Tales Of Fan Translations

By Ishaan . August 30, 2009 . 11:30am

image Most Japanese publishers are scrambling to find new franchises from their portfolios that they feel would be suited for the Western market. Some have been successful while others haven’t.


Majesco struck gold with Cooking Mama, which brought the firm back from the brink of bankruptcy. Capcom have been doing their best to push Monster Hunter in Western territories, while the Ace Attorney series that originally debuted on GBA has received fairly popular Nintendo DS localizations. They even helped start a trend on the DS by localizing Gyakuten Saiban, following which a slew of DS adventure games were announced by various other publishers. While Square Enix have been more conservative with what games they choose to localize — no Nanashi no Game for instance — even they took a chance with The World Ends With You. SEGA tried with Let’s Tap.


The key point to keep in mind here, though, is that while these publishers are introducing new intellectual properties on a steady basis, they wouldn’t dream of giving up on their established franchises. You would never see Square pass on localizing a Final Fantasy game or SEGA pass on Sonic.


Namco Bandai on the other hand, have acquired a reputation lately for ignoring the pleas for some of their most interesting, most anticipated games overseas. Case in point: the majority of fan translations I’ve been keeping an eye on over the past year or two are all for well-known Namco games.


I’ll admit, the topic of localization is sketchy, and no one on the journalism or publishing side has quite figured out what always does and doesn’t work. It’s important to understand the financial side of localization decisions before you start asking for stuff or foaming at the mouth when your favourite games aren’t translated.


For instance, it’s easy to see why Namco’s Sky Crawlers is being handled by XSEED, whose entire business strategy revolves around identifying and understanding opportunities in the overseas “otaku” market and carefully controlling production and marketing budgets to ensure they’re profitable. One could also apply that line of reasoning to Fragile Dreams, which Namco had no intention to localize either.


image However, things get a little less complicated when you’re dealing with a well known RPG franchise like the Tales games. Take Tales of Innocence and Tales of Hearts for instance. Both are DS games, both have the support of a recognized brand and the DS RPG market is fairly lucrative at this point.


Yet, we’re going to have to settle for Absolute Zero’s Tales of Innocence and Crimson Nocturnal’s Tales of Hearts translations. No offense to either of these teams; their projects are some of the DS games I’m looking forward to playing the most this year and the next. Still, it’s not quite the same as owning the real thing. Having that manual you can flip through when you’re bored. Having the box lined up alongside the rest of your collection. The pre-order bonus that tends to come with so many high-profile Japanese games nowadays.


And it doesn’t stop with the the DS Tales duo. Beyond those two, I’m looking forward to Romhacking Aerie’s XenoSaga I & II translation. Before that project was announced, there was a time when Laura and I were hellbent on the idea of spearheading a translation/romhack of it ourselves, given that Namco would never undertake a localization themselves.


But you could go even further back in time and find projects people still want from the PS2 days. Tales of Destiny: Director’s Cut and Tales of Destiny 2 never made it out of Japan either. Both those are getting translated by Phantasian Productions, who are also working on one of the many Tales of Phantasia translations. At this point, the number of fan translations for Namco titles is second only to that of Banpresto’s (owing to their numerous mech games).


As fans that are so heavily invested in Japanese games, obviously it’s a little disappointing for us to see publishers like Marvelous Entertainment desperately trying to build up their image and brands, while Namco — having long worked past growing pains — choose to keep some of their best games from the world.


image The reason for this can be summed up in a single world: globalization. Namco is but one of the many Japanese publishers aiming for a stronger presence in the Western market. It’s quite likely that their research indicates the kind of games Siliconera readers enjoy aren’t the ones that will be bringing in the most profits. And so, they choose to pass on those in favour of…wait, what? A remake of Klonoa? One Piece?


(There goes that theory.)


In all seriousness, I do hope that, despite their efforts to appeal to the global market, Namco don’t forget their roots and why a lot of us love them in the first place. As this post clearly shows, I’m just as incapable of figuring out on what basis Namco games are chosen for localization as anyone else.

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  • Hours

    Great article.

