optimistic about this new Kickstarter. It’s by Keiji Inafune and a very talented team, but I do have my concerns that you will to see later in the article.

So then, what is this Kickstarter about? Well, to sum up the project in a paragraph, RED ASH is an anime-inspired open-world third-person action game, taking place in a world where war has almost ruined the human race. You play as a character named Beck, who lives in a city called Great Slope. Unfortunately, the city is in major danger of a giant floating citadel that is on a collision course with it. Not only that, but the giant floating citadel, which is known as KalKanon is apparently home to a legendary artifact called the Legendary Legacy. Can Beck and his partners in crime, Call and Tyger, get onto KalKanon and find this artifact before the Gecko Company destroys the citadel? Can they find the Legendary Legend? What lurks inside KalKanon? Well, you will have to get the game funded to see. Of course, there are problems/concerns/criticisms holding a group of people back. We will, once again, get to that later on in the article.

So, why would you want to back RED ASH? Well, since this is the spiritual successor of the Mega Man Legends series, you will get a game with a charm that is very hard to find in gaming these days. For an example or examples, since I am like that, have you ever played a game like Grandia or Skies of Arcadia? What about watching a movie like “Castle in the Sky” or “Beauty and the Beast?” You know when you watch or play something that has its own plan and feels timeless? Like, nothing will feel dated, no matter how much better the graphics or the look of film-making will get? That is the feeling I got from the Mega Man Legends games. Sure, the graphics may not age well, but the charm, personality, interaction between characters, and the overall experience is like nothing else. It might be inspired by anime, but it takes inspiration from anime that anyone can watch, and not the elements of current anime today. It’s something that is sorely missing from gaming these days, and that’s my personal reason for putting some backing towards RED ASH. Plus, the team behind the game is made up of people who made the Mega Man Legends games.

Now then, I have to unfortunately go into the reasons why the Kickstarter might not succeed, and judging by some of the actions the Kickstarter decided to take, well, I don’t honestly know if it will make it. The first problem was the timing of the release of the Kickstarter. This year has been gigantic, with Kickstarter successes like Shadowrun: Hong Kong, Yuka Laylee, Bloodstained, and Shenmue III. That isn’t even counting some of the smaller, but strong Kickstarters, like Crowfall, Children of Morta, Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs, Diluvion, Edge of Eternity, We Happy Few, Perception, Unraveled, Deadwood, Project Scissors: Nightcry, Underworld Ascendant, Little Devil Inside, Cross Code, Drift Stage, Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire, and you get my point. RED ASH came out on July 4th, a day where no one is really paying attention to gaming news, on the last week of the Shenmue III Kickstarter’s funding, and during some big conventions like the San Diego Comic Con. Timing is everything, and to post your Kickstarter during one of the slowest/worst months for Kickstarters probably didn’t help either. This is why a lot of the big or more interesting Kickstarters come out before July and early to mid-August. It would make sense to me as a writer of Kickstarters, since the only worthwhile summer Kickstarter I talked about last year was Bacon Man, a 2.5D platformer that will now appear on the Xbox One.

The next problem/concern is with how the overall Kickstarter is set up. First off, why wasn’t there any gameplay? Kickstarters these days need to have footage of some sort to show potential backers that they aren’t just funding a pipe dream with nothing to show for it. Of course, the very first Kickstarter I ever backed, Armikrog, had very little gameplay, but they had an entire opening cut scene and bits and pieces of gameplay shown throughout the video. As of July 16th, the RED ASH Kickstarter has posted an update and we will see gameplay soon. I wish we could have seen it sooner than later. Another sore spot is how the overall game and its stretch goals were handed to us as potential investors. The sad truth is that we won’t be getting the full game. If we just get to the funding of $800K, we will get three chapters. If we get to the $1 million stretch goal, we will get console versions depending on what consoles everyone votes for. For safe bets, I think people will vote for the PlayStation 4, Wii U, 3DS, and PC version. If they are only going to do one console, then I money is on the PlayStation 4. At the next stretch goal of $1,500,000, we will get the next three chapters. That pretty much means that we will not be getting the entire story. Why split it up like this? Especially since this is an open-ended action game that will have exploration? I have covered many Kickstarters with expansive worlds within the main funding goal. Why split it up here? In the past, I have talked about the risks doing episodic gaming on Kickstarter. Telltale and The Odd Gentleman do it, but they have full funding. They don’t have to worry about funding if the first episode doesn’t sell well. If Keiji Inafune wants to make this some kind of small mini-series like Mega Man Legends, then I totally understand, but at the same time, how they approached it with Kickstarter rubbed me and many others the wrong way.

