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Clover Studios Closed

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the sad-day-for-hands-of-god dept.


Clover Studios, makers of such titles as Okami, God Hand, and Viewtiful Joe, has been closed by Capcom Japan for financial reasons. Gamespot reports on the exact wording of the sad announcement: "Clover Studio Co., Ltd. has met the goal of developing unique and creative original home video game software, however, in view of promoting a business strategy that concentrates management resources on a selected business to enhance the efficiency of the development power of the entire Capcom group, the dissolution of Clover Studios Co., Ltd. has been raised and passed at a Board of Directors' meeting."

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Too Bad (3, Funny)

atezun (755568) | about 8 years ago | (#16426409)

It was "viewtiful" while it lasted.

Thank you, I'm here all week.

Re:Too Bad (1, Offtopic)

Taulin (569009) | about 8 years ago | (#16426533)

Game Development Studio = Contractors for producer. No story here. Game/Contract finished, go on to next contract.

Re:Too Bad (1)

Taulin (569009) | about 8 years ago | (#16455819)

Voted offtopic? Apparently someone has never worked in software industry.

Re:Too Bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16426617)

Yeah, it's unfortunate.

Maybe they'll work on another Viewtiful Joe at some point, it just won't have the Clover Studio mark.

Re:Too Bad (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16427031)

It was "viewtiful" while it lasted.

Thank you, I'm here all week.

Thank God it's Friday.

Because (3, Informative)

Broken scope (973885) | about 8 years ago | (#16426607)

New and innovative games might not make money. Quickly back to cheap remakes that we know the hoards will but without a second thought.

Re:Because (1)

Broken scope (973885) | about 8 years ago | (#16426681)

damnit i meant buy not but.

Re:Because (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16431079)

damnit i meant buy not but.
too late, i saw your but

Re:Because (1)

Dargoth_Rejuv (1002142) | about 8 years ago | (#16426867)

New and innovative games might not make money. Quickly back to cheap remakes that we know the hoards will buy without a second thought.
So just like the movie industry, you mean?

Re:Because (1)

Broken scope (973885) | about 8 years ago | (#16427045)

What the hell is a movie.

Re:Because (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 8 years ago | (#16427605)

I think a movie is a non-interactive game that consists only of cut scenes.

Re:Because (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 8 years ago | (#16428637)

So it's like Xenosaga I except only 10 hours long instead of 20?

Because-It's all the "hoards" fault. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16427393)

"New and innovative games might not make money. Quickly back to cheap remakes that we know the hoards will but without a second thought."

So how many here bought "Beyond good and evil","chronicles of riddick: escape from butcher bay","psychonauts", or even "Bad Mojo"? Thought so. You're as much responsable for the demise of clover studios as the "hoards" you criticise.

Re:Because-It's all the "hoards" fault. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#16441965)

Don't blame me, I've bought every one of their new and innovative games that came out. That translates to "I bought none" (if you don't count VJ1 for Clover as it's been made by "Team Viewtiful") as neither Okami nor God Hand has been released in Europe yet and VJ2 and Red Hot Rumble were sequels.

Re:Because-It's all the "hoards" fault. (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 8 years ago | (#16447317)

You should try Psychonauts. Not particularly innovative (just a 3d platformer, a la Spyro or R&C) but a lot of fun nonetheless.

Re:Because (1)

ECMIM (946033) | about 8 years ago | (#16427425)

Wait, wait, I love Clover's output as much as the next raving mad fanboy, but Capcom did just put out Dead Rising (which I didn't care for but a lot of people loved and that wasn't at all a re-tread) and they also have Lost Planet soon which is bloody specatacular (and isn't a re-tread) so let's at least be fair while we mourn Clover's untimely demise.

Because Companies need to make money (1)

Nazmun (590998) | about 8 years ago | (#16429541)

Yeah, damn capcom for closing a studio after 3 unprofitable games in a row. I personally would give them another try but it's a business and it's in for profit.

Re:Because (1)

drsquare (530038) | about 8 years ago | (#16436871)

Innovative games make money, as long as they're good. Games for which the only merit is being innovative are pointless.

