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Mario And Luigi Series Developer AlphaDream Declares Bankruptcy

by Donald Theriault - October 2, 2019, 5:12 am PDT
Total comments: 26 Source: Yahoo Japan

This is somebody's nightmare.

The developer of the Mario and Luigi series has been forced into bankruptcy.

AlphaDream declared bankruptcy in Japan yesterday (October 1), citing debts of ¥465m (approx. US$4.3m at current mid-market rates). The company cited higher development costs and lower sales as the reason for the bankruptcy.

Originally founded in 1991 as a construction company, the firm pivoted to games in 2001 with a Japanese-exclusive Game Boy Color game called Koto Battle: Tengai no Moribito. During their 20 years of game development, AlphaDream developed all of the Mario and Luigi RPGs, and three games based on the popular Hamtaro franchise. AlphaDream's final products were a mobile app called Kedama no Gonjiro (Japan only) and a remake of 2009's Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story which released for 3DS in January.

Talkback

broodwarsOctober 02, 2019

Stories like this make me wonder why Nintendo doesn't purchase more studios. Yeah, Dream Team & Paper Jam were bad, but this team had a good history with Nintendo and could have done good things again with them.

TOPHATANT123October 02, 2019

I wonder if it was those late 3DS games that sunk them, or the 3DS remakes were staving off the inevitable. Never played a Mario & Luigi game but I hope Nintendo steps in to intervene.

Ian SaneOctober 02, 2019

Nintendo could probably just hire the core staff and have them work as a first party team.  Mario & Luigi seems like a valuable series and they would need someone to make them.  Might as well be the same team.

The Bowser's Inside Story remake was a very questionable release and I wonder how that played into this.  You can get a used copy of the DS version for a song and it plays on the 3DS!  There was just no need for the remake.

KhushrenadaOctober 02, 2019

Quote from: Ian

Mario & Luigi seems like a valuable series and they would need someone to make them.

Eh, I'd be fine with the Mario & Luigi series ending. Or at least getting revamped. Played Bowser's Inside Story for the DS last year and that game was terrible. Not sure if I want to bother continuing on with Dream Team and Paper Jam now. These games just seem to be too repetitive and diminishing returns are the consequence. Now, I'm not saying it is great that people are losing their jobs. Just commenting on the state of the M&L franchise and how important it really is.

Luigi DudeOctober 02, 2019

Bowser Inside story remake bombed but they were already payed for that game since they were working for Nintendo to make it.  What sunk the company was a rumored HD game that was being made for Switch/PS4 that they were still hiring for in July.

Looks like they were trying to branch out from Nintendo and found out how brutal the industry can be when you don't have the money from a major publisher.  The best they can hope for is Nintendo either steps in to buy them or just hires them like they did with the Mario Party team at Hudson after Konami killed that company.

ejamerOctober 02, 2019

Quote from: Khushrenada

... Played Bowser's Inside Story for the DS last year and that game was terrible. ...

It's like I don't even know you...  :'(

The game was repetitive, but also charming in a lot of ways and had some very fun ideas. Terrible seems pretty harsh - although it was also one of the better games they've released in my opinion.

MagicCow64October 02, 2019

Yeah, Bowser's Inside Story was great, easily their best game. Dream Team sucked quite a lot, however, and I had no desire to try Paper Jam after that.

I actually went back to Partners in Time last year after initially skipping it, and that game, too, was a chore. Alphadream was apparently just really uneven.

AdrockOctober 02, 2019

I really loved Superstar Saga though I only played through it once. I tried to play through Bowser’s Inside Story then got sidetracked. I may give it another go given your recommendation and to metaphorically pour a 40 oz on the curb for AlphaDream.

nickmitchOctober 02, 2019

I played some of Paper Jam, but I wasn't very fond of it.  I did like Superstar Saga and I think I enjoyed Bowser's Inside Story.  That's the one where you fight with a giant Bowser sometimes?

That being said, Nintendo should have the cash reserves to scoop them up, if they want to.  The question is, do they want to?  I think the Switch has enough support where Nintendo doesn't need to add a new team, but could still probably hire a lot of their talent to supplement existing teams.

