Was Operation Rainfall Worth It?
It finally happened, folks. Operation Rainfall came full circle last month when Pandora’s Tower launched for the Nintendo Wii, serving as a sendoff for the insanely successful console. The voices of gamers across the nation were heard by the industry, and while Nintendo of America themselves barely foot the bill after getting an exclusive deal with GameStop for Xenoblade Chronicles and allowing XSEED Games to publish both The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower, at least the games finally hit North American shores. The dust has settled and one of the largest campaigns in industry history has become a success. I, for one, really ponder how much of a success such an endeavor was, though.
Now, hear me out. I don’t deny the fact that a crap-ton of gamers banding together for a common cause was in any way, shape, or form not a triumph. It was, and it was wonderful to be a part of it by posting on Facebook and Twitter to Nintendo of America, demanding these games. I have to think of what we all received out of the deal in terms of the quality of the games. When this campaign launched, I had already heard of Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story and really wanted them to come stateside, as the development teams behind them have reputations that precede them. I never heard of Pandora’s Tower, and if you’ve read my recent review, I wish I never had, but buying and playing it was an obligation; I merely followed through on my word that I would buy the game as part of the campaign. After playing all three titles, I can’t help but think that the campaign may have indeed been a waste.
I’ll start on a positive note. Xenoblade Chronicles was good. It was a bit too long for its own good, didn’t have the greatest pacing, and the characters and plot weren’t overly remarkable, but the battle system felt fresh and the open nature of the environments made for some memorable sights. I had a good time with it, and while it certainly isn’t Monolith Soft’s greatest work, it was definitely one of the better titles on the Wii, which isn’t a hard feat to accomplish given the paltry selection of quality titles on the all-but-dead console. The issues with the selection of games we received from the campaign starts with The Last Story.
Hironobu Sakaguchi is a genius. His work on the Final fantasy series and Lost Odyssey were nothing short of amazing, so of course, my hopes were high on The Last Story being just as fantastic. What we received, however, was a boring, poorly-developed story that ended too soon, had one of the most unmemorable cast of characters I’ve ever seen, and was dragged even further down by a shoddy framerate, bland visuals, and a laughable combat system that completely failed to find its identity. The only redeeming element of it was the work of composer Nobuo Uematsu, and even then, this was some of his worst work to date, with only a few standout tracks. Needless to say, I felt like The Last Story was a complete and utter waste.
Pandora’s Tower was a chance for redemption, and while it wasn’t a game I would have picked up normally, my obligation is what led me to purchasing it. The game was just flat-out bad, with only the boss fights being any sort of redeeming quality. Everything else was either boring or broken. If you’re keeping score, this means that Operation Rainfall has a record of 1-2, as in one winning game and two losers. This is what obligated me to write this. I sat down and thought out how on Earth we benefitted from the campaign seeing as two of the three games were garbage. It honestly feels like a wasted effort, and I feel entirely let down about it all.
With that kind of mentality, though, I’d be missing the bigger picture. So two of the games sucked. So what? The journey and effort of getting those games here was a monumental one. Operation Rainfall proved that gamers can band together peacefully for a common cause and that we’re not the stuck-up, incorrigible, and childish crowd stereotypes label us as. People took to Facebook, Twitter, and snail mail to prove to Nintendo that they wanted these games, myself included. And it worked. Like I said, Nintendo shouldn’t take all of the credit for listening, not by a long shot, but, damn, did it work.
What about the fallout of it all, though? Has it made gamers too demanding of publishers, as if we’re owed something? Since Operation Rainfall, I’ve witnessed more and more people being vocal, both with their words and their wallets. People demanded more Tales games. Namco-Bandai issues an ultimatum, saying either Tales of Graces F sells decently, or the franchise is essentially dead in North America. What happened? People spread the word around, causing many more to buy it up, myself included, and now we’re getting Tales of Xillia this year. EA included micro-transactions in Dead Space 3. The result? It fails to meet sales goals as people complain about EA nickel and diming them. How about the Mass Effect 3 ending fiasco? People complained so much that Bioware made an “extended cut” ending to shut them up. There have been both positive and negative ramifications, clearly. I’m still unhappy about the Mass Effect 3 deal, myself. That was an example of how blatantly gutsy and entitled some gamers have become, and it actually makes me sick.
In the end, it really all depends on how you look at it. From a game standpoint, it wasn’t really worth it, with two weak titles coming our way, though we did ask for them. On the other hand, though, it showed us the power of gamers banding together for a common cause, as well as sparking future campaigns and vocal protests, both good and bad. To me, the campaign has its upside for sure, but after a poor selection of games and some of the entitlement gamers have developed over the past couple years, I can’t help but think that maybe it wasn’t the best thing for us after all.