Hello there! In this piece, I would like to draw attention to a select number of all-ages console VNs that I would like to see localised into English. Personally, as somebody who leans more towards console releases of all-ages VNs, I have felt that the demand for those games hasn’t been properly met by publishers over the years and I hope that this trend will change as time goes on. Hence I have written a list of eight titles I’d like to play on consoles in the West.
I have tried to make this list semi-realistic – as in, titles that stand a chance of actually coming over due to already existing partnerships between the developers and Western publishers (which means titles from Japan-only developers like Ruby Party will not be on this list with one exception). I have also left off certain titles like the Utawarerumono remake and Steins;Gate Elite as I suspect that we will get these eventually. I also acknowledge that a PC-only release may be what is necessary to get the games localised at all as it may not be possible for console versions to release for a variety of reasons.
Those reasons may include that console ports are riskier due to the market being smaller at the time of release as well as being more expensive to release here (in part due to them requiring a rating unlike on PC as well as more rigorous debugging and QA). Furthermore, there may also be licensing issues due to many console ports being handled by third parties like Prototype and Dramatic Create in Japan rather than the original developers.
Anyway, let’s get this list started:
Originally released in November 2015, this game was developed by Groove Box Japan and published in Japan by Marvelous. It is set in a dystopian future where the goal of the game is to uncover the opponent’s lies and decrease their internet reputation. You play as a young man in this title. Gameplay consists of gathering information from followers about certain characters. Then the player has to expose these lies about these people’s lives to the internet at large in internet “Flame Wars” comments battles. These are similar to the gameplay segments seen in Ace Attorney. Doing so rewards you. This is basically a parody game about modern internet culture. A localisation was likely on the cards at some point as English trophies for the game had surfaced when it originally came out. As it was one of the more intriguing Vita exclusive games that was released during it’s prime hopefully somebody can have a crack at releasing it in English.
Date-a-Live Twin Edition: Rio Reincarnation
This is a bishoujo visual novel adaptation of Kadokawa’s Date-a-Live light novel series, handled by Idea Factory/Compile Heart in Japan. This pack includes Arusu Install, Rinne Utopia, and Rio Reincarnation. The first two VNs originally released separately on PS3 before being ported as a bundle pack to Vita (alongside the addition of Rio Reincarnation) before then coming to PS4 last year. The art is done by veteran illustrator Tsunako (Neptunia series, Fairy Fencer F) so there may be an audience who just want to support her art. The anime adaptation is already available in the West and has a physical release in multiple territories. Hopefully Idea Factory International will be able to release it in English in the future.
Yu-No: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World
Mages/5pb released a remake of the popular 90s era time travel mystery visual novel for both PS4 and PS Vita last year. This remake is all ages and features a new art style. It stars protagonist Takuya Arima as he seeks to find his father after he receives a package from him with information about the existence of multiple dimensions as well as a device that allows him to visit them. He had long believed his father was dead, so this package was unexpected. Although this title is well liked and the original PC version has been fan translated for several years there has never been an official release outside of Japan. The remake was listed on Amazon Germany back in January 2017 for both PS4 and PS Vita so hopefully this does turn up later whether through Spike Chunsoft Inc. or through someone else.
El Dia has been on a roll with remastering old Sega Saturn games for the modern Japanese market. They remastered Eve: Burst Error and Desire for PS Vita and PC and now they are remastering Doukoku Soshite… for PS4 and PS Vita. Doukoku Soshite… has you play the role of a male high school student who is a victim in a car crash alongside his classmates. They wake up in a mysterious mansion alongside a couple of other mysterious people. This is a horror murder mystery where people in the mansion are being killed mysteriously and it is up to the main protagonist to solve the case. Like the previous remasters they feature digitally remastered CGs and scenario revisions from the original writers. However, this game also features gameplay segments including Zero Escape-esque puzzles and mansion exploration, so there is definitely more than meets the eye with this title. I personally loved the aesthetic based on the gameplay trailers and hope somebody decides to take the risk and localise it, especially as it could resonate well with the Zero Escape audience.
Aksys Games have generally been pretty good at picking otome games to localise from Idea Factory’s lineup, with many games like Hakuoki (PS3, PSP and 3DS versions), Code: Realize, and Collar x Malice being popular choices among both critics and the otome audience. I’m not big on otome but most of the titles that I have been interested in reading have been localised. However, a couple have slipped through the cracks, with one of those games being Binary Star. This VN stars an orphaned young woman called Fuu who is taken in by a group called “Tenshi.” Her parents were killed when she was seven years old because they were dealing an illegal product known as “Hoshi.” This VN explores the theme of drug dealing and curses. It sounds rather interesting, especially as it has the potential to be a good story-focused title. This was one of Otomate’s first Vita games, so it would likely need a port in order to be a feasible localisation candidate now, but stranger things have happened.
