With the hectic E3 announcement season behind us, we know many games headed our way that we didn’t at the beginning of the year. What could be next for fans of Japanese games? Let’s break it down.
First, of course, a few ground rules:
It needs to be released or releasing within 2016, 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 platform viable in both regions. For now, that means 3DS, PS4, Wii U, PC and Vita.
Okay, onto the contenders!
Valkyria: Azure Revolution
Likely Western publishers: Sega/Atlus
Why we may get it: New Sega has been very kind to fans of Japanese games in a way that the Valkyria Chronicles 3-era company wasn’t, and the first game’s Steam success has given the franchise a larger audience. The remastered PS4 release was brought here, too, so the console’s not a problem.
Why we may not: This is a new game that will need a full translation unlike these VC1 ports, and it doesn’t exactly have the greatest buzz for its decision to scrap the tactical battles for a JRPG-heavy approach.
Etrian Odyssey V
Likely Western publishers: Atlus
Why we may get it: We’ve been lucky enough to see all Etrian Odyssey games to date, and hopefully that means it sells well enough to continue Western releases. As an internal project, that’s easier to accomplish, and oh, right: the games are usually quite good. Besides: a struggling series would be more likely to skip an Untold release than a pillar entry.
Why we may not: It’s a big RPG with a lot of text and things happen?
World’s Longest 5 Minutes / ClaDun Sengoku
Likely Western publishers: NIS America
Why we may get it: Nippon Ichi has a decent track record of localizing its internal projects, and World’s Longest 5 Minutes seems cool: a game built around doing everything you need to do before your save file corrupts in a SNES-era JRPG. There’s also ClaDun Sengoku, the third in a series we’ve seen over here and another throwback pixel-art game. We want to see more of both, but we’d love to do that in English.
Why we may not: Both are smaller projects on a platform that isn’t doing great overseas, so they could miss out on a global release. For both, hope may lie in a PC port.
Update 7/27/16: The Longest Five Minutes is headed West to PC and Vita in 2017!
Dragon Quest Heroes II
Likely Western publishers: Square Enix
Why we may get it: The first game was released worldwide in an effort to revitalize the brand’s global presence, and has been followed by three more localization announcements. That suggests that the first did well, and also that these games are low-risk localization propositions.
Why we may not: You never really know for sure with Square Enix, and that’s a thing we’ll continue to say until there’s an English copy of Slime Morimori Dragon Quest 3 for sale.
Likely Western publishers: Aksys, Natsume
Why we may get it: The 3DS release of Puzzle & Dragons Z showed that a free-to-play mobile game could be adapted into a 3DS RPG with a lot of success, and Monster Strike seems to follow its lead, with fun world-exploration trappings and the Japanese sales numbers to back it up. Million-sellers in Japan generally get a really close look by those looking to localize. Check our video for more!
Why we may not: That sales success for Puzzle & Dragons Z didn’t really translate to the West, with a widespread-but-unheralded first-party release from Nintendo. That may have a chilling effect.
Super Robot Wars OG: The Moon Dwellers
Likely Western publishers: Bandai Namco
Why we may get it: The “Asian English” release has become a big thing as of late, and often it means a way for players to enjoy a game that won’t get a full localization treatment. For Bandai Namco, though, it’s more often a stepping stone. Like with Sword Art Online and Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force! The OG (Original Generation) games don’t have the licensing nightmares of the core series and can make it West, as seen with the GBA and DS releases, and this is a fresh story in that universe that needs no prerequisites.
Why we may not: It’s possible that the Asian release is the extent of the support. Which is, you know, okay. Import it and maybe pick up Gundam Breaker 3 while you’re at it. But a native launch is better.
Black Rose Valkyrie
Likely Western publishers: Idea Factory International
Why we may get it: Featuring characters by Kosuke Fujishima and a story by Takumi Miyajima, the game serves as a reunion for longtime Tales series creative talent and bears the pedigree to get it some attention from players. It also is in a great position as a Compile Heart title already announced under an “Idea Factory International” brand, still not yet announced for the West but certainly not pretending that its appeal stops at domestic borders.
Why we may not: This one really doesn’t need any hesitation, really. It has to be on the way.
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
Platform(s): Vita, PS4
Likely Western publishers: XSEED
Why we may get it: XSEED has worked to localize the series for years, and its Steam success has served to reinforce those efforts. With all those games often showing up well after their initial releases, it’d be enticing for XSEED to showcase something a bit newer.
Why we may not: We’d bet on it showing up eventually, but we may have to wait until the release of the game’s PS4 port next year before we hear anything about it.
Picross 3D 2
Likely Western publishers: Nintendo
Why we may get it: It’s incredibly easy to localize, has a lot of buzz and is on Nintendo’s stronger platform. We said it’d be headed over earlier this year, and we’re still confident it’s on the way.
Why we may not: We… also thought it’d be announced by now.
Monster Hunter Stories
Likely Western publishers: Capcom
Why we may get it: Stories is meant as a more welcoming entry into the world of Monster Hunter, with a JRPG-like approach rather than the exacting combat of the core series. Capcom is still looking for ways to broaden its fan base in the West, and getting into the “kid-friendly JRPG” market is a popular and generally successful move over here.
Why we may not: Monster Hunter doesn’t have the cultural relevance over here, and rather than building out a long-term plan, Capcom may instead opt to preserve its niche presence and nurture that rather than taking a big swing while many of its franchises are running into financial problems.
Platform(s): PS4, Vita
Likely Western publishers: Koei Tecmo
Why we may get it: Omega Force has worked hard to get its games running on PS4 and PC, making them more viable in the West than portable exclusives, and its demon-hunting game, Toukiden, has been a big part of that. Creating a PS4 version of Kiwami for the West seems like the sort of move you make when you’re investing in the franchise for the long haul; bringing over the sequel is the next logical step.
Why we may not: We’d still say it’s likely, but nothing’s a given in a genre known for how much of its success is confined to within Japanese borders.
What do you want to see head Stateside? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!