Localization Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Localization RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Developer Level-5 Reportedly Closing North American Offices https://www.gameskinny.com/0cd6v/developer-level-5-reportedly-closing-north-american-offices https://www.gameskinny.com/0cd6v/developer-level-5-reportedly-closing-north-american-offices Mon, 12 Oct 2020 18:16:40 -0400 Erroll Maas

According to a report from Gamesindustry.Biz, the North American branch of developer Level-5, including Level-5 Abby, is closing down, affecting "the majority of both offices' staff." Though there is no confirmation of the shutdown as of this writing, sources said the move has been a slow process that began in 2019. 

A portion of the Gameindustry.Biz report says: 

...no clear reason for the lay-offs was given, though those connected to Abby say that employees were "given every indication" that the studio would be closing down, with one or two employees remaining for a few more months to carry out essential functions throughout the process while the company consolidated its business between the Japan office and international advertising and branding company Dentsu.

As pointed out, games currently slated to release in North America or receive localization for the region are in limbo. This includes a Western localization for Yo-Kai Watch 4 and Inazuma Eleven: Heroes' Great Road, which was delayed to 2021 after its initial announcement. 

Previously, the three separate Japanese versions of Yo-Kai Watch 3 were combined into one for the Western release, and since Yo-Kai Watch 4 had received an updated version, as well as a PS4 port known as Yo-Kai Watch 4++ in Japan several months after the release of the original, it may have had an impact on localization efforts. But nothing has yet been confirmed.

While the Level-5 Twitter account was dormant for nearly two years, according to Gameindustry.biz, interestingly enough, the Yo-Kai Watch Twitter was active throughout 2019, giving out QR codes for specific items and Yo-Kai for Yo-Kai Watch 3 and promote the anime series. The Snack World Twitter was active until June 30, giving out item passwords and promoting the game. 

GameSkinny's own Joshua Broadwell reviewed the game, giving it a 6/10 score, saying "Snack World works as a tasty, but not entirely satisfying, appetizer, with too much filler and some strange balancing choices." Ultimately, Snack World received mixed to average reviews overall.

But what does that mean going forward? According to the report: 

It is unclear what the future of Level-5 releases in North America will be. One source suggested that there were currently no concrete plans for any more Level-5 games to be released outside of Japan.

However, SEGA Localization Producer and former LEVEL-5 International America Inc. Product Manager Scott Strichart said on Twitter following the news: 

Most of Level 5’s greatest games were published by third parties or Nintendo themselves, and they don’t need a U.S. office to continue licensing their content that way.

They can still localize in-house from Japan, which was where the majority of that happened anyway. The U.S. office more or less stopped directly localizing content after I left, taking on more of an advise and assist role across its multimedia productions and games.

To learn more about the reported Level-5 closings, see the full article on Gameindustry.biz. To know more about the history of Level-5 and the games they've developed, you can also check out Parallax Media's multi-part retrospective series.

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Will Yo-Kai Watch 3 Release in the West? https://www.gameskinny.com/evbdq/will-yo-kai-watch-3-release-in-the-west https://www.gameskinny.com/evbdq/will-yo-kai-watch-3-release-in-the-west Wed, 14 Mar 2018 14:34:19 -0400 Erroll Maas

 In July 2013, Yo-Kai Watch took Japan by storm. This Nintendo 3DS-exclusive RPG centering around Japanese mythological creatures was even seen as a competent competitor to Pokemon, which at the time was experiencing a slight decrease in popularity. The popularity of Yo-Kai Watch  in Japan led to several sequel games, spin-off games, an anime series, several movies, and plenty of toys. Eventually, Yo-Kai Watch even saw a release in North America -- as well as Europe and Australia -- although this wasn't until 2015. Despite the fact that Yo-Kai Watch didn't have nearly as much popularity in the West as it did in Japan, it still had just enough to stay relevant, receiving an English dub of the anime series and first movie, as well as English localizations of Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits, Yo-Kai Watch 2: Fleshy Souls, and Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters. While Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters was the most recent game in the series to receive a Western release (on September 29, 2017), the most recent iteration in Japan, Yo-Kai Watch 3: SushiYo-Kai Watch 3: Tempura, and the updated version, Yo-Kai Watch 3: Sukiyaki, have not yet been confirmed for a Western release. With its popularity dwindling in Japan and many current and former Nintendo 3DS owners moving over to the Nintendo Switch, will Yo-Kai Watch 3 still see a release outside of Japan? Let's see if we can find out with the available information. 

Nintendo 3DS Still Has Support for Now

While the Nintendo Switch has gained plenty of traction in its first year on the market, the Nintendo 3DS is still going strong with both continuing sales and an already large user base. In the March 2018 Nintendo Direct, several Nintendo 3DS titles were announced, most of which will release in 2018, but some -- such as Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jrs. Journey -- won't actually launch until 2019. Yo-Kai Watch 3 might not be announced for the West yet, but the game could still release this year due to the previous pattern of Yo-Kai Watch releases. The international release of the first Yo-Kai Watch was announced at E3 2015 and arrived in North America on November 6, 2015, and in Europe on April 29, 2016. Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Yo-Kai Watch 2: Fleshy Souls were announced for Western release during E3 2016, and they arrived in North America on September 30, 2016, and in Europe on April 20, 2017. Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters, an updated third version of Yo-Kai Watch 2, was announced on July 31, 2017, and released in North America and Europe on September 29, 2017.  From this pattern, it's easy to come to the conclusion that if Yo-Kai Watch 3 is heading westward, then it will be announced this coming summer and will release sometime in fall. However, there are some factors which could cause a longer wait.

Sometimes Localization Can Take Awhile

There were two years between the Japanese and North American releases of the first Yo-Kai Watch game (three years between release in Japan and Europe). While this isn't a long wait compared to some other Japanese games, Yo-Kai Watch had to be changed a bit for Western audiences due to its heavy influence from modern Japanese culture. In the game, it's not as bad as the infamous 4Kids English anime dubs from the early 2000s, but there are some similarities.

Because of all the editing that comes with the localization process and how many other games the main localization team may be working on at the time, there's a possibility it may take a little longer for Yo-Kai Watch 3 to release, although it could still be within 2018. While Sushi and Tempura would most likely see a 2018 release,  Yo-Kai Watch 3: Sukiyaki probably wouldn't be released until 2019 due to Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters releasing in the West a year after Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls.

Ultimately, It's Up To Nintendo and Level-5 to Decide

Even though Yo-Kai Watch has never had as much popularity in the West as it once did in Japan, all three versions of Yo-Kai Watch 2 managed to be localized in the last two years. If Nintendo wants to keep showing that they will still support the Nintendo 3DS through 2019 despite more fans moving on to the Nintendo Switch, then announcing and releasing Yo-Kai Watch 3 would provide a way to continue that trend. Western fans will be glad that they will be able to play the Nintendo 3DS series in its entirety, and they will hopefully look forward to the possible Nintendo Switch release of Yo-Kai Watch: Shadowside as well as other upcoming Level-5 titles.

Watch Out for Yo-Kai

As previously stated, due to previous patterns, it's possible that Yo-Kai Watch 3: Sushi and Yo-Kai Watch 3: Tempura will be announced this summer for a fall release. It could be during E3 2018, it could be some time later, or it could not receive a Western release at all -- although that's not likely. At the moment, Western fans of the franchise will just have to hope for the best and expect their mischievous yokai friends to make another appearance soon.

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East to West: The Major Differences in Game Releases Based on Geographic Locations https://www.gameskinny.com/w75lm/east-to-west-the-major-differences-in-game-releases-based-on-geographic-locations https://www.gameskinny.com/w75lm/east-to-west-the-major-differences-in-game-releases-based-on-geographic-locations Wed, 08 Nov 2017 15:40:40 -0500 Sarah Elliman

Ever since video games started being released internationally, developers have been changing or removing certain pieces of content. These changes usually end up being cosmetic only, with some larger changes required depending on the region,and the most common things to be changed are depictions of violence, sex or nudity, and religious content. However, it's not just games released in the US that end up changed. Japan, Europe, and some Middle Eastern countries adapt releases to suit their particular cultures or needs as well.

Censorship or Localization?

Many games go through a variety of changes when they are released for different areas. These are often minute changes to fit the cultural differences between the areas they are being released. The changes do not mean that a game is censored, however; it's more that they are localized for that specific region.

Censorship means that there is a suppression or prohibition of parts from a game and other forms of expression, such as books or films, whereas localizing a game is the process by which a company adapts something to be local in character. So, in other words, "localisation is not outright censorship, but merely adapting a piece of work," while censorship deals more with the suppression of thought and ideas.

With that in mind, a lot of games that move between regions fall under the category of localization, rather than censorship. These changes are typically made because of cultural differences, tragic circumstances in the region, or for religious purposes. Some regions may have issues with nudity, with North America being one of the major regions where this change is made, alongside Middle Eastern areas, such as Saudi Arabia.

Or the culture could have issues with certain religious depictions, and these are changed in the localization process to fit that region's perspective. It doesn’t restrict free speech, as it doesn’t tend to restrict ideas, but change certain cosmetic effects to fit the sensibilities of the region.

Nudity and Sex

This is one of the major aspects of video games changed for all sorts of launches. It is especially true of releases in North American and Middle Eastern nations, since they tend to have a greater aversion to nudity, rather than other things like violence, but other nations aren't always happy with certain depictions of sexual content.

Cover-Ups

You can find numerous examples of localization changes made for American releases when it comes to sex and nudity, especially with a series like Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI were games that were changed for American releases by removing anything risqué. For example, the town dancers in bikinis were covered up with leotards in Final Fantasy IV, and all nudity was covered up for the Espers in Final Fantasy VI. More recent games were localized for nudity and sex too. Games like Indigo Prophecy and The Witcher had graphic sex scenes removed, and most of the nudity was removed as well, unless the scene happened to be integral to the story.

The FFIV remake, however, stuck to the original intention for the dancer's design.

Although countries such as Japan are more open about nudity and sex in video games, that doesn't mean every instance is permissible. GTA V, for example, was changed for Korean and Japanese launches, removing or modifying a lot of controversial sex and nudity. However, the examples and instances where this is changed for Japanese audiences are fewer by far compared to North America.

Why Bother?

So why is there a massive difference between places like North America and Japan when it comes to sex and nudity? 

There is a substantial cultural difference between Japan and America, which explains the frequent level of localization between the two countries. Culturally, Americans are more sensitive to nudity, and sex is a particularly sensitive topic. The 2015 Parents Ratings Advisory Study showed that 80% of Americans studied were more concerned with sex scenes in films than violence. This was a study predominantly looking at films; however, considering the gaming medium's similarities with the film industry, the concepts involved are still closely linked.

There is not the same stigma in Japan and European countries, especially regarding female nudity. My own experience can attest to that. When I was working in a gaming store, a woman wanted to bring back a copy of GTA V that she had bought for her 8-year-old son. She told me she knew about the violence in it, but didn’t realize there was nudity and brought it straight back. Whereas traveling through Europe, I saw many of the beaches throughout Europe are topless, and the Scandinavian spas normally have a clothing optional policy. Being in Spain at the moment, I see even their advertisements featuring full-frontal nudity, as long as they air after the watershed.

