|This Week, I Fail to
Think of a Creative Title
|August 25th, 2010
08/25 - 12:00PM EST
It's that time of week again. You've got questions, and I've got
long drawn out answers. This week, I avoid talking about Tales for once (just kidding), we
talk about a Tales like game (Arc Rise Fantasia) and discuss the
ins and outs of including Japanese voice overs. Halo: Reach is nearly upon us, so
I've been getting a lot of Halo 3 in
are the only non-RPG games I've played that I've sunk huge chunks of
time into. Anyone else have a non-RPG game love? Also just a reminder,
I officially have a backlog now, so I'll get to all your letters (and
Alright, show time....
I hope this letter doesn't....sting
I do believe this is my first letter to you. It's great to see Q&A
back up and running again! I missed this column, even if I never sent
in as many letters as I would have liked.
Well now is your chance to rectify this! Now onto your letter....
Anyway, first off, if Phat is looking for an original JRPG, I'd suggest
The World Ends With You for
the DS, as well as the Dept. Heaven games
from Sting (well, mostly Yggra Union
and Knights in the
Nightmare). All three have unique, very different battle
(though both TWEWY and KitN rely on a lot of stylus controls). Heck, TWEWY has
two battle systems at once! The story and setting in TWEWY is
quite original, especially for a JRPG (though maybe one or more Megaten
game have similar setting, ha ha ha). True, the character designs are
perhaps too similar to those who are tired or don't like Nomura's
designs, but it does rather fit the game and its setting.
Apparently, all the Dept. Heaven games (the main ones, anyway) are
going to be pretty original. How true that is we'll have to see since
episode IX has only recently been revealed, and details are very
sketchy. True, the Dept. Heaven games are very niche, but TWEWY was
fairly successful on both sides of the Pacific and I imagine (read:
hope) we'll be seeing a sequel in the near future.
I actually haven't played The World
Ends With You, despite buying tons of Square-Enix products, but
from everything I've seen it certainly looks to be a fine example of
JRPGs can do right. Other than the Shin
games and Alpha
Protocol, I can't really think of any other good examples of
RPGs set in a modern setting. Granted both TWEWY and the Shin Megami Tensei games (usually)
both take place in Japan, but it's
great change of pace. The idea of two battles systems at once is
interesting as well, and a great use of the DS' capabilities.
I can't comment on the the Sting games, as I've only played a little Riviera, but I can certainly tell
that unique is a great way to describe these games. Honestly, it's kind
of sad that JRPGs are getting a bad rap, as there are many unique games
coming from the genre. Those who say JRPGs aren't unique are the same
folk who don't buy games like Valkyria
Now if I may ask; I know a bit about your opinions on Arc Rise
Fantasia, but what do you think about the music so far? Are you
of RPG music, or is it just something that plays that you pay little
attention to. I absolutely adore the soundtrack to ARF. I know
Yasunori Mitsuda is the "star" of this game's OST, but my favorites
actually come from two other composer of Mitsuda's Procyon Studio, Yuki
Harada and Shusuke Tsuchiya. Tsuchiya is especially surprising since a
lot of the music he composed for Luminous
2 was forgettable (most
of the good music in that game came from Yoko Shimomura). Well, okay,
maybe there's about three or four tracks that really stands out, but
that's better than LA2. :P
Oh I love the music in Arc Rise
Fantasia so far, and I have a ton of RPG music on my iPod!
Lately I find myself mostly listening to a lot of Ys tracks, but I've got some Tales, Lost Odyssey, and Final Fantasy music on there as
well. Arc Rise certainly has
its issues, but music is not one of them! I really hope the game finds
some kind of audience though, as there's a lot of things to like about
it, if you can get beyond the awful voice acting of course.
As for Tsuchiya, maybe he just has more of a chance to shine given the
expanded musical capability of the Wii? I know the DS isn't exactly
awful sound wise, but still. Sounds like portable games aren't his
thing. Overall though, I don't think I've heard a bad bit of music in Arc Rise!
Well, that all I'll say for now. Until next time, Wheels!
Thanks for writing in! Write a few more and maybe you wont feel bad
about not writing to previous hosts!
I Destroy Your Hopes And Dreams Again
Time for some highly subjective questions. Such as:
what is the game you're most shocked, flabbergasted, amazed, stupefied,
and/or befuddled that got a localization?
The flip side of that question: what's the game you're most despondent,
mournful, saddened, and/or dizzied at the lack of its localization?