I think Nintendo would be more likely to want to poach individual employees they liked than buy the whole company. That's what they did when Flagship went under, for instance, and one of them directed the last couple Zelda games.

StratosOctober 02, 2019

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

I think Nintendo would be more likely to want to poach individual employees they liked than buy the whole company. That's what they did when Flagship went under, for instance, and one of them directed the last couple Zelda games.

Yeah, Reggie and other Nintendo leaders pretty much said this is their process for these things when asked why they do not buy studio's.

Quote from: Luigi

The best they can hope for is Nintendo either steps in to buy them or just hires them like they did with the Mario Party team at Hudson after Konami killed that company.

I didn't know that Nintendo did that w/ the Hudson MP team. If they brought on a full team like that one can only wonder what happened to support for that game (DLC), unless they are moving right on to a sequel.

SpiritMaskOctober 05, 2019

Partners in Time was an awful grind and wasted opportunity for cool time travel stuff (like Ocarina of Time, Radiant Historian, etc.). I just played through it for the first time. The final boss -which is actually one boss, then a save point, then another boss immediately after with two forms - took me literally over an hour and a half of solid battle time and about 50-60 of my team attack items. I'm not exaggerating! I was timing myself because I had heard how long it was and didn't believe it. I don't understand how people liked the game so much when it launched. The best thing about it was a cameo by Fawful.

This is karma for that game and making me fight that boss.

KhushrenadaOctober 05, 2019

I liked Partners in Time more than Bowser's Inside Story. As time passes, I'm beginning to consider it the best entry in the series of the three games I've played so far. I don't remember the final boss being that long but then I never timed myself and chances are I probably did it in two parts if there is a save point in between like you mentioned.

https://nationalpostcom.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/trump_fox_news_201508081.jpg?quality=80&strip=all&w=780

Luigi DudeOctober 05, 2019

I didn't mind Partners in Time that much.  It only took me about 15 hours which is shorter then the other Mario & Luigi games so it never overstayed its welcome.  Yeah it wasn't as creative as Super Star Saga and Bowser Inside Story but at least it knew when to end, unlike Dream Team which dragged on for over 40 hours.

I also didn't mind the final boss that much since the rest of the game was pretty easy so I had a huge amount of items saved up.  It was nice to finally have a reason to go all out in battle for once.  I also had a badge combination that made Luigi insanely overpowered, so the fight didn't last over an hour to me. ;D

Mop it upOctober 07, 2019

As others have said, hopefully Nintendo hires on some staff from them. As for the series itself... I'm not one to think that a series should continue into perpetuity. Mario & Luigi had a good run, five games is plenty in my book. Time for something new(er)(ish).

Ian SaneOctober 07, 2019

The only Mario & Luigi game I've played is the first one.  I should point out that I'm a big fan of Super Mario RPG so I've viewed Nintendo's other Mario RPGs through a biased lens.  I quickly got frustrated with Super Star Saga because I was losing boss fights due to not pulling off the increasingly complicated special move inputs.  Super Mario RPG has timed hits but that feels like something to add an extra punch to the battles.  If you were hopeless at them you could always grind a bit to offset that.  M&L felt more like a timed hit rhythm game with RPG elements and that just wasn't what I was into.

Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario (which isn't even really an RPG series anymore) had this thing where it felt like they were technically RPGs but were trying not to be.  I almost feel that was a reaction to the N64 years where not only did the system have hardly any RPGs but Nintendo made a very deliberate effort to train their fans into rejecting them, all to combat the PlayStation having a very large library of RPGs during a time where that was the IT genre.  So these games were for Nintendo fans that didn't play RPGs.  Meanwhile Super Mario RPG was more for SNES owners that loved RPGs, mashing up Square with Mario.  These other series seem ashamed of their RPG nature while Super Mario RPG has "RPG" right in the title.