Religion

Religion is another reason why games can be altered, because religion is central to lives of those who worship, regardless of the creed. Insulting or demeaning someone's religion, even without meaning to, can send people into a fury and cause backlash against the company.

Holy [Censored] Batman!

One issue that caused mass controversy was the design of Hindu gods in SMITE, especially Kali. The Hindu community in India was not pleased with the representation of their goddess and asked Hi-Rez to make changes. The developer eventually removed Kali from the website, but not much more. 

Kali is an important goddess within the Hindu community, and some sects worships Kali as the ultimate goddess or the true form of Brahman. She is the goddess of death, time, and sexuality, but has always had strong roots in motherhood too.  Hi-Rez didn't want to issue a statement on their removal of Kali from the website, but the Hindu community is still pressing for their other gods to be removed as well. 

However, Hi-Rez's Todd Howard believed that:

Hinduism, being one of the world's oldest, largest and most diverse traditions, also provides inspiration toward deities in our game. In fact, given Hinduism's concept of a single truth with multiple physical manifestations one could validly interpret ALL the gods within SMITE to be Hindu. And all gods outside of SMITE as well. Ponder that for a minute. Anyway, going forward SMITE will include even more deities, not fewer.

Although this opinion suggests that Todd Howard would have preffered not to remove the gods altogether, the Hindu community still wants their gods to be removed from the game. Rajan Zed, a Hindu statesmen and the President of Universal Society of Hinduism said that the removal of Kali from the website was "a 'step in the right direction,' thanking Hi-Rez Studios for being so understanding."

Games like CoD 4 have been banned in countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates because of the perceived negative presentation of Arabs, along with passages from the Qur'an being added into the game. Since the games are banned outright, these issues come under censorship, rather than localization. But the religion and culture of these places will not permit these offenses, so it also relates to localization and shows how the two are often closely connected. 

The Devil in the Details

It isn't just the Middle Eastern and Asian worlds affected by religious imagery in video games. Many localization changes from Japan to America change the religious imagery presented as well.

Religious imagery had to be removed in games like Final Fantasy IV and Super Castlevania IV. Any references to Christianity in FFIV were removed, including Holy, and religious imagery and all references to prayer were taken out or altered, such as the Tower of Prayer being changed to The Tower of Wishes. Even direct references to death were taken out.

The other early Castlevania games were no different, with a lot of crosses taken out of the North American release, among other things. The only piece of religious imagery to stay throughout Castlevania was a piece of rosary that was integral to the game and it's overall image.

There was also the infamous chanting debate surrounding the Fire Temple in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. There has been some controversy about what happened with the Fire Temple and whether the chanting was removed from the game before release. It has always been argued that the chanting was removed to avoid religious controversy, along with changing the original Gerudo symbol--which resembled the Islamic crescent and star--over misusing religious elements. Continuing with the Zelda series, but on a smaller scale,the Bible was turned into the Book of Magic, even though Link's shield retained its cross.

Violence

Violence is another aspect of video games that is often changed for releases. However, we mainly tend to see  North American games being changed to accommodate European and Middle Eastern standards of what constitutes over-the-top violence.

Some interesting examples of these changes relate to North American games released in Japan. Games like Crash Bandicoot 2 and The Last of Us were altered for their gratuitous violence. One of the death scenes was altered for Crash, where he was just a squashed head and feet, as it resembled the work of a serial killer in Japan at the time. The Last of Us was mainly altered in multiplayer to remove any dismemberment or exploding heads. The change doesn't feature in the main story, and the dismemberment is obscured and covered by camera angles, rather then removed.

Other games, like Manhunt, were banned for their excessive violence in a variety of different countries, from the East to places like the United Kingdom.  Germany has strict rules for their games, as decided by the USK, that limit the amount of blood and gore that is visible in their video games. (The USK "is the officially recognized institution responsible for the classification of computer and video games in Germany.") For example, the German version of Team Fortress 2 has no blood or detached body parts shown as part of the required regulations for the game. The USK is responsible for the protection of children and youths particularly in the gaming industry and the content they are available to see.

One theory for Germany's censure of video games is that:

due to its history and a cohesive nation opinion, the legislature limits content severely, much more severely than the surrounding European nation.

This is why the USK exists, as the general consensus of those living in Germany is to limit profanity and violence in video games.

You Decide

Perhaps all these changes are limiting our gaming experience and we're putting too much pressure on the companies. Yet some also argue that many of these changes are purely cosmetic and do not alter the story. However, one anti-censorship opinion is "it is no one’s responsibility but yourself to determine what is offensive or not."  Video game development is a business, though, and companies, at all cost, want to avoid backlash, since it is much better for business if they aren't involved in a major scandal. In the end, there are multiple sides to the story that make it difficult to arrive at an easy answer. 

Do you think that games should be changed at all? Or is it not worth worrying about? Let us know in the comments!

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Final Fantasy V By Chris Kohler Review -- How Influential A Game Can Be https://www.gameskinny.com/k57o8/final-fantasy-v-by-chris-kohler-review-how-influential-a-game-can-be https://www.gameskinny.com/k57o8/final-fantasy-v-by-chris-kohler-review-how-influential-a-game-can-be Thu, 19 Oct 2017 17:11:05 -0400 Erroll Maas

Final Fantasy is one of the most recognizable franchises in video game history. Ever since the first -- and at the time thought to be the only -- entry in the series, a plethora of Final Fantasy games have mystified players around the world for several decades. Perhaps one of the entries with the most compelling history is Final Fantasy V.

Chris Kohler, Features Editor at Kotaku, has written extensively on the subject -- and in his new book on the game, he closely examines the development and localization of Final Fantasy V, and the legacy it has created.

How FFV Brought New Features to the Table

Final Fantasy V was the first game in the series to have a more cinematic introduction, so the credits felt similar to watching a movie and instilled the player with the sense that they were about to go on an incredible journey. In his book, Kohler goes into even more detail about how the director and writers had to work with the programmers to make sure important scenes came alive in the best way possible so they were more impactful. Through the use of various interviews with the developers, Kohler craftily explores the way the story of the game was conceived.

Kohler also discusses how some of the gameplay of Final Fantasy V was heavily influenced by both Final Fantasy III and Dragon Quest III. Both of these games allowed players to switch character classes whenever they wanted, and Final Fantasy V built upon this element. It took this mechanic a step further by allowing abilities to be carried over when switching characters from one class to another, putting more freedom and more interesting combinations at the player's disposal. The additional information Kohler provides about the best class combinations and most useful skills offers helpful insight for any intrigued player.

Final Fantasy V Becomes a Best Seller in Japan

Although a more brief section in the book, Kohler talks about how Final Fantasy V became a top seller and the best-selling game in the series at the time shortly after its release in Japan. Kohler then continues to talk about the competition between Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy and how one series always seems to have an edge over the other depending on the region. Despite its brevity, this section helps illustrate how different the significance and popularity of a game can be throughout separate parts of the world.

Dedicated Fans Can Make All the Difference

Kohler himself was heavily involved in the story of how Final Fantasy V first reached North American fans. He takes us through how the original Super Nintendo version of Final Fantasy V never had an official release outside of Japan, how he and plenty of other Final Fantasy players modified their systems to play the Japanese version of the game -- despite lacking of basic understanding of the language --- how it led to the creation of an (international) online guide, and even an unofficial fan translation of the game still considered by many to be the best version. The story is an inspiring read for anyone seeking a career in video games,  showing how admirable achievements can be accomplished through enough dedication and effort.

A Monumental Legacy

Through plenty of later Final Fantasy games, to crossover games such as World of Final Fantasy and Dissiddia NT, the impact Final Fantasy V had on the series itself is clear. But the game's impact goes far beyond just the Final Fantasy series.

While previous games helped future JRPG creators get their start, Final Fantasy V was the first game people like Tetsuya Takahashi (the creator of Xenoblade) and Tetsuya Nomura (creator of the Kingdom Hearts video game series and The World Ends With You) really had a hand in creating. The impact of Final Fantasy V goes even further than leading to the creation of later JRPGs, as many of the people who imported and/or helped create the fan translation of Final Fantasy V (including the author) now work with video games in some way.

But the legacy of Final Fantasy V doesn't stop there. An annual charity event has also been created around Final Fantasy V known as the Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta, where four jobs are randomly selected for a player who then must complete the game using only those jobs. Kohler goes into detail about the event's creation, the different four job combinations, useful skills, and the benefits and drawbacks of having four characters with the same job, further encouraging curious players to try it out for themselves.

Final Fantasy V may not be as beloved in other countries as it is in Japan, but the development of the game and the overall impact it has had on video games is fascinating. Whether you're a fan of Final Fantasy,  are seeking a career in video games , or just like reading about video game development in general, then this book is highly recommended.

Final Fantasy V by Chris Kohler is available on Amazon and Boss Fight Books.

A digital eBook copy was provided by Boss Fight Books.

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Digimon Links Will Have A Western Release https://www.gameskinny.com/ffw1r/digimon-links-will-have-a-western-release https://www.gameskinny.com/ffw1r/digimon-links-will-have-a-western-release Thu, 14 Sep 2017 13:53:41 -0400 Erroll Maas

Bandai Namco has revealed that Digimon Links -- a mobile game based on the Digimon franchise that released in Japan as Digimon Linkz last year -- will be coming to Western territories in the future.

In Digimon Links, players will obtain Digimon and use them in 3-on-3 battles that are somewhat similar to battles in the Digimon Story video game series. Each Digimon will have its own set of unique Leader Skills, Signature Skills, and Legacy Skills. Digimon will also have different attributes and resistances that players have to keep in mind when engaging foes in battle. Players will also be able to create facilities that can help make their Digimon stronger and offer various additional effects.

The Western release date has not yet been announced, but Android users can pre-register for the game through Google Play. The game will also include in-app purchases to speed up player progress and enhance other gameplay elements.

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What's In A Name? How Digimon Story Stole the Digimon World Name for Western Audiences https://www.gameskinny.com/r9vea/whats-in-a-name-how-digimon-story-stole-the-digimon-world-name-for-western-audiences https://www.gameskinny.com/r9vea/whats-in-a-name-how-digimon-story-stole-the-digimon-world-name-for-western-audiences Tue, 08 Aug 2017 16:05:37 -0400 Erroll Maas

Digimon, short for Digital Monsters, started as a spin-off of Bandai's Tamagotchi virtual pet toys. But the franchise took on a life of its own -- spawning multiple anime series, a handful of movies, video games, toys, and even several different card games.

The first and perhaps most well-known of the Digimon video games is the Digimon World series, originally developed for the Sony PlayStation. While most players in the West might assume that the majority of Digimon games are part of the World series, this isn't actually true. In fact, many of the games that the West knows to be part of Digimon World's lineup are actually other series that were simply published for Western audiences under the Digimon World name. 

Some western fans still don't realize that Digimon World and Digimon Story are two separate series -- so let's try to clear up some of the confusion by looking at the perplexing history of the Digimon World series in the West and why they took the different monikers they did. 

