Saturday, October 30, 2010

Neglected Eastern gems: games denied for localization

There's quite a few Japanese games that are either lighting up the sales charts, or look to be a cut above the same-old coming out of the East these days.

What do they all have in common? No US publishers are stepping up.

Shame, but here's a few that we're missing out on, or worse, have missed out on for months:

Growlanser (PSP, 2009)

A remake of the PS1 classic. Growlanser 2, 3, and 5 were the only ones in the series to be localized, by Working Designs(2, 3) and Atlus(5), respectively. The utter failure of 5 sales-wise in the US is cited as the reason that Atlus turned this down, even though it was arguably the worst in the series, and 1 is arguably the best.

Wizardry: Pledge of Life (DS)

A successor to the first-person Wizardry games, with lots of dungeons and customizable parties. From what I've seen, it bears a similarity to Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land, a fantastic game localized by Atlus USA many years back. Why this hasn't been localized, especially in the wake of Etrian Odyssey's success, is anyone's guess.

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva 2nd (PSP)

Okay, this is a stretch, but:
A. It sells like CRAZY in Japan
B. Miku does have a following(however niche) in the West
and C. It seems like a genuinely fun rhythm game.

Sega have localized worse, and could use the niche support.

7th Dragon(DS)

Another venture by the Etrian Odyssey team, or at least some members of it. No word for a US release, and one seems very unlikely at this point. You can likely hold Sega accountable.
You can read more about 7th Dragon at this very site:

Fatal Frame IV: Mark of Lunar Eclipse (Wii)
Arguably the most dire offense of them all. Fatal Frame IV, is supposed to be a fantastic game, and great for the Wii, which is in dire need of good titles at the moment. It's already been fan translation patched, that's how unlikely a localization is at this point. Supposedly the game is buggy, but take those claims with a grain of salt.

Last Window: The Secret of Cape West(aka Hotel Dusk 2, DS)

Another failure on Nintendo's part. The sequel to the niche gem, Hotel Dusk, which actually received a release in the UK. Nothing slated for the US as of yet.

Tales of Graces (Wii), Tales of Hearts (DS)

I'd be remiss if I didn't give the beleaguered Tales community a mention.

For whatever reason, Namco continue to pass up the solid Tales games in favor of mediocre ones, to the point that fans have already started fan translating these games within a week, and still with no word from Namco-Bandai on a US release.

Also worth a mention is Tales of Vesperia's PS3 version, which is 360 exclusive to the US.

There's a few other games I'd like to mention, such as Banpresto's new SRT OG Saga: Exceed, and Atlus' Catherine, but odds of those being localized are still up in the air(especially Catherine), so I won't assume the worst just yet.


  1. Endless Frontier was as niche as it gets. I'll eat my hat if the sequel comes here.

  2. Any word on the Inazuma Eleven games coming to the United States? I have had my eye on the first one, but the establishment of Level 5's U.S. studio has me waiting for some kind of announcement.

  3. I'd like to mention the PSP ports of Falcom games, but hopefully XSEED will get to them.

  4. I want to see the likes of Carpe Fulgur, Gaijinworks, or Atlus bring over the Touhou series. Those games deserve to be bought instead of pirated.

  5. A list like this could go on and on, but one that comes to mind is Onore no Shinzuru Michi wo Yuke!
    Official site:

  6. Last Window is out in the rest of Europe as well, afaik.

  7. No one's going to be very willing to bet on Growlanser after two failures, especially a PSP game. Unfortunate, but it's not hard to see the decision-making process there.

    Wizardry, I think, is probably a victim of the spectacular failure of Class of Heroes and the Dark Spire, which sent the message to Atlus that while North Americans *are* interested in Etrian Odyssey, they're not necessarily interested in games that are similar.

    Hatsune Miku really shouldn't need explaining. There's not a chance in hell the game would succeed in North America. The PSP is dead, the rhythm/music genre is dead, and games with, erm, that sort of aesthetic are a pretty hard sell, too.

    7th Dragon is straight-up a goof. I have no idea why it wasn't localized. If not by SEGA, then surely Atlus should have. I heard the reason is that they think it's too hard? That really doesn't seem like a good excuse. Atlus have published plenty of games as difficult or more difficult than 7th D.

    Skipping Fatal Frame was a mistake. The audience in North America is big enough and dedicated enough that it would have done well, and it would have added some sorely-needed diversity to the Wii's line-up. The game *is* buggy (no grain of salt necessary, it's a fact), but there's no reason they couldn't clean up the bugs for an international release. A real shame.

