Assassin’s Creed III director blasts Japanese storytelling, calls out Bayonetta

Well, this quote can be put on the short list of industry opinions that have had my jaw drop.

In an interview with CvG, Assassin’s Creed III creative director Alex Hutchinson goes on what I can only describe as a rant against Japanese storytelling and journalists’ response to it: or, as he calls it, “subtle racism.”

“I think there’s a subtle racism in the business,” Hutchinson said when asked about Nintendo and their yearly franchise installments, “especially on the journalists’ side, where Japanese developers are forgiven for doing what they do. I think it’s condescending to do this.”

When prompted further, the creative director brought up Bayonetta:

“Just think about how many Japanese games are released where their stories are literally gibberish. There’s no way you could write it with a straight face, and the journalists say, ‘Oh it is brilliant.’ Then Gears of War comes out and apparently it’s the worst written narrative in a game ever. I’ll take Gears of War over Bayonetta any time.”

Do you think there’s an inherent bias in the industry press towards Japanese games? Sound off in the comments below.


27 responses to “Assassin’s Creed III director blasts Japanese storytelling, calls out Bayonetta

  1. -nSega54- says:

    Granted, I’m not the biggest fan of Bayonetta or its storytelling, but to imply that Japanese games are unfairly praised just seems crazy to me, especially when the marjority of them these days seem to struggle to break the 85 Metacritic average.

  2. Dubba814 says:

    I have no problem at all with Japanese games. Enough said from my end.

  3. Orta says:

    Nobody plays Bayonetta for its literary value. This guy doesn’t play games.

  4. radrappy says:

    US developers are too proud of their stories these days when the best of them only amount to a mediocre hollywood blockbuster.

    Japanese story telling is kind of a tricky beast in general. They need to be handled with extreme care when localized and massaged in order to bridge big cultural gaps(for example Radiant Historia clearly had a loving localization that was carefully penned). Sadly this rarely happens or is not done well resulting in almost literal translations that yes, play out like gibberish.

  5. Zeek says:

    I will take a crazy and creative Japanese game over western developed game with no color, boring music and a generic shaved-head muscle guy character any time.

    • George says:

      Thankfully Assassins Creed isn’t that.

    • Adam says:

      The pretension here is nearly unbearable. Assassin’s Creed amounts to what, exactly? The veneer of a serious story line simply veils the absurdity of the game’s premise, or the premise of most games, i.e. kill shit. Bayonetta embraces that absurdity without pretense and runs with it in very creative directions.

      I’d even go as far as to say that Bayonetta is a more humanistic game because, ultimately, she’s fighting demon hordes from opposing planes of existence who want nothing more than the enslavement or destruction of humankind.

      Assassin’s Creed on the other hand is a sadistic, misogynistic, and misanthropic human-kill simulator with gorgeous graphics and fluid game play.

      Let’s call a spade a spade before we start taking industry moralizing at face value.

    • peach says:


  6. Sharky says:

    Every time one developer talks trash about another developers game I only feel like it’s a sign of weakness. He’s shitting himself because his combat system is not as good as Bayonettas.

    The truth is if I want a really great story I’ll read a book. Videogame plots are rarely if ever as good as the best books or movies. I’m sure the AC3 story is a slightly more polished turd then Bayonettas but it’s still a turd.

    I play games to play games and Bayonetta creams any AC game I’ve played in terms of gameplay…

    • radrappy says:

      100% agreed. I certainly have played some games with great stories, but they were games that also knew they were games. Games like AC try too hard to be films. Really generic poorly animated films.

    • Arc Christelle says:

      This. Western Devs focus too hard on narrative and expect to be rewarded for it, which I find very annoying, and can be destructive to the gaming industry.

      I’d say the racism is more on the Japanese side, because they can work on a game, like Vanquish, making it fun and exciting, only for it to get ignored for some AAA western narrative.

    • Adam says:

      Dude, you say it so well.

  7. CosmicCastaway says:

    Comparing Gears of War to Bayonetta is kinda like comparing apples to oranges.
    I do disagree with this guy though. Most of my favorite video game narrative’s are from Japanese-developed game.