Let's face it, if their innovations were any good, people would have bought the games, and they'd still be in business.

Re:Because (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16437455)

Did you read the list of Clover games? Viewtiful Joe was the greatest thing since sliced bread for about a year, and Okami is shaping up about the same.

More likely some suit looked at the numbers and realized they could push out three mediocre titles for the same amount of time and effort as one excellent title.

Do you hear that? (1)

gozu (541069) | about 8 years ago | (#16426683)

It's the sound of fresh, original games dying. Yeah, they gave us Viewtiful Joe, Okami and Godhand. All critically acclaimed games. Let's shut them down!

Re:Do you hear that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16428593)

Godhand, critically acclaimed? What critics do you speak of, for I have seen it panned by all?

Re:Do you hear that? (1)

gozu (541069) | about 8 years ago | (#16432063)

Gamestop and 1up gave it an 8.

Re:Do you hear that? (1)

NonSequor (230139) | about 8 years ago | (#16439449)

When you consider that they rate games on a scale of 7.5 to 10 that isn't such a great score.

Re:Do you hear that? (1)

Taulin (569009) | about 8 years ago | (#16434197)

The game still lives. The people who are obligated to get money are still getting their money. The people who made the game are still alive. Nothing is dead. A team was brought together for this project. The project is finished. The team is not needed anymore.

Well, I hate to say it,... (1)

syrion (744778) | about 8 years ago | (#16426789)

...but Clover was overrated. Okami is brilliant, but Viewtiful Joe was overhyped to the point of pain, and its sequels were mediocre [] to foul [] . Now God Hand is getting 70%. This is a studio that will be remembered for one game [] .

I suppose we can commence comparing them to Origin, Square-Enix, Sierra, VALVe, Maxis, iD, and Nintendo now.

Re:Well, I hate to say it,... (1)

MWoody (222806) | about 8 years ago | (#16429919)

I'd go one step further, and toss Okami on the overrated bandwagon. God Hand is certainly mediocre, as the reviews show, but both Okami and Viewtiful LOOK great while actually providing little innovation. Viewtiful was a fairly slow, occasionally frustrating platformer that lost my interest an hour in, and never regained it as I plodded to the finish. Granted, the time control and the movie-physics premise was interesting at first, but it just wasn't fun.

Okami, meanwhile, I just stoped playing about 12 hours in, and I'm not going back. It's Wind Waker with less inventive dungeons, more forgettable characters, and a depressingly simplistic combat system. Don't get me wrong, I love the theme and overall look of the game (though it does make my eyes water a bit after playing Dead Rising in beautiful widescreen HD for so long), it's just that once you get past that, you've got a rather poorly done action-adventure title. And I despise the "you have a new power, now go everywhere in the world you've already been to see where you can use it to get a few crappy items" collection quests, which I am always compelled to attempt. Even given all that, I think a Wii port of this game might save it from mediocrity, as the Wii controller might work better than the somewhat awkward analog-stick brush control.

I'm not saying these are bad games. They're definitely worthy of high-80s to low-90s, and their graphical style is undeniable. I just don't think it's fair to mention them in the same breath as truly innovative games like, say, Katamari Damacy. That said, it's a shame to see the division eliminated; I can only hope its employees found work in other capacities within the company.

To be fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16430627)

If you quit Okami at 12 hours in, I'd be willing to bet that you haven't even hit the first major plot twist, gotten more than a couple of the weapons or dojo skills, and you only have a handful of brush techniques.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that Okami is similar to the Zelda games in length. It's a long game -- it takes most people between 45 to 55 hours to finish it. The battle system gets a lot more depth to it as you begin to acquire brush techniques that are actually useful in combat, and while it is overall fairly easy, some of the optional fights are damn hard.

Not that big of a deal (2, Informative)

hansamurai (907719) | about 8 years ago | (#16426973)

This isn't that huge of a deal, all of the employees of Clover were rolled back into Capcom and most of the lead developers still have contracts with Capcom in one way or another.

