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Sega, please don't half-ass your localization like this

And this goes to pretty much any company being stingy with localization.

Three weeks ago, one of the best console music games that doesn't involve plastic instruments finally landed stateside. You probably don't know because Sega hasn't done anything to tell people. It's called "Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F," The FIFTH game in a series based on the digital singers, "vocaloids." You want a quick review? It's got a strong set list, tons of replayability, and a freaking edit mode that lets you make tracks and videos for ANY mp3. It's great. 9/10. Only real problem is you can't set the HD lag past 99 milliseconds. Oh, and the other crap they pulled in the localization. Let's talk about that.

I pre-ordered this game thinking it was going to be Xenoblade all over again and you wouldn't be able to find it next week. Sega proved my suspicions EXACTLY RIGHT. When I came to pick it up that Tuesday, the GameStop clerk miraculously knew what I was talking about, and then told the other guy behind the desk "that's the last copy we have. We had two pre-orders and two copies" Granted, I don't know if that's GameStop or Sega's fault, but I had pre-ordered that WEEKS ahead of time. They usually order more then, right? I probably ruined the week of some 14-year-old girl because that's the only store she can get to! That's on YOUR conscience, Sega and/or GameStop!

Anyway, it's not like anybody was expecting much for the localization. However loyal the American fanbase is, it is small, not warranting a big overhaul. And English vocals is probably the last thing anyone wanted. After all, Sega's own Yakuza series has been forgoing English voices since the second installment. What WAS expected, at least by me, were English subtitles. J-pop tends to blend together enough as it is for casual fans like me, and actually knowing what's being sung about would be nice for differentiating between the songs. Yeah, some of the videos do a good job telling the story, but others are just... weird. Yeah, turns out some Japanese music videos are hard to follow. Who knew?

But, no, the subtitles are just phoneticizations of the Japanese lyrics. Who are those even made for?! People singing along or something? It's not like they move along with the music, karaoke style. I had seen it in the demo, but I assumed that would be changed for the final release which was still in a couple months.

What it means is I'm just not getting the same entertainment from the game that a Japanese audience will. For example, there's clearly supposed to be a joke at the end of the "Summer Idol" video, and there is, but I wouldn't know it without looking it up online. The drama from songs like "Time Machine" and "Black Rock Shooter" are lost. And I'm certain that "Tell Your World" and "Continuing Dream" are inspirational as all hell, but that message won't reach English users. It's a game ABOUT singers that won't tell us what they're singing! Treating the American audience like this is like telling your kids you're all going to Disney World, and then making them pay for tickets. Or maybe just dropping them off at the Florida state line.

Here's the thing, fans could have gotten this game easily, especially with the PS3 not having a region lock. And people know that because it's a music game, there's no need to understand the language. I would have gotten it myself at an anime convention I attended this summer, had the localization not been announced just that week! So, this means Sega gave NO INCENTIVE to people who already bought the games through other means. Maybe Sega ended up with money in their bottom line from those sales too, but this isn't helping U.S. retailers any.

And here's the kicker, folks: there's a Vita version of this that they DIDN'T send over! This would EASILY crack the top ten games of the Vita's library, and there's no way it would have been any more difficult to change than the PS3 version. At LEAST pull an Ace Attorney 5 and release it on PSN! And no, it doesn't do remote play! (not that you'd want to with the crappy frame rate you'd get, but it would have been a nice option)

(This article is nearly approved but I wanna throw this in.) Also, as a casual fan of the music, I was hoping there'd be something in the game or its packaging pointing me to where I can buy the songs or learn more about it. There wasn't anything like that. It's a shame, since this could have been a real marketing blitz for vocaloid music in the west, especially with English versions of the technology being made available now. It's a real missed opportunity.

