I would argue that to see what taste in games people have, it is always good to look at lists like this. So here is mine – I’ve tried to cover a wide variety of Japanese games as well as really obscure games, even if in passing mention. The list is mainly Japanese RPGs, though I hope you enjoy reading and this can stimulate discussion in the comment section. There will be 4 games that are already confirmed for a Western release (plus one Japanese import game), then in the second half, there will be 4 more unconfirmed localisation wishes (plus 1 more listing representing a whole genre). They will be listed in no particular order. Anyway, here are my most anticipated games for 2017.
Top 5 Most Anticipated Games:
Persona 5 (Atlus for PS4/PS3)
This is by far one of my most hyped games of 2017, and it’s finally released. Admittedly I am still fairly new to the Shin Megami Tensei series, but I am confident that Persona 5 will be a brilliant RPG after it’s very lengthy development cycle. I don’t feel the need to go into P5 into huge detail as I’m sure it’s common knowledge, but the themes that the game is set around (namely of freedom and rebellion) have the potential to be really well executed and add to the experience. I am enjoying what I am seeing of the characters, and the inclusion of the Japanese audio is a great move on the part of Atlus and I am really hoping this will be a standard for all of their future games. Also, the game looks like a dream from screenshots and gameplay, and will hopefully run well on both PS3 and PS4. If I like this game as well, maybe I’ll finally get round to the other MegaTen games on my Pile of Shame?
Tokyo Xanadu (Nihon Falcom/Aksys Games for PS Vita/PC)
In the last year, I had the fortune of picking up The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel for the first time, and being thoroughly impressed with the game, reminding me about what got me into RPGs in the first place. I am hoping to have similar feelings with regards to action RPGs, and Tokyo Xanadu is one such RPG that could fill that gap quite nicely. It is set in modern day Tokyo, meaning it’ll have a different flavour to The Legend of Heroes and their other big series, Ys. Now detractors will argue that I am better off waiting for the PS4 version, and to be fair I probably will, but that version has not been announced for localisation. However, lengthy RPGs are better on the go in my opinion, so Tokyo Xanadu has the potential to fill that gap quite nicely. I am hoping for some solid release details soon from the publisher Aksys Games, however considering the mountain of text that is in this game I am prepared to wait a bit longer.
Rewrite+ (VisualArts/Key for PC)
Since I reviewed Harmonia for this site, I have been interested in playing more Key products but I admittedly haven’t got around to doing so yet. Of all the products VisualArts have lined up so far to self-publish, Rewrite+ is the game that sticks out to me. It’s a compilation pack that includes both a revised version of the original Rewrite as well as the fandisc, Rewrite Harvest Festa. The setting sounds the most interesting – it themes around environmentalism and overgrown trees, as well as involving a parallel dimension. It’s an all-ages galge, and they can be great visual novels if they are handled well. Plus, from what I hear the story adopts a more happy, optimistic tone compared to some of their other games. I’d be interested in seeing how it’s pulled off, especially now this is an official release. Also, while I’m at it VisualArts – please release a hardcopy version for all your games you will release on Steam. Just put them on JBOX or via Limited Run Games and give people the option for a hardcopy.
Dungeon Travelers 2-2: The Maiden who Fell into Darkness & the Book of Beginnings (Aquaplus/Sting for PS Vita)
The latest RPG in this series is on this list rather than my localisation wishlist is because I simply am not expecting it to get localised and be physical, considering the state of the Vita and the lack of Aquaplus games we have received lately. This is a first person dungeon crawler set following an alternate ending of Dungeon Travelers 2, where the Demon God won and all the girls in Fried’s harem go missing. I’m hoping that this entry will be just as good as DT2, if not better. I found the original Dungeon Travelers 2 to be a hidden gem in the Vita’s exclusive library behind the ecchi content, mainly due to the mountain of postgame content, fast-paced turn-based battle system and deep class customisation mechanics. Of course, this latest entry will only be in Japanese at the time of writing, but how else would you make a challenging game more challenging?
Super Robot Wars V (Bandai Namco for PS4/PS Vita)
A game the always defies the odds of getting a localisation is one that immediately piques my interest. Super Robot Wars V is one such example for a simple reason – it’s licensing hell. it’s a long-running strategy RPG franchise that uses a lot of various licenses from the Gundam franchise, hence this may explain why most of the Gundam games have never been localised. And that’s okay, as Bandai Namco Asia are starting to localise games exclusively for the Asia market with English subs, overcoming many of these issues in the process. Purists will like this as there is the decreased chance of dubs or censorship, but for those like me who simply want an option to experience niche Japanese games in English, this is a godsend. A tactics RPG starring robots piques my interest and now that it is coming to the English-speaking market (somewhat), I would like to experience this myself next year.
Honarary mentions: God Wars: Future Past (PS4/PS Vita), Caligula (PS Vita), Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (3DS)
Now we’re moving onto my localisation wishlist, this list consists of games that haven’t been announced but I would like to see in the West across a few different platforms. None of these are confirmed for a Western release, and I’m pretty confident the majority of these will end up coming over, but it’s fun to speculate nonetheless.