    Namco Bandai USA is the king of contridictions and disappointments. The continually deny North American Tales fans quality titles, and after they do deem to release something here afterwards the claim they need to take a “breath” (their own words.)

    So, they claim they are just trying to appeal to the western market more and don’t want to oversaturate the market. Yet we are inundated with heaps of Naruto and Dragonball games. (No offense to those games, I’m just using them as an example of their false claims.)

    I understand that RPGs take a long time to localize, but small niche companies like Atlus and XSEED pump them out at a very respectable rate. I don’t see why it should be so hard for a large company like Namco to put together a dedicated team to work on Tales games.

    Tales might not have the largest fan base in North America, but they are loyal and dedicated. I really wish Namco would at least give them a chance to prove that. Or at least let some other RPG focused companies pick up the slack.

    • I personally find their treatment of the Tales games rather odd. They choose to ignore the mothership titles like Rebirth, Innocence and Hearts yet they let a escort game like Radiant Mythology localized which case some companies would of done the opposite.

      I hope XSEED is able to localize at least the handheld titles.

      on a side note, does anyone think the PS3 version of Vesperia is coming over?

      • Vanilla

        Also, Namco refuses to let other companies localize Tales games, don’t they?

        I really, HONESTLY hope that sales aren’t the problem in cases like Tales and Xenosaga since they hardly make the effort to advertise.

        I think ToV might make it. Vesperia’s expansion on the PS3 is more than just the kinds of ports they did for games like Symphonia, since the game wasn’t even complete when it came out on the 360.

        The possibility that PS3 sales will be skyrocketing from here on can’t hurt either.

      • Regarding ToV; I hope it does, but I’m not holding my breath any more…
        It seems to me we should have heard about it by now.

        I wish they’d come out and say if they were, or not though…Cause I’d rather not import the Japanese version, only to have it announced for North America. Although, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve bought a Japanese, and North American version of a Tales of game.

        • thebanditking

          As far as TOV goes keep in mind Msofts NDA/exclusivity agreement with Namco. They paid big bucks to take that game from Japanese PS3 owners, and tipically the exclusivity deal goes 6 months No Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and 12 months actual shelf time exclusivity (Bioshock, Eternal Sonata, Lost Planet, Ninja Gaiden 2) basically until Tales of Vesperia passes its 12th month on the shelf (which I think will be up sometime in September) Namco will not/can not discuss it’s plans for the PS3 version in full.

  • Joanna

    well in all fairness, Klonoa isn’t as text heavy as Tales of… being a platformer. (Haven’t played it, but if it does have a lot of text, well then Namco is being more stubborn then I thought)

    Fan translations are a hope for us poor gamers who can’t read Japanese. I really appreciate all the fans who sub anime, scan and translate manga, and of course hack and translate games. :)

    • I second the bit about Klonoa. It doesn’t have a lot of text and it was already localized for the PS so there wasn’t much work to do for it.

    • Aoshi00

      I still don’t see how people can do near-professional fansub or scanlation unless they’re college students. It’s a full time job in and of itself even if one’s proficient in the language, and these things are cranked out on a timely fashion too.

      There was a time me and my college friends wanted to do fansub of the Rurouni Kenshin OVA (we imported the “Laserdiscs”, lol..), the project never got very far as several other groups did it in lightspeed alrdy. Salute to these people.

      Games are still not perfect experiences though since the sub are not imposed on the screen like anime or manga scanlation.

      P.S. just got a copy of Klonoa from Toyrus, the Wii / DS buy 1 get 1 half off deal that just ended yesterday, got Layton and Klonoa :) Played Layton 2 alrdy, but it’s definitely better w/ the British accent :)

      • Scanlation is hard but so, so, so much fun, especially if you’re part of a group that has high standards. It feels great when you look back on your work once it’s out in the wild and it looks just as professional as anything Del Rey or Dark Horse would put out.