    Last Window is another boner. Not that I think it would sell especially well (Hotel Dusk sure didn't), but Nintendo of Europe already commissioned an English translation, so why not release it? It would sell well enough.

    Don't even get me started on Namco/Bandai. Their handling of the Tales series outside of NA is nothing short of stupid. I couldn't even imagine how much money they've left on the table just with Tales alone, let alone not localizing stuff like Venus & Braves.

  8. From what rumblings I've heard about the 7th Dragon localization, it's entirely Sega's fault...and not their American division.

  9. @Segata: If you trust Victor Ireland's word, Growlanser 2/3 was a success, but not enough to save Working Designs.

    5/Heritage of War was a disaster, but so was the game. Good localization work, but it can't save a mediocre game. It wasn't a bad SRPG, but not a very good Growlanser. It's better as a strategy RPG, not a psuedo action one.

    Re: Dark Spire/Class of Heroes, I think it's because neither game had the charm of Etrian Odyssey. Dark Spire was ridiculously obtuse(only the most obsessed dungeon crawlers could enjoy that game), and Class of Heroes was barren of content.

    EO remains the best in its class, but the Wizardry DS game looked very stylish from what I've seen of it.

  10. Chibi-Robo's 2 DS sequels, donkey konga 3, and more! Frankly a bigger annoyance is games that should've been ported to a certain console/pc but weren't dispite being released elsewhere...

  11. Regarding Growlanser, I wouldn't trust Vic Ireland's word. I doubt the guy would ever say anything negative about a project he was involved with. He has a pretty solid history of blaming others however.

  12. The first Chibi-Robo sequel WAS released in the US as "Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol". Our local Wal*Mart had about two dozen copies of it until they got rid of their cheap DS game section.

  13. apparently, hotel dusk did well enough to get a reprinting under the touch generations label here in the us, but not well enough to warrant a sequel...

  14. Chibi Robo 3 would have been a real treat, As would have Tingle's Baloon Trip of Love. Hell, just about ANY Lovedelic game would have been nice.

  15. I'm still shocked America never got the Wii rerelease of Pikmin 2. Nintendo never ceases to amaze me.

    Also, Soma Bringer and ASH have me worried for Xenoblade and The Last Story...

  16. Here is my list:

    Rockman Legends 1 and 2 collection(PSP) - This one seems like no brainer since the new Legends game is also slated for portable release on the 3DS. Capcom should really get to work on this port even if piracy on the PSP in tremendous.

    Suikoden 1 and 2 (PSP) - I would imagine this one has more to do with Sony being pricks than Konami just not wanting to release it here. The series has a big following here, but I guess it didn't look "modern" enough for SCEA approval.

    Tales of Eternia (PSP) - This game got a European release, but it is almost criminal it was not approved by SCEA.

    Ryu Ga Gotoku Kenzan (PS3) - The PS3 needs every exclusive it can get over here. The unique samurai yakuza theme makes it even more of a shame that Sega never brought it over here.

  17. Nintendo of America alone are responsible for dozens of games getting passed up for American release. Fatal Frame IV, Disaster, Captain Rainbow (somewhat understandable at least, compared to the others), Xenoblade, The Last Story, Zangeki no Reginleiv, Band Bros., Mother 3, etc. I wish Reggie would step down and be replaced by someone actually receptive to something other than a Wii ______ or a sequel to an established Nintendo franchise being released on the Wii.

  18. Actually, Suikoden 1+2 has nothing to do with Sony, suprisingly. It just sold horribly in Japan.

  19. This list goes on and on, apparently, marketing is kinda different in NA and Japan. In Japan people buy all kinds of games depending on their knowledge of the said game (I think) but in US, people are heavily affected by marketing, thus hyped games sell like crazy while other games, while good, don't sell close to enough. (Okami, anyone?) I think that's the big problem. These companies tell themselves: "how the hell should I hype a game like this? westerns don't like it, let's forget about it and release a shooter instead."

    For me, these "unreleased" games are one of the major reasons I would want to learn Japanese. I'll save this article to my hard drive for later reference. while I'm at it, does anyone know of a site that would cover these J only games? I use sites like gamerankings to compare games, but for J games I have no way to tell how good a certain game is....

  20. I know Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan is because they would have to add Trophy support for the US release, which would require going back into the code, and RGG already barely squeaks by on its localization budget.