Red Steel 2 Is Out, And Some People Seem To Like It

(Original post)

When you release any kind of product, there is almost always uncertainty about how it will be received. Unless you can hop into your time machine and check out the day of your release, you really are never guaranteed that things will go smoothly.

This is why, for me, as the release date loom-eth, the Terror simply cannot be abated. It can be controlled, redirected, endured… but I’ve… I’ve seen… too much… The eyes, they–they haunt me…


Anyway, if you’ve been following along, you’ve heard about all this crap before from me, and now Red Steel 2 is out, man! So? Now? How is it going??

[diplomatic answer]
Well, I still haven’t seen any actual sales numbers. Any conclusion at this point remains a speculative guess at best. Honestly, who knows?
[/diplomatic answer]

Actually, we have a LOT of feedback. The press embargo is good-and-over, and the fans in all territories (save Japan) have been playing it with unfettered abandon for a few days. The message boards have lit up, there are fan reviews appearing all over the place. Exciting! And, on the whole, people seem…

…well, they seem pretty damn enthusiastic.

In fact, there’s something that I think I am seeing bubbling up in the reviews & the fan responses that is an honest-to-golly “new thing”, at least to me as a developer. It’s something I want to try and point out to you – right here, in this little blog post.

It’s a little slippery, though, this thing – elusive. You might even call it “ephemeral”.

As in, it might not exist. My ego is a gigantic, looming thing, and it clouds my perspective in a horribly world-warping way – I might just be making it up to seem more important to myself. Or, what I’m noticing might just be too subtle to have any real relevance. You might well get through this post without actually seeing the thing I hope to point you at – either because I do a bad job of laying it out… or, uh, because it’s not there.

If that turns out to be the case, then my bad. But what the hell: let’s make a go at it anyway.

Let’s start here: if you clicked that Metacritic link back there, you know that (as of this writing) our average rating is hanging out at a solid 81%.[*]

I’ve released a few games in the past, and spent a good chunk of my life reading game reviews. My experience tells me that normally, in this types of case, you can expect a kind of “good job, buuuuuuuuut coulda been better” kind of response from the media.

Here’s the thing, though. Maybe it’s just me, and maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much of my life making mediocre movie games and reading pissed-off reviews about them… but…

Screw it. How about I just try to show you what I mean?

I’m gonna pull some quotes from a bunch of the major reviews we’ve seen so far for the game. And, I’m going to quote full sentences, so that I can fool you into thinking that I’m not manipulating you by being overly-selective. Ain’t I clever?

As you read these, keep in your head the idea that what I am used to hearing with an 81% is stuff like “an excellent example of this kind of game”, “good stuff”, and “a lot of fun”.

Nintendo World Report (90%):

“Plain and simple, this is one of the finest games to grace the Wii console.”

GamingNexus (A+):

“Are you a gamer? Do you own a Wii? Then you need Red Steel 2. In fact, this game is a reason to own a Wii all by itself.”

IGN (86%):

“There are still some issues, both in game balance as well as wishy-washy motion sensing control, but the awesome style and energetic gameplay are enough to make this one of the top titles on Wii.”

GameZone (8.5/10):

“While there are some lingering control issues and a linear feel, this is one of the best shooters you can find on the Wii.”

GameShark (A-):

“The sword fighting works well at first but it isn’t until you start unlocking the various special moves where the system really opens up into one of the most thrilling and visceral combat experiences on any console.”

Cubed3 (9/10):

“Ubisoft have created an amazing adventure.”

GamesRadar (90%):

“But that’s exactly why you should forget the first, as this completely overhauled sequel is easily the best FPS on Wii and a wonderfully shocking example of how damn good a Wii-exclusive shooter can be.”

GamesTrailers (86%):

“Red Steel 2 has it where it counts, with a deep combat system that continuously improves as the game progresses. It could do with more interesting tasks outside of battle, but it nails the swordplay like no game before it.”

GamerVision (8.5/10):

“It single handedly proves the Wii MotionPlus’s value for adventure games, while providing one of the best action experiences on the system.” (80%):

“Despite its flaws, Red Steel 2 is one of the best action games on the Wii.”

VideoGamesDaily (8/10):

“Red Steel 2 is complex without being incoherent, innovative without being off-putting, and one of the finest brawlers we’ve played full stop.”

Game Informer (80%):

“Red Steel 2: Stellar Swordplay Overcomes A Few Dull Edges”

Even Eurogamer (who gave us a 70%) had lots of nice things to say, like:

“In the end, you’ll likely forgive Ubisoft’s game its shortcomings on the strength of its energy, obvious good will, and deep sense of craft.”

