Under his definition, even the games he listed don’t make the cut. If a game can’t make it for fancy AI or rendering, then certainly Dead Rising doesn’t qualify. Neither can F-Zero when the pseudo-3D sprite morphing (not parallax scrolling, which is entirely different) simply made a 2D game prettier. It didn’t “fundamentally change the way you approach a game”. Why cite Oblivion when nearly all reviews cited it as Morrowind but prettier? And isn’t citing any Wii game cheating? Sure, we could never have had Wii Sports before, but neither could we have Boom Blox or Tiger Woods PGA Tour in any reasonably proximal form.
His definition of innovation is weak and fruitless. It serves a pessimistic view of someone likely overloaded with the vast array of entertainment titles we have today.
The truth is that there is innovation coming from all corners – even some of the big companies. To only focus on a single point, a console launch, and limit your definition of innovations to any creative movement impossible before said point and unique beyond said point is silly.
We stand on the shoulders of giants, to quote Newton. Was the rise of the music genre not innovative even though Guitar Hero cribbed from Guitar Freaks? Is the rise of socially connected games (as on Facebook and such) not innovative even though all the firms seem to steal off each other? Is LittleBigPlanet not innovative because a watered-down version was conceived on PSP? Or is Braid not innovative because… well I don’t know why Plunkett wouldn’t call Braid innovative. Maybe because it feels like a Mario game at first touch?
Is an innovation in Madden insignificant? The PS2 version simply cannot do the gang-tackling or branched animations that the PS3/360 can do. It is still playing football. But so was the leap from the 2D Madden of the early 90s to the 3d Madden of the PS1 era. Go and play Madden 98 then play this year’s release. If there hadn’t been ten releases in between, would you call the leap innovative? Sure, you would. It is absolutely night and day. Why should the ten releases in-between matter?
I could list twenty games that have come out in the past four years that are decidedly innovative and in my opinion, next-gen. Is he not looking hard enough or is he just jaded from his job of reading boilerplate press releases all day?