I just finished Okami (2, Interesting)

JensR (12975) | about 8 years ago | (#16427107)

WOW, what a great game. Ok, it just takes the Zelda formula and places it in a classic Japanese environment, but there hasn't been another game recently that has captivated me to this extend. Let's hope Capcom takes the talent and invests it into more games as good as that.
But from experience I'd say it is most likely that Inaba-san was fed up with Capcom messing with his projects, and Capcom is not going to make anything worthwhile with the talent and properties - just have a look at the Viewtiful Joe sequels. Sigh.

Re:I just finished Okami (1)

7Prime (871679) | about 8 years ago | (#16431011)

I completely agree, I'm playing Okami now, and I haven't seen a game that seemed so... inspired, in a LONG time. My thought was, "I hope they don't do a sequel", not because it wouldn't make for a good series, but Okami is Okami, let it be, and let the creators/artists progress even further into the depths of their creativity on their next project.

Now, is Inaba staying with Capcom or not? I hope not, because I don't Capcom neururing much innovation these days (especially after breaking up their "indy" studio shortly after their most seccessful quarter, ever). Have you heard, one way or the other?

Re:I just finished Okami (1)

JensR (12975) | about 8 years ago | (#16434827)

This is the only thing I know: []
Only time will tell if and how they will work together with Capcom in the future.

Can you smell the BS? (1)

CaseM (746707) | about 8 years ago | (#16428149) view of promoting a business strategy that concentrates management resources on a selected business to enhance the efficiency of the development power of the entire Capcom group, the dissolution of Clover Studios Co., Ltd. has been raised and passed at a Board of Directors' meeting.

Much more likely they're into the concept of viral TQC. They have a game plan to become virally-distributed and have come to know that it is better to productize intra-cyber-mega-strategically than to orchestrate extensibly. With this acquisition, they'll revolutionize the power of back-end, seamless supply-chains to architect.

Re:Can you smell the BS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16431727)

Once again we're left with the age old question -- who bullshits more, the Slashdot editors or corporate America?

It's to focus on thier core business model (2, Funny)

SetupWeasel (54062) | about 8 years ago | (#16428219)

Mega Man and Street Fighter sequels.

Don't get me wrong. Capcom makes the occasional brilliant game, but they have been far more miss than hit over the last decade.

Re:It's to focus on thier core business model (1, Funny)

RumGunner (457733) | about 8 years ago | (#16428293)

You just gave me a brilliant idea for the next Capcom game: Street Fighter vs. Megaman.

Capcom, you owe me a million dollars.

Re:It's to focus on thier core business model (1)

SetupWeasel (54062) | about 8 years ago | (#16428403)


that is fucking GENIUS!

Re:It's to focus on thier core business model (2, Interesting)

MemoryDragon (544441) | about 8 years ago | (#16428521)

No... Street Fighter vs. Phoenix Wright...

Re:It's to focus on thier core business model (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | about 8 years ago | (#16429459)

What about Street Fighter vs. Zombies... eh? eh?

Re:It's to focus on thier core business model (2, Informative)

joystickgenie (913297) | about 8 years ago | (#16429323)

There hasn't been a street fighter sequel from Capcom since 1999 with Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, and there hasn't been a street fighter sequel from other developers since 2000 (Street Fighter EX3)

There have been plenty of re-releases of previous games but no new sequels in 6 years. To be honest I really wish they would truly go and make another street fighter sequel.

Re:It's to focus on thier core business model (2, Insightful)

MWoody (222806) | about 8 years ago | (#16430079)

To be fair, the Mega Man sequels have often been wildly different - the Battle Network series, for example, are a lot of fun, and not the traditional platformer at all. And as has been pointed out, they've not produced any new Street Fighter stuff in years. Meanwhile, the Resident Evil series has been getting better and better, and Dead Rising, while not a huge departure for the company in that it's still you versus zombies, is nevertheless unique in its approach and an ASSLOAD of fun. Devil May Cry set the new bar for its genre, though the frustrating difficulty of the past iteration really put me off. I played the upcoming Lost Planet at Comicon, and it was extremely promising. And it's hard to argue that the Pheonix Wright games are formulaic.

Rereading that, I come off as a Capcom fanboy, but I'm not saying they shit gold. I just don't think it's really fair to pigeonhole a publisher that's actually been doing pretty good lately.

