Whether or not you’re a fan of importing games, nothing can really beat playing something in your native language. It’s sometimes hard to know just what is going to make it to the West and what isn’t, though. In our inaugural edition of the Guide’s Localization Radar, we’ll take a look at the likely candidates to get picked up.
First, of course, a few ground rules:
It needs to be released, but not announced for North America. There are too many projects that aren’t yet done in Japanese, and plenty of those that will definitely make it over just haven’t been announced yet.
It needs to be on a viable platform. As of now, that means 3DS, PS3, Wii U and Vita. (360 and PC too, but those just don’t have many Japanese-developed titles.) PS4 and XB1 will likely be in play by the next installment.
With that, the Radar!
Dragon Quest VII
Likely Western publishers: Nintendo, Square Enix
Why we may get it: Nintendo has stepped in lately for Square Enix, taking up publishing duties on Dragon Quest IX and VI for DS, as well as Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 and Bravely Default. There are three intriguing DQ releases at play (including the Dragon Quest Monsters remake and Slime Morimori 3), but the main series entry is most likely.
Why we may not: Many of Nintendo’s localization efforts have been met with low sales. That the releases keep piling up unlocalized like that isn’t a good sign. Also, Dragon Quest VII isn’t generally regarded as a particularly good entry in the series.
Inazuma Eleven 1/2/3
Likely Western publishers: Nintendo, Level-5
Why we may get it: It’s already in English! These first three games have been localized for Europe, so the barrier to release is much lower. It’s even possible that Level-5 could release Inazuma on its own, as an eShop exclusive.
Why we may not: It’s soccer, and soccer’s not as lucrative in North America. Also, as series sales begin to slip in Japan, the urge to take the series worldwide is probably lessened.
Likely Western publisher: Sega
Why we may get it: Western releases for the series have been relatively consistent, despite never-really-that-impressive sales. The company isn’t changing that too much, considering its efforts with properties like Project Diva, so continued Yakuza support could still be in the cards.
Why we may not: Yakuza is very text-heavy, so it’d be expensive to bring over. The PS3 is on its way out, too, so its window may have passed.
Phantasy Star Online 2
Platforms: PC, Vita
Likely Western publisher: Sega
Why we may get it: It sounds like a localization has at least been started, if not completed, and Western players seem genuinely excited by the idea of playing it. On PC, at least, the required resources for a full-scale release are less significant.
Why we may not: MMOs are generally blowing up in the face of everyone who tries to launch one, and that’s probably not helping. Also, they don’t have a set amount of content, so translation and editing work, as well as English-language support, would have to keep going in perpetuity.
Digimon World Re:Digitize Decode
Likely Western publisher: Namco Bandai
Why we may get it: Digimon games still have a following! Most of the games that haven’t made it to the West have been on the mostly-dead-here PSP, and a chance to bring the series back to the most viable current platform probably shouldn’t be missed. It’s the most compelling choice in a field of monster battle games that includes Medabots, Youkai Watch and others.
Why we may not: Precedent set by those Japan-only PSP games may rule. Frankly, that’s the most likely reason, since Namco Bandai has been more than willing to go out on a limb for some recent releases (like Project X Zone).
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus
Likely Western publisher: XSEED
Why we may get it: The company’s playing nice with its Japanese overlords at Marvelous, and much like a TV network keeps shows on the air produced by its in-house studios despite lower ratings, the economics of releasing its own titles in the West are probably more favorable. It all depends on how the 3DS title sells.
Why we may not: The Vita isn’t anyone’s idea of an untapped sales source, both here and in Japan at this point.
Battle Princess of Arcadias
Likely Western publisher: NIS America
Why we may get it: NIS America will continue to exist, and while it does, it will release its peculiar brand of Japanese title. And that’s great! This side-scrolling action-focused title is definitely different, and could capture the audience it needs among those seeking quirky games.
Why we may not: Even though this hasn’t stopped the company in the past, it should be noted that the PS3 is on its way out. It’s also interesting that NIS is leaning more into anime releases, decreasing its reliance on games and possibly letting it retract some and focus on less risky releases like Disgaea sequels.
Also on the Radar: Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai 2 (3DS), Youkai Watch (3DS), Fantasy Life LINK! (3DS), Monster Hunter 4 (3DS), Tomodachi Collection: New Life (3DS), Disney Magic Castle: My Happy Life (3DS), New Atelier Rorona (PS3/Vita), Gods Eater 2 (Vita).