Of course today Nintendo isn't anti-RPG at all.  They've got Xenoblade and teamed up with Atlus for Tokyo Mirage Sessions.  Fire Emblem games all get localized now and actually sell really well in the Western market.  NOA published Bravely Default.  The 3DS is an RPG powerhouse.  So maybe the market for Mario RPGs that put in platformer elements to appear less RPG like to sell to an audience that doesn't play many RPGs doesn't exist anymore.  An audience playing the games I listed above would probably find Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario overly simplistic.

Luigi DudeOctober 08, 2019

Quote from: Ian

TSo maybe the market for Mario RPGs that put in platformer elements to appear less RPG like to sell to an audience that doesn't play many RPGs doesn't exist anymore.  An audience playing the games I listed above would probably find Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario overly simplistic.

I wouldn't say that since Dream Team still sold 2.6 million copies which is more then Fire Emblem Awakening which sold 2.2 million, and is only beaten by Fates at 2.9 million.  Of course keep in mind Nintendo includes every version of Fates in those numbers so someone buying one of the versions of that game and then buying the other 2 as DLC is being considered as 3 games sold.  So technically, Dream Team probably has the best standalone numbers of any RPG on the 3DS that wasn't Pokemon of course.

So there's still an audience that like that Mario RPG's, whether they're Mario fans who want a different take on Mario or RPG fans that want different take on the genre, or a combination of both.  Now Paper Jam saw a big drop where it barely crawled past the million mark and had no legs.  But this is do to a number of factors like coming out less then 2 years after Dream Team which didn't help that Dream Team was such a slog that dragged on 20 hours longer then it had any right too, so there wasn't a demand for a new game that soon.  Plus being a crossover with Paper Mario, after Sticker Star poisoned the well of that franchise, while also taking the worst aspects of Sticker Star like the generic enemies, locations and Toads, something that fanbase hated, made an experience that nobody wanted.

Basically, there's still an audience for Paper Mario or Mario & Luigi style RPG's.  They just need to be creative again and not invite Miyamoto to give them advice this time.  A Paper Mario just returning an RPG with a world of unique NPC, locations and enemies again would be enough to generate excitement for that franchise.  Mario & Luigi could be big again, but they really need to find a way to expand the gameplay instead of just rehashing Super Star Saga for the 5th time.

Ian SaneOctober 08, 2019

So Miyamoto ruined Paper Mario and then via the Paper Jam crossover essentially ruined Mario & Luigi so what hope is there in any future Mario RPGs?  The great ones from the past all break Miyamoto's stupid rules.

Luigi DudeOctober 08, 2019

Quote from: Ian

So Miyamoto ruined Paper Mario and then via the Paper Jam crossover essentially ruined Mario & Luigi so what hope is there in any future Mario RPGs?  The great ones from the past all break Miyamoto's stupid rules.

Miyamoto isn't running the show anymore.  Mario Odyssey got away with taking Mario to more unique locations, with characters that don't blend at all with the established Mario universe.  It also had more of a story going for it again, something Miyamoto didn't allow for Galaxy 2, 3D Land and 3D World.

You have to remember its Koizumi who overlooks Nintendo's software divisions now.  This is the guy who snuck Rosalina's backstory into the first Mario Galaxy, which is one of the reasons Miyamoto lost his shit and Galaxy 2 had no story.  So if the Paper Mario team wanted to return to form , I'm sure Koizumi wouldn't have a problem.  I mean, he of all people should know what's it's like to want to be more creative with Mario and have to then face Miyamoto's wrath as a result.

Ian SaneOctober 08, 2019

Quote from: Luigi

You have to remember its Koizumi who overlooks Nintendo's software divisions now.  This is the guy who snuck Rosalina's backstory into the first Mario Galaxy, which is one of the reasons Miyamoto lost his **** and Galaxy 2 had no story.

I'm trying to think how Miyamoto had that conversation without coming across like a complete yutz and losing the respect of his employees.  How do you even form an argument for a game that clearly has characters, and has had stories in prior games, to not have a story?  If you're going to do that why not just have stick figures interacting with geometric shapes?  And how come Zelda gets to have a story but Mario does not?  "Hey the Paper Mario games were well received by critics and fans so here I am to tell you that you did it all wrong!"