Four Very Different Games

The first four Digimon World games -- which are all under the Digimon World name worldwide -- all have distinct differences from each other. Though they keep certain gameplay features intact, there's a lot of variation in the experiences between them. So it's sort of intriguing that they all share a series name. It's difficult to determine whether the distinction between these World games was due to experimentation with different gameplay formulas, an effort to create or coincide with other Digimon trends, or a combination of both. 

The original Digimon World, released in 2000 for America, tried to capitalize on the success of the franchise's toys and anime series. The gameplay revolved around raising a single Digimon from egg form, then engaging it in battles in order to evolve its forms. The forms a player's Digimon would evolve into depended on how it was raised -- closely following the caretaking of the original virtual pets that spawned this game. Paying attention to your Digimon was the central aspect of gameplay in this entry, as players needed to feed, rest, and otherwise tend to their pocket companion.

Oddly enough, Digimon World 2, 3, and 4 abandoned this style of gameplay, and fans didn't see it again until Digimon World Championship released in 2008.

New Digivolution in Digimon World 2

When it was released for North America in 2001, Digimon World 2 was the first game in the series to launch after the anime began airing. With gameplay that was vastly different than its predecessor, the player's initial experience felt rather similar to Pokémon or Monster Rancher, both of which had their first sequels released just a year earlier. 

Digimon World 2's gameplay saw the player exploring dungeons with a team of up to three Digimon. They could still evolve and be trained, but no longer needed to be rested, fed, or taken to the bathroom like the original game. The exploration and combat encounters took center stage here, rather than the more nurturing aspect that Digimon World relied heavily on.

This sequel also added a new digivolution concept known as DNA Digivolution, which allowed the player to combine two Digimon into one -- but the resulting Digimon would be one level lower than its parents. This also allowed the resulting Digimon to level up further than either of its parents. 

Digimon World 3 Makes Digivolution Temporary

The next entry in the series kept the DNA digivolution element, but changed pretty much everything else about the formula once again. 

Oddly enough, this game released in North America first in 2002, then came to Japan and Europe later that year. Unlike the first two games, this third entry in the series was more of a traditional RPG that took place in an MMORPG in which the players and other friends could get trapped (a popular concept at the time, as evidenced by the Bandai-published title .hack). Though the player still had three Digimon partners, battles were fought one-on-one, and creatures could be switched out, much like a Pokémon game. 

Digimon World 3 was the first in the series to feature random encounters as opposed to running into Digimon on the map. Although normal digivolution and DNA digivolution were still included in the game, the way these systems worked was changed once again so that each Digimon was allowed to bring three forms into battle. 

It was also the last Digimon World entry to appear on the original PlayStation. 

Digimon World 4 Ditches the Turn-Based RPG Formula

The successor to Digimon World 3 was a considerable departure from the gameplay of any past games in the series. Digimon World 4 was released worldwide in 2005 for the PS2, GameCube, and Xbox. It was based on the Digimon X-Evolution animated movie -- and even went so far as to reuse a few scenes from the film. 

Instead of being a monster-raising RPG like its predecessors, Digimon World 4 was a four-player co-op hack-and-slash adventure where players took the role of certain Digimon. These playable Digimon used weapons and elemental magic rather than the special attacks fans were familiar with, and could gain a digivolution after meeting certain requirements. 

In spite of its name implying that it's another entry in the main series of games, Digimon World 4 is actually a spin-off rather than a true numbered successor. The stark departure in gameplay was a shock to Western fans who were totally unaware of the Digimon X Evolution film at the time of the game's release.

So What's With The Shared Names?

If these Digimon World games were all so different, wouldn't they have warranted different names? Perhaps so, but Bandai didn't seem to think so. 

Carrying the World name across these four distinct entries might have been an effort to keep fans flocking to a more familiar name in spite of each game not being a true sequel to its predecessors. This sort of decision isn't unprecedented -- and is similar to what we've seen in series like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. So this may have been Bandai's justification for putting a few more titles under the same name in the West, despite prodigious differences between each game. 

 

More Confusion for the West

Though some Western players were jarred by the starkly different gameplay of the Digimon 4 spinoff/main series entry, but the real confusion began when the Digimon Story series began in Japan. 

If you look at the covers pictured above, you might think that you're looking at two different games that share a franchise name. But in fact, besides the language of each one, these games are exactly the same title published under totally different series names in different regions.

Released for Japan in 2006 on Nintendo DS, Digimon Story was published under the Digimon World name in the West, despite being part of a separate series.

Dubbed Digimon World DS, this game took a more Pokémon-like approach to its gameplay, while also implementing some unique elements. Players controlled a team of three Digimon -- similar to Digimon World 2 and 3 -- with three more as backup. Battles were either three-on-three encounters, or three-on-one for certain bosses. New Digimon could be obtained by battling them repeatedly until their data was 100% scanned. The game featured over 230 Digimon to discover, and those not in use could be stored in Digi-Farms (similar to the PC in Pokémon games). These Digimon could only evolve by collecting experience from defeating certain species of Digimon, achieving a certain aptitude level, or increasing friendship.

At the time of its release, Digimon World DS was praised as one of the best games in the Digimon World series -- even though it was technically part of another series entirely. Either way, it marked a true return of Digimon RPGs in the West.

The West Gets A Game Based on an Anime Series

The second game to adopt the Digimon World name in the West was Digimon World Data Squad, released in 2007 for PS2. Known as a spinoff called Digimon Savers: Another Episode in Japan, this game was based on the Digimon Data Squad anime series. 

This was the first Digimon game to feature English dubbed voice acting, and the only Digimon game to feature cel-shaded graphics. Digivolution in this title shared some similarities with the first true Digimon World game, as the form into which a Digimon would evolved was affected by how the player took care of it. But it also introduced a new method of digivolution known as the Galactica Evolution System -- which determined what Digimon the player's partner would digivolve into. 

Though this game is not an actual part of the Digimon World series, it's almost understandable that it would borrow the World name for the West, since the anime series didn't air in those regions until around a month later. As such, Digimon World Data Squad was able to continue the fandom around the World series, while also making Western fans aware of the new anime series. 

A Double Dose of DS Digimon

Several years after the release of the original Digimon World DS, a two-version sequel -- Digmon World Dawn and Dusk -- hit DS consoles in the West. However, this was part of the Story series in Japan, dubbed Digimon Story Sunburst and Moonlight. This entry in the franchise introduced several new Digimon, finished out previously incomplete or mixed-up digivolution lines, and reintroduced the DNA digivolution popularized by Digimon World 2 and 3

Because it was a sequel to Digimon World DS, it obviously would have been a mistake not to use the Digimon World name. Unaware Western fans probably would have been confused by the sudden title change, especially given the similarities between these sequels and their predecessors. 

These two DS games were the next-to-last Digimon games to release in the West before a long hiatus -- and they were the last Digimon Story games (though they didn't go by that name) that saw a Western release until 2016.

The End of an Era

The last game to release under the Digimon World moniker for Western audiences was Digimon World Championship. Known solely as Digimon Championship in Japan, this title was a bit closer in gameplay to the original game that spawned the Digimon World name. 

In battle, Digimon chose which attacks they used instead of being told. The game also introduced several new Digimon with the Dracomon digivolution line. 

But due to its departure from the gameplay of the two previous Nintendo DS games, Digimon World Championship saw relatively poor reception -- so maybe relying on the World name wasn't such a great choice in this case. 

Either way, Digimon World Championship was the last Digimon-raising game the West would see for many years -- and it was the very last Digimon game to ever receive a Digimon World name change for Western audiences.

The Names in the West Are Finally Fixed

Though the West saw a few Digimon games here and there after the sub-par release of Digimon World Championship -- like the Digimon All-Star Rumble fighting game or the Digimon Heroes! match-3 mobile game -- there were no other Digimon RPGs released until 2016's Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth for PS4 and PS Vita. 

This was the first game in the Digimon Story series that didn't get a name change to Digimon World for Western audiences, and it was also the first one to see a release on both handheld and home consoles. Cyber Sleuth borrowed from and built upon many of the gameplay elements from Digimon World DS and its sequels, Digimon World Dawn and Dusk. 

2017 saw the release of yet another Digmon World game, called Digimon World: Next Order. This was a true sequel to the original Digimon World series -- so much so that it kept the World name worldwide. The game provided a modern update to the playstyle and mechanics introduced in the original games that started the series, though this time with two Digimon partners instead of one.

At the time of writing, it's unclear whether there will be another Digimon World game. But another entry in the Story series -- dubbed Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker's Memory -- is slated for release on PlayStation 4 and PS Vita in Japan on December 14, 2017. It will make its way to the West sometime in 2018. 

Either way, with the release of Digimon World: Next Order and Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth, it seems like Western names for this popular series have finally caught up to their Japanese counterparts. But only time will tell if the trend will continue. 

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Will Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 Ever Be Localized? https://www.gameskinny.com/1ilr6/will-dragon-quest-monsters-joker-3-ever-be-localized https://www.gameskinny.com/1ilr6/will-dragon-quest-monsters-joker-3-ever-be-localized Wed, 02 Aug 2017 13:25:42 -0400 Erroll Maas

Dragon Quest XI : Echoes of an Elusive Age was just recently confirmed for a Western release in 2018. All of the past main entries in the Dragon Quest series -- other than the MMORPG Dragon Quest X -- have been released in the West at some point, with certain spin-offs arriving in Western regions as well. One of the more notable spin offs, which was able to start a series of its own, is Dragon Quest Monsters

The goal in Dragon Quest Monsters is to recruit,  battle, and breed monsters, rather than just kill them -- expanding a concept which was originally seen in Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride.  The series started on the Game Boy Color and has since made its way to several other Nintendo handheld platforms, as well as the Sony PlayStation -- with the most recent being Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 for the Nintendo 3DS.

Despite positive reception, only some of the games in this series have been released in the West. But with localization of Japanese games on the rise, as well as the increase in popularity for the main Dragon Quest series and other recent spin-offs, will Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 be localized? Will this series ever come back to the west? Let's study the series' history and find out.

The Journey Begins on the Game Boy Color

The first game in the series, Dragon Quest Monsters (known as Dragon Warrior Monsters in North America) was released for the Game Boy Color in Japan in 1998, then came to Europe and America in 1999 and 2000, respectively.

Despite being called a "Pokémon clone" by some critics at the time of its release in the West, Dragon Quest Monsters has quite a few key differences. A notable feature which  makes Dragon Quest Monsters different from Pokémon, was that it has a strong focus on breeding monsters. 

Dragon Warrior Monsters released at a time when the Pokémon phemonenon was still at its peak, and right between the western release of Pokémon Yellow and Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver, and even had reviewers suggesting it to fans anticipating the next batch of Pokémon titles. The game's relative success despite its strong competition helped pave the way for a sequel soon after.

Split Sequels

A two-version sequel, Dragon Warrior Monsters 2: Coby's Journey and Dragon Warrior Monsters 2: Tara's Adventure was released for Game Boy Color in March 2001 for Japan, then September 2001 for North America. Similar to Pokémon, each version contained slight differences -- such as which monsters appeared in each game. The well-timed release of the first game, as well as generally positive reception it received, makes it no surprise these sequels were also able to make their way Westward.

A PlayStation remake of Dragon Warrior Monsters and Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 that featured enhanced graphics was also released for Japan in 2002, but that version never made it to the West. Though other monster-focused games were seeing some decent success at the time, this remake may not have gotten a port because the developer decided it would be better to keep the series on handheld devices. 

