Back in June of 2012, a small group of fans in North America started making a lot of noise about a few games that were being published by Nintendo in both Japan and Europe, but weren’t scheduled for release in America. For as much noise as those fans made, and as much press coverage as they got, arguably that group of fans and the games they clamored for would be nowhere without the publishing power of localization specialist, XSEED Games.
I’m not going to go into detail about their history in this article, but suffice to say that XSEED knows how to please their fans, sometimes even at a loss for them. The small team at XSEED is made up of only nine multi-talented employees that do 100% of the work (the same work that larger publishers need dozens of employees to take care of).
While it’s certainly flattering to believe Operation Rainfall may have had a small part in spreading awareness for Xenoblade, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower, it is critical to make it clear that the real thanks must be given to the developers and publishers that tirelessly work their asses off to bring these games to fans.
First off, credit must be given where credit is due:
The Last Story was developed by several small studios, with Mistwalker (founded by Final Fantasy creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi) taking charge of the game’s overall direction and development, and AQ Interactive (now merged with Marvelous to form Marvelous AQL) taking charge of the game’s programming. Freelance composer Nobuo Uematsu (best known for his work composing music for the Final Fantasy series) is responsible for the game’s fantastic soundtrack, which is available through his record label, Dog Ear Records.
Pandora’s Tower was developed by the talented studio Ganbarion, best known for their work on licensed One Piece and Jump Stars games. This is their first original IP, and as such, it was a project filled with love and passion.
The development of a game is where the bulk of the work and the expense is, followed by marketing and finally localization.
Both The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower were localized for Western audiences by Nintendo of Europe. The localization process is far more complex than simply throwing Japanese text into Google Translate and calling it a day. Localization first involves a literal translation. Every single word and phrase in the game must be translated to its rough English (or Spanish, French, Italian, or German) equivalent. Once the game is translated, you slap it on a disc and call it a day, right? Wrong. Once a game is translated, the raw translated text needs to be translated into something meaningful to your culture. Different cultures have different takes on subjects such as humor, emotion, moral and family values, and other nuances that we take for granted on a daily basis. Even the foods you enjoy on a daily basis may be unheard of or go largely ignored in other countries. Also, not all “text” in a game is actually located in a text file. A large amount of “text” is actually part of a game’s texture and graphics, meaning that many times the company that does the localization also has to edit the in-game graphics with the English text. In the case of these games, Nintendo of Europe not only provided a text translation in five languages, they also provided a full voice cast in English, requiring dozens of voice actors. To top it off, the voice acting was incredibly well done (yes, there is such a thing as bad voice acting), meaning it had to take countless hours from the actors, producers, as well as crew to mix and master the new audio track. The versions of these games released in North America contain the exact voice tracks and localization created by Nintendo of Europe, so the next time you play these games, be sure to remember the hard work put in by Nintendo.
However, all of that work would be for nothing if no one steps in to publish the game. Publishing the game requires several steps. This excellent interview published by Kotaku highlights a lot of the work a small niche publisher like XSEED goes through every time they reach out for a new game. I highly suggest reading that interview, as it goes much farther in depth than I am even going to attempt in this piece regarding the localization and publishing process.
To make an incredibly long journey for these games into a digestible article, a lot of thanks needs to go out to the hard working developers and publishers out there who develop and sell the games that fans want. This article only touched on these two games that Operation Rainfall campaigned for that were published by XSEED Games, and didn’t even mention the amazing Xenoblade Chronicles, which was given a chance thanks to Nintendo of America, nor did it touch on the countless other niche games given life overseas by such publishers as ATLUS, NIS America, Aksys, Rising Star Games, Namco Bandai, Gung Ho, and many others that are willing to take a risk to provide you with entertainment.
So while we may like to think we helped spread the word, give the real thanks to the hard working people that actually make these games possible. And there’s no better way to show them you are grateful than to buy their games brand new. I don’t want to bring up the “new vs. used” debate too much, but buying your games new ensures that the developers get their fair share for developing the games. Used games have their place, but keep that in mind the next time you go out to buy the newest first-person-shooter or major generic “fantasy” game on day one and say you are going to wait for Pandora’s Tower to hit the bargain bin… Support the games you love and the companies that make them. Buy new, and pre-order if possible.
In addition to buying the games new, you can support the people who made these games possible by subscribing to or “liking” the following pages (I’d also like to recommend sending them a quick note that says “thank you”):
If you’re looking for someone to thank for The Last Story or Pandora’s Tower, thank the people above. Of course, this wouldn’t be an “Operation Rainfall” article if we didn’t mention Xenoblade Chronicles, so be sure to thank the following for that as well:
Official Nintendo Worldwide Website (you can find all related Nintendo links from here)