Top 7... Death Rattle Games

Death Rattle Game:
Growlanser: Generations | 2004

Working Designs made its video game mark by porting over niche JRPG titles no other American publisher would touch, interjecting their exotic stories with a high level of charm and humor that wouldn't go unappreciated stateside.

As the audience for such games grew, securing the rights to the tactical RPG sequels, Growlanser II & III, seemed cause for celebration. Until Sony stepped in to poop all over that party.

Above: Because it's not an RPG without glowing shards of crystal

Perhaps sick of WD's shenanigans (see below), Sony demanded the two games be sold together as a single PS2 package. With 60 hours of radiant gameplay and multiple endings, as well as the America exclusive Auto-Battles and enhanced voice work, the Growlanser: Generations bundle sold decently. But Sony's insistence that the games not be sold separately sliced projected profits in half, and sandbagged the entire company into nonexistence.

Above: Note the similarity between that weapon and the one carried by Death

Cause for Concern
In hindsight, Working Designs' business strategies seemed doomed from the start, admirable though they may've been. The company quixotically sided with doomed consoles like the Sega CD and TurboGrafix CD over cartridge-based systems like The SNES and Genesis. Although, WD would hit its stride a generation of consoles later on the Saturn and PSX, with well received hits like Dragon Force, Arc the Lad, and the Lunar series.

Left: Credited with kickstarting the "Collector's Editions" trend in North America, Working Designs crammed thier titles with hardbound manuals, character standees, buttons, watches, playing cards and a making-of discs

But with premium packaging came premium prices, and you could say the sticker shock effectively priced out most mid-core gamers. Compounding problems were the lengthy delays the company and their commitment to painstaking localization were becoming notorious for. Magic Knight Rayearth took three years to "Americanize," which gave it the dubious honor of being last game released on the Saturn in the US, some time after Sega had called it quits for the system.

Above: Scenes from Dragon Force and the Lunar series

Hope for Resurrection?
True to its previous mission statement, Working Designs President Victor Ireland is looking to his new creation, Gaijinworks (tee hee). But as your PSP and PS2 can attest, Atlus made the wise decision to start publishing similarly niche titles in America, as well as in Japan, so it remains to be seen whether a similar business model could perform again.


Top 7

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  • PatHan-bHai - March 11, 2013 7:48 a.m.

    GodHand is 80 times better than shit GoW and okay-DMC!!!!! Just buy and play the fricking game!! Damn idiots!
  • poothurdur32 - October 12, 2010 7:35 p.m.

    Uh, guys, you missed MKVDCU, Midway's partnership with Cartoon Network, and that one Data Design Interactive game they helped out with(it was a rip-off of Nickelodeon and Steve Odiekirk's movie "Barnyard".)
  • GrlGmr - March 19, 2010 9:29 a.m.

    Should have had Looking Glass Studios on this list. They got sunk by a game they didn't even publish (Daikatana) when Edios spent all that money on Ion Storm and pulled the plug.
  • eee - December 7, 2009 8:09 p.m.

    LOL number 1 deployable battle trees
  • GaMERGOD - November 7, 2009 7:56 p.m.

    i already beat this game 5 times it is so good everybody reading this comment go to GameStop ask for Okami and buy it
  • NullG7 - October 20, 2008 8:34 p.m.

    To bad Okami and ShadowRun were both good games (I still have both) but they died before there time infact ShadowRun was updated just as Fasta went under and 1 month later ShadowRun had a good boost in sales (to show witch game I honestly still play regulary look to the left at my picture
  • Gleb2006 - October 18, 2008 10:02 p.m.

    What a shame, was actually quite a good game
  • Black_X_1111 - October 30, 2008 9:39 p.m.

    I play one of acclaims mmo's, and its pretty good
  • dougle - January 12, 2009 12:43 p.m.

    my friend brought okami when it came out played for a few hours then sold it for 1/4 what he payed...damn shame really
  • Supermanoh - July 28, 2009 6:25 p.m.

    Danm you mass market corporate dictators. How dare you disbad such a creative and wonderful developer as clover? SCREW YOU \.|.. ..|./
  • Lyrical - March 19, 2009 1:15 p.m.

    shadowrun...was ok for a few days then sucked lol, no story at all was dumb
  • iKOemos - March 19, 2009 5:26 a.m.

    Deployable battle-trees!