Thus, Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 would be the last entry in the series the West saw for seven years -- though only one new entry in the series was released anywhere during that time.

The Game Boy Advance Title Stays in Japan

Dragon Quest Monsters had a single game on the Game Boy Advance called Dragon Quest Monsters: Caravan Heart, which released for Japan in March 2003. Although this game was never released outside of Japan, an unofficial English fan translation does exist.

Dragon Quest Monsters Caravan Heart is one of only two Dragon Quest games to ever be released on the Game Boy Advance. During this time, the majority of Dragon Quest games were being made for PlayStation consoles instead.

Caravan Heart may have not been localized because no other Dragon Quest games had been released outside of Japan since Dragon Warrior Monsters 2, and no main series game had been localized since Dragon Quest IV in October of 1992.

But despite the long gap in Western releases, the series made a comeback in the West with Nintendo's next hit console. 

The Series Returns to the West

The main Dragon Quest series returned to the West once the Nintendo DS remake of Dragon Quest IV was localized in 2008. Since the popularity of the Nintendo DS was rising worldwide, more Dragon Quest games started coming to the West again as well -- including Dragon Quest V, VI, and IX, as well as the spin off title Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime.

The Dragon Quest Monsters series arrived on the Nintendo DS with Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker, which released for North America in November 2007, and Europe in March 2008. Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker was the first game in the spin-off series to have a Western release since the Game Boy Color games, as well as the first in the west to not have its name changed. It was also the first in the series to have online play.

With improved graphics and more unique gameplay overall, Dragon Quest Monsters Joker received relatively positive reception, with many reviewers claiming it was more than just a Pokemon clone. This positive reception in the west helped lead to the localization of the sequel, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 in 2011.

Joker 2 saw some slight improvements from its predecessor -- and as usual received positive reception. But it didn't sell well in the West for a variety of reasons. With games like Pokémon Black and White and Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation releasing earlier that year, it's possible that Nintendo DS owners had already had their fill of monster taming. So Joker 2 was the last game in the series to see a Western release.

Nintendo 3DS Games Start Staying in Japan

Though the release of the original DS revitalized the localization of Dragon Quest, the release of the 3DS didn't do the same. Out of the three Dragon Quest Monsters games for the Nintendo 3DS that have been released, none have made it outside of Japan. Whether this is due to a decrease in popularity and sales in the West or something else entirely is unknown.

The first 3DS title, Dragon Quest Monsters: Terry's Wonderland 3D, released as an enhanced version of the first game in the series -- including improved 3D graphics, commanding four monsters at once, a day/night cycle, and randomized dungeon layouts. The second 3DS title, Dragon Quest Monsters 2: Iru and Luca's Marvelous Key, was also a remake that combined the two versions of DQ Monsters 2 into one game while keeping the enhancements fom Terry's Wonderland 3D.

Despite their obvious merit, neither of these remakes have been localized, and it's currently unknown whether there are any plans to release them outside of Japan.

The most recent game in the series, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3, released for Japan in March 2016. Joker 3 introduced mountable monsters to the series, with different monsters having different purposes and skills. Joker 3 also features over 500 monsters and the ability to customize each monster's colors after certain conditions are met.

If Joker and Joker 2 released in the West, and Dragon Quest has enough popularity to have various spin offs localized, then how come we haven't heard anything about the release of Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 outside of Japan? There may be a few reasons for that.

What Might Affect Joker 3's Localization?

Joker 3 is the mostly likely candidate for a Western release, due the fact that it's the most recent entry in the series and that the Joker titles are more familiar to Western fans. But a release of Joker 3 outside of Japan may depend on a few different factors.

The Success of the Main Series in the West

Dragon Quest has seen relative success in the West over the years, with the most recent titles being the Nintendo 3DS remakes of Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past, and Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.

Originally, the remake of Dragon Quest VII was to stay exclusive to Japan, due to the time and money which would be needed to localize the game's expansive content. It wasn't until after fans outside of Japan, as well as Nintendo and Square Enix executives, sent numerous letters that it was decided the remake would be released worldwide.

Not too long after the 3DS version of Dragon Quest VII reached Western regions, a 3DS port of Dragon Quest VIII had already been announced for worldwide release as well. This is largely due in part to the positive fan reception of Dragon Quest VII, but also due to the popularity of Dragon Quest VIII in the West.

So how does the release of Dragon Quest VII and Dragon QuesVIII  on 3DS in the West affect the western release of Dragon Quest Monsters? It's a somewhat reliable way to measure the popularity of the franchise outside of Japan. Square Enix is less likely to localize spin-off games if the main series doesn't have much popularity or sell well outside of its country of origin. So although Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 may not have the same amount of fan response as Dragon Quest VII, that doesn't necessarily mean it won't ever be localized like other spin-offs.

The Success of Other Dragon Quest Spin Offs in the West

Due to the continuing success of the main series in the West and the increase of Japanese games being localized, other Dragon Quest spin-offs have been released worldwide to decent results in the past few years.

Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below, for example, may not have had the most stellar sales numbers worldwide -- but it still successfully combines two of Japan's most popular video game franchises, and even led to the sequel, Dragon Quest Heroes II. Both games received positive reception, despite some reviewers claiming the gameplay was too repetitive and was only fun for a short while.

The same is true for Dragon Quest Builders, which introduced the series to sandbox-style gameplay similar to Minecraft. And like many other spin-off games that were localized, this title also received positive reception for being a unique experience.

Given the success of games like Dragon Quest Heroes and Dragon Quest Builders, maybe Square Enix might be more open to the idea of releasing Joker 3 in the West despite its spin-off status -- although one other factor could be holding back the game's Western release.

Localization for Recent 3DS Games in the Same Genre Took a While

The Western release of Joker 3 may also depend on Nintendo, since ultimately that company itself decides whether or not it wants to distribute a game outside of Japan -- and sometimes even then the localization process can take a while. And the amount of time that passes can seriously impact sales.

The first game in Level-5's popular Yo-Kai Watch series, for example, originally released for Japan in 2013, but did not start to reach Western territories until 2015-2016. By that time, the game had a two-version sequel, an updated version of that sequel, and a third game on the way.

Even so, Yo-kai Watch still saw some success with its key demographic in North America and Europe -- though not as much as it did in Japan. Despite the drop in popularity in Western territories, the Yo-Kai Watch sequels are still being released outside of Japan.

Monster Hunter Stories is a similar case as well. This RPG spinoff of the Monster Hunter action series originally released for Japan in October 2016, but won't be localized for the West until this Fall. Although the rising popularity of the series in the West makes it strange that Nintendo and Capcom didn't localize it sooner, its lower-than-expected sales in Japan might have been a factor.

How can we apply the localizations of these two games to the possible Western release of Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3? Their success -- though nowhere near the phenomenon-level hype of Pokémon's recent titles -- helps show that Nintendo owners are open to the idea of monster-raising RPGs outside the Pokémon franchise. If Nintendo and Square Enix can realize this, then Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 might get see a western release before it's too late. If not, we may not see the series return for some time.

Dragon Quest Monsters on Nintendo Switch?

Although it has been said that the Nintendo 3DS will still be supported through 2018, it's possible that the West may not see Dragon Quest Monsters again until the series has an installment on the Nintendo Switch -- if there is one. Dragon Quest Heroes is already on the Nintendo Switch, and Dragon Quest XI will be coming to the system in the future. So there's no reason to doubt that other Dragon Quest titles will release on the system as well.

Even if Dragon Quest Monsters does get an entry on Nintendo Switch, though, there's no certainty it will be localized. But disappointed fans will still be able to import the game if they wish to.

Hopefully, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 arrives on Western shores before Nintendo 3DS systems go out of commission. For now, fans can only hope that the positive response to other games will help the western release of Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3  become a reality.

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Metacritic Demands Exclusive Quotes From Non-English Publications https://www.gameskinny.com/g8thg/metacritic-demands-exclusive-quotes-from-non-english-publications https://www.gameskinny.com/g8thg/metacritic-demands-exclusive-quotes-from-non-english-publications Fri, 17 Feb 2017 09:00:02 -0500 Rob Kershaw

Review aggregation site OpenCritic released a statement today accusing Metacritic of anti-industry practices, after their competitor's announcement regarding localization requirements.

OpenCritic have been accepting submissions from non-English publications since December 2016, and as a result have received over a dozen new non-English contributors.

In order to be listed on either site, publications must submit a review quote in English which summarizes their review. However, Metacritic have responded by creating a new rule, for all publications who wish to be listed, which states that all review quotes provided are exclusive to Metacritic.

This essentially means that any publication wanting to be listed on both sites -- and therefore increase their visibility and traffic in a crowded marketplace -- will now need to create two different English quotes per review. Describing the process of how this will affect the aggregation process, OpenCritic said:

Asking for English quotations is already a significant demand. Many of these publications, especially up-and-coming ones, operate at a loss while trying to expand their reach. This requirement effectively mandates that these publications pay engineers to alter their CMS in order to support their aggregation. The results are these special pages which have traditionally been open to the public and are what Metacritic and OpenCritic scrape to aggregate non-English quotes and reviews.

In their statement, OpenCritic said that this latest requirement from Metacritic is "an abuse of industry power," and that it unfairly forces the costs of extra development and localization onto publications.

They also argue that the review snippet put into the publication's own CMS should belong to the publication -- not an aggregation site -- and that the only party that benefits from this policy is Metacritic.

This isn't the first dispute between the two sites. In May last year, OpenCritic accused Metacritic of sourcing data directly from their website. OpenCritic routinely added changes to review URLs to make them unique to their site, and therefore obvious if another site took them without permission -- which OpenCritic claimed they did, and provided examples.

There was no response from Metacritic on that statement, or this one -- we will update you if they respond to this latest accusation from OpenCritic.

Note: GameSkinny is on OpenCritic as a review outlet.

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Interview: Localization Consultant Jessica Chavez Talks Game Localization 101 https://www.gameskinny.com/ljlqs/interview-localization-consultant-jessica-chavez-talks-game-localization-101 https://www.gameskinny.com/ljlqs/interview-localization-consultant-jessica-chavez-talks-game-localization-101 Wed, 27 Jul 2016 09:41:08 -0400 Jeffrey Rousseau

What is video game localization? If you were to ask me, I'd say it's the process by which games are made to retain their message while becoming more suitable for the region they'll be released in. Localization has been around for as long video games themselves. 

From Super Mario Bros. to Final Fantasy, countless games have made their way worldwide thanks to localization. It also goes without saying but it has helped video games to become an enjoyable past time anywhere on the globe.

Recently however, localization has received some less than favorable publicity. Fans have been quick to call it censorship, and this has arisen for many reasons -- whether it be changing a character's age or removing the mention of questionable drugs during dialogue. Many have been quick to cry foul, especially in the recent cases of title such Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE and Fire Emblem Fates.

Naturally, this has lead to quite a few questions on the subject and its inner workings.

So, with burning questions on the matter of game localization, we took the opportunity to get in touch with a veteran in the industry. We picked the brain of video game localization consultant, dark comedy author, and coffee connoisseur Jessica Chavez. You may learn a thing or two about game localization, because we certainly did.