My question is why Sega bothered with the localization if they were gonna half-ass it this bad? Was it really worth paying somebody to write the lyrics to "Nyanyanyanyanyanya" in English letters? (should clarify, yes, that is the "nyancat song") Why not just put the Japanese version on PSN and save the money? Seriously, what's keeping that from happening? Like, with everything? I'm honestly surprised that the national walls haven't come down on the online marketplaces yet. I get that you want the user's location to match retail prices there (sorry, Australians) I guess maybe it's a currency thing? But even then there has to be some way to get money to foreign devs easily enough to at least justify putting popular titles on international stores. I know I can access the Japanese PSN from an American PS3, so why even have that wall there? I really want to see imports on digital markets at some point. Otherwise, people will just pirate the damn things, and they'll have every right to!

Thanks for reading! ... um... sayonara... desu? Uh, I know "sayonara" is "goodbye" and... you say "desu" to, um... sound cute, right? Maybe, if I had English subtitles, I'd freaking know!!

UPDATE: On the off chance somebody reads this in the future, Sega has announced the Vita version will be made available in EU and NA as a digital download in early 2014. Coincidence? I think not!

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EXVirtual1708d ago

I agree. Games like Yakuza Ishin need to be localized. Even though they're niche look at the Tales series.

caseh1705d ago

Love the Yakuza series but most people don't realise that these games simply don't sell well in the west. They sell twice as many copies in Japan compared to the rest of the world combined. On top of that, since Yakuza 3 the sales figures for each iteration are on a steady decline.

i'm honestly amazed this Project Diva game has even made it outside of Japan at all, niche doesn't even come close to describing the appeal of J-POP outside of Japan.

EXVirtual1705d ago

I know I know.
No harm in importing IF it doesn't get localised.

LostDjinn1708d ago

I thought "desu" was how you turned something into a question. "sayonara... desu" Is "Goodbye...?" So I'm forced to be that guy. You know, the one that corrects you online just coz he's a douche. You've effectively used two question marks "sayonara... desu?". They're just in different languages. (My work as a douche is done for the day)

OT: Manufactured scarcity is becoming a problem with GS. It seems to be happening with a lot of Japanese games of late. It bugs the crap outta me.

admiralvic1706d ago


A question ends with ka, so desuka is a question, where as desu is just an ending. I could get into a long winded explanation, but this is the gist more or less.

Blastoise1708d ago (Edited 1708d ago )

I agree they messed this up so bad. Though to be honest I don't really care about what they're singing about because I find the songs so catchy.

What really annoyed me is like you say they didn't send the Vita version over, which is what everyone was asking for. In EU (Where I live) you can only buy the PS3 version DIGITAL ONLY. And we all know how expensive digital games are.

I would have gladly bought the a physical copy of the Vita version but I'm not spending almost £40 on a digital only non-portable file of a game, especially when PS4 is around the corner and isn't backwards compatible.

It's a shame that SEGA are testing the waters with the franchise this way when it definitely would have done better under different circumstances.

Glad I'm not the only one annoyed by this localization, for one reason or another.

admiralvic1706d ago

"I agree they messed this up so bad. Though to be honest I don't really care about what they're singing about because I find the songs so catchy. "

You're not missing much. A lot of these Japanese songs translate poorly or make absolutely no sense whats so ever. If you don't believe me, then check out some fan translations of these songs.

XboxFun1708d ago

I loved the NES era where games were localized horribly and we got these great off the wall translations and miss-spellings. We need to bring that back!

PopRocks3591707d ago

It was for fans who wanted to support a western release. I remember Sega teasing fans for a western release a few times. It's as simple as that. The PS3 has a far larger install base than the Vita and I imagine Sega felt that more fans would be viable on the, as of now, more fluently supported platform.

The thing is I do also feel there could have been more options as far as the localization, but I think it's a bit much to sling this much criticism at Sega. I'm rather satisfied with the game personally, especially considering the game may never been localized at all, and I'm happy I supported such a niche title and the potential for future better ones.

That's just me though. Personally, I would have liked the game more if it had had a multiplayer mode. As for the lyrics, that's there so you know the words they are singing; in case you want to sing along in Japanese. If you want a translation, you can just as easily look one up on YouTube. I'd recommend the one for Summer Idol. It's rather adorable.

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