It’s a given that not all Japanese games will make it outside of Japan. Some didn’t sell well enough in that country, others were too focused on a certain age group and sometimes they’re just too weird.
At the same time, there are quite a few phenomenal or funny games which should get a worldwide release, but don’t. Sadly, gamers don’t get a list of reasons from publishers or developers as to why we’ll never have the honor of playing a domestic version of one of these titles, but usually it is pretty easy to understand why.
So this week we’ll review four DS titles which will very likely never, ever be released in North America.
Freshly-Picked: Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland
The Tingle train has left the station and North America is not on board. Freshly-Picked: Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland was a game reminiscent of Zelda titles like The Minish Cap or Oracle of Ages/Seasons. Players guided Tingle, the man who wants to be a fairy, on a quest to acquire as many rupees as possible so he could go to a magical Rupeeland. Various comical characters would assist him on his travels.
So now it comes down to why Tingle wasn’t chosen for a North American release. This is quite a puzzlement, since the Zelda titles have always done well outside Japan and Americans lined up for Phantom Hourglass. It is even more puzzling since Europe received an English language version of the game. Perhaps Nintendo felt North America wasn’t ready for the gyrating construction workers and spandex clad Tingle.
Densetsu no Stafi 4
I know, I’ve raved about the Stafi series before. If you’re tired of it, just hum a little song in your head while I describe it for people who haven’t been following my column.
Okay, for newcomers – Densetsu no Stafi 4 is a little cartridge of happiness and undersea antics from the same team which created the Kirby games. It stars starfish/star prince Stafi, his little sister Stapy and their clam friend as they go around helping and protecting all the ocean-dwelling inhabitants. Think of it as an underwater Kirby game, with the same great quality, graphics and music, only no enemy eating.
I honestly can not fathom why Nintendo, or some other publisher, wouldn’t jump at the chance to license Densetsu no Stafi 4. The only possible explanation that I can work out in my head is that American video game publishers hate cute mascots, but that doesn’t work. If it were true, we’d never have Nintendogs, Pokemon or Kirby. Maybe publishers have some sort of seafood allergy.
Jump Ultimate Stars
Many people, myself included, herald Jump Ultimate Stars as the pinnacle of portable fighters. It is an amazing fighting game similar to the Smash Bros. series that has everything – great single player modes, awesome extra quizzes and such, fun multiplayer, over 300 characters from famous Japanese manga series and Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection support. Other portable fighters never had a chance.
The sad fact is, Jump Ultimate Stars is a licensing nightmare. In Japan it’s all fine and happy, because each of the 300 characters are from Weekly Shonen Jump series and the rights are owned by the same publisher – Shueisha. All of the 41 manga series found in the game are licensed by different companies (like Viz or Tokyopop), which makes it impossible to release. The online fan translations are the closest gamers will ever come to an English Jump Ultimate Stars.
Any DS dating game
The closest America ever came to getting a Japanese dating game was the PS1 title Thousand Arms, which Atlus was kind enough to bring to the US. No, Sprung doesn’t count – it didn’t originate in Japan.
As readers may know, I’m a huge fan of the otome genre (girl’s life sim/dating game), which grants me a bit of insight into why these games never make it overseas.
There are three reasons. First, companies are betting the games wouldn’t be well received. They’d be like the PS1 title Revelations: Persona. Ahead of their time and too niche to pay off. The second is that most DS dating games would be too expensive and time consuming to localize – most of the DS dating games (Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 1&2, Vitamin X Evolution, Duel Love or Hiiro no Kakera DS) feature a lot of voice acting. Third is that companies don’t want to deal with parental backlash from titles like Days of Memories, Duel Love or Dokidoki Majo Shinpan!.
COMING NEXT WEEK: The PSP takes its turn next week, and we’ll look over four games NA owners will never see released. If you don’t miss a single installment of Important Importables, or want to know right away when the next column is up, then sign up for the Gamertell Newsletter and RSS feed.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Important Importables reviewed Taiko no Tatsujin DS.