On the off chance someone is uninformed, how would you best describe what localization is?

Jessica Chavez (JC): I'd say...localization is a process where we try to recreate the experience of the original work for a new audience. On a basic level (for games) that means script, graphics, controls, etc., but it's really about feel, I'd say. We want the new audience to feel the humor, the adventure, the drama of the original, and that's what localization tries to accomplish.

Being very familiar with playing localized games myself, that definition is quite different from my own. I would imagine the same would be said for many who think about the subject. So certainly it's a process to retain the original intent and message of the source material.

When a game is chosen for localization, is that based upon popularity? Are there other factors we may not be aware of? 

JC: Depends on the company and the goals they have for a title, really. Often, games chosen for localization aren't what many would consider 'popular' (especially with the numbers that AAA games put up), but they are at least considered 'viable'.

Questions you have to ask yourself before pursuing a title are things like: Does it have potential with our audience? How much work would it entail? Will it be able to pass that magic threshold that makes it profitable, i.e. will it sell more than the resources allocated to bring it over and also be worth the time invested?

Games are also brought up for consideration because, well, they're fun, but they need to meet the needs of the company. A company that can't turn a profit doesn't stay in business long, after all.

Often times on message boards and etc., you'll see fans being vocal about why a game hasn't been localized. As Jessica elaborates, there a many business aspects that need to be addressed before it gets into our hands. A recent example of this would be the announcement of Dragon Quest VII for the Nintendo 3DS. The game was released in Japan in February 2013, while western territories will be seeing a release this September. In this game's case, the reason more than likely was due to the its massive script.

During the process, a localization team gets rather intimate with a game and its nuances right? That sounds pretty daunting. 

JC: Well, we try. Deadlines willing, anyway. That's the daunting part, especially for text heavy titles. As much as we wish we could polish every nook and cranny of the games we work on, you have to balance time spent on each line of text with the deadline. That's why it's essential that you have a lot of back and forth between translators and editors to make sure that things are correct and all the subtleties of the text come through.

You play the game, research a bit, check your lines in context if you can, and hope like hell you don't misinterpret or miss something important. The things you miss haunt you, seriously.

In your professional opinion, is there an easy part to localizing a game? How about least difficult if possible?

JC: An easy part? Hmmm... I'd say quest text, I guess. Usually, because quests are designed to be direct so that the player knows what to do, those lines are pretty straightforward. With items you want to research to make sure you're not missing any lore or story callbacks, with system text you have to make sure it's compliant with first-party rules (is it “b button” or “B Button”), and with story text or NPC lines there are always layers. Especially for games like Trails in the Sky...

Localization has been getting a lot of "attention" in the news recently. What would you say is one the misconceptions with the profession?

JC: That it's easy or simple. Every time I read online that localization is just slapping a translation into a game, I die a little inside.

How could I ever forget this infamous forum post?

“...it's literally just taking a sentence and rewriting it. How hard is that? I could translate a book in like a day.”

I've detailed the overall process on my blog, but there's also a ton of labor that goes into just the text alone. Getting lines right when you often have little to no context, lining up terminology across the board, ensuring a consistent tone over the whole script, formatting and reworking text so that it doesn't spill out of windows and break the game... Don't even get me started on the jokes. It's tough, grueling work, especially when you have deadlines.

It would be quite an understatement to say there's a lot misunderstanding with the profession. The forum post Jessica describes is a sentiment you'll often see with localization news. Some had no problem expressing the same when it came to the localization of Fire Emblem Fates. Jessica's feelings on opinions like these are understandable.

Localization involves the navigation of language, nuances, scene progression and etc. To put it into layman's terms you're essentially creating a movie, a game, and a novel. All while staying true to the source material and making it regionally relevant. Doesn't exactly fall into the realm of easy if you were to ask me.

This is often seen online; but why don't all games feature dual audio? We understand that there's licensing and monetary reasons why. Could you elaborate a bit on the matter?

JC: The monetary reasons could be anything from the game budget not being able to accommodate having both VOs, the licensing could be prohibitively expensive (or completely unavailable as mentioned below), having dual audio could bump up the game size to a more expensive cart, the publisher might have to choose between which audio they prioritize to maximize their potential audience...

 As for licensing, the rights may be authorized by the voice actor and/or their agent/studio only for specific regions. Contracts can be very particular about where the VO can be legally used. It sucks, but sometimes that's the case.

These are just some of the reasons behind no dual audio. Each company has their own particular circumstances, though, so it's best not to try and compare them 1:1.

Thus, we're given some more insight on the matter of voice overs. You don't have to look far, but among gamers there's those that only want original audio. There's those who don't mind and others that aren't affected either way. Audio options, as we've learned, are all part of that business plan for a game. Many fans may not be are of the proverbial red tape involved. We of course don't know all the reasons as to why those choices (if available) are made. 

It's not entirely foreign, we've seen companies release titles dubbed and others not dubbed. For example, Aksys Games released Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- last year fully dubbed. This year's Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator was released with subtitles only.

Earlier Jessica mentioned viability, and that also applies to the audio options as well. Companies may or may not be aware there's an audience that would prefer, say, Japanese voice work over English voice work. When they see the opportunity it maybe a possibility in the future.

Case in point: ATLUS/SEGA's Persona 5. Josh Hardin, PR manager, took to social media to address the title's audio choices. Via Twitter he stated they will attempt to provide Japanese audio as a post launch DLC option. Again, he stressed there are no guarantees but they will try because fans asked.

How closely do localizers work with voice actors, if at all?

JC: Pretty closely on the English dubbing side. Or at least I did. When I worked at XSEED it was almost a given that the editor or translator who worked on a game that needed voice recording would be on the team that went to the studio to tape the lines.

Over the course of my time there I would help select the voice actors for each part, work up the script, explain the roles/direction to the voice actors, sit in and listen at the studio, approve lines, tweak the takes, and I even took over directing for a couple of sessions when necessary.

Many of us have also been known to grab a few beers with those lovely guys and gals from time to time.

At this point, I would like to add that localization also requires you to wear the hat of an acting director. (Again, debunking any notion of it being remotely easy.)

If someone is interested in having a career in localization -- what's one important piece of advice you would offer?

JC: I would implore them to really hone in on what they want to do and then work the hell out of it. Resumes with general 'Japanese Major' or 'English' degrees made almost no impression on me when I was part of the vetting process at XSEED. You have to demonstrate your passion.

Create something tangible like a book, or a portfolio of translation projects, make a game, design game covers, etc. If you show yourself to be proactive in some part of the field, it stands out.

This tidbit is certainly interesting. Considering the levels of work she's described that goes into localization, it makes sense. You would need an array of skills at your command. Writing, production, and a professional aptitude to adapt. After all, mistakes and or a title that leaves something to be desired is remembered forever.

Localization I think is something of an under-rated profession at times. Any suggestions as to how fans can continue to support their favorite localization teams? A genuine thank you for their hard work on social media perhaps?

JC: It is always wonderful to hear from fans on social media. Following the people who work on the games you like and then letting them know that you liked what they did -- really makes it all worthwhile sometimes. Spreading the good word online to others is also a great way to show your appreciation. Word of mouth is the lifeblood of a lot of niche projects. 

Last question, this maybe hard to answer but we have to know. Is there one game you are most proud to have worked on? You can answer two or three if one is too hard.

JC: Tough call... I've worked on a ton of games, and each one had its, ah, memorable moments.

My favorites, though? Half-Minute Hero, Rune Factory: Frontier, Fishing Resort (surprised?), and the one I'm most proud to have been a part of (because in a sane world it had no chance given the circumstances, the size, and the unbelievable hurdles we had to overcome during its localization): Trails in the Sky.

I'll never forget Trails in the Sky FC(first chapter) and SC(second chapter). I've tried, believe me. But, yeah, pretty proud to have been a part of it...and survived.

When you take a look at what games she's most proud of you'll notice they're quite diverse amongst each other. One's a unique spin on the JRPG genre, the other Harvest Moon-like where you wield a sword, and one is a collection of family fishing activities.

Now, the Trails in the Sky titles she makes note of are known to be massive. Fans tout the titles for being rich in story, quests, and dialogue. They also consider them to some of the best localized titles they've played.

What can fans of your work look forward to in the future?

JC: I might be on a bit of a 'break' at the moment while I navigate motherhood and moving countries (again), but I'm neck deep in the sequel to my first published book, Dead Endings, and my latest project with XSEED is up to bat any day now. Look forward to Xanadu Next. Seriously. It's soooo good. I felt like a kid again playing it. More on that to come, I promise. 

 We certainly are looking forward to her next projects and future titles. We would highly suggest that perhaps you should as well.

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There's a Naruto MMO Coming to the West -- And It Looks Terrible https://www.gameskinny.com/fesml/theres-a-naruto-mmo-coming-to-the-west-and-it-looks-terrible https://www.gameskinny.com/fesml/theres-a-naruto-mmo-coming-to-the-west-and-it-looks-terrible Mon, 18 Jul 2016 16:04:08 -0400 Kevin S. Behan

Naruto Online is finally coming to western shores, after spending three years in the East. Don't let that CG trailer hype you up though, this game's nothing like the Ultimate Ninja series of fighting games. It's just a turn based game that doesn't seem to have much depth beyond who you put in your squad.

Their website doesn't have anything resembling gameplay, but here's a video of what I assume is the Chinese version.

Naruto Online is a turn based game where you get to command iconic ninjas from the franchise in battles against other ninja squads. Watching this video, you'll notice the presence of a single ninja in the player squad that's not from the series. That's the player character. 

Don't take this to mean that you're able to make your own ninja. You'll be choosing from one of a series of appearances. Apparently it's a rather high number, but as there's still no information on the official website, I can't say for certain.

Will this game be worth your time? From what I can see, I don't think so. Its brand of turn-based combat doesn't look competitive in today's MMO market where games like Atlantica Online exist. Still, if you're a diehard Naruto fan, it might be worth giving a shot.

Naruto Online comes out July 20th.

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[NSFW] Localization: Why is it so hard to get the same product? https://www.gameskinny.com/m84hi/nsfw-localization-why-is-it-so-hard-to-get-the-same-product https://www.gameskinny.com/m84hi/nsfw-localization-why-is-it-so-hard-to-get-the-same-product Thu, 14 Jul 2016 15:17:22 -0400 David Fisher

Localization. It's become one of the biggest focal points for the gaming industry as of late as many companies in foreign countries - such as Japan - have been facing quite a bit of controversy in their efforts to sell games overseas. Games such as Fire Emblem: Fates, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, and Bravely Second have all grabbed the spotlight at one point or another in the last year due to drastic "localization" changes.

This, of course, has sparked much debate among gamers. Some argue that the localization changes are unnecessary, while others simply state that we should be grateful for the games even releasing overseas. But does either side have a point?

Today we'll be looking at localization across the industry to answer one simple question: why the hell is it so hard to get a translated version of the same damn product?

[WARNING: This article touches upon mature subject matter not suitable for work!]

Localization ≠ Translation

To begin, we're going to look at a concept that both sides tend to forget: localization is not the same as translation. While I am certain that both sides of this argument aren't absent minded enough to believe that they mean the same thing, they do tend to forget that localization is typically what companies do when bringing games over from Japan and other countries.