        The other cool thing about scanlation is that, unlike the fansub scene, there’s a lot of collaboration. Sites like Storm in Heaven and Mangascreener did a lot to make the process streamlined back in the day. Custom photoshop scripts, programs that make rotation and cropping easier, font packs etc. The very first scanlation guide I read was the SiH one. :)

        • Joanna

          I love Storm in Heaven, they do a good job and have excellent taste. :D

  • Chris_269

    I wholeheartedly agree with your article.(I really enjoyed reading it also)
    The fact that Namco Bandai America withheld quality “Tales Of” games is beyond my comprehension. If they did not want to localize it, then the games would be definitely better off in the hands of XSEED.
    Although I have heard some speculation from other fans that Namco Bandai is just avoiding any 2-D games. This brings up the issue of Innocence, which was not a 2-D game.

  • xemnas

    If only they would read this and realize how much they’ve been failing as of late..

    I mean radiant mythology over ToR? or ToD? Leaving the Eternia port in Europe only? stupid stupid decisions

    • BK0000

      Eternia PSP being a Europe only release probably had more to do with Sony’s policies at the time than anything else.

    • I totally agree! I still can’t believe they gave of radiant mythology instead of ToR, or any other good Tales of game…

  • QBasic

    I’m still completely baffled as to why they skipped out Xenosaga I&II for the DS. The series certainly proved popular, even stateside…

    • Vanilla

      Well, they stopped printing of Xenosaga III (which was probably the best XS they’d ever made) most likely because the sales weren’t good enough, so I guess they can’t be blamed for thinking it won’t succeed here? I’m pretty upset about the whole cessation of XS overseas overall, too.

      • BK0000

        All games go out of print eventually. You don’t expect them to keep printing a game on a basically dead system forever, do you?

        • I think Vanilla means closer upon its release.

          I think they really screwed fans out of Xenosaga though. Europe only gotten part II didn’t they? Rather poor decision on Namco’s side. I and II DS would of been a nice companion to the console games. They also shorten the 6 part series to just a trilogy though I figure that would understandable since they wouldn’t want to make that many games. I hope the series continues, even if its a reboot.

          • BK0000

            It wasn’t Namco’s fault Europe didn’t get the other games. They didn’t have an European branch at the time. SCEE was the one that released Episode II in Europe. After Episode I was released in America, they announced that they were going to publish it in Europe too, but they dropped it.

          • Thanks for clarifying that. I didn’t realized the publisher when I checked Wikipedia.

            Then it’s SCEE’s fault, why did they release II when they dropped I? That’s just odd.

          • Totally right on this. At that time Namco titles were mostly handled by Atari Europe and a few other publishers like SCEE.

    • Xenosaga I&II DS was pretty bad though. Just a major grindfest without the heart and soul of Xenosaga. And to some extent you got Xenosaga I&II — well the system at least. It was used for the Inuyasha DS RPG that was only released in the West.

      • QBasic

        I’ll have to try it out to see first…

        Then again, I was the poor bastard who figured “play Sigma Harmonics before you judge it, or listen to others judge it.”

        T_T I still have scars…

        • Aoshi00

          I have a lot of crappy DS games, and Sigma Harmonics and Xeno 1&2 DS are certainly among them. I figured I loved all 3 Xenosaga Episodes, how bad could an isometric RPG be to relive the amazing story. Let’s just say fighting Gnosis on the Woglinde at the beginning of Ep I gave me chills and goosebumps, and the DS one just bored me to death, so I didn’t really get very far. So it’s understandable why some games are not being brought over, because they’re just bad, Fragile is $24.90 on Playasia now (another 20% off w/ Visa).

          • QBasic

            Heh heh… You’re the one that told me not to check out Harmonics… ;_;

            Look where my stubbornness got me now…

            And besides…FFIV The After got brought over…and that’s a pretty terrible game. Let’s not even start on Dirge of Cerberus. =_=

            I really don’t think being bad has anything to do with it… A lot of absurdly shitty games like Oneechanbara and Koei’s Warriors series don’t even have a right to exist, let alone get localized… ;_;

          • Aoshi00

            lol, and that game isn’t even worth 10 bucks right, they only world to describe it is “broken”. I understand we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes one just shouldn’t go w/ the guts and it’s not a bad idea to listen to others who’ve tried it, there’s reason why things are sold at firesale, I bet Playasia still has tons of copies left, to be burnt like the ET game.