Translation: (1)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | about 8 years ago | (#16429719)

"Clover Studio Co., Ltd. has met the goal of developing unique and creative original home video game software, however, in view of promoting a business strategy that concentrates management resources on a selected business to enhance the efficiency of the development power of the entire Capcom group, the dissolution of Clover Studios Co., Ltd. has been raised and passed at a Board of Directors' meeting."

In other words: "We're giving ourselves more wiggle room in the budget for our corporate hookers. Thanks for playing."

I keed, I keed...

This is sad to hear... (2, Informative)

7Prime (871679) | about 8 years ago | (#16430925)

I'm in the middle of Okami right now, and it's the freshed feeling game I've seen in a LONG time. And yes, it is because of the graphics. Okami goes against the grain of this trend toward absolute realism, and actually chooses to take a very artistic direction instead. For that reason, it's not just about the graphics, but the philosophy behind the game, "abstraction not only has a place in video games, it can be downright breathtaking". My problem with the absolute realism movement is that it has no creativity behind it... all it is is pixel pushing, not to say it's a simple deal, but it's a concrete goal that can be objectively evaluated, and not neccarilly artisically driven. This is an oversimplification, of course, but I see it in all aspects of game design these days.

Now, Okami is obviously incredibly Wind Waker inspired, but I don't think that's a bad thing at all. All creative endevours are built on the achievements of others. Okami earns it's legitimacy in doing something few games have done, it has become an interactive work of art. I haven't felt that in a game since I played Myst back in the day, and even then, the graphical style was much less abstracted.

Interestly, it seems that Okami is doing VERY well, the video game press has been raiving about it endlessly, and it seems to be selling well. I was just thinking, the other day, "I wonder what this 'Clover Studios' is going to do next?" In some ways, I had more hope for their future works than any other studio at the moment, so this is a big letdown.

We've done the comic book thing to death, and it's just WAY too obvious a direction to take (since a large percentage of japanese games are done by Anime artists, and many american games are done by comic artists), and I'm sick of it. We've done disney (oh god, have we done disney), and then we've done contemporary blockbuster cinema (TO DEATH), it is high time for games to break free of their "pop art" constraints. I'm not saying that Okami is quite there, but it's a damn good start.

Sure, Okami is working off of pre-existing visual styles (namely Japanese water-color along with a good touch of old-school cartoon styling), but the fact that it's the first to be able to put them into this kind of use, and into an interactive framework, is quite an achievement. Can you imagine a whole game done in the style of cubism? We could explore impressionism a bit... and then maybe, just maybe, venture into uncharted visual territory? These are the questions that have been spinning in my head for the last few weeks.

Re:This is sad to hear... (1)

drsquare (530038) | about 8 years ago | (#16436889)

So in other words it's Wind Waker with different graphics? If a game's only assset is innovative graphics, then maybe they deserved to go out of business.

Re:This is sad to hear... (1)

7Prime (871679) | about 8 years ago | (#16438357)

Well, you sorta missed the point. How many games out there truly offer innovative (and creative) graphics? Not very many... even the ones with "GREAT GRAPHICS!!!" mostly are rehashed ideas, simply at higher polygon counts, better lighting effects, etc. What we're talking about, here, is more "style" than "graphics" in the traditional sense. There are many great games, in fact, I would say most great games, that center around establishing a very particular atmosphere. The Metroid series, for example, would be extremely forgetable without it's immersive qualities, and that is largely graphically driven (as well as musically and in sound effects). The fact is, Okami offers a truly unique style and atmosphere, established, largely, by the graphics. I would argue that, right there, it is a very worthwhile game, simply because of it's unique immersive qualities. Gameplay elements are really the easy part of the equation, and in some ways, not all that important. Going back to Metroid... besides the fact that it has a level-less world, what does it REALLY offer that's new? Not very much, gameplay wise. There were a million other side-scrolling shooters at the time, some great, some not so great. What set the Metroid series apart from the pack was it's unique feel. When you look back on what you like and dislike about a game, I bet most of what you're going to remember is how it made you feel.