Oh good, some fun questions! Your
first question is an interesting one, as usually we're talking about
what games aren't being localized instead of being surprised by ones
that are. I would have to say the game that truly surprised me at
being localized is Tales of the
World: Radiant Mythology. A side-story in the Tales series, it's
completely a fan service game, allowing you to create your own
character and then going on boring fetch quests in ugly random
dungeons. The whole draw of the game is of course getting to use
characters from across the series, and see them interact in various
story scenes. While it's certainly got the usual great Tales series combat, for the most
part it's a really bad game, and not something I can see really selling
well here. That's not even going into the fact that some of the
featured characters are from games that didn't even come out here. A
very strange choice by Namco, and I doubt they were rewarded for
bringing it over. The lack of a Radiant
2 localization is not surprising.
The game that I am most saddened and angry
by not making its way over here would have to be 7th Dragon, but since that's been
discussed to death, I'll instead talk about the next game on my list of
games I'm angry haven't been localized. This of course would be the DS
version of SaGa 2. Now I know
the SaGa series doesn't
exactly have a great history here, but when it was originally released
here for the Gameboy as Final
Fantasy Legend 2, it got a pretty good following, so much so
that Sunsoft re-released all the Final
labeled games later in the life of the
(I'm not sure why then Squaresoft didn't do it themselves). So it would
seem that a simple renaming, coupled with the fact that it's a good
looking 3D game for the DS, made me think it was a shoe-in to be
localized. This of course, didn't happen, and I'm still befuddled as to
why. Now I know DS games are no longer huge money makers for them over
here, thanks to increased cartridge cost and of course piracy, but they
could take most of the text from the original release of Final Fantasy Legend 2 here and
just work from that. Perhaps the Japanese office doesn't let them
re-brand games anymore, I'm not sure, but I really think the game would
have found an audience here. C'est la vie I suppose.
More fun with predicting what games will cross the Pacific, since you
got a lot of mileage out of the last one!
Any portable Tales game, or all of them
Yay! Time to crush your hopes and dreams!
Feather-This is an old release so I really think the ship has
sailed on this one. The Shining series is completely
different from what it used to be, and I doubt it has a big enough
audience anymore. I think this game would be lost in a sea of Tactical
RPGs on the DS, and it seems Sega knows this.
can't really jump right out and crush
people's dreams with this one. We seem to get most Atlus Japan
published/developed games localized these days, so it would seem like
it has a good shot, but Atlus did seem to pass over a localization of Growlanser VI, so that leaves an
uncertain question of whether or not Atlus wants to try again with the
series. They've already given the PSP plenty of love this year with Persona 3 Portable and the
upcoming Knights in the Nightmare
though, so maybe they'll continue that trend.
I'm not going to go into this one again as I already discussed it in a
recent column. It really sucks, and I think the reasons are stupid, but
it's not coming. Let's move on with our lives.
Tales game, or all of them- I find it very odd that Namco never
tried with one of these, especially since Tales of Innocence at least came
out at the height of the DS' popularity. Tales of the Tempest makes sense
though. The game is garbage. It's not coming and this is a good thing. Tales of Innocence already has a
fan translation out, so I think Namco would have released it by now if
they were going to, so that's out. As for Tales of Hearts, it has been
almost two years since it came out, so my gut feeling tells me we will
be missing out on all three of the DS Tales games.
The 3DS: will it go the way of Virtual Boy, will it be a success on par
with the current DS, or will it be a disappointment without breaking
Nintendo's financial report?
Why did we get Secret of Evermore
instead of Seiken Densetsu 3,
I would be shocked if the 3DS goes the way of the Virtual Boy. It's
continuing the past of Nintendo's most successful system, and instead
of the 3D being a stupid gimmick, it's just visual flair that you can
even simply just turn off. To me that tells me Nintendo is focused on
making a really good platform for games, and the 3D effect of the
visuals is just a really nice selling point. I expect the 3DS to
continue what the DS started.
Man, what? Though that is the common story used to hate on the
undeserving classic Secret of
Evermore, I don't think there's any truth to that. Besides, Seiken Densetsu 3 is really good,
but not as fun to play as the brilliant classic Secret of Mana, so it wasn't the
biggest loss in the world. Be angry at Square-Enix for not having
brought it over, not Secret of
That should be plenty of material.
Great material as always, keep it coming!