Do you hear it? I hope you do. I’m taking up your precious time with what amounts to intellectualized bragging, and I appreciate you hanging out with it for this long, but I really do have a point I want to make, personal, tiny, simple though it is.


When we sat down to design this game, the core concept we began with was “hitting things is fun”. Now, that statement is true, in this weird, visceral way that not everyone understands… but that a lot of people do.

It was scary, hanging our hat on this bizarre idea: could you construct a video game that is basically a whack-’em-up? I’m going to put you in a room and let you beat the shit out of a bunch of virtual dummies. That’s it! That’s the whole concept!

We wanted to do a lot more, of course, but given the time frame and what we knew at the time…

We committed – committed ourselves to the belief that even just that, just whacking and stabbing and bashing your enemies, but for real this time – just that might be enough. And, on a more personal level, that the power of that experience might just make the whole damn endeavor worth our while.

There would need to be more, of course, a lot more, but if we could bring something really cool and new

That “something” might justify the years of effort from over a hundred people, all the blood, sweat, tears, effort, tragedy, difficulty, pain, frustration… and all of that hope would hang on this bizarre idea represented in an image we found of two young boys whacking each other with branches in their backyard – an image that, for me , summed up the idea of the fantasy we were building.

My core belief, and, I think, the belief of many of the other folks in the company that got behind the project, was that yes, this would be enough. Yes, this could be satisfying. Yes, people wanted this, and yes, people had never experienced this kind of thing before.

But, it was a gamble. It always is.

Now, looking at the response, I see the enthusiasm, I see the heart-felt excitement, I see the fans writing long, passionate reviews in the comments sections of other sites, I see people talking about how much their arms hurt from playing for all this time… and, notably (for me anyway) absent are the detractors: absent are the criticisms of combat, absent are the folks who couldn’t figure it out, absent are the cries of general displeasure that comes from an accumulation of negatives with no redeeming value.

Hmmm. I seem to have no idea how to phrase my conclusion.

Honestly, though, I think it’s not even really for me to make a conclusion about this state of affairs. I wanted to show you guys something I thought was cool, something that is, for me, exciting, confusing, satisfying, and a little scary. From the inside, it’s beginning to look like the game is working, that the message has been received…

…and that some people really like it. Quite a lot, in some cases.

That is an amazing feeling.

[*] EDIT: Removed a paragraph about my perception of how good or bad the overall score is – seems that lots of folks got the impression I was actually complaining about the score, when in fact that was not my intention at all – I’m quite happy with the score, in fact. 🙂

By |2017-11-25T06:30:30+00:00March 28th, 2010|Categories: Blog|25 Comments

About the Author:

I design.


  1. WiiFolderJosh March 28, 2010 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    I feel so honored that you wrapped this bad boy up by linking to our Video Tour! 🙂


  2. the darklorde March 28, 2010 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    It was, in fact, your tour that inspired the topic. 🙂 Thx for that. 🙂

  3. Link971 March 28, 2010 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    I absolutely LOVE this game! I had high expectations before release and they were easily surpassed. I had a blast and couldn’t put it down. I then brought it over to my friend’s house and it was hilarious watching how into it he got. After about 15 minutes, he was even screaming fake Japanese words with every sword strike. I truly hope this game does well at retail. Ubisoft Paris needs to be rewarded for creating such a unique and engrossing video game experience. Don’t be disheartened by certain review scores. There are just some people that are so anti-Nintendo Wii that they can’t see past their prejudices.

  4. Jake March 28, 2010 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    Jason, I am constantly impressed by just how much you seem to love all of this – making games. As someone going through a soul-crushing, joyless disaster of a college video game design major, your enthusiasm is such an inspiration. Especially considering some of the lows that undoubtedly accompany development of “mediocre movie games,” it’s great to see someone in the video game world with your sort of energy. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve seen an interview with you where you didn’t spend most of your time smiling.

  5. Shinpies March 28, 2010 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    I gotta say, i feel you on the disappointment in the review score, while i have some gripes big enough to deduct from a perfect score (ending made me full of sadness, it was so abrupt, you also get badass too fast, and there were no more of those cool looking QTE segments) this game is a solid 9 on the combat alone, especially your first fight with shinjiro, i actually felt like part of the struggle
    so its just upsetting to me to see some places giving it its due, but others clearly not, and deducting points for being on the wii, or for not being full 1:1 combat, is just stupid
    even one guy (from PixlBit) reviewed the game, and said (paraphrase) “well, dont get it, because its not modern warfare 2”
    its like, it shows you the mindset of these people, they are taking hardcore fanboys and having them complain about no gore, dismemberment, cussing, grenades or online multiplayer, and it ends up making a game that is NOT about those things, a failure, because its treated as if it IS about those things, a cow makes a bad cow if its a horse, knowhadimean? (except RS2 is no mere horse, tis a stallion!)

