Though several months away, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have already changed the landscape of gaming. Aside from all the technical and social media babble, damn near every large developer has hopped onto the MMO bandwagon sporting a shirt with “Open-World 4EVA” printed in obnoxiously bright font. We saw a similar genre-binge near the start of the current generation when everyone in the world suddenly forgot that there are games beyond monochromatic first-person shooters.
However, even in this period of encroaching triple-A monotony (but really pretty and wholly enjoyable monotony), players can still turn to the world’s number source of quirky-ass games: Japan. Sure, the indie development scene is blossoming like never before and improved publication will likely lead to the most diverse gaming market in industry history, but we’re still seeing a disturbing lack of quality JRPGs here in the West.
But, to the relief of JRPG fans everywhere, the localization borders between the States and the Japanese games market have recently begun to crumble and releases are beginning to trickle down. Unfortunately, there’s still a crotchety old group of windbags holed up in a corner with enormous franchises gathering dust in their back pockets. I am, of course, referring to the annoyingly large group of Japanese studios that refuse to wake up and smell the viability.
Luckily, there’s a growing cluster of studios leading the rational charge. And who better to spearhead the trend than Namco Bandai? With Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, Dark Souls, and Tales of Graces F on their roster, Namco has proven their commitment to outside markets. Of course, they’re certainly not the only ones; NIS America is as emphatic as ever, and Atlus has been putting out quality titles all the while. Namco, however, holds a unique trump card in the Japanese race: the Tales franchise—the friggin’ case study of localization.
Namco has done the unthinkable: give fan bases exactly what they want. Overwhelming support of Tales of Xillia‘s August 6th release spawned Tales of Xillia 2‘s impending US/UK conversion, as well as a full repackaging of the Tales of Symphonia arc. JRPG fans have basically had three Christmases this year, and all thanks to the same studio. Better still, all three come complete with lavish Deluxe Editions — which I might find to be exploitative if I weren’t so busy buying them all.