Bonus Letter: Six Degrees of
Connect Duck Hunt to Persona 3,
Man and here I thought you were going to
give me a challenge! Okay, Duck Hunt
was released here on the
Nintendo Entertainment System -> The NES was the American version of
the Famicom -> Megami Tensei was
game -> Megami
Tensei led to the Shin Megami
Tensei games on Super Nintendo -> Persona 3 is a member of the Shin Megami Tensei series. There
you are, it only took 4 steps!
Who Will Save Us From Awful Dubs?
It sure was fun writing in to Q&A again, so I think I'll do it
again this week too!
I played Blazblue for the first time the other day when a friend was
over. While watching the game's intro, I was reminded of some other
recent games such as Blade Dancer,
Okami, Muramasa, Atelier Annie, Dragonball Raging
Blast, Cho Aniki 0,
and Recettear that either
their original J-Pop theme songs intact (some even w/o subtitles to
translate), or kept a good deal of Japanese spoken dialogue or voice
clips when they were localized here. I remember the days (which
actually weren't that long ago) when a localization team would never
dream of doing such things, still thinking that gamers here were
xenophobic towards Japanese songs and voices like this.
I wonder how xenophobic many of us
really would have been back in those days, but the choice of dubbing
games was the smart choice, and as we'll get into I think is still the
correct choice. Japanese songs are a different issue I think, as
listening to a song in a different language is far different from
listening to dialogue in a different language. I wonder though, if
perhaps licensing fees for these J-Pop songs are too prohibitive at
times to put them in the English version. Sometimes this is even to our
benefit. Look at a game like Valkyria
Chronicles where there's a great somber orchestral piece with
the opening movie, which fits a heck of a lot better than the J-Pop
song in the Japanese version, which I found to be incredibly out of
place. We are certainly seeing more J-Pop in games here though, and I
haven't seen people complaining about them, so I guess people dig them.
My, how times have changed, now that we actually a large enough amount
of people to create a DEMAND for this style of localization (I admit
that I'm one of them), or even criticize a localization effort when
they DON'T do this (see the localized Tales games besides ToV). A lot
of them seem to be RPG fans too, and several of the games that I just
mentioned are RPGs. I think this was bound to occur alongside the
rising popularization of undubbed anime in recent years, and if there's
anything else that a Japanophile likes, it's RPGs. I was wondering
what's your take on this trend.
My take on this trend is that the
amount of people that want this kind of thing is probably smaller than
you think, though they are very vocal for sure. The general public is
not going to respond well to not having an English dub, and I'd imagine
retailers would complain about selling that kind of thing as well. For
your anime example, just look at popular anime on popular TV stations.
Despite the popularity of undubbed anime, I doubt a major station would
ever show an anime show without a dub, and I think they'd get a lot of
complaints if they did try it. It seems to happen with the occasional
game though (Yakuza 3 but
that takes place in Japan so I think it works better than most other
games, also Izuna, but that
doesn't have a lot of voice work anyway), but if some of the small
niche publishers could release something like Arc Rise Fantasia without doing a
costly English dub, I think they certainly would. The fact that they do
not is very telling to me. Yakuza 3
again is a very odd case, but perhaps Sega has a bigger clout with
retailers than others do (and again, since it takes place in Japan it
kind of makes sense for it anyway). Look at Sakura Wars, NIS went the extra
mile and included two different versions of the game in one package,
and they were certainly not rewarded for doing so with good sales.
Now, if we take from this that an English dub is sort of "required,"
there's always the option of Japanese voices as an option, that seems
to be showing up in more games. However, often this can simply be a
case of lack of space. While it's easy to do for PS3 games given the
massive amounts of space on Blu-Ray discs, other media forms just can't
hack it. A lot of 360 games, PS2 games, and Wii games even just take up
the majority of the disc space, and it's simply not possible to fit two
voice overs on there. It's a nice option to have on there, but I'm sure
you can appreciate most game just being restricted from doing this
on the media they're on, especially PSP games for example. I can
appreciate Japanophiles wanted the original voices, especially when a
game has a horrible dub, but it's just not realistic most of the time.
Fear not though, as game media moves to more spacious formats, I think
we will see it more often.
Dear Wheels, the current trend in RPGs seems to altogether be one
towards streamlining the experience so as to make it suitable for mass
consumption. How much further do you think this process can go before
it starts to dilute out the aspects that make RPGs fun and unique?