    im hoping you guys get the sales you deserve, im also counting on most passive wii owners not acting like my friend who refuses to buy a copy of the game, because he spends all his time on his ps3 (he is still only an hour into twilight princess, just recently -with my help- beat shinobu in nmh, has only played 20 minutes of brawl, and hasnt even opened his copy of okami, yet he has had a wii for 2 years now) but with some careful convincing, im going to sell my copy to him on the cheap, to give me an excuse to buy a second one 😀
    and im also hoping there are other wii gamers that will at least gift or sell the game to a reluctant friend. its not hard to see the sales will have long tails, but publishers seem to care very little for anything that doesnt break a mil on day one

  6. Dennis March 29, 2010 at 1:15 am - Reply

    If there’s one thing that owning a wii has shown me, it’s to give a wide range of error to game reviewers. Far more than I used to.

    I did a quick check of the metacritic rankings. I was looking for games that I have in my collection ( I have about 50 at this point) that I have sunk a ton of time into and that I consider gems. There are 10 of these with metacritic scores of 81 or higher. Below that there are 15.

    There are going to end up being lots of cult games on the wii and tons of fodder for those ‘best games you never played’ gamer lists.

    Meh – I wouldn’t feel too bad with an 80-ish score. Look at Mario Kart Wii at 82. How could that game get any more popular?

  7. […] Check out Mr. Vandenberghe’s full post here (thanks CoffeewithChess!) […]

  8. […] Red Steel 2 Is Out, And Some People Seem To Like It [Unfettered Skree via GoNintendo] […]

  9. […] on his personal blog, creative director Vandenberghe said he expected more from the game’s scores, despite a Meta […]

  10. Fabricio March 29, 2010 at 5:15 am - Reply

    An average of 81% (82% if you go to Gamerankings) is really not bad at all Jason. It’s something you should be proud of. It’s a slightly higher average than the Prince of Persia released in 2008. Thing is, now people know, and you now, that you and the team can do even better. Maybe you are looking into this with the wrong perspective. If the game had multiplayer, for example, I’m sure the average would go much higher. I don’t think it’s fair, but that’s how it goes with the scores business.

    That’s why we can’t read too much into reviews sometimes. Red Steel 2 is a unique game, and it’s a hard one to review because of that.

    I now you have a big ego. Who doesn’t, right? But hey, people really do enjoy your game and in the end that’s what it matters. I have no doubt that if a Red Steel 3 happens, with the right time and budget you guys can deliver something even more special, and that’s what you should aim for. I just hope you get the sales you deserve, I sure did my part.


  11. Fabricio March 29, 2010 at 5:34 am - Reply

    Oh, and on a side note, you should pitch the idea of making a Star Wars game using Red Steel 2 engine. C’mon, you know you want it! You are a charismatic person, convince Ubisoft to approach LucasArts to make a partnership! 😛

  12. […] Red Steel 2 Is Out, And Some People Seem To Like It [Unfettered Skree via GoNintendo] […]

  13. the darklorde March 29, 2010 at 8:59 am - Reply


    So, it looks to me like I expressed something I didn’t at all intend – there has been a series of responses to this post assuring me that the 81% “isn’t a bad thing”.

    Let me assure you guys – I’m *very* happy with the review scores. I looked at the offending paragraph in the post, and decided that it was actually extraneous – so I pulled it out, and added an edit note for historical purposes. The point was, really, to put some extra emphasis on how exciting it is to see such a strong positive response, but it looks like that message didn’t really come across.

    For the record: I love the score, I love it that so many people seem to be having a great time with the game, and I love it that the reviewer’s responses seem to be so generally enthusiastic.

    That’s really all I was trying to say. 🙂


  14. Fanatism. March 29, 2010 at 9:06 am - Reply

    There seems to be some heat over at destructoid regarding this post.

  15. the darklorde March 29, 2010 at 9:15 am - Reply

    Yeah, following that – it’s spreading, too. Very interesting. 🙂

  16. Mdk7 March 29, 2010 at 10:01 am - Reply

    The game’s finally out and the reviews have surely been very positive, but despite the verdicts expressed by the media what should definitely make you terribly proud is the fact that you actually reached a damn hard goal: you guys were able to create the game we’ve been dreaming about since the very first Wiimote unveiling.