            Sex sells, so that explains why Oneechanbara exists, Warriors are just being cranked out like Gundam and DB games w/ pretty much guaranteed sales, so..

          • QBasic

            Hey now, not everything at a PA firesale is crap. :P Take Magical Vacation for example; seven bucks, S&H included.

            …Only most of it is crap.

          • Pichi

            Are you talking about the GBA Magical Vacation? If so, I love that game!! Lots of characters with variety of magic in wonderful 2D!

            If I had to choose, I rather the GBA one come over than the DS one. I bet many more would have loved it.

          • Dude, my ex-gf LOVED Sigma Harmonics. And she wasn’t even huge on games when she played it. I have no idea how that happened.

            Also, that damn Play-Asia offer isn’t on any of the games I really want! I don’t see the discount logo on any of the stuff I tried to look at. ;_;

          • Aoshi00

            I hated it, same as most people, no sane people could like that game, good thing she’s your ex, lol.

            I only wanted to get the 360 import shmups. I knew about the deal on Fri night and most of the stuffs were gone alrdy. I was able to get Death Smiles w/ 20% off. I could’ve gotten Castle of Shikigami 3 w/ the discount too, but I was too slow reading reviews online and let it slip. Since I am sick and tired of waiting for these games, I ended up just using my two $5 off coupons on Shikigami 3 and Otomedius, so I missed saving $8 on one game due to my dilly dallying :(..

            Need to get Love Plus eventually, I hope it would turn out to be a good game.

          • QBasic

            Maybe she just liked the whole….hold it like a book aspect?

            Although…really. Harmonics is beyond ghey. D: You can’t even apply a translation patch to it cause of the weird encoding!

  • Kevin_Levin

    For once I’d want to see how they (Japan) feels that the U.S & European developers would oneday keep the U.S games to U.S, Canadian and European-only fans.

    • xemnas

      that depends? how many japanese people do you know go gaga over FPS’s?

    • It happens more often than you think. There are Japanese blogs devoted to Western games and a sizable fanbase for titles like Grand Theft Auto, Gears of War and so forth.

      • xemnas

        Really? in all honesty i didn’t know that. Still i don’t think they’d be as broken up over a hypothetical Resistance 3 staying stateside as much as say..us being broken up over FFXV being a JP exclusive.

  • weathervane

    EDIT: Whoa, this looked way shorter when I was typing it. Sorry, I know walls of text are ugly.

    I’m so thankful for fan translations because of crap like this. I’ve been following Absolute Zero’s fan translation for a long time now and really look forward to finally being able to play Tales of Innocence (and the other Tales games currently in translation.)

    I only got into Tales toward the very end of the Gamecube’s lifespan and for a couple of years I remained blissfully ignorant of how many games in the series weren’t coming over. Then I remember the first time I saw the Tales of Innocence trailer. At that time, it looked like the most graphically stunning game on the DS and I couldn’t wait to play it. I salivated over every new screenshot. Months passed, no news. Now and again, someone on a blog or board would email Nippon-Banzai…erm, I mean Namco-Bandai and post the replies of their PR reps with the standard “we have no plans to release ToI outside of Japan etc etc” responses. I passed them off as meaningless copy-and-paste robo replies. No company ever reveals their true plans just because some random person asks them to, right?

    Well, apparently when you really DON’T have any plans to release something, there’s no harm in saying it. By the time Tales of Hearts came around without a ToI announcement, it became clear that N-B was being brutally honest. At this point and after educating myself on the history of the Tales series, they started to become my number one “abandon all hope for localization” company. This only increased when it started to seem like they weren’t going to let anyone have things like Game Center CX and Fragile in spite of their having no intention to release them themselves. Of course, xseed has miraculously remedied some of this, but N-B’s localization average remains one of the lowest among major companies in the industry. I still abandon hope to an even higher degree when Nintendo announces something for Japan, but N-B is still pretty bad.

    Maybe even worse than Nintendo for the time being, at least for me. Just when I thought that there couldn’t be anything more infuriating than Another Code R getting a Euro-only release, N-B one-ups Nintendo by doing the same for One Piece: Unlimited Cruise.

