Project Rap Rabbit and Contemporary Kickstarter Cynicism

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However bad-mannered, you can point fingers to where and why current Kickstarter projects feel as though they’ve had their wind knocked out. Mighty No. 9 (MN9), a 2013 Kickstarter project which promised to be everything to its globe-spanning pledgers and fans, contained all of the key persons and backing to do so but failed to deliver, is responsible for the current pensive, if not cynical, manner that gamers are now approaching Kickstarter projects with. MN9 is a lousy game, and not only did the enormous $4+ million publicly funded project suffer in quality but actuality as well, whether in the form of presumably abandoned physical versions for the Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Vita, undelivered digital codes, and plenty more. MN9’s closing impression brought to a significantly larger range of videogame consumers the grimmer possibilities of game development, where creative visions aren’t accomplished and proposed goals become no longer feasible.

Without a doubt, the frustration and cynicism of MN9  remains, looming over other high-cost, promise-loaded Kickstarters. Project Rap Rabbit (PRR), a May 2017 Kickstarter, which pre-MN9 would undoubtedly have been a shoe-in for successful funding, is facing probable failure. The cause of so lies in that upsetting pit MN9 opened to videogame Kickstarter backers; clearly the project isn’t receiving funding despite having a relatively alike impassioned audience as MN9 had, the latter receiving $900,000 dollars within 48 hours after launching whereas PRR currently sits at $146,000 following its May 15th launch, remaining short nearly $1,000,000 of its initial goal; no insignificant gap, that.

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Gimme A Chance To Rhyme— On Your Dime

We can scrutinize the reach of Project Rap Rabbit in comparison to Mighty No. 9, but doing so would be missing the key component of the specific challenge that PRR is uniquely facing, which is that it holds everything that MN9 succeeded from, and which now raises flags for Kickstarter backers. Until now, heavily funded Kickstarter videogames have succeeded largely off of one quality; nostalgia. In most cases there are indie-developed homages to classic games, such as Hyper Light Drifter ($645k earned for ) and Shovel Knight ($311k earned), both titles reviving classic formulas which the developer(s) promised their audience to recreate and enhance.  In cases such as MN9 though, which was not only a Spiritual Successor to the Megaman series but was also headed by Keiji Inafune, the creator of Megaman, there is a more intimate proximity to that nostalgia which was the clear cause behind MN9’s extremely successful campaign. The closing result though is that what MN9 promised through it’s concept art and experienced talent didn’t prove true in the final product, and Kickstarter videogames have suffered following.

It’s a stretch to say that Project Rap Rabbit, another spirtual successor, here towards 1997’s Parappa the Rappa, likewise being headed by its original creator Masaya Matsuura,  isn’t succeeding because of the series’ dormancy. Despite the brevity of the series, which includes only three titles with the last being released in 2001, Parappa remains one of the most successful Playstation titles, and undoubtedly of the most eclectic in that console’s library as well. It’s a game that is less remembered as it is unforgettable. Parappa remains an exceptionally original and truly delightful title, and its two sequels, Um Jammer Lammy and Parappa the Rappa 2, were never able to satiate the robust creativity and adoration that the series had inspired within its enormous fan audience. No matter that the series is significantly briefer than Megaman, Parappa fostered as strong a devotion among its fans regardless, fans who continue to remember and love the series to this very day despite. Arguably, this details a stronger commitment among its fans as well.

And yet, Project Rap Rabbit is severely underfunded as of this writing, and it’s probable that this opportunity for Parappa fans will fall through. And that’s a shame, because the delight of Kickstarter is how it makes possible these once-impossible reunions and continuations of creators’ visions and talents, where games are developed on an artistic rather than commercial foundation, which is rare to the videogame world. And while the indie-developed, more tightly funded projects of Kickstarter have largely produced an end-product that met backers’ expectations, the disappointing final product of Mighty No. 9 should not be presumed inherent with other high cost, larger staffed projects.

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Foes being heart-broken gamers? Maybe

The assumption that something is going to go wrong, that the proposed title won’t meet consumer expectations or be a commercial flop, has always been a major problem with game development, but one that, until now, gamers have solely detested and suffered under. Review any gaming forum on the internet and you will find an infinite repetition of topics that are “Why won’t X company make another X game?” The cause is always the same; the title or series didn’t do well enough, or didn’t reach the absurdly high expectations of their corporate parent, and to gamers’ disappointment are now shelved.

The problem of funding that Project Rap Rabbit faces though is because of a role-reversal in gamers following the unfortunate result of Mighty No. 9. Instead of approaching Kickstarter as fans and players, consumers are now instead scrutinizing officials who envision less the fun and joy they could have with the proposed project and instead the severity of disappointment and anger that would arise should it fail to meet those highest, if not impossible, expectations. And this, far more so than any lackluster end-product, is upsetting; gamers have always been the most loyal and loving toward the medium and its titles, and all of the success Kickstarter has made possible for gaming has already proven an inspired and exciting avenue for the future. This shouldn’t be forgotten, shouldn’t be dismantled, and Project Rap Rabbit may very well be the example that decides gaming’s foreseeable future.

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