I think another concern/problem is that this Kickstarter came up during the same day that a companion Kickstarter for an animated special based off RED ASH was announced. It’s being made by famous animation studio, Studio 4°C, the animation company behind “Memories,” “Spriggan,” “Steamboy,” certain sections of “Halo Legends,” and “Batman: Gotham Knight,” and sequences for games like Asura’s Wrath, and Catherine. On top of this companion Kickstarter, Inafune added news that a live-action film and anime series based off Mighty No. 9 was being made. It was a lot of news all at once. It was a bit much to see the Mighty No. 9 news on top of two different Kickstarters for a new gaming IP. The Studio 4°C Kickstarter is also a little weird, since the main funding goal will just get a five minute OVA, while stretch goals will give them the ability to do a full length feature. Again, people would rather back something that will be complete.

Speaking of Mighty No. 9, I think the biggest problem, which is totally understandable, is the fact that there is no free demo or public beta for Mighty No. 9. Not everyone has yet to play it, and they want to play the finished game before backing another Kickstarter. I think it is also confusing to people with how well Comcept is doing, since they are not only working on this Kickstarter, but are also making an Xbox One exclusive called Recore with Austin, Texas-based Armature Studios. Another bit of confusion that I had to find out through some of the backers of the RED ASH Kickstarter, was the developer that Comcept is co-making RED ASH with. The developer is called Hyde Inc. Many gamers, including myself, have never heard of this company, and I had to learn that the company has worked on a lot of projects from Atlus, NIS, Square Enix, and Compile Hearts. Well, that’s good, but I wish we could have known that at the beginning. Another thing to be aware of is that the team that made Mighty No. 9, is an entirely different team from the RED ASH team. It just makes you wonder why no publisher would have been like “Oh, hey, you are co-creating an Xbox One exclusive? Well, how about we help fund, market, and make sure you can create the full game that you want to make? No strings attached. You get total creative freedom.”

My final concern is if this game doesn’t get funded, will Inafune feel discouraged? Did Capcom, in their questionable way, do the right thing by canceling Mega Man Legends 3? I mean, of course it was dumb to cancel it, but still. Is the 100K Strong Mega Man Legend fan-base all talk and no bite? I really don’t want Inafune to feel discouraged if this Kickstarter doesn’t make it. I don’t want him to think we don’t want this game. You can tell on the Kickstarter comment section that everyone including myself is concerned, but very dedicated and loud in wanting this game to succeed.

In the end, this was the hardest Kickstarter to write about. I am both very optimistic that Keiji Inafune knows what he is doing, but there were some concerns that are understandable, and contribute to why the Kickstarter isn’t funding as wildly as it should be. I think it will either reach its funding goal in the last week or not. I get that he doesn’t want to lay off anyone since his team has so much talent, but I think Keiji put this Kickstarter up during an unfortunate timeframe, and gave us too much news about multimedia projects at once. If this Kickstarter doesn’t go through, I think next time, he should just focus on the video game Kickstarter, be there to post weekly updates, put it up after Mighty No. 9 is released, and to make sure to get more positive mindsets for RED ASH, release a free demo of Mighty No. 9 to the public. There is no shame in launching a second Kickstarter. In fact, I have covered many Kickstarters that have had to relaunch due to a bad first attempt. Deadwood, Unraveled, and Hero-U are three games that I have covered or know about that had to relaunch a Kickstarter, or in Hero-U’s case, launched a second Kickstarter for funding. Keiji Inafune, if you are reading this, please don’t feel discouraged if the Kickstarter doesn’t make it. I have faith you will make sure this game will be good. So, Keiji Inafune, Comcept, RED ASH gets my optimistic/concerned Kickstarter Shout-out.

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