Kenka Bancho Otome
This is an interesting looking title. Kenka Bancho Otome is an otome visual novel spinoff of the Kenka Bancho series starring a young woman, Hinako, as she impersonates her twin brother in an all-boys high school. An interesting feature of this game is the ability to choose facial expressions and various battle quotes when preparing for fights. A while ago Spike Chunsoft ran a Twitter poll asking what games they would like to see officially localised. The titles on the poll were Kenka Bancho Otome, 428, Shiren the Wanderer, and Banshee’s Last Cry. Kenka Bancho Otome won the poll, yet 428 was the title that was later announced for localisation under the name 428: Shibuya Scramble. It’s a shame we haven’t seen Kenka Bancho Otome as it appears to be an interesting title, and I hope to see it later on after 428 releases.
This is the darkest title on this list, and is a collaboration between 07th Expansion and DMM Games. This title involves the protagonist getting involved with a mysterious girl, Toe Kurakami, who carries around a mysterious doll. The protagonist comes from a family whose children have to temporarily leave home during their teenage years in order to become more independent. The themes include dealing with curses, and guro with disturbing imagery and content. A console version titled Iwaihime: Matsuri was also released for PS4 and Vita by Nippon Ichi Software in Japan last year. Horror visual novels are a mostly untested market outside of Japan so a localisation of this title is admittedly unlikely. However, a game with dark themes and content like Iwaihime may find an audience here, especially if it was advertised as being written by Ryukushi07 (When They Cry series). Localising the console version would also broaden the reach of 07th Expansion titles outside of PC in the West.
White Album 2 ~extended edition~
This one is more of a dream localisation as right now there is only an 18+ PC release of this definitive version of the White Album 2 story. White Album 2 is a love drama split into two parts. The first half takes place during high school with the protagonist and the two main heroines teaming up to do a school concert while a love drama forms. The first half sets the scene for the second half of the story when the protagonist is in college. This new version adds a new after story following the events added to the PS3/PS Vita versions. It could be possible that Aquaplus will port this definitive version to consoles later on, to capitalise on the all-ages market on modern consoles. Considering that their presence outside of Japan is as an all-ages only developer this could be the only way we will get this title localised. For one of the most critically acclaimed VNs of all time, this is a title that would likely do well in the West, regardless of whether the 18+ content is localised or not.
Console ports of already existing all ages titles available on Steam
One opportunity that I felt has been missed by publishers is localising the console version as well as the PC version of many VNs. For many of these games, Vita versions already existed (such as Himawari, Flowers, Ozmafia, and The House in Fata Morgana) with Clannad’s English Vita version even appearing on a demo unit at TGS 2016.
Hopefully as the market for VNs continues to grow bigger companies will decide to port more old/new VNs to PS4/Switch for an English release. I say English, not Western, as thanks to the consoles being region free a Japanese/Asia only release with English subtitles included on disc/cart would be enough for many people, myself included. Games I would be interested in seeing include anything by Key, or other titles like Himawari, ISLAND and Fata Morgana. There are potential QA/translation concerns that have popped up with Asian English releases before (such as with Super Robot Wars OG: The Moon Dwellers on PS4) so this won’t be a favourable option for everyone. However, if it is possible to use the translations for the Steam releases this may help a potential Asian English release be of higher quality.
In addition, porting the currently available otome games on PS Vita to PC would also be a good idea. This is in order to balance out the availability of all genres across consoles and PC. For example, Idea Factory International is currently porting or have ported all of their otome lineup to PC. However, none of the titles handled by Aksys Games have been given the same treatment. Aksys would do well to follow IFI’s lead by porting their otome games to PC too as there is likely demand for it. Other companies would benefit too, especially those that release otome games for consoles in Japan. Otome games on PC are an ignored market overall, with most of the other big otome labels (such as Ruby Party, Broccoli, and Rejet) having no presence on Steam. Therefore, PC ports would be a good way for these brands to get their foot in the door while also fulfilling a gap in the market.
And that’s the list. Hopefully, somebody will decide to localise some of these titles in the future as they all look interesting, and the medium deserves to grow on consoles in the West rather than remain exclusive to PC for the most part. Of course, it is not feasible to localise everything, so we will have to wait and see what titles do get picked up. Until next time!