It's important to note that while translation is part of the localization process, it is not the only variable taken into account. When a game is brought overseas there are many factors that go into it. According to GALA - the Globalization and Localization Association - some of these factors that apply to gaming include:

  • Adapting graphics to target markets
  • Modifying content to suit the tastes and consumption habits of other markets
  • Converting to local requirements
  • Addressing local regulations and legal requirements

So now we know what localization is all about, but what do they mean for the three games mentioned? Well let's take a look at them individually, shall we?

Visual Censorship

Visual censorship is by far one of the biggest offenses that tends to be brought up. While sometimes these changes are understandable, other times they make little to no sense to anyone other than the most traditional of groups. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE was one of the games found in the latter camp.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is a game that takes place in Japan. The game deals with all aspects of Japan's idol culture. Idols in Japan (such as those seen above) refer to "young manufactured stars/starlets marketed to be admired for their cuteness" (Wikipedia). The talents of idols can include music, modeling, or acting but some also partake in more risque forms of art such as gurave idols which model for magazines that target men or AV idols which is synonymous with pornstars.

In Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, the game's female lead - Tsubasa Oribe - is attempting to become an idol. In the second chapter of the game Tsubasa is faced with one of her bigger challenges which is taking photos for a gurave shoot. This chapter also explores the history of the group's boss - Maiko - who once worked as a gurave idol... at least in the Japanese version of the game.

(Image retrieved via Persona Central - click to expand)

During localization of the game, many changes were made to the more lewd parts of the game. Above we can see the change made to Tsubasa's costume, as well as the photos in the background. The storyline was heavily modified with over hundreds of lines (both voiceovers and textual) being rewritten for the sake of localization. Instead of a gurave photoshoot, the entirety of the chapter is spent trying to get Tsubasa ready for a regular city style fashion shoot.

This change made sense according to North American standards as this could very well fall within the boundaries of softcore pornography. This is primarily due to the fact that semi-nude figures fit under this definition. Since Tsubasa and company are under the age of 18 in the game, it made sense. However, this rationale doesn't exactly hold water after the localization teams changed their ages to 18 and over.

The only reason I could think of for the change happening regardless of the age bump would be that mentioning gurave idols would lead to an adult rating. After all, gurave is only a step under AV idol in Japan. Gurave idols are basically softcore porn stars, and this would prevent the game from getting anything short of an M or A ranked ESRB rating.

This would undoubtedly lead to a much smaller consumer base, and less sales. While on the surface this doesn't make sense - seeing as the main target audience is anime fans - the game's intent was to bring in more fans from either series. If the above is true, then the rationale checks out - even if it is undesirable. Until North American attitudes change, this will likely be the case for some time to come.

Sure, the responsibility of ensuring children don't stumble upon these things arguably falls upon the responsibilities of the adults, but let's face it... North America is infamous for starting up lawsuits for the most trivial things.

Tastes and Consumption Habits

Before I talk about this section in particular, I must note that - unless otherwise cited - most of this section will be on speculation. Why? Simply because we don't have alternate dimension goggles. With that said, let's begin.

Prior to Fire Emblem: Fates' release in North America, rumors of the game's "skinship" minigame being removed ran rampant. While we did eventually find out that there was a replacement, the actual interactive part of the minigame was completely scrapped from the worldwide release. Other parts were removed as well, but this by far was the most controversial aspect.

Now, let me make my own bias in this situation completely clear: I both wanted and didn't want this to be in the game. As a straight male, I much enjoyed the skinship aspect of the game because - despite my satisfaction with my personal life - I enjoyed having that extra closeness to my female companion in the Japanese version of game. That said, I loathed doing the same to the male characters. It just felt weird, and I really felt like I missed out on some great conversations as result (since not all skinship lines are sexual or relationship based until you marry a character).

When it comes to the outright removal of the minigame, I can't say I was exactly pleased or disappointed. Sure, I couldn't pet my waifu anymore in game, but I didn't have to pet the men either to get their conversation pieces which was pretty damn great. Also, playing the minigame over and over tended to cause slight wrist pain over time.

In the words of one of my friends, however, "I would rather have it and not want it, than want it and not have it." In my opinion, Nintendo both hit and missed with their localization of Fire Emblem: Fates. On one hand they managed to ensure players got the entire Fates experience, but at the same time we missed out on one of the small features.

On the business side of things, however, it is more than likely that Nintendo of America benefited from the censorship of the minigame. Fire Emblem: Fates sold 300,000 copies in North America during its week of release compared to its predecessor's sales record in the United States of 180,000. Assuming that the majority of players only bought one version of the game on the first week, we can see that the changes didn't hurt sales. If anything, it possibly boosted them.

Lost in Translation

One of the common complaints I find are about the rampant "memes" in games translated by Nintendo of America's Treehouse team. Believe me, I get it. For once I'd like to escape the internet's rampant doge culture, and the world of YouTube Poop. What people fail to realize, however, is that despite the obvious failures over time there are many changes that were made to ensure that international audiences understand just what's going on.

Everyone remembers the above image. Brock offers Ash and company some "jelly filled donuts" when they are clearly onigiri. It's a terrible mistake that pretty much everyone understands nowadays. The image clearly shows why localization fails, and why the source text should always be followed. However, I would argue that this helps me argue why localization changes need to be made.

Back when you were a child, when you first saw this Pokemon episode, how many of you could honestly say you knew that those were onigiri? Chances are not many of you could. In fact, there might even be a select group of you that genuinely believed they were jelly filled donuts. The reason? Because you weren't exposed to that food in your life.

The same can be said for various other references video games make. Japanese games often cite various things from their culture that you likely wouldn't understand without some serious research. While I am a fan of researching things through and through until you understand them, I'm not a fan of having to put down my controller and figuring out the significance of a golden Chinese dragon as opposed to other ones.

This is why we need localizers to change text in some cases. Sometimes we need something that fits in a country's frame of reference. That said, there are certainly some terrible localizations out there that put a bad name out there for localizers. Just look at Fire Emblem: Fates and its support conversations.

Seriously, Nintendo Treehouse... What the actual f**k was this?

Sometimes the changes are important...

Social Justice - like it or not - has been a driving force for North American media as of late. More and more companies have been catering or adapting to the change of political climate, and this has spawned all sorts of groups ranging from the extremist leftist ranks of the Social Justice Warriors to the difficult to pin down legion of GamerGaters. While the silent majority tends to favor one side or the other in varying degrees (depending on the subject) it is clear that companies have undoubtedly been affected by this online war of ideologies.

One of the oddballs of this change in political climate is none other than Bravely Second which featured a class in Japan called the Tomahawk class. In North America this class was reskinned into the Hawkeye class which looks reminiscent of a cowboy instead of its original Native American counterpart.

The Hawkeye class is somewhat of an interesting phenomenon in the online political war as neither side was entirely satisfied with the change. Take a look at the comments section of the NintendoLife article covering the change for example. While the consensus overall seems to be that the change was made as to not offend the Native American population.

Often times the argument is made that people should just "get over it" or "don't take it personally". Admittedly, I'm often in this camp as many depictions of the various backgrounds I have in my own family tree often have ridiculous stereotypes associated with them. While they get annoying at times, the majority of my reaction is to simply not care. That said, I honestly don't care for others' opinions to begin with. Why else would I write my RR-sama Talks and Rewind Review articles?

My ability to empathize means that I can why some might feel offended though. Some people are more sensitive for various reasons - usually due to personal experience. As such, while I personally found this case absurd, the change was nonetheless made to protect those who might feel as though they are made out to be "savages" seeing as the class name was "Tomahawk" which is a weapon, and the class itself is a scantily clad woman. It's an image Native American populations have been fighting to get rid of for some time now, and whether we want to admit it or not we're all affected by the media - even if the changes aren't drastic.

I do believe that companies could do more to ensure that the changes made are minimal. Consulting with affected groups in surveys or other methods could ensure that the source material remains nearly intact. Going back to my friend's quote, it might simply be safer for the companies to make the changes regardless. It is easier to accept the complaints or slight decrease in sales than it is to fight a case in court for what seems to be a superficial problem.

This brings us to the last two points...

Local Requirements, Laws, and Regulations

Video game companies are in the business of making money. When a game is localized - unless they have in-house staff responsible for this - the game must be outsourced for localization. Even if they do have in-house staff for localization, the company needs to pay those workers for ever localization effort made. Each localization version means more money that needs to be put out to code, model, and translate. As such, after a certain point the costs simply don't match the perceived profits.

According to The Game Localization Handbook by Heather Maxwell Chandler and Stephanie O'Malley Deming, video games have several levels of localization. These range from simply shipping the game overseas, to radical changes to text, voiceovers, manuals, and in some case the very graphics and code itself. Chandler and Deming also note that the last case is by far the most expensive of the options and is typically only done by AAA companies.

With this in mind, we can come to the conclusion that companies likely look for shortcuts with localization efforts. One of those shortcuts could potentially take the form of using a similar localization version for one language in multiple regions - provided the text does not need to be adapted. This would explain why games such as the ones we have discussed have similar changes as games with multi-language support or the same localization team would have to work with the same version of the game.

In the case of Fire Emblem: Fates and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE the swimsuits tend to be more revealing than traditional swimsuits. This isn't so much a problem for the older characters in the game as this is typically accepted (although the game might get an M rating at least). However, the younger characters are where the issues lie.

For example, in Australia the censorship laws are much tighter than they are elsewhere. They also have a law that has been nicknamed the "small breast pornography" law in which pornography and other adult material cannot contain characters that appear to be minors.

Characters such as Elenora from TMS #FE  and Elise from Fire Emblem: Fates would fall under the protection of this law - despite being fictional characters. While they would not be considered as pornographic in their most revealing outfits by most people, Nintendo (and other similar companies) would likely wish to avoid any possible run ins with the law.

With enough research it's possible to find legal barriers that cause all sorts of censorship and localization changes in video games. Inform yourselves, people. It might help you calm down just a little bit.

To answer the question once and for all...

"Why the hell is it so hard to get a translated version of the same damn product?"

This was the question we asked at the start of the article. While we tend to point fingers in this or that direction, it's clear that there are more factors at play than the petty "War of Feelings" that has been ruining people's lives via the internet. Sure, it's part of the equation. There's no denying it. However, the issues that lead to censorship are much bigger than some nobody crying on the internet.

Companies are all about their bottom line. When a video game is created by AAA companies, they aren't concerned with people's feelings as much as they are making as much money as possible without getting into trouble with the law or dragged into court. Sadly, this means that many of our games coming in from Japan and other countries with more adult themes likely won't come to North America or elsewhere in their purest form for some time.

Maybe one day we will be able to play a game that has been translated without localization. Until that day comes, we should try to be grateful with what we do get. Unless you want to take it up with the government, that is. If that's the case... all the power to you.

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Square Enix has no plans for a Western PS4/PSV Star Ocean: Second Evolution port https://www.gameskinny.com/7kaox/square-enix-has-no-plans-for-a-western-ps4psv-star-ocean-second-evolution-port https://www.gameskinny.com/7kaox/square-enix-has-no-plans-for-a-western-ps4psv-star-ocean-second-evolution-port Wed, 13 Jul 2016 12:00:01 -0400 Kevin S. Behan

Sorry, Star Ocean franchise fans... Square Enix, despite having ported the game previously for the original PSP, has no plans to send the new PS4 and PS VITA port over to western audiences.

