Aksys has again descended from the heavens to bestow upon us more English-language otome games. I’m a few days late but I can’t let the recent localisation announcements pass without comment so here goes:
First up I’ll quickly mention the Code Realize fan disk Future Blessing. Fan disks are quite common for otome games and are typically a collection of short stories set either alongside the main game or giving a little bit of an epilogue. They tend to be more lighthearted, comedic, or sweet in tone, regardless of the subject matter of the original story. Code Realize is a fantastic game available both physically and digitally for the Vita in NA and digital only in the EU (but you can happily import the physical edition, as there’s no dlc there’s absolutely no need to swap between NA and EU PSN accounts). This one isn’t even out in Japan yet so we can’t speculate on the quality, but early artwork is gorgeous and definitely suggests the stories are leaning on the sweet and romantic side.
If you played and enjoyed the original I think you’ll find this a fun return to that world and characters. I can’t think of a fandisk being localised before so I’m very excited.
The other titles announced continued to surprise. For one thing, they’re a lot more recent than some of titles we’ve been given previously, Period Cube only came out in May this year and Collar x Malice hasn’t released yet at all. Even Bad Apple Wars is only from late 2015. This interests me. I wonder if it indicates that localisation is being considered during game production rather than as an afterthought – and if localisation of the script is happening earlier in development then perhaps the gap between releases in different territories could get much smaller. I have a lot of questions about what this means for localisation in future, but I think we can’t make any guesses just yet. Still, it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on.
Collar x Malice is set in a dystopian-ish future where you play a young female police officer trying to work in a chaotic world, in the wake of an unspecified “Event”. On a regular day on the beat you are attacked in the street and when you wake up a collar has been locked around your neck, containing a poison that could be injected to your bloodstream at any moment. To find out the who, what, why and try and get it removed before you lose your life you are sent to a small team of unconventional detectives to try to get to the bottom of the case. I love the artwork for this one, I’m a sucker for detectives and a good mystery/investigation – so it’s been sitting on my import wishlist from the moment it was announced.The thought of getting to play it in English made me more excited than I knew how to cope with.
Unfortunately the release of this game so far has been a little bit rocky, for a very long time there was no information about it releasing at all, and once it had a date it ended up being delayed with just a month to go. There’s been no information given as to what caused the delay, but there are any number of things that can cause disruption in both development and publishing, so I don’t want to assume the worst. If Aksys has decided to invest the time and money to localise it I want to believe they’ve seen enough to think it’s got potential. But I guess we won’t know more until a couple of months when it finally gets out into the wild.
In Period Cube you are a teenage girl who goes into an online RPG to try and track down her missing older brother. Once inside, the game changes to a fantasy – almost fairytale inspired – world. The only way to leave now is to beat the game and for some reason you have become the key to unlocking the end, causing every other player to come after you. Yes, it’s very Sword Art Online, but it’s also still very much a visual novel. By my understanding there are still stats you’ll need to raise within the RPG, but the emphasis is much more on the relationships you form with the various character who come after or protect you (and who they might be in the real world).
The impression I got from Japanese players was that this was a decent game, not terribly unique, but quite enjoyable. It does help that it has that spectacular artwork*. This is a game I was quite happy to buy just to look at the pictures, but now I’ll have the opportunity to play it properly I’m interested to see what else it has to offer. I’ve not taken to any of the SAO games (didn’t help that the localisation of the first was horrendous), but the general plotline is still interesting and I’m curious to see if this takes it to places I wanted SAO to go but didn’t. I’m not sure, but I’m definitely going to give it a shot.
Last but definitely not least is Bad Apple Wars, which is possibly the most surprising pick in my opinion. You play a teenage girl on her way to her first day at a new school when she is hit by a bus and killed. She comes to to find she is at a different school, where something is not quite right and at least one of the teachers is wearing a big rabbit head… The students seem divided into two warring groups – the Delinquents and the Disciplinary Committee. You must pick a side (your character design will change slightly depending on who you side with, which is a nice touch). The goal? To get through this place and graduate from the strange school, the only chance for your soul to be reborn into the world for a second go at life.
From the synopsis alone you probably see what I mean – one of these things is not like the other. Overall reception after it came out was that it was good – occasionally a little racy – but maybe some parts were written better than others and the difference in quality showed (Google tells me the game had 7 writers, which explains everything). Whether this is something that could be smoothed out in localisation I don’t know, but I like the oddball choice and I’m quite happy to try out a different approach to the visual novel.
These are all interesting choices and raise so many questions about Aksys’ approach to future localisations, but looking at this set of releases the two that are out in Japan already are both considered decent games (albeit not perfect) and the other two are highly anticipated. I’ll be interested to see what reception the unreleased ones get in the next few months, but I think this is overall excellent news for otome game and visual novel fans. With the failure of the Beastmaster & Prince localisation Kickstarter I was worried publishers would take it as a sign that these games really don’t have support in English-speaking territories, so I’m very glad to see that at least one company is still taking a chance.
The expected English-language releases for these games will be in 2017. No announcements have been made as to whether they will have physical and digital releases.