  8. Truthfully it depends on the game now Zelda masterpiece of a story, Sleeping Dogs (from what I’ve seen) a dark gritty story to go along with an epic game :D, Warriors Orochi 3 (best of the warriors series story and gameplay wise), Call of Duty… ‘___’ ehhh no, I could go on and on about story telling.

  9. Randroid says:

    If there’s a subtle racism in the industry, it’s definitely against the japanese. Look no further than Binary Domain.

  10. -nSega54- says:

    And you want to talk about “literally gibberish”…..the ending of Mass Effect 3 is a great example of that.

  11. FakuDolan says:

    It’s a shame Assasin’s creed’s story is never going to be as good as Panzer Dragoon Saga’s.


    • Fair gamer 10 says:

      You rock! PDS easily trumps any AC game in story telling. I think its about time I fire up my Saturn again 🙂

  12. peach says:

    WOW its like he’s looked at the situation and interpreted it completly ass backwards!! Its more that there’s a bias to western games in the gaming press now. Whenever a new western fps shooter, rpg whatever game gets announced they get way more attention and way more a ‘free pass’ by consumers and press as good being games.. Japanese made games now are alienated and labelled weird, irrellevant as soon as they get announced. Just look at the way Binary domain was treated, perfect example of how Jap developed games are treated in the west now.

    • Adam says:

      I totally agree. The leaders in the western press and industry never hesitate to take pot shots at the Japanese. Look at that indie-waffentwerp who developed Braid going public lambasting the Japanese industry and getting tons of positive play in the western press. He’s their darling.

      We need to break out of this nationalizing of the industry. Workers in both Japanese and American industries produce low-quality games as a result of exploitation. Little squabbles like these pit them against each other when they should be fighting for better work conditions.

      IMO, games are great, but we have too many. If we want better quality games, I think developers need to scale back to a 30 hour work week, have longer development cycles, and this will produce higher quality games with higher quality narratives.

  13. Richard says:

    if you are playing bayonetta for the story then you are playing it wrong

    if you want to see great story telling from japan play persona 3 , yakuza series ( especially the first one ) earthbound etc…

    west storytelling is for the most part so cliche or ripped off from other movies or tv shows . i am sorry but assassin creed story is not original nor very good itself , all this banter developers spew out has made me for the most part turn away from playing videogames.

  14. SkyBlue says:

    Assassin’s Creed’s story makes no more sense then Bayonetta’s…but Bayonetta can back up itself with the game play. (and I am not even a fan of the game!?!)

    All these westerners trash talking Japanese games shows that they don’t want them to make million blockbusters again.

  15. Arc says:

    The story should be tangental to gameplay. If it’s there great. If not, I don’t care if the game is fun.

    Beyond that though. Stories don’t have to be realistic, or even coherent to be entertaining. Take fun characters, take them through a wacky adventure. Who cares as long as it’s entertaining.

    I’ll take a novel story over, the same bullshit war story any day.

  16. Max_Cady says:

    OK, I’m going to join in on the sentiment and try to make some sense of this.

    Maybe this was out of context, but most of, if not all of the favorable reviews mention Bayonetta’s storyline as being just straight-up terrible and non-sensical… Invisible Walls spent an entire episode ranting about how bad the game’s plot was. So what exactly is he basing this on to imply that japanese games get a free pass? In an industry largely dominated by western developers, I don’t see many japanese games getting praised, on the contrary, the narrative for the past 5 years or so has been that that particular market has shrunk down to near irrelevance. So… what the f***!?

  17. -nSega54- says:

    I linked to the entire interview, you can read it yourself; nothing was taken out of context, this guy is just completely clueless, it seems like.

    The Mass Effect 3 ending made little sense when compared to the rest of the series, yet the game received universal acclaim from critics. Only once gamers got to it and started bashing it did some critics start going, “hey, wait a second….the ending actually did suck.”

    The difference I think is that Japanese games like Vanquish have incredible enough gameplay to make up for “bad storylines” (and nowhere did I see Vanquish’s storyline “praised”) whereas many Western games don’t. IMO.

  18. Max_Cady says:

    No, I’m not saying that you guys here at SEGAbits took it out of context. I was looking more at how framed the question. And after reading it, the answer they gave came out of a random-ish question. If that’s how he feels then he clearly lives in a glass house.

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