I’ve alluded on Twitter to the fact that I’ve been working on a very exciting project over the past couple of months, but now I can finally share what it is. I’m assisting with the translation and English promotion of a Japanese indie game for smartphones titled Fantastic Boyfriends: Legends of Midearth!
The basic gist of the game is you play as the adorable protagonist holding the sword in the image above, who gets magically spirited away to the fantasy world inside an app on his phone (so meta!). Like many epic fantasies that have come before, you’re tasked with nothing less than saving the world from the forces of evil. Fantastic Boyfriends is unique, however, in that you gather a band of hunky fighters and adventurers to aid you in your quest… and maybe share a budding romance with, too!
The developer, Lifewonders, is an emerging LGBT-friendly company with the goal of showing a wide variety of different kinds of relationships and genders in their games, starting with Fantastic Boyfriends. While Fantastic Boyfriends was generally created with a gay male audience in mind, they hope to expand their reach even further in future titles!
Needless to say, it’s been an honor to work with a developer that values diversity in gaming. I’ve already done significant work on localizing the game for them, but as a small indie developer, they’re going to turn to crowd funding to raise the remaining funds to localize Fantastic Boyfriends. The crowd funding campaign will be announced by the end of spring, but for now, you can head over to the official English website to learn all about the characters, gameplay, and world.
You can also follow them on Twitter for updates, but rest assured, I definitely won’t stop talking about it when the crowd funding actually gets rolling!
Who doesn’t love a good visual novel? English speakers are slowly catching on to what might my favorite video game genre, one that focuses on text-heavy narratives and “choose your own adventure”-like branching story lines instead of complicated, action-based gameplay. Whether it be a traditional dating sim, otome game, or something else entirely, visual novels are unique and now, even easier to make yourself!
Idea Factory International is scheduled to have their first ever press event sometime next month, and I’m crossing everything that can be crossed in hopes that they announce an otome game localization for the PS Vita. It’s been a little over a year since they first commenced operations on September 30th, 2013, and despite a wealth of otome games in the Otomate line at their disposal, they have yet to release, let alone announce, a single title.
But why haven’t they? Comments from publishers in the past have alluded to the immense amount of money and work that goes into localizing the book’s worth of text in the usual otome game, but dialogue-heavy RPGs such as Idea Factory International’s Hyperdimension Neptunia must be a similarly text-heavy affairs. Of course, there’s also the argument that series such as Hyperdimension Neptunia already have an established audience in English, whereas many otome games do not, but Idea Factory International has already had relatively good success with a number of games in their Hakuouki otome game series on various platforms (most recently smartphones).Idea Factory International has already published a number of games from one of its subsidiaries, Compile Heart, so it’s not a stretch to assume that it could just as conceivably work with its otome game subsidiary, Otomate, to bring one or more PS Vita games to an English-speaking audience.
I contacted Idea Factory International regarding the inclusion of certain Japanese games on the site, but was told by Marketing Coordinator David Alonzo that it did not indicate an intent to localize said games. If nothing else, however, it shows that Idea Factory International has some interest in informing English-speaking fans about their otome games, though they haven’t kept their site up to date with every single release.Looking at the game section of Idea Factory International’s website, it’s interesting to note that there are two listings for Japan-only PS Vita otome games, Hakuouki SSL ~sweet school life~ and AMNESIA World, both spinoff titles for their respective series. With new games coming out from Otomate nearly every other month, it’s noteworthy that these are the only two Japan-only PS Vita otome games listed on their site.
It’s also worth mentioning that a new company called Otomate World recently launched a website, Facebook, and Twitter account. So far, it has only been used to promote iOS and Android versions of Hakuouki, which currently only appear to be available in Asian markets (when I attempted to view Hakuouki in iTunes, for example, it asked me to switch to the Vietnamese store). These smartphone versions of Hakuouki do not appear on Idea Factory International’s website.
But is it necessary to appeal to a broad audience for an otome game to be successful in English? While smartphone games are certainly easier to get into people’s hands due to nearly everyone owning a device that can play them, the fact that the Shall We Date?series and others have seen so many installments suggests that there is definitely a market for otome games in English. Unfortunately, most console otome games over the past few years have been released for the PSP, and it’s not a stretch to say putting the effort to localize and release a PSP otome game in English in 2015 would be financial suicide. However, the PS Vita is seeing more and more otome games, particularly from Otomate, and while the install base is but a fraction of the smartphone market, have Hakuouki and Sweet Fuse not proved that there is room for otome games on underdog handhelds?In response to my request for a comment regarding the potential of Idea Factory International localizing an otome game, David replied, “I will say that we’ve heard a lot of requests from people to bring over certain otome titles, and I think it’d be awesome to do so! Hopefully we can do so in the future, but for now we don’t have any news about that.”Notably, the company has a section in its forums for localization requests that features an otome game thread that was created in November 2013 and remains relatively active. Otome game fans seem particularly interested in AMNESIA, which was also one of the top requests in Aksys Games’ forums (which are currently down, so unfortunately I can’t provide a link to that thread). AMNESIA, Diabolik Lovers, and Hakuouki are undoubtedly Otomate’s most popular series in Japan currently, but the fact that Hakuoki is the one to have received an English release suggests that AMNESIA and Diabolik Lovers might not have as wide-reaching appeal (as someone who has played both, I can attest to that).
