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NISA, no sir

posted on February 13th, 2010 by christian

I haven’t played any games localized by NISA, save for the 15 minutes I’ve spent with Disgaea on PSP.  Yet I find myself fascinated with the company, thanks to the many stories of I hear of the mind boggling mistakes and blunders they have suffered over time.  Here are a few that I have heard of, complete with links to disappointed gamers discussing them (warning – links may contain dangerous doses of weeaboo).

– Ar Tornelico 2 features poor translation, loss of vocal work, and a crash bug for one of the last bosses.

– DLC for Disgaea 2 on PSP pulled, then returned after being buggy.

– Disgaea visual novel officially announced with a typo ridden, horribly awkward sounding  comic.

– Holy Invasion of Privacy Badman! (What did I do to Deserve This?) leads to a lawsuit from Warner Bros. for its similarity to a classic catchphrase coined by Batman and Robin.  The second will be delayed by two months, while the original version will be pulled from the Playstation Network until modified, thus creating one of the first examples of a digital collector’s item.  The series’ new name, “What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord!?”, is almost identical to a song by the Pet Shop Boys, which is like holding a golf club up after being struck by lightning.

– Other  potential bugs in Rhapsody  and Mana Khemia that I haven’t looked up.

I don’t want to make fun of the company too much, since I don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.  They may  have a tiny staff that is stretched too thin (actually, I bet you can guarantee that), or they may really, truly not give a shit about what they’re doing, hoping that their fanbase’s love of otaku bait games will  cause them to not notice the lack of quality control. Whatever the case may be, the market for localizing niche Japanese games is as vibrant and competitive as ever.  The obvious 800 lb. gorilla in the room is Atlus, who are as professional and efficient as they come.  Even when they do make a mistake, such as with the smearing ink on the Demon’s Souls strategy guides, their response is quick and serious.  But even smaller outfits like Aksys and Xseed have shown that they know what it takes to get the job done.  If NISA keeps this up, how long will they sustain it?

Sloppy translating – or a plea for help?

The answer is really out of their hands.  It is up to the gamers to decide whether they will continue to support these efforts, and despite all the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth found across the Internet, it doesn’t seem like NISA fans are able to walk away.   I myself dealt with SNK releases until their American branch essentially dissolved, and I can say that a lot of it was my simple desire to play their games, such as King of Fighters.  I imagine it might be the same in this scenario, no matter how odd it might seem to think that there are folks who actively prefer RPGs developed by Gust.

The other problem is that diehard jRPG fans have grown to have a warped sense of reality.  In one of the links above, a NeoGAF user brushes off the severity of the game crashing bug in Ar Tornelico 2, since you “can always just level grind until you can beat the boss quickly enough”.  Anyone who considers level grinding to be an acceptable solution to a game crashing bug is clearly a glutton for pain.  As long as NISA can grab the attention of people like that, it won’t matter what they do.

I was going to argue that the company’s upcoming release of Sakura Taisen will be its greatest test of character, but as sheer luck would have it, an even better announcement dropped into my lap Thursday night. NISA is going to start licensing anime for western distribution, including  Persona: Trinity Soul, a show based on a game from their biggest competitor.  Financially, it seems like a terrible idea, what with their parent company having recently been punched in the metaphorical throat and seeing a 97% drop in profit.  And no matter what kind quality they bring to these efforts, anime fans tend to be a hell of a lot more picky than gamers when it comes their entertainment of choice.  At least, that’s the way they usually work.  For all we know, NISA will cast their spell yet again, and shoddily translated subtitles and poorly compressed DVDs will become a thing of praise.

Sarcasm aside,  I have a feeling this is going to go terribly, terribly wrong.

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