Coven and Labyrinth of Refrain (Nippon Ichi Software for PS Vita)
I’m surprised this hasn’t been announced by NIS America yet. This first-person dungeon crawler from a gameplay standpoint appears to be unique in the genre, with the ability to have dolls become your party members, and in a large quantity as well later in the game. The protagonist is similar to the one from The Witch and the Hundred Knight, whom I hear was pretty popular. The composer of the game’s OST in Tenpei Sato of Disgaea games, and the artist of the drawings is also of Disgaea fame. I’m really hoping for an announcement at NISA’s press conference in February or sooner. I really enjoy a good dungeon crawler, so the absence of a Western release would be disappointing.
Etrian Odyssey V: The End of the Long Myth (Atlus for 3DS)
Keeping with the dungeon crawler theme, I am also surprised at the lack of announcement for the latest game in the Etrian Odyssey series, which in my opinion is the gold standard for the first-person dungeon crawler genre. The fifth instalment looks to make further improvements on a unique formula, such as even further accessibility to the map drawing. I am hoping that this iteration will be a fine entry in the series, and from the music alone that appears to be the case, even if the themes are a little more simplistic than the recent Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold. Given that the 3DS is several years old now and in its twilight years, I can’t foresee an Etrian Odyssey VI releasing for the system (though an Untold 3 would be possible and I would be all over this) so I would love to see an Etrian Odyssey V localisation in the West.
Uppers (Marvelous/Bullets for PS Vita)
Uppers is a game that I do believe will get announced for localisation within the first few months of next year. And part of the reason I think will be because it bombed in Japan, and it’s a shame because this looks like it could be one of Takaki’s better games. Uppers has you play mostly as burly men fighting to be king of the island through brawling and performing tasks to please the female bystanders. The game was developed by bullets who developed the Kenka Bancho series, of which only the third game was localised on PSP. The brawling looks insane from the gameplay, with bizarre knockout moves involving manholes and helicopters being two of many possible combinations. There is fanservice, yes, but it’s arguably one of Takaki’s tamer games, with the only real unavoidable fanservice being upskirts and panty collecting during the fights. I have a strong feeling this will be a genuinely good game that would do wonders in the twilight years of the PS Vita. Also, the soundtrack is amazing.
More all-ages/console VNs in general (Various developers/publishers for PS4/PS Vita/PC)
I am going to make a bold assertion – 2017 will be the year for console visual novels. With the PS Vita in its twilight years and much of the upcoming exclusive lineup consisting of visual novels, I would argue that now is the best time for companies to release VNs en masse onto the PS Vita as it begins to fade into obscurity. The diamond 9 above consists of the 10 VNs that I would like to see localised the most, including a few that I believe will be announced within the coming year. For instance, Chaos;Child was listed on Lamee back in November, Net High has a localised trophy list in English and Frontwing are localising Island for Prototype, but they haven’t announced the Western release platforms for the game yet. In Japan, it will be on PC, PS Vita and Android. Banshee’s Last Cry ~Rinne Saisei~ and Kenka Bancho Otome both stand a good chance considering they are both Spike Chunsoft games. The remaining VNs are ones that I would personally like to see, with Yu-No being one in particular I would like to see in the West. The Utawarerumono duology are dependent on each other to make sense so they are arguably the biggest risk, despite being one of the biggest VN IPs in the history of Japan. This is also why they count as one entry, likewise White Album 2 originally consisting of multiple chapters in the original PC release. The year looks bright for console VNs, and I’m going to bet that at least three to four of these will be announced for the West.
Dragon Quest XI: In Search of Departed Time (Square Enix for PS4/3DS)
Finally, I’m going to talk about a game that I am personally really looking forward to seeing. Dragon Quest was one of the series that got me into Japanese RPGs. I really liked what I had played of my first Dragon Quest game, this looks like it will go back to the backbone of Japanese RPGs, and that is no bad thing. Medieval fantasy, spells, inns, you name it looks like it will be in this game. The game is getting a dual release on both PS4 and 3DS, and both versions are shaping up to be great products in their own way. We haven’t had a localisation announcement for DQXI yet, but considering Square Enix seem to be hot with regards to localising Dragon Quest games at the moment, I’m hoping this trend continues long enough so that we can get DQXI, and some of the 3DS Dragon Quest spinoffs as well. They would be a good way to build up hype for Dragon Quest XI. Slime Morimori 3 and Theatrhythm Dragon Quest would be my picks personally.
Honarary Mentions: Blue Reflection (PS4/PS Vita), Shin Hayarigami 2 (PS4/PS Vita) Shin Moe Moe Ninja Taisen 3 (PS4/PS Vita/PC)
And there you have my top 5 most anticipated games and top 5 localisation wishes for 2017! What do people think? Feel free to sound off in the comments below.