I was originally going to make this article a list of otome games I would like to see announced at Idea Factory International’s press event, but in all honesty, I don’t care. There are so many Otomate titles to choose from on the PS Vita now, from AMNESIA and Diabolik Lovers to Code: Realize ~Sousei no himegimi~, Binary Star, RE: VICE[D], Kokuchou no Psychedelica, upcoming Shinobi, Koi Utsutsu, and more, that I would be happy to support whatever it thinks will be most successful. But if Idea Factory International announces the rest of its lineup for 2015 and chooses not to include an otome game, I feel it will be making a clear statement that handheld otome games are not an avenue it does not consider worth exploring.I don’t profess to assume anything about the business end of games localization, and don’t want to sound like I am dismissing the risks involved with localizing games with very niche audience. However, we have seen time and time again that western publishers are happy to take risks with titles that will appeal to the hardcore “otaku” crowd, such as Idea Factory International with Monster Monpiece and NIS America with Criminal Girls, both of which required editing out potentially offensive content in order to release in western markets (it’s worth noting that despite getting a European release, Monster Monpiece never made it to Australia).
I really hope, for the diversity of niche Japanese games in English, that my cynicism is proved wrong.
Update:IFI announced that they’ll be localizing AMNESIA under the title Amnesia: Memories!
Note: I don’t intend to discredit the importance of smartphone otome games, but rather assert that there is a wide range of quality games being released on the PS Vita that would be great candidates for potential English releases.
People often forget, but while the rest of the world is freezing, things are really heating up down here in the Southern Hemisphere! In honor of the summer season, Nintendo of Australia has released a special wallpaper to folks in the land down under, and it’s pretty darn adorable!
The wallpaper, featuring Yoshi and a catsuit-wearing Mario trying to escape the heat, is available in 13 different sizes for computers, tablets, and smartphones. The wallpapers can be downloaded from Nintendo of Australia’s website. Alternatively, I’ve uploaded the whole set here as per request of folks having problems accessing the page.
I just can’t get over Mario”s off-shoulder cat suit. And what’s with Yoshi hogging all the fan?! I know I’ve set this as my iPhone 6’s lock screen, but if you live in the frozen north, you may want to wait until summer rolls around to use this one!
After Square Enix was heavily applauded for the Nintendo 3DS rhythm game Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and subsequent Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call, some fans mused about the possibility of Theatrhythm-like games focused on different series. Well, apparently Square Enix had the same train of thought, as today they announced the next game in the rhythm series, Theatrhythm Dragon Quest!
What I find interesting about the teaser site is that while it plays a revamped version of Dragon Quest‘s iconic theme, it doen’t have the same funky vibe that the revised Final Fantasy prelude has in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. Does this indicate a more traditional direction for the menu/background music in Theatrhythm Dragon Quest?There’s not much information about the game yet aside from the teaser site that reveals that a trailer for the game will debut at Jump Fiesta on the weekend of December 20th – 21st. Not only that, but it will be playable, as well! The game already has a release date of March 26th in Japan, and will retail for 5,800 yen.
Also, it can’t be said enough how adorable the Dragon Quest monsters look in the big-eyed Theatrhythm art style!
Do you think Dragon Quest has enough catchy tunes to make as meaty of a game as Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy? Unfortunately, none of the Dragon Quest games on 3DS have made it into English yet, so localization chances might not be so good for this one… Then again, as a rhythm game it won’t have anywhere near the amount of text as an RPG, so maybe Square Enix will throw us a bone!
As you may know, I’ve dabbled in the realm of video game-related podcasts for a while now. I’m a cohost of the Nichiest Podcast Ever with shidoshi and Bryan, I’ve appeared infrequently on the Video Game Writers podcast, and I even made a guest appearance on the latest Gaymebar function. But, while I love chatting about video games, I’ve long felt that there aren’t many good podcasts out there that conduct discussions on a variety of Japanese entertainment, particularly anime/manga and games.
So, what’s a blogger to do? Start her own podcast, of course! My latest endeavor, Chic Pixel Plus, will act as a kind of supplement to this blog, and in it I hope to discuss all manner of fun Japan-related things with each of my bi-weekly guests.
On this week’s pilot episode, I’m joined by special guest Elliot Gay of Japanator and the Red Sun Gamer podcast for a discussion of Kyoto Animation’s newly-announced anime Free!, what spring season anime we’re watching, and a few video game-related tidbits including a discussion of just what is up with Compile Heart’s Fairy Fencer F, old-school Ys, and the 3DS eShop game Crimson Shroud. We also get our fangirl on over a rather interesting obsession… Japanese GBA games boxes!
If that sounds up your alley, please give the episode a listen below! You can also download it directly onto your computer, if you prefer, or even manually subscribe on iTunes by adding the RSS feed.
0:11 – A new challenger appears
3:00 – (fujoshi heaven) Free!
11:40 – Shingeki no Kyojin – Attack on Titan (watch on Crunchyroll)
27:43 – Suisei no Gargantia – Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (watch on Crunchyroll)
37:18 – Aku no Hana – Flowers of Evil (watch on Crunchyroll)
53: 37 – Video gaemz? Fairy Fencer F
1:02:19 – Ysssssss
1:10:05 – Crimson Shroud
1:12:22 – omg GBA boxes
1:20:12 – closing remarks
Opening ♫ Honeybee Manor – Final Fantasy VII
Ending ♫ Guren no Yumiya – Shingeki no Kyojin
Since this is my first time recording and editing a podcast, I’d really appreciate your feedback! Is the sound okay? Are the topics interesting? Do I say “um” too much? Please let me know what you think, and look forward to a new episode with a different guest in two weeks!