    • See, the problem is, I’m hopeful as far as Namdai are concerned because XSEED have been making great progress on that front. But as we all know, NO ONE picks up Nintendo games for localization because no one can. :(

      • weathervane

        Yeah, xseed’s surprise acquisitions of Retro Game Challenge and Fragile made me second-guess how I perceive N-B, but the Tales franchise makes up such a large portion of their repertoire that I still find myself frustrated with them pretty regularly. Do I expect fanservice stuff like Tales of Vs. to make it over? Of course not, but it’s not too much to expect the main releases.

        Nintendo…..just, Nintendo. Ugh. Of course, I hear the occasional “b…b…but Cubivore! Polarium Advance!” from people desperate for hope, but those were the days of a totally different Nintendo.

  • randomjeff

    Fantastic job Ishaan. This is one of the best articles I’ve seen on the site in the years I’ve been coming here and a topic that isn’t often discussed within many other gaming circles.

    Stuff like this and the recent Policenauts translation, along with the upcoming English patch for Dragon Quest V on PS2 are the reason I’m still gaming.

    • Thanks! To be honest, this almost didn’t go up because I thought it was kind of pointless. I was going to delete it, but then Spencer went ahead and published it. :P

      I live for fan translations, too. When you’re such a huge fan of visual novels, that’s what you tend to fall back on, 70% of the time. I can’t believe so many good vnovels get passed up in favour of the average ones.

    • Aoshi00

      So the Policenauts fansub patch went up alrdy? I played it from PSN, it was really great, like Lethal Weapon meets City Hunter, you could really see the early Kojima before MGS, definitely the best 600 yen purchase I made along w/ MGS. I guess Policenauts is a bit old for an official localization now.

      • City Hunter the movie or City Hunter the manga?

        • Aoshi00

          The anime because the game is basically is made up of detailed anime stills in 90’s style. Also Jonathan feels like an occasional perv like Saeba Ryo, as player is given the chance to interact and sometimes poke at hot girls, Kojima innuendoes for you :) I saw the Jackie Chan live action movies but they were rather silly since City Hunter was a bit over the top.

          • Come on, don’t tell me you don’t like that famous Street Fighter clip from the Jackie Chan movie. :D

          • Aoshi00

            The horror :(.. it was cringe worthy just like the SF movie. At least Jackie got to work w/ some pretty hot chicks if I remember correctly.

      • Yeah man, I beat the fan translation today. Damn it was awesome! I really hope they get around to releasing the Saturn version though, cause I want to use my light gun damn it!

        • Aoshi00

          The light gun would actually work w/ the shooting parts? I mainly played it on my PSP but it still felt very exciting because the story was so gripping. Yeah, the game was awesome in every way, story pretty dark too.

          So how’s the translation? It would be great playing in Eng. again. Kojima should take a look at this and work w/ the fansub to get this on PSN, unless he doesn’t want us to see his early games :)

          • I thought it was pretty good. There were a few times where the voices would start before the text showed up, which was kind of annoying…But other then that, I enjoyed the translation.

            Oh and yes, as far as I know the Saturn version of the game is the only one with light gun support for the shooting parts.

  • Zefiro Torna

    Not to sound like an unappreciative fellow but I will admit that one trait has unfortunately carried over certain anime/manga fan translations groups into some video game fan translation groups: impatience.

    At least with anime/manga fan translators there is always a more flexible and erratic sort or air of uncertainty regarding whether a title will make it over. However with video games it’s almost always certain that a game will not make it over once a platform has its support discontinued. There are quite a number of examples of games released around a platform’s launch year timeframe in Japan only to have made it North America later towards the end of said platform’s lifespan.

    Also, I was quite disappointed that after Namco dropped some hints on a possible Tales of Innocence localization that only then was it decided that it had to be fan translated. After that project became well known, it just so happened that Namco stated the localization looked uncertain. Gotta love these coincidences…

    • Pichi

      That’s a concern for me was well. Many expect things to be announce in like month after release, and that’s hardly the case. I would give many games 6+ months at least. Especially for niche games and such. I’m reminded of Sakura Wars and that was a good 4 years and I’m sure there are longer ones. I would see why fan projects would happen then.

