Sharin no Kuni now back on Kickstarter; $120k for Vita version; physical copies available (LRG)

Discussion in 'PlayStation Vita Games' started by Kresnik, Nov 22, 2016.

  1. Terramax
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    Terramax Administrator

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    Cheers for the clarification. With all this said, I dunno... maybe it's because I live in Japan and I see about a billion of these kinds of games on used shelves, but I have to wonder why something like this is even coming to the west? Is this hyped as some sort of ground breaking title? And the amount of money some people are throwing at this is just bonkers made. Only just realised this thread was made back in 2016! I sure hope this title is worth the wait for them.
     
  2. Tweeg
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    Tweeg Well-Known Member

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    Japan is the prime market for this sort of game. A lot of different factors exist in that society which create larger opportunities for the demand of this genre of entertainment medium, the "visual novel". Visual Novels (VNs) are something that the vast majority of "western" developers simply don't seem understand nor fully grasp whom the target market audience even is. The publisher's outside of Japan tend to not want to take a risk on licensing VNs unless they contain game elements, and even then there's so much translation work, and potential censorship, required that to do a visual novel is a bit of an expensively high monetary risk project to undertake.

    But yes, this initiated all the way back in 2016 for Sharin no Kuni. Like clockwork, about every six months or so the project gets an official delay announcement, as it was originally announced that it was targeted to release in 3rd quarter 2017. It's important to point out, that if you really research this though, a four year lead time to localize a visual novel is actually not unusual. Most VNs are in localization and quality control for a solid three years. Like Muv Luv, the KickStarter for which ran in October 2015, and the games didn't release until June 2018.:
    [​IMG]

    Now there are Visual novels that developers licensed and rushed to bring to market, forsaking quality control in order to meat deadlines. One of the best VNs released in English on the Nintendo DS suffers badly from sloppy translation work about midway through until the end because the licensing publisher decided meeting a targeted release deadline was more important than releasing a polished game. That game titles of course is "Lux-Pain". Now this is a VN I do refer to as being a game as there is a recurring mini-game in this otherwise VN title, likely the only reason it got licensed at all.
    [​IMG]

    And sadly, Lux-Pain is representative of a lot of early attempts at localized licensed VN releases in the west. A publisher or developer would license one of these titles, allocate their usual x-number of months to localize the titles, and then move onto the next project because that's what they're use to doing. But games also don't tend to have an entire novel's worth of text to be translated and localized either. And this is where when VNs are concerned that the incredible stupidity of many western developers has been toppled, they attempt to treat VNs like a typical video game when they're a hybrid media experience, many of which don't even have game elements beyond multiple choice story paths.

    So in "western" culture, there's this lack of acceptance that their can be a media format that's neither a book nor a full on video title, and I think this is partly because the comic book industry attempted back twenty years ago to present us with "video comics" and it just flopped really hard because it was just comic books presented as a video with occasional voice acting and GIF image level animation. All the Japanese did though, which was really simple, was take the concept of a "Choose Your Own Path/Find Your Fate" type 1980's adventure novel, and adapt that very simple concept over as digital media with full on audio/visual representation, the result being the Visual Novel genre of gaming media.

    What's happened now, what with Muv Luv, Sharin no Kuni, and lots of other VNs is that the original creators and development companies of the VNS in Japan had been receiving negative feedback for years now from the more savvy non-Japanese consumers complaining about the dreadful translations that their products have received. So back about five or six years ago we started seeing some both of the Japanese developers and Japanese entrepreneurs toying with the idea of producing localizations of these games themselves so that the quality of the original production is conveyed over into the foreign language localization work. And the way they decided to financially shoulder the costs of testing this was through crowd-funding. And is it perfect? No. Mikandi Japan (Japanese start-up localization company) did the notorious, for teasing a Vita version stretch goal, title "Libre of the Vampire Princess". The translation that it shipped with was so embarrassingly bad that they voluntarily created an all-new translation released, as a DLC patch, over a year after the game shipped. So even having persons fluent in the original release language working on the localization doesn't guarantee the end product is going to turn out as expected, but in this case it did at least result with the company acknowledging the problem existed and making it right... something a western company would be very unlikely to ever do.
    [​IMG]

    Now, "Libre of the Vampire Princess" brings us to the subject matter that most Japanese VNs that get licensed for release in the proverbial "west" tend to be PC-only adult-only titles. However, there was at least two prior attempts by two different companies to license, localize, and release all-ages versions of Japanese VNs in English in the west, both of which failed. The first was Mixx Entertainment in 1997 with their release of the very poorly received PC title "Graduation", which has an entirely different name in Japan. This massive flop lead to Mixx going out of business. Second was a Japanese company, Hirameki International Group Incorporated, which came on the scene in the 2000's publishing their own anime & video games magazine, licensed anime, and licensed 'all ages' versions of VNs for both DVD players and PC. Hirameki also flopped hard, but at least lasted put in a good effort for a few years before resigning from the international market. Complete roster of Hirameki's releases is available from the 'Collector's Aids' section of my website, or via direct link here.: http://www.tweeg.psoarchive.com/collect/anime_hirameki_checklist.pdf
    What Hirameki did not have going for them, that now works in the favor of current companies doing the same thing VN wise, is social media. Yes, we had forums,. Yes, we had pre-view and review based platforms for the discussion of games and anime related material, but the adage "a picture is worth a thousand words", while true, doesn't hold a candle to the influence of pre-recorded video and live-streaming for grabbing the attention of interested consumers. Hirameki also relied far to heavily on self-marketing of their titles in their own upstart magazine, a magazine that came onto the market and was up against established magazine giants such of the same content type; such as "Newtype USA" and "Animerica ".
    [​IMG]

    But the world has changed. You want to know what a game, or VN, is like just search the name on the likes of YouTube and your sure to find the official trailer, a dozen or more gameplay videos, and some critical reviews. You want to buy a game, but would be embarrassed to have the game box spotted in your home? Not a problem! All of the games are available via digital distribution, and many of them for less than the price of eating out at a fast food restaurant.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020
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  3. Terramax
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    Terramax Administrator

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    A great read. Reminds me of the days when I had the energy and time to write such lengthy posts about things that probably don't deserve it. One thing I do need to mention is that, having learnt a bit of the Japanese language myself, the writing quality the native versions aren{t written any better than their translated counterparts.
    The number of people whom buy these games in Japane are also embarrassingly small, which is why the prices for these games, used, can hit the 6000-7000 mark at times (over £55).

    I would hazard a guess that localisation of these games might actually be that the Japanese market is just too small nowadays. Especially what with mangas increasingly being read preferably on mobile phones instead of typical physical paper copies, similarly I think these story driven games are more likely to sell better on phones than on Switch, etc. This is an educated guess, however, as I really don't have my ear that close to the otaku scene.
     

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