We're all suitably pissed off at Ninendo Of America's statement, the one that goes “Thank you for your enthusiasm. We promised an update, so here it is. We never say ‘never,’ but we can confirm that there are no plans to bring these three games to the Americas at this time. Thanks so much for your passion, and for being such great fans!”
For those of you not in the know, and at the time of this writing, and I'd say that's nobody except my own grandma and grandpa (BTW, thanks for the cookies, Ma!), this was the response Nintendo made to “Project Rainfall,” a fan based effort to get Nintendo to release a series of Japan only titles including the acclaimed “Xenoblade Chronicles,” here in the U.S. The response to the response has so far been various iterations of “F^&K YOU NINTENDO OF AMERICA!” At least, those are the polite ones.
Now, I don't blame the participants of the petition and many hopeful fans for wanting to pull through and have Nintendo release these games as a result of their concentrated outreach effort. I don't even blame them for being angry that the corporate arm of video gaming legend brushed off their efforts with a mere stroke of their fingertips. What I am concerned about, however, is the fact that in the midst of this grandiose disappointment, some of us may be losing our heads.
After predictable dissatisfaction with Nintendo of America's initial statement, they released another one claiming essentially that these games would take a long and expensive time to go through English localization, therefore their release isn't feasible at the moment. Fans have quickly countered their argument by saying smaller, lower profile companies like ATLUS and Aksys Games build their whole business model around localizing games and a big company like Nintendo could easily do the work of those smaller companies. What's more, when a Japanese game such as “Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom” indeed does get localized, it automatically becomes a high-selling title, outrunning its sales in every country, including its native Japan. The timing is also right. Indeed, if Nintendo were to release these titles, they'd put an end to a long summer drought where no interesting titles will be released until this November's “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.”
So, clearly in the light of such logic presented by the fans, Nintendo's argument has failed. The people disappointed by Nintendo's lackluster response to “Project Windfall” are crying out for a more meaningful explanation as to why Nintendo is unenthusiastic about bringing these games to the states.
group is to sensitive to tell you the reasons why they are reluctant to do this.
So instead I will.
Anyone remember a plucky little DS title called “The Legendary Starfy?” Fans had been begging and pleading Nintendo to bring the adventures of their happy-faced little starfish mascot to the United States for years. We finally got an adaptation of the latest game for DS in June 2009. How did it sell? Well, it sold on the top of the DS sales charts for 2 whole months. Then it took an enormous swan dive and has since been washed away in the great undercurrent of other forgotten DS titles.
Just three months earlier, we celebrated the release of the Nintendo Dsi and it's DeFacto launch title “Rhythm Heaven.” There was an enormous outcry for the original version of the game, “Rhythm Tengoku” for the Game Boy Advance to receive an American version that, sadly, didn't come to be. So, they made certain to import the sequel of that game on the DS and in its first 3 weeks it sold 30,000 copies, a far cry from the million copies it sold in Japan. Maybe you should try harder!
Should I discuss the popularity of “Elite Beat Agents” compared to its Japanese counterpart “Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!?” Nah, no sense in beating a dead horse.
Instead, I'll bring up the topic of a certain Nintendo title which came out way back in June of 1995. Gosh, a lot of these titles come out in the summer months, don't they? It was a fully localized and translated RPG that was critically acclaimed and highly popular in Japan, but only managed to sell 140,000 copies in the U.S. despite the fact that it came packed in with its own scratch n' sniff player guide.
Yep. I'm talking about Earthbound.
Once again I have to say that I agree with some of the arguments the proponents of “Project Windfall” are making. The games that are being left in Japan do have potential to be good Wii titles here in the United States. My argument though, is that through Nintendo's history, they have done exactly what is being asked of them and they were rewarded with failure. There is honestly nothing wrong with any of the titles I've used as examples, but despite how promising they were, they all ended up sitting on the shelf. It makes me feel a little guilty about the fact that we're begging Nintendo to do it again. Except this time it's with THREE titles instead of just one. While I don't agree with Nintendo's verdict, knowing this history can at least help me understand why Nintendo isn't enthusiastic about the prospect.
However, I do intend to end this article on an upbeat note by discussing one moment when Nintendo of America took this gamble and it paid off. In 1996, Nintendo Of America made months worth of declarations that they were unsure of bringing out a specific Game Boy title, despite the fact that it had already sold millions of copies in Japan and was easily one of the most popular games Nintendo had made in years. Finally, after months of deliberation and an excruciating translation process, they finally released an American localized version of that game in 1998, and it became a phenomenon equal to, if not greater than it ever was in its native land.
What was the name of that game?
In Japan....they called it “Pocket Monsters.”