  • Inuboy1000

    I love how everyone calls them Namco, Namco Bandai see what you have done. Why do you not just merge your arcade company Namco with Namco Bandai Games and just let it be Namco. That would ease up the confusion. Seriously doesnt anyone ever wonder why this happened to Namco and not Bandai. We cant even get the logo on our boxart but Europe and Japan gets it on theres. What the hell?

  • Hello_Hello

    Well, you can’t really blame Namco Bandai when people aren’t buying the games. Tales of the Abyss and Tales of Vesperia broke what, maybe 30-40K each in North America? As a multinational corporation whose goal is to make money as efficiently as possible, there probably isn’t a lot of incentive to localize these games when they have bigger cash cows they can be using their resources on. If you guys really like Tales so much, then each of you should go out and buy 5 copies of Vesperia or something. =p

    • Then why don’t they let other companies release the games they don’t want?

      I mean sure; they kinda are doing that now a days. But I remember hearing back in the day, that XSeed wanted to release Tales of Rebirth over here, but Namco didn’t let them. Why stop another company, if you have no intention of releasing the game? That seems so stupid to me…

      Yes I’m still bitter about Tales of Rebirth not being released out here…Even though I own, and beat the Japanese version.

  • I’m soooo close on giving up on the North American Namco. If they don’t at least announce Tales of Vesperia for PS3, in North America, here soon I’m gonna just gonna give up all hope on them.

    I supported every release of the North American Tales of games, even though I already owned the Japanese versions. I didn’t have to buy the North American versions, but I did! Because I wanted more to be released here, and the thanks for mine, and many other fans support, is that we get even less from the series we love!

    Hell, the fans care more, and do a better job at translating their(namco) games, anyways! I mean look at the wonderful job that Phantasian Productions has done on their Tales of Phantasia translation, and they’ve spent how many years working on it?! at least 4 years me thinks.

    Meanwhile Namco ignores the pleas from fans, like myself. At least we have publishers like XSeed, Ignition Entertainment, and NISA giving the fans what they want. And of course the fans! I’m so grateful for these fan translations, and the hard work they go through, all because these companies are foolish in their ways.

  • epy

    It’s been over a decade for Phantasian Productions, and they haven’t released a full version yet. I’m however very excited about AZ’s Tales of Innocence translation, it seems it will be completed soon.

    I can understand Bamco’s reasons for not localizing every Tales game from a business point of view, but as many of you said, they keep others from localizing them as well. I’m sure at least XSEED has shown interest in doing them. Their “if we don’t localize them no one gets to” policy only screws over fans in the end.

    • cowcow

      I can’t believe no on listed Square-Enix’s Front Mission 5 for PS2.
      That was an absolute crime that they didn’t release it here; about almost as bad as when they never localized Tobal 2.
      Thank god both games got fan translated. I’m even thankful for the fan translation of Namco x Capcom, and concerning Nintendo, looking forward to the translation patch for Fatal Frame IV

      • I couldn’t believe Front Mission 5 wasn’t localized. I had to import it after giving them an ample chance to do so. The same for Tobal 2 back when it came out, actually. Wouldn’t it be nice if every game was available in any language for anyone to play when they were released. That’s fantasy world, of course. I don’t really pay much attention to these fan translations after the era of PSX as I kind of lost any idea of what I was doing as far as roms/isos and all that mess. I should really look into it…

        Good article. =)

  • conchobhar

    You know, as much as it annoys me that Namco Bandai doesn’t translate more Tales games, I don’t think it should actually SURPRISE anyone.

    For one, it’s a niche franchise, and simply put, doesn’t bring in a lot of money. Other companies (Atlus, NISA, XSEED…) are able to survive and profit, but Namco is different- it’s much larger, and has TONS of franchises that are guaranteed sellers. Why waste time on translating a (text-heavy) Tales game when they could be working on, say, Tekken?

