‘Nintendo bans DS holocaust game!’ read the scurrilous (and totally unsubstantiated) ‘news’ on numerous websites, blogs and fan sites yesterday, relating to a 'work in progress' game project from British developer Alten8.
Imagination is the Only Escape is the working title of 21-year-old Luc Bernard’s DS game, set during the Holocaust, in which you play a French Jewish boy trying to escape the horrors of Nazi occupied France. Bernard describes as "Schindler's List meets Alice in Wonderland"
The game has already generated a considerable amount of pre-publicity, with Bernard telling the New York Times, that his concept for the game was non-violent and educational.
In another interview, Bernard was quoted as saying: "From what I was told, Nintendo Europe is also scared of it,” which seems to be the source of the rumours that Nintendo was somehow planning to ‘ban’ Imagination is the Only Escape.
Taking into consideration the obvious facts that Nintendo has no direct power to ‘ban’ a game and that the game is in the very early stages of development, TechRadar decided to contact Alten8 and Nintendo directly to find out more.
Paul Andrews, CEO of Alten8 Limited told us that: “It is at this point a concept , which was originally planned for DS , but may move to another Nintendo format yet.”
So it seems that it could be planned to develop the game for Wii, but as Andrews himself reminded us, “it is still at early pre-production / concept stage.”
"Yesterday’s non-story about the supposed ‘Nintendo ban’ “was picked up from artwork on Luc's blog and press interest snowballed from that.”
When asked further about the background to the concept behind Imagination is the Only Escape Andrews avoided a direct answer, telling us: “Luc's work / concepts are under contract with Alten8, Luc does not work directly for Alten8, hence his views are his own.”
Who controls Wii Ware?
So is there a publisher deal already in place for the game?
“We intend to either self publish, dependent on our status at that point, or work with other publishing partners, or if it were to be changed to [distribution via] Wii Ware, this would of course go out via Nintendo directly from ourselves,” adds Andrews.
This raises an interesting point. If Imagination is the Only Escape is distributed online via Wii Ware, will Nintendo have the final say on green-lighting the project? TechRadar has contacted Nintendo UK today to get clarification on this issue.
Andrews confirms that yesterday’s media feeding frenzy “came about as reporters started contacting Nintendo asking when it was coming out, to which they replied 'it is not coming out', as correctly it had not been discussed with them at that point in time, and they did know nothing of the potential game. Nintendo will only confirm on games registered / schedule to come out at that point in time with them , not on concepts / proposals etc.
All PR is good PR.
“The positive thing to come out of this recent media frenzy, is that it has opened an interesting debate on how people perceive games," Andrews adds. "Are they just simple moments of killing time? Are they art? Are they and can they be more educational?
“Things like Brain Training and Wii Fit, have started to change perceptions of people on games and maybe we have opened another debate with Imagination, even if it was by accident.”
Stay tuned for more from Nintendo UK on Wii Ware and Imagination is the Only Escape as we get it.
[Update: just in from Nintendo UK - "Nintendo Of Europe can confirm that they have not yet been contacted by developer Luc Bernard regarding the release of Imagination is the only Escape DS and have no further comment to add at this stage."]