    With Red Steel 2 you gave everybody a significant lesson and you proved that the Wiimote is such an interesting controller with a potential that’s both terrific and sadly unexpressed…

    Now i just hope that:
    1) the game sells really well (even if as i said before i’m pretty certain it won’t…)
    2) some other studios take a look at what you were able to create and start developing interesting projects (which means NOT party games, despite my love for fun party games like Let’s Tap or Wii Sports Resort) built around motion controls.

  17. Daniel C March 29, 2010 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    hahaha, am i the ONLY one that didn’t misunderstand you jason? if the end of that quote wasn’t enough, shouldn’t they have understood by the rest of your post that you weren’t griping?

    the worst part is that people didn’t waste any time reporting that you hate the score, they didn’t just sit back a minute and look it over.

  18. Neal March 29, 2010 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    So flattered a quote from my review led the quotes off. 🙂 But anyway, the topic at hand…

    I’ll admit, I was worried going into reviewing this game. Everything pre-release I heard seemed too good to be true, and everything I personally experienced (E3, the interview we did with you) was right on track. But, I was recently burned by another game I was super psyched for (Academy of Champions. I love arcade soccer games), so I was apprehensive.

    Then I played the retail copy, and I was completely blown away. Wii MotionPlus felt wonderful, and the combat didn’t get stale. Everything you touted pre-release was right on the mark (damn impressive in this PR-focused industry).

    I wish you the best with Red Steel 2 sales, and I can’t wait to see what you do next. Hopefully I’ll get to run into you at E3 or some other event so I can profusely thank you in person for making such a kick-ass game.

  19. Dallas March 29, 2010 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    Why I haven’t bought the Game.

    This may seem really really stupid, but I call myself an Arm Chair Quarterback. I kick back in the recliner, pull out the leg rest and settle in for 2-4 hours of game play. This may be the reason why I don’t have many Wii Games at this point. The latest Game I bought was Fragile Dreams. I can’t kick back and play this game. I have to sit forward, point and play, I can only do this is short burst 30 mins- 1 hour is about all I can handle.

    Monster Hunter for the Wii may be the next purchase, simply because it supports the Classic Controller as well as the Classic Pro.

    I want Red Steel 2, because of many reasons, the look, the spaghetti western theme, the pace of the action.

    The game looks like you really have to stand to play it. For someone who stands on his Feet all the Day..the last thing I want to do, is come home from 12 hours on my feet and stand another 2 hours standing to play Red Steel 2.

    I want to kick back in my recliner, feet propped up on the leg rest, controller in hand and hacking and slashing the bad guys. I just wish this game supported the classic controller or the new classic controller pro that is coming out. Before I start hearing all the screaming, yes I know this game is designed for the intuitive game play of the Wii Motion Controller, but I simply want it to support the classic controller or pro, so I can kick back and mash some buttons to swing a sword.

    I am exhausted when I get home, and I don’t want to stand another 2 hours, or lean forward to play a game. I guess that is why my Wii collects Dust, while I pull out the 360 and PS3 almost daily. If this game supported the Classic controller of the New Pro Controller it would have been a Day One Buy for me, but sadly it does not…So a Pass for now. Ok now I don’t want to upset anyone, I just wanted you to know why I wasn’t buying this game, even though I really want to because it looks like a Blast!


  20. the darklorde March 29, 2010 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    @Dallas: there’s a setting in the options menu to let you do exactly that. You can change the “swing strength” required to a lighter swing. We put this in for two reasons:

    1) Not everyone is actually strong enough to play with a “full force swing”
    2) We wanted dudes like you to be able to play too.


  21. […] on his personal blog, creative director Vandenberghe said he expected more from the game’s scores, despite a Meta […]

  22. The Daily Pron Stash « GamePron March 30, 2010 at 6:25 am - Reply

    […] Challenged: The dev perspective Red Steel 2 review scores are ‘mixed’, says Ubisoft’s Jason Vandenberghe. Ninja Theory explain that Heavenly Sword didn’t […]

  23. Jake March 30, 2010 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Apparently directly stating that you are not disappointed with Red Steel 2’s reviews is not enough to keep people from writing articles about your disappointment with Red Steel 2’s reviews. Huh.

  24. Dallas April 1, 2010 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    Just curious, was the Classic Controller or Controller Pro ever considered for the game??
    Do you think your next project will look at having a control scheme for the classic controller or Controller Pro??? I know, I know..Next Project??? Your probably just thinking Vacation Time for the next Month…LOL!


  25. Dallas April 5, 2010 at 1:40 am - Reply

    Um this might sound crazy…but since No More Heroes is now coming out on Xbox as No More Heroes HD…is there any chance that this game will come out as Red Steel 2 HD on Xbox??? Keeping fingers crossed!!

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