    Second, as of late the Tales series is releasing new titles at ridiculous speeds- which has the side effect of making a title “old” almost instantly (For example, I remember Hearts was announced before Vesperia was even released!). This means that Namco is either going to have to risk a title being popular and start translating while the game is still in development, or stick with always being ‘behind’.

    Combine those two, and it’s pretty clear why we don’t see many Tales games.

    Why they seem to refuse other companies to localise it is beyond me, though, and certainly worth complaining about.

    (I’m still bitter about not getting Rebirth though)

    • Devonian

      That doesn’t entirely explain it. Even when Tales games were relatively few in number they still half-assed releasing them. It took several console generations to get an English version of Tales of Phantasia, for God’s sake (and the translation was iffy even then)!

      • conchobhar

        Phantasia was pretty goddamned terrible, I don’t blame them for not wanting to release it.

  • Chris_269

    Looks like many people have an outrage to express at Namco Bandai. orz

  • QBasic

    Way off topic, but this is a little insane.

    What the hell just happened with the comments? They all…disappeared. Then my comment required mod approval…then all of them came back, and my email inbox got re-bombarded with Disqus replies.

    ;_; Whyyyy?

  • neo_firenze

    The sad thing here is that in the last five years or so, we had reached a point where the vast majority of worthwhile Japan-only games were getting western localizations. Speaking as a long-time importer (since the early 90s) of Japan-only titles, things were better than they had ever been before. Yes, you still had some stuff slip through the cracks – my beloved 2D shooters, a few of the more niche fighting games, some RPGs like the Tales games. But for people who wanted localized titles, times were good.

    Now the efforts to localize titles seems to be dropping off a bit from the peak. A lot of the big Japanese companies aren’t bothering to localize some fairly significant titles:

    * Nintendo is passing on easy opportunities like North American localizations of Disaster and Another Code: R (both already have English versions in the EU releases!), and what seems to be an easy sell with the well established Fatal Frame series.

    * Namco is being more reluctant than ever to give us their Japanese RPGs.

    * Square-Enix had been getting quite good at releasing their more niche titles, and now they are passing on stuff like Sigma Harmonics, Front Mission 5, Front Mission 2089 on DS, Nanashi no Game, and I fear SaGa 2 DS isn’t going to leave Japan.

    * Sega is in this category too – the prospect of localizations for Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan and Yakuza 3 doesn’t look good, and both are very big name titles in Japan with at the very least a rabid underground following in the US. On the DS front, there’s realistic concern that 7th Dragon and Shining Force Feather won’t ever make it out of Japan.

    Not sure what to attribute this to. Some of it may be publishers’ thoughts that “worldwide” or “western focused” games are the best bet for the future. Even a lot of top Japanese directors are getting more into Western game style, see Capcom’s Jun Takeuchi openly praising more Western-style games and moving forward with stuff like Lost Planet, a worldwide game made by Japanese with a big dose of Western sensibilities. FPS and other more Western style action games are getting a lot more accepted in Japan, something that a decade ago would have been unheard of outside of a few western game otaku in Japan.

    Some of it may be economics too. The Japanese game industry has been going through some harder times recently, and combined with the worldwide economy that may make them more risk averse when considering localizations. Also, the expensive current gen budgets for 360 and PS3 games may cause resources to be spread too thin, leaving not as much left for non-blockbuster titles.

    • cowcow

      Sega has confirmed already that the PS3 Yakuza games will not come to the U.S. or EU

    • Aoshi00

      I got a Jpn Wii just for Disaster Day of Crisis and Another Code R, haven’t finished the latter yet (kind of a boring start compared to the DS game), but I have to say they’re worth it despite $300+ being a little steep for only 2 games..

      Western games are definitely more well received in Jpn now, many in Jpn and the West share the view of Western games being more well made (which I also agree) contrary to several years ago when Western games are considered “those shooters that make us dizzy”.

      There’s definitely a market for Nanashi no Game in the US, seeing how movies like Ring or Grudge have familiarized w/ audience w/ this genre, but Sigma Harmonics was just a mistake and S-E knew it, better off we’re not subject to that torture.

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