Okami is to Zelda what Metroid was to a million other side-scrollers before it. And this is not to say that Okami doesn't offer it's own gameplay elements. Don't be fooled, it offers quite a bit. The only thing is that there is NOTHING really quite like the 3D Zelda series, so anything that is even in the same basic genre is going to get compared, where-as you can make a million FPSs and Side-Scrollers, and all you need is slight changes to the basic model to have, what is considered, a "unique" game. For one thing, Okami is an RPG. It uses experience points (though not called that), to gain higher stats, and the battles take place in "arena" like areas, separated from the rest of the game (even though the transition between them is instantanious and seemless). From a control standpoint, movement is MUCH faster, and you can jump at will (and wall jump as well, which is used all the time). None of this is truly revolutionary, of course, but it's combination of various gameplay elements is unique. The paint system, on the other hand, is truly original. At the touch of a button, time stops, and you can litterally "paint" spells onto objects, characters, and enemies. The fact that you're constantly stopping time makes the gameplay feel very different, all in itself, Sure, one can link it to songs on a flute or batton, but the paintbrush is much faster, and much more constantly used (usually a good 4-5 times per battle), so its role is quite different. From an overworld, perspective, it is much larger and more epic. Instead of the game consisting largely of one central area with smaller areas off to the side, there are many many smaller areas, and 4-5 large fields in which you can branch off from. It's a journey, you won't find yourself constantly re-tracing your steps.

Re:This is sad to hear... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16445659)

The entire concept behind Okami is that you are a figure in a living painting, and you (as a god) can manipulate the painting by transforming the world into a piece of paper and drawing on it. Try to evaluate a game like that without talking about the graphics!

Actually, if I may be so bold, I don't think the graphics in Okami are that great, technology wise. A lot of the models don't take well to the shaders they use and you end up with weird black edges in odd places. The only way they're able to produce something on this scale is that the stylistic choices the designer made allow for very low poly count models.

That said, this game is probably the most beautiful I've seen in a decade. The designers weren't afraid to use natural themes in the game - game objects take the form of trees, flowers, various animals, wooden bridges, stones, and gates, which means that all of the environments look and feel natural, even when they're chock full of game elements. Yes, this is a graphical descision - but it has nothing to do with poly counts.

Another good example of a "graphical" effect which really isn't is Amaterasu's trail of leaves and flowers. When she lands, Amaterasu creates a patch of grass that dies in an instant. When wall-jumping, she creates a spray of red maple leaves. When you run a long distance, Amaterasu will go through three phases of speed - in the first phase, she kicks up dust and sprouts a few blades of grass behind her. In the second phase, this turns into a thick trail of multicolored flowers, and in her fastest phase, Amaterasu creates golden flowers that twinkle. These are all incredibly simple sprite effects - gamewise, they could be replaced by anything else. (A modern game would probably want to use some sort of glow effect.) But using the right effect for the right character in the right context takes the effect to a whole new level.

Games are all about creating allegories that spur interaction. Despite the fact that I know only a handful of spoken japanese phrases and no written Japanese words, I find the allegories used in Okami to be clearer than most others. When I see red Kanji appear over a character when I try to hit it, it seems obvious to me that it has a shield. When I see a Daruma with a missing eye, I am automatically compelled to draw it in with my brush. The fact that the game is designed from the ground up to incorporate this kind of clarity and fluidity seems quite enough to me to make the games virtue more than "just graphics."

Re:This is sad to hear... (1)

mink (266117) | about 8 years ago | (#16452789)

I dont see why everyone compares it to Wind Waker except for maybe the whole cell shading thing.

To me the game is more like Spyro in how it plays but this could be because I played 3 (I think) spyro games before Wind Waker came out.

GAH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16433859)

And I just played Okami for 4 hours straight! This MUST be Friday the 13th. *cry*

Perhaps replace "closed" with "moved"?? (1)

drunken-sosage (769707) | about 8 years ago | (#16433949)

Insert Credit [] mentions that Clover talent may have been breaking off from Capcom to do their own thing (with the closing down story being an attempt to save face). Just an interesting angle to note when thinking about this topic.
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