StratosOctober 09, 2019

I recall an interview with Miyamoto from years ago (post "Celda" outrage era) where he talked about the emotional turmoil he went through with "losing" control of Link/Legend of Zelda. Specifically citing the design changes he went through int the 3D era (specifically citing that Link now had a piercing, which was not his decision). I wonder if this is why he was being protective of Mario, because he didn't want to lose creative control like he did with Link.

Luigi DudeOctober 09, 2019

Quote from: Stratos

I recall an interview with Miyamoto from years ago (post "Celda" outrage era) where he talked about the emotional turmoil he went through with "losing" control of Link/Legend of Zelda. Specifically citing the design changes he went through int the 3D era (specifically citing that Link now had a piercing, which was not his decision). I wonder if this is why he was being protective of Mario, because he didn't want to lose creative control like he did with Link.

That's probably the case.  I mean, Donkey Kong was originally suppose to be a Pop Eye game, and Miyamoto has mentioned older cartoons being his inspiration.  So his view on Mario is something that should just be wacky antics that everyone can enjoy.  So when Koizumi puts in a story that involves a little girls losing her mother into a Mario game, I can see why Miyamoto would freak out.  Suddenly there's something that might make players feel sad in the game, which is against Miyamoto's philosophy of what players should feel when playing a Mario game.

It also doesn't help that earlier that year, Super Paper Mario has a villain that wants to destroy all of existence because he lost his lover.  The same game even has a chapter where Mario and gang are even killed and sent to Hell and the end of said chapter involves a character having to sacrifice themselves.  So yeah, the combination of Super Paper Mario and Galaxy probably sent him over the edge which is why both series had their stories greatly scaled back in the next installments.

Funny enough, the Mario & Luigi series managed to avoid this with Bowser's Inside Story and Dream Team still being pretty unique and filled with story and dialogue.  Dream Team in particular came out after Paper Mario: Sticker Star but has a story much longer then its previous installments (not exactly a good thing though), and filled with new characters and enemies as well.  So AlphaDream somehow avoided the purge.  I wonder if because that series was already very comedic and the stories very light hearted like Saturday Morning Cartoons that he let it slide.  Or maybe they were smart enough not to invite Miyamoto to give his opinion about their games after seeing him at E3, because they knew he wasn't the best choice to ask RPG advice from.

Ian SaneOctober 09, 2019

Quote from: Stratos

I recall an interview with Miyamoto from years ago (post "Celda" outrage era) where he talked about the emotional turmoil he went through with "losing" control of Link/Legend of Zelda. Specifically citing the design changes he went through int the 3D era (specifically citing that Link now had a piercing, which was not his decision). I wonder if this is why he was being protective of Mario, because he didn't want to lose creative control like he did with Link.

To be fair I didn't like the earring at the time either.  Seemed like a very blatant attempt to come across as hip, late 90's style.

ejamerOctober 09, 2019

Quote from: Ian

...
To be fair I didn't like the earring at the time either.  Seemed like a very blatant attempt to come across as hip, late 90's style.

This is in past tense - did you come around, or just decide that it doesn't really matter?
For what it's worth, I still think that Link's earring is lame, but it's a small enough detail that it doesn't really matter.

StratosOctober 10, 2019

I forget about it now honestly. Link is redesigned every couple of years so it almost doesn't matter whichever way you lean. Between BotW's Blue Champion's Tunic and the customization features added to that game, it will all be forgotten in a matter of time I am sure.

Ian SaneOctober 10, 2019

Quote from: ejamer

Quote from: Ian

...
To be fair I didn't like the earring at the time either.  Seemed like a very blatant attempt to come across as hip, late 90's style.

This is in past tense - did you come around, or just decide that it doesn't really matter?
For what it's worth, I still think that Link's earring is lame, but it's a small enough detail that it doesn't really matter.

I noticed it, thought to myself "oh, that is so lame", and then continued to play Ocarina of Time because it's an awesome game. :)

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