In an interview with Siliconera, Square Enix producer Shūichi Kobayashi mentioned that another developer, Yoshinori Yamagichi "... was the producer that created the PSP remake and released the PS4 and Vita version in Japan. After he released the remake he hasn't really done anything for the West. At this moment, there are no plans to release that title in the West."

There is hope, though. He went on to mention how he's aware of an international love for the franchise, and is hopeful that newcomers to the series will want to check out older titles. Though there aren't plans for porting Star Ocean: Second Evolution as of now, he is considering it. Perhaps if the latest Star Ocean game is successful, we'll get a localization for updated versions of previous games.

Star Ocean fans, are you bummed about the news? Tell us in the comments below.

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Tokyo Mirage Session #FE's Co-Director disappointed with censored NA Localization https://www.gameskinny.com/lft1k/tokyo-mirage-session-fes-co-director-disappointed-with-censored-na-localization https://www.gameskinny.com/lft1k/tokyo-mirage-session-fes-co-director-disappointed-with-censored-na-localization Sat, 09 Jul 2016 09:33:34 -0400 Joseph Ocasio

Despite it's positive reception from cirtics, JRPG fans have been a little disappointed with Tokyo Mirage Session #FE. While some justy felt the game wasn't as good as they hoped it would be, others where much more critical of the game's localization changes, particularly when it came to changes made to various outfits for female characters in order to make them less revealing -- and the other numerous changes made for censorship reasons.

The Video Above shows a lot of the changes made to Tokyo Mirage Session #FE for it's Western Release. Even Co-Director Mitsuru Hirata has shown disappointment with the game's North American changes. Responding to a fan who expressed issues with the US Localization of the game on Twitter, Hirata stated with the following:

“When I found out we were unable to provide the same experience as the Japanese version, I also felt some disappointment. But our overseas fans remained happy that the game was being brought over and I’m glad to see their passionate support. In the meantime, the new costumes added could in a way be considered a merit that can only be enjoyed by our overseas fans! Thank you, and please look forward to the game!”

It's easy to see why fans are upset at this, but at the same time, it's a bit understandable why a game with some "Risky" content would be a bit toned down (given our cultural differences), especially one that was published by Nintendo. 

Tokyo Mirage Session #FE was released on June 24th, 2016

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Fans working on patching Tokyo Mirage Sessions' censorship https://www.gameskinny.com/mwlji/fans-working-on-patching-tokyo-mirage-sessions-censorship https://www.gameskinny.com/mwlji/fans-working-on-patching-tokyo-mirage-sessions-censorship Wed, 29 Jun 2016 05:32:06 -0400 TheSmartestMoron

Tokyo Mirage Sessions recently launched last week, and so far has received fairly decent reviews. But some fans were not happy with the censorship Nintendo used, though the game was published by Atlus. That's why a team of fans at GBAtemp forums  has been working on a patch that seeks to undo all of the censorship and revert the game back to the original version released in Japan, but for English users.

The patch is currently on version 0.9.2, and these are the changes it will make:

  • Reverted costumes back to Bikinis, also changing the menu icons back and their original names and descriptions.
  • Completely redid Chapter 2 and a few other small files to return references to Gravure Modelling, this also uses the original voice files.
  • Fixed any map changes relating to pictures in dungeons that were changed.
  • Swapped the English files out for Japanese versions for retranslated files.
  • Healing points no longer come in envelopes.
  • Changed Profiles to reflect the character’s real ages and change back references to Gravure Modeling.
  • Reverted any censored pre-rendered cutscene files.

While North American and European users can use this patch, players will need to know what they are doing to make it work. Thankfully, the creators of the patch can offer aid on Discord. GameSkinny also does not support piracy, and recommends players purchase the game first. You can see an example comparison with the English localization and the patch below:

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Datamined Monster Hunter Generations demo reveals new localized names https://www.gameskinny.com/f3w8a/datamined-monster-hunter-generations-demo-reveals-new-localized-names https://www.gameskinny.com/f3w8a/datamined-monster-hunter-generations-demo-reveals-new-localized-names Tue, 21 Jun 2016 16:59:22 -0400 FlameKurosei

Twitter user Dasding did some data mining on the recently released Monster Hunter Generations demo for the Nintendo 3DS and found several new localized names hidden in the files.

 The list is as follows:

  • Amatsumagatsuchi has been shortened to "Amatsu": Amatsumagatsuchi is the flagship monster of Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, a PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3 title exclusive to Japan. In the recent Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, "Amatsu" armor was available as downloadable content for the west via a monster carve exchange at a special vendor in-game. However, Monster Hunter Generations will be the first time western players can have a hands-on experience with fighting this majestic floating Elder Dragon.

Amatsumagatsuchi, localized as "Amatsu"

  • "Osutogaroa" has changed to "Nakarkos": A mysterious new monster appearing in Monster Hunter Generations. According to Dasding, its localized name is a reference to the word "narkōdēs", meaning "petrified".

Osutogaroa now localized as Nakarkos

  • Several DLC armor pieces are found in the demo data: this includes "F Dark Meowgic Hood", "Pirate J Armor", and Danboard DLC. Most notably, the "F Dark Meowgic Hood" is most likely a reference to the Dark Magician Yu-Gi-Oh! palico armor from Japan's release of Monster Hunter X (AKA MHGen's original Japanese title) back in 2015.

Dark Magician palico armor advertisement (top left)

As a small word of caution, Dasding posted a disclaimer on the Monster Hunter subreddit about the new data, stating:

My tweets are based on the fact that the demo contains fully localized item names AND descriptions. No guarantee that it will be in the full game, but due to other items being dummied out and MH4U also dummied out items not in the game, i would say it's highly likely for them to be in the full game.

Monster Hunter Generations is a Nintendo 3DS exclusive game coming soon to the west this summer on July 15th 2016. For more information on MHGen, check out a gameplay video of a team taking down the Astalos of the Fated Four, here on GameSkinny!

[Images retrieved from Twitter, Hachima, and the Monster Hunter Wikia]

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Chinese Pokémon fans livid at name changes https://www.gameskinny.com/25a9i/chinese-pokemon-fans-livid-at-name-changes https://www.gameskinny.com/25a9i/chinese-pokemon-fans-livid-at-name-changes Mon, 30 May 2016 11:51:06 -0400 Anthony Pelone

Here comes another localization controversy, but this time in Asia; to be specific, Greater China. See, the regions of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan have always had exclusive Pokémon names for each territory, but that'll be changing for Pokémon Sun and Moon, as Nintendo is aiming to homogenize them all under the Mandarin language. For example, where in Taiwan the series was once called "Magic Babies," that'll be shelved in favor of "Jingling Baokemeng".

Needless to say, long-time Pokémon fans are not happy with these changes. Those in Hong Kong, in particular, are particularly livid since Cantonese, not Mandarin, is that territory's language. The following quote from Quartz, using the example of Pikachu, explains what makes this renaming so alien:

Pikachu was originally translated as 比卡超 (Bei-kaa-chyu) in Hong Kong. Now it is named 皮卡丘 (Pikaqiu). While the name 皮卡丘 in Mandarin sounds similar to the global name Pikachu (as it was always called in China and Taiwan), it reads as Pei-kaa-jau in Cantonese, which doesn’t sound the same at all.

Public protests, social media campaigns and petitions are well-underway in response to these changes, but it should be noted it might not be entirely Nintendo's fault. Many Cantonese-speaking individuals feel threatened that the Chinese government has been gradually erasing their language as a whole (for instance, fewer and fewer schools are teaching Cantonese), and many suspect this may be another step for such an ambition.

Do you think Chinese Pokémon fans are in the right for their protest? Let us know in the comments below!

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Suda 51's first game, The Silver Case, will be officially localized & released for PC https://www.gameskinny.com/fgr26/suda-51s-first-game-the-silver-case-will-be-officially-localized-released-for-pc https://www.gameskinny.com/fgr26/suda-51s-first-game-the-silver-case-will-be-officially-localized-released-for-pc Sat, 07 May 2016 04:41:54 -0400 Jeffrey Rousseau

Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture announced a worldwide release for The Silver Case (TSC) on PC this Fall. The murder mystery point-and-click adventure will be published by Playism. It will be the first time the title will be available for the West.

The Silver Case was first game developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and was originally released in 1999. Directed by Goichi Suda (Suda 51), the game takes place in the 24 districts. It follows a string of strange and violent murders under investigation. The case becomes more bizarre when the serial killer behind similar murders is killed, but the murders continue.  Has he comeback to life? Who is this copycat killer?

The game features two narrative perspectives for players to experience. The "Transmitter" scenario follows detectives as they chase the killer. The "Placebo" scenario presents the story of a freelance writer investigating the case. 

The PC version will boast a series of updates; new art, graphics, and puzzles have been redone to fit the English translation as well.

Fans of mystery games and Suda 51 can look forward to The Silver Case this Fall.

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RR-sama Talks: So the Soleil S Rank conversation just got released... https://www.gameskinny.com/g83md/rr-sama-talks-so-the-soleil-s-rank-conversation-just-got-released https://www.gameskinny.com/g83md/rr-sama-talks-so-the-soleil-s-rank-conversation-just-got-released Mon, 22 Feb 2016 17:28:12 -0500 David Fisher

Hello! RR-sama here again, and this time we're going to discuss the Soleil controversy from Fire Emblem: Fates!

For those who don't know, Soleil is a character from Fire Emblem: Fates who was both the first part of the game to stir up controversy, and the last thing to have its truth be revealed. The controversy started over the character's sexuality and what some deemed a "homophobic" scene, which also involved another character doing something comparable to drugging a woman's drink. For more information, you can quickly pop over to the original article that broke the news last year.

Not long ago, the first video of the localized versions featuring Soleil's support conversations was released. That's why today on RR-sama Talks, we're going to discuss the facts, and come to a conclusion if the changes made were for better or worse!

[WARNING: This should be a given, but there are a lot of spoilers in the following article. Proceed at your own discretion!]

Allergic to Love - A common anime trope

[While not entirely necessary to understand this article, the original conversation in question can be found here.]

In the C Rank conversation between the player character - who will be referenced as Corrin for accessibility sake - and Soleil, the latter comes to the player in search of a method to cure her weakness around women. In order to help her, Corrin puts a powder in her drink that causes her to see women as men. During their B Rank conversation, Corrin admits to Soleil that he slipped the powder into her drink, and it causes her to see all the men in the army as women (and vice versa). She then asks for more of the powder so she can basically go around swooning over all the genderbent protagonists.

For those who don't know, the irrational fear or paralysis around women is a fairly common Japanese trope, especially in anime. That said, it is typically attributed to male characters. There are multiple variations of this trope as well, and the most well known to Western audiences are:

  1. A strong love of women, paired with an irrational fear or paralyzing weakness around them - see: Guy from Tales of the Abyss
  2. Strong respect for women, but a strong aversion to them due to personal trauma - see: Lon'qu from Fire Emblem: Awakening

Essentially, Soleil falls into the former category beside Tales of the Abyss' Guy. She loves cute girls, as Guy does, but finds herself paralyzed when in close proximity to them. However, Guy is a man, and Soleil is a woman. This is partially where the issue comes in...