A great question, and one that's not that easy to answer. I'm not
completely convinced that the intent of the streamlining is to make
these games more suitable for mass consumption. It would seem that way,
but let's take a look at some examples.
Mass Effect 2
seem to be the prime example, as it stripped out many of the heavy RPG
elements even going so far as to remove inventory entirely. The main
change though, is that Mass Effect 2
plays more like a shooter than the first game did. Largely, it worked.
There was no inventory mess to worry about, combat was great fun, and
there were still level gains and points to assign, though to a much
lesser degree. The important things to the experience, dialog, story
and combat, all worked and that's what matters. I still hope they put
some of the RPG stuff in there, but it'd be a hard argument to make
that Mass Effect 1 was
Now was the streamlining of Mass
Effect 2 an attempt to bring it to a wider audience? I'm not
too sure. Mass Effect 1 had
already gained a good audience, despite the fact there were a lot of
things broken with the game. Bioware seemed to want to totally refine
the combat for the sequel, and what we got ending up being very
streamlined, and, also much better. I think Mass Effect 2 succeeded simply
because it was a much improved game, not because it made its combat
simpler. I actually think we'll see a lot of that complexity come back
in Mass Effect 3 now that
they have a solid foundation for combat. Even if they don't, I haven't
really gotten the feeling that RPG fans didn't like what they did with
Now the other big example would have to be Final Fantasy XIII. I'm sure most
readers have heard about how linear Final
is. This is mostly true. Final
Fantasy XIII to me seemed
like the pure essence of the Final
Fantasy series stripped to its simplest form. Save points
became the "towns" as well, with shops, since often this was all you
care about in a town. There was no illusion that you had a lot of
freedom to explore the game world, You're always moving forward in the
story (though there is a nice non-linear section to help break things
up) and there's always a clear indicator as to were you need to go. So
yes, the experience is streamlined to the extreme. However was this
really done to appeal to a mass audience? I'm not so sure about that.
Given the long development time, and the troubled state of JRPGs on
current gen systems, it seems like Japanese developers just haven't
adapted to new hardware very well. Granted the final product of Final Fantasy XIII is quite
polished, but the "cutting of the fat" could have just been a conscious
decisions to make the transition to new systems a little easier.
The end result isn't exactly something that appears to have appealed to
mass audience. It sold well enough, for sure, but there's been a lot of
negativity to it. It has fans, like myself, however despite the
streamlining of systems, the shear difficulty present in the battle
system seems to be the exact opposite of appealing to a mass audience.
Let's look at it this way though, some of the biggest RPGs that appeal
to mass audiences come from Bethesda (Fallout
3, and Oblivion), and
those games aren't exactly what I would define as streamlined. So, long
story short, I don't think RPG developers are trending that way, I
think it's just a few isolated examples. After-all, a few months prior
to releasing Mass Effect 2 Bioware
Anyway thanks for a great question, please write in again!
Well, that's all for this week, no crazy spreadsheets or haikus this
week, sorry (or you're welcome?). It seems like every week there's
something about Tales in need
of answering which is alright I suppose,
anyone else going to import Tales of
Graces F? I've just recently started to play a proper
playthrough of Tales of
Vesperia which is quite enjoyable so far. The game looks great,
sounds great, and plays great, and it greatly polishes the Tales formula. What other games in
long running series do you guys think did nothing new, but polished the
formula to a great degree? Let me know!
Queued up for next week: Disgaea 4
talk, Ys Seven in depth talk,
Just a reminder on the contest, check out last week's
column for the exact details, but I'll be taking submissions until
12:00 A.M. on Semptember 1st.
P.S. Valkyria Chronicles 2 comes
August 11th: Wheels
August 18th: Wheels
About the Host
What I can't wait for:
1. Valkyria Chronicles 2
2. Etrian Odyssey 3
3. Fallout: New Vegas
4. Halo: Reach
5. Civilization V
On my Playlist:
2. Crystal Bearers Soundtrack
3. Oath in Felghana Soundtrack
1. Alpha Protocol got hammered by bad reviews, but
has gained a lot of fans, were reviewers too harsh?
2. Crystal Bearers- Wheels wants a sequel! Discuss.
3. If Sega makes a Valkyria Chronicles 3, what platform should it be on?
4. Demon's Souls was a big success for From Software, what should be in
a potential sequel?
5. Eternal Sonata was certainly a unique idea for a game, if you were
to make a game with the same concept, what musical artist would you
choose and what would the game be like?