Friday, July 17, 2015

Rants and Rambles - Video Game Localizations & Importing

Hey guys, Joeker here. It's been a long while since there's been any attention given to this blog. My attention, when I'm not "busy" has been going one of two places. A. My youtube channel and B. Video Games. Video games are what spurred me to want to write this article, specifically the game I've been playing recently and am playing at the time of writing this article, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth.

Yes, despite common belief I can own a game that exists only in Japan.
I want you guys to understand its late at night and this post is mostly just going to consist of my very biased opinions on this matter along with some (a lot) of rants. If that's what you're interested in, read on. If not, I warned you. Hell, I'm not even sure if this will get published!

So here's the thing. Video games, specifically JRPG's come out in Japan. Then sometimes they get localized and bought into the western/english speaking world. As gamers, we all know this. And honestly, despite how many games we do get it really is only a small fraction. This has been noticeable in a couple of Bandai Namco games/series, two of which I'm very interested and involved in. That being the Tales of series and the Digimon series.

The Tales of series problem has eventually been resolved by fan bitching and people showing with their wallets they wanted these games. Thanks to this we've had a very good stream of releases since Graces f. Digimon on the other hand remained barran, the last game to be localized I believe being Digimon World Championship in 08 or 09. Fans have since been demanding the games be localized, begging and pleasing; but lets be real. There simply hasn't been a market for Digimon in the west for a long time. Recently however, with Xros Wars dub and the western made game, Digimon All-Stars Rumble, fans began to have a glimmer of hope the newer games in the series, specifically Cyber Sleuth would be seeing a release here. And good news; it is. But that's not what I'm here to talk about.

How am I ever to understand what to do with all of these strange words!?

Back in the day, before Tales games started getting localized again, I was anti-importation on my games. If my game wasn't in english, there's no way I would play it. How could I? It's some crazy game in some foreign language I can't speak, let alone read. I can't remember exactly when that all changed, but the me today is very much okay with playing and paying for Japanese games.

Somewhere along the lines I've realized that games are most importantly, an interactive medium. Even in a case like Cyber Sleuth that is a primarily story focused game. Games are about playing. That's what comes first and foremost. This is why I've in the past imported games like Kamen Rider Battride War or Gundam Extreme vs. Fullboost. These are games I can just play without understanding much of, they are fun. JRPG's are a different beast. Or at least that's what most people will say. I think differently. The story is important, but it's not the end all be all, even in a game like this.

Let me be honest, I can understand Japanese. No, not perfectly. Far from it. But basic Japanese. Easy stuff. Somewhere along the lines of watching anime I, without realizing became able to more or less understand Japanese by ear, not a whole lot, like maybe 40%. 60% if it's a kids show like Kamen Rider or Digimon (lol). This doesn't mean I can understand it (I don't think I could translate it properly, for example.) or speak it, but I can process it and I know what it means. I'm so confident in this I've in recent times started watching anime without subtitles (Mostly kid stuff, PriPara, Jewelpet, etc) and this is what helped me decide to buy Cyber Sleuth. The mechanics are simple and most of the story is spoken. It can't be too hard, right?

I was right. It isn't. But this also isn't the point, as I know most people are clueless about Japanese. (That made my entire last paragraph moot really). But the thing is when it comes to these games there are EXTENSIVE networks of support online these days. From story translations, subtitled playthroughs on youtube you can follow along with, guides, forums, imageboards; the lot. To the point it basically makes it, you know, english. If you can't work out whats happening in the story? Ask someone on a forum. If you can't work out what to do? Follow a guide. It makes playing a game like this so easy, even to someone who can't read Japanese, that it makes the idea of these huge petitions and fan outcry seem a little ridiculous to me.

Now this isn't always the case I know. People hate playing with guides or reading script translations, and hey the game IS getting localized thanks to all this. But this is where my main point comes in. (Yes, I just wrote THAT much and I still haven't gotten to what this article is about. See why I don't post much now?). Sometimes, if you want something that badly, you just have to do it. Sometimes, complaining won't help. And you'll just miss out completely. This has happened a lot of course, it's a miracle this game is being localized at all. And I'm grateful for it. And I'll buy it again. But what if it hadn't been? What if it had met the same fate as so many other games? If I hadn't bought it then? I'd miss out. On an experience that has been amazing so far. I had 37 hours in the game only on chapter 7 out of 20. It annoys me when people say "I'll never be able to play this!" because it doesn't have an English release. There are exceptions of course, such as region locking, but otherwise, you CAN play it. You just aren't willing too. It's an effort, sure. But if you're not willing to put in that effort, then maybe you don't really deserve to play it? I don't know. This entire article has been stupid. It hasn't even made much sense. I just think if you REALLY want something; you want to play that game that badly, then you should do it.

Okay, so my entire point is moot here. You pay money and play through the game without properly understanding it only for it to get localized a year or so later. "Thanks Joeker!" you're saying. But something else served as an inspiration for this article, the announcement of the new game Digimon World: Next Order. Only hours after this game was announced people were back on Bamco demanding localization news, saying it's all they need to play this game, etc, etc. Just like they were with Cyber Sleuth. In other words, right after it's confirmed we're getting Cyber Sleuth everyone has already jumped on the next target. When does it end? It doesn't. It never will. It's a cycle that will keep repeating and it won't always work out the way it has this time, just like it has many times before. People demanded Cyber Sleuth, they are now getting it and are now demanding the next game. After that, whether we get Next Order or not people will go on to demand the next. Of course with Cyber Sleuth getting an English release the chances of it happening are slightly higher; if it sells well we might get more in the future. And that's great. But despite my Digi-Focus in this article I want to make clear that I'm not just talking about one game or series, but many. The many games that aren't, haven't or never will be released for us to play in the west. If you want to play it, play it. Don't let things like that stop you. If you do, then don't complain about it, you're the one who isn't playing it. It's great to support what you love and try to help it along, but at the same time robbing yourself of what could be a great experience isn't worth it.

So this article was dumb, I don't know if I'll write anything again soon but maybe you'll see more of my silly thoughts and rambles and rants put into words here. It'll be what, our 5th anniversary next year right? Maybe I should post more. Maybe I will. Who knows. again, check out my youtube channel CardCaptorTsukasa, it's where I'm active the most. If you read this, thank you. I appreciate it. It wasn't a good, well written, piece. It wasn't intelligent nor did I try to convey a particularly good point or have any good points on buying games in languages you don't understand, or any real opinions, facts, or anything on Localizations and Importation of video games, especially the downsides like the costs. But I wanted to write something and I couldn't get this off my mind after the Next Order announcement and the reactions I saw to that. It's just the mindless ramblings of myself at 5AM. The next one will be more professional maybe!

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