What is Soleil's true sexuality?

So let's just get this little tidbit out of the way before we start discussing Soleil's sexuality: under no circumstances is putting anything into anyone's food or drink acceptable. If there is one merit to the game's censorship, it's this. Now that that's out of the way, let's look at Soleil's sexuality...

The first thing that everyone should know is that both Conquest and Birthright have access to a single homosexual unit. These characters are Niles and Rhajat, respectively. While these characters can be married to Corrin regardless of the chosen sex, their marriage options are exclusively heterosexual otherwise.

As such, we can assume that Soleil - as a homosexual character - would be able to reach an S Rank (and thus marriage) with the female Corrin. However, this is not the case.

The complexity of Soleil's sexuality...

Soleil appears to be the first of a very specific form of alternate sexuality in gaming, or at least it would seem so given the backlash. Unlike Niles and Rhajat, who are clearly bisexual characters, Soleil is no such thing. In fact, for the sake of argument Soleil is not homosexual at all since she cannot marry any female characters. So what exactly is she?

Before we can answer this, I think it's time we look at the official English translation. This can be viewed in the video below or watching it on YouTube. 

Video courtesy of Mrperson0, via Youtube

In this video we see the reality of Soleil's condition. According to the official translation - which, in reality, isn't too far strayed from the original - Soleil is one of the first (if not the first) character in a video game to display conflicting romantic and sexual attractions. 

In particular, Soleil is actually divided on her romantic and sexual preferences. Despite her fascination with the female form, she states in plain text the following:

Corrin: I understand if you're not interested [in me], since I'm only a woman in your imagination.

Soleil: Oh, that's not such a problem. I like men just fine. I think I could even get to like one for real if I knew him well enough.

It should be noted that the S Rank conversation is where the most deviation from the original text happens. In the original, Corrin states that the sun reminds him of her, and so he proposes to Soleil with a sun-shaped ring. She stutters for a bit, and reveals that she is in love with the female version of Corrin that she saw through the powder. However, she then goes on to reassure him that regardless of male or female she loves him for who he is.

Angry Protester: That means they made her no longer lesbian! Raise your torches!

Whoa, wait up just a second! Before we get our smallclothes in a knot, let's take a moment to look at another support conversation first.

Let me introduce you to my friend Foleo...

Foleo (or Forrest in the localized version) is another trope-filled character. Fans of Fire Emblem have seen his like before through characters such as FE7's Lucius, and FE: Awakening's Libra. 

Foleo is Fire Emblem: Fates's resident pretty-boy, yet another Japanese anime trope that revolves around male characters who are often mistaken as women, usually due to their choice of attire. The one who makes the biggest mistake of confusing Foleo's gender, however, is none other than our Queen of Controversy - Soleil.

In their Japanese support conversation, Soleil believes Foleo to be a woman. That is, until, she gets verbal confirmation from both Foleo and others that he is in fact a man. However, it is their S-Rank conversation that is the most interesting part of their relationship...

Foleo: ... Um, er... Soleil, you do like girls, is that right?

Soleil: Ahaha! Do you really need to ask me after all this time? Of course I do! I love cute girls!

Foleo: Then are boys unacceptable? As, um... romantic partners...?

Soleil: I wouldn't say unacceptable, but girls are preferable by far. I mean, like, boys don't have any beauty, right? Looking at them doesn't get me all fired up.

Foleo: Yes, I thought so...

Soleil: Oh, but I like you, Foleo. Whenever I look at you, my chest feels all tight, and I get the urge to give you a nice big hug.

This is where Soleil's sexuality becomes a bit more... confusing. Before we make a final verdict, however, let's look at what we have:

  1. Soleil gets squeamish around women due to her irrational levels of attraction toward them.
  2. However, Soleil never explicitly states that she is romantically inclined toward them outside of the Japanese version of her conversation with the transvestite character, Foleo.
  3. We know that her only marriage options are with male characters, namely: Corrin, Kana, Shigure, Dwyer, Siegbert, Forrest, Ignatius, Percy, Kisaragi, and Asugi.
  4. Due to a lack of availability of translations for other support conversations, and the definitive masculinity of the other marriageable candidates, we must assume that: A) the conversations revisit the fact that she is attracted to women; or B) they are not explored at all.
  5. More often than not, Soleil states in her conversations that she enjoys the aesthetic qualities of women, but also enjoys the personalities of men.
  6. She is also capable of producing a child with whomever she marries, provided that the male character has a related child character (or isn't a child themselves).

Therefore, we must come to one of the following conclusions:

  1. Soleil is sexually bicurious, if not fully bisexual. This would mean that she is physically attracted to both men and women. She is also romantically heterosexual, meaning that her relationships with women never go beyond physical intimacy.
  2. Soleil is homosexual, but for the sake of fitting in chooses to repress these feelings and act as a heterosexual.
  3. Soleil is heterosexual, but she simply enjoys the female form in all its beauty.
Angry Protesters: So what does this all mean? *Raises pitchfork slowly*

This condition that Soleil has is one that is rarely visited, especially in Western media. Very often, the media draws very distinct boxes to categorize the LGBT community, namely the very ones that make up the acronym. However, Soleil represents the grey area in between.

To list Soleil as bisexual would be wrong, as we know for a fact that she is only romantically attracted to men. Based on evidence, Soleil's romantic and sexual desires go in very different ways. She legitimately enjoys the female form - as seen in her conversations with Foleo, however, she also is physically attracted to men - enough so that she can conceive a child with them. She also lacks significant evidence in her female-to-female support conversations that signify anything beyond superficial attraction.

The fan reactions

Fans are heavily divided on what they think of the translations as a whole. For the most part, they tend to be positive - at least on the Fire Emblem subreddit. Conversely, /r/KotakuinAction - the GamerGate subreddit - has been clinging to the controversy for a lot longer, as they still are complaining about the Nintendo Treehouse localization. There is, however, the growing concern about the C Rank conversation between Beruka and Saizo being nothing but "...", suggesting that it may be an error or a bad joke.

When it comes to Soleil, the story is very much the same. /r/KotakuinAction is complaining about the changes in full force, and meanwhile, the people over in /r/FireEmblem are generally accepting the changes. In fact, some Fire Emblem subreddit followers are actually praising how Treehouse handled the translations, as very little story content (and support conversations) has been altered.

So what do you think about the changes that were made to the international release, RR-sama?

Well, everyone who followed my Fire Emblem: Fates controversy articles knows that I've always been one for companies making the least changes possible. When it comes to Soleil, I suggested in a previous article that they simply changed the original powder into a consensual magic spell instead. This would provide a believable, and yet much less controversial scene.

When I read through the new conversations, I actually cringed a little bit. A blindfold is surely better than magic powder. By all means this new method is consensual, as it happens in conversation instead of off-screen. But if we think about this for a bit...isn't the new conversation actually more homophobic?

Proposing that we still believe Soleil to be a purely lesbian character, wouldn't a blindfold and pretending that Corrin is a woman allude to gay conversion therapy more than the original? I mean, seriously... Imagine I walked up to you (regardless of your sexual preference) and said to you:

"Put on this blindfold, and pretend I'm X instead of Y. This will get you to stop being afraid of X, despite your attraction to X."

Wouldn't this still lead to the same controversy once we reached the S Rank conversation where she states that she might eventually fall in love with you? I mean, sure... Soleil says they'll take it slow, and eventually she will decide whether or not to be together as she gets to know the real Corrin. However, I think it's pretty obvious that this "conversion" was successful, as they proceed to make a baby soon after.

That, and the whole blindfold-imagination thing is a little farfetched...

Yet people seem to be taking this change pretty smoothly, and everyone seems satisfied with the result. Maybe people realized that they had it all wrong? Maybe people just don't care anymore? I have no idea. Regardless, it is clear to me that I will never truly understand society. In any case, at least people can stop worrying about Soleil's sexuality and maybe focus on what makes her character great now.

But hey, that's just me! What do you guys think of the changes to Soleil's conversation with Corrin? Would you have prefered my "consensual magic spell" over the blindfold technique? Is Soleil totally your waifu? Leave your opinions in the comments section below!

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Nintendo removes creepy petting feature from Fire Emblem Fates https://www.gameskinny.com/q9asi/nintendo-removes-creepy-petting-feature-from-fire-emblem-fates https://www.gameskinny.com/q9asi/nintendo-removes-creepy-petting-feature-from-fire-emblem-fates Tue, 26 Jan 2016 12:16:01 -0500 Zanne Nilsson

Fire Emblem Fates has already met with some controversy, and it appears that Nintendo has sat up and taken notice - and is altering the English-language localization of the game to avoid more criticism.

Among the recently-revealed changes is the removal of a feature which allowed players to pet, rub, or stroke characters by using their stylus on the 3DS touch screen. When done to characters that the main character has achieved an S-rank relationship with, the dialogue has reportedly turned much more suggestive.

Nintendo reps confirmed with Kotaku that the controversial mechanic will be removed from the localized version, but still defended its existence in the original version of the game:

You might have heard somewhat misinterpreted or exaggerated information about the Japanese original game, but even in the Japanese original version, we have not included any features which are considered inappropriate in Japan.

Another feature which was apparently not considered "inappropriate," but which will nevertheless be removed from the localized version, is a scene some have criticized as "homophobic." The scene involved the male player character spiking the drink of a female character (yikes, already in some questionable territory there) - a character who is attracted to other women - with a magic powder which makes her see men as women, allowing her to become attracted to men.

Many saw the idea as being uncomfortably close to "gay conversion therapy," which attempts to change a person's sexual orientation so that they'll be heterosexual. And the scene's presence is indeed a little odd, considering that the game has been praised for allowing the option of same-sex marriage.

As you can imagine, reactions to the news have been mixed, with some supporting the changes and others calling them "censorship." But in any case, Nintendo has made their decision, and there's little chance that they're going to change their minds on the issue.

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When pigs fly: Trails in the Sky SC localization coming next week https://www.gameskinny.com/xkvb4/when-pigs-fly-trails-in-the-sky-sc-localization-coming-next-week https://www.gameskinny.com/xkvb4/when-pigs-fly-trails-in-the-sky-sc-localization-coming-next-week Sat, 24 Oct 2015 14:02:37 -0400 John Adamczyk

XSEED Games, well-known game publisher and, more importantly today, localizer of Japanese games, made a cryptic tweet the other day:

For JRPG enthusiasts, it seems that pigs really must be flying, because today, XSEED announced that The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is finally getting the long-awaited localization of its second chapter, titled Trails in the Sky SC

The best part?

It's coming out next week.

It won't just be on Steam, but, according to XSEED, the game will also be available on GOG.com and, for North Americans, on PSP and PS Vita. A European release will follow.

The fact that a company would so gleefully drop the announcement of an anticipated game on the masses a week before release is a heartening thing in the gaming industry; where releases are often milked for months on end before coming out.

Hats off to you, XSEED. I don't think many people saw this coming.

Watch the trailer. Get excited. 

One week to go.

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