The Top 10 Games We Want Localized

Here at Hardcore Gamer we have a love for all things Eastern gaming-related. After all, it was that very affinity that got us started in the first place. Thus, we are constantly keeping up with what’s hot in Japan, and are usually observed regularly foaming at the mouth at the possibilities of which games may make it over to the States for a localized release. While publishers such as NIS America, ATLUS, Aksys and XSEED have done wonderful jobs at bridging the gap between Eastern and Western culture in this way, there are still some titles that have slipped through the cracks for whatever reason. As of late, though, we’ve noticed more than just a few games not managing to see the light of day here in North America — which at the very least is frustrating to watch.

Thus, today we are taking a look at the ten games we want localized more than any others. We’ve covered the gamut on this one, pulling from the 3DS, Vita, PC and PS3 libraries, to ensure that no one system is left out. So with that being said, go ahead and sit back, relax, and daydream yourself to a time when all of these fantastic titles are available for the English-speaking audience.

10. God Eater 2 (PlayStation Vita | Shift)

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There’s a lot to love about God Eater, even outside of its MonHun roots. The fact that it takes a tried-and-true formula and makes it its own is chief among its accolades, as the Monster Hunter-clones of the world aren’t always as fun and as well-executed as God Eater is. Since the game’s first North America release some years ago on the PSP, fans have been enthralled with action-RPG. Unfortunately, the Vita sequel wasn’t picked up for localization when it launched in Japan last fall. While it’s very clear that the first game’s poor box office performance here in the West paled in comparison to that of its showing in the Land of the Rising Sun, Gods Eater Burst regardless garnered a cult-like following of fans whom, in many ways, appreciated the game even more than Monster Hunter, simply because of its anime-oriented flair and arguably more engaging combat system. Nevertheless, the Monster Hunter genre (it’s become one at this point) is growing in popularity here in the states, and with the recent surge of attention the Vita is getting from RPG publishers and developers, God Eater 2 would be able to capitalize on the movement.

Localization Likelihood: High

09. J-Stars Victory Vs. (PlayStation 3 | Spike Chunsoft)

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Like JRPGs, the fighting game genre is one that has been on fire for the past several years. Taking advantage of this frenzy, J-Stars Victory Vs. brings us some hard-hitting action that is incredibly reminiscent of Jump Super Stars for the DS. J-Stars is exactly what it sounds and looks like, which is really all the introduction it needs; it takes 52 characters from various Shonen series, plops them into fighting arenas and asks players to duke it out to see who really is better — Naruto or Goku. The action is fast-paced, gut-punching and for all intents and purpose, over-the-top in the best of ways. Not only is it wonderful to be able to pit star against star, it’s extra satisfying considering the core mechanics are rock-solid. With as dedicated as anime and fighting game fans are here in the States, it would be silly not to monetize the excitement that’s surrounded Victory since its first reveal. If JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle can do well here, then surely J-Stars Victory Vs. can be a right giant.

Localization Likelihood: High

08. Shining Resonance (PlayStation 3 | Media.Vision)

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Media.Vision is one of those developers that produces pure gold with each title they put out. Most known for their Wild Arms and Chaos Rings games, the Japanese developer is a tour de force in the JRPG scene for sure. Thus, when pairing such a strong studio with a time-honored franchise like Shining Force, it feels like a stars-aligning type moment. Although Shining Resonance was just announced earlier this month, it’s already turned heads and got people talking. Not only has it been some time since the last Shining installment, but hearing that Sega has put the series in the hands of a very capable developer surely means we will get a quality game — something the Shining Force IP deserves, but sadly hasn’t always received (I’m looking at you, Shining Force Neo). Regrettably, we here in the US haven’t seen a new Shining Force game for some time — 2007, to be exact. So the chances of getting Resonance aren’t swimmingly high whatsoever. We’re holding out hope all the same.

Oh, and did we mention that the main character is a dragon? Yeah, because he is. That’s right; you play as a fucking dragon. ‘Nuff said. We want it. Now.

Localization Likelihood: Low

07. Yo-kai Watch (Nintendo 3DS | Level-5)

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What happens when you let one of the most respected Japanese developers make their own version of Pokemon? Why, you get Yo-Kai Watch, of course! Level-5’s latest RPG has taken Japan by storm since its release last year. This is the type of game that yields folks lining up for several city blocks just to get their hands on a copy of it. Meaning to say, Yo-Kai Watch is a big deal — as it should be, mind you. This is a polished JRPG with the ever so addicting catch-em-all attitude and visual pizzazz. But where Level-5’s game differentiates itself from Pokemon is in its combat engine as well as overall delivery, both of which are top-notch stuff.

Ultimately, though, it’s just nice to see a game finally somewhat in the same category, or echelon, as Pokemon. Although Pokemon may not be overtaken, or finish second-place, any time soon, if there was to ever be a title that could best Nintendo’s behemoth, it would be Level-5’s newest baby. It’s simply great to know that, after all the years and attempts at attaining the magic so often associated with Pokemon, Yo-Kai Watch can finally be the game that honestly and sincerely gets spoken of in the same sentence as its primary inspiration. Here’s the kicker to all of this: Level-5 has already registered the game’s trademark here in the US and sent out a survey, gauging interest in the title among North Americans. Trademarks don’t solidify a release out-right, but they sure as hell help the cause.

Localization Likelihood: High

06. Dragon Quest X (Wii U, PC | Square Enix)

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Dragon Quest X has been out in Japan since 2012. Despite an initial sales slump, the MMO has gone on to find serious success, with recent reports confirming roughly 330,000 players signing on per day to play. While Dragon Quest X has far more in common with the likes of more traditional massively multiplayer online roleplaying games, especially Final Fantasy XI, it has been widely regarded as a solid entry in the MMO genre and one that is worthy of the DQ namesake. Yes, some folks will always scoff at a long-standing RPG going online, but generally speaking Dragon Quest X is a fine addition to the heralded franchise. It harkens back to the basics of MMOs, all the while managing to give off that unmistakable charm for which the series is known.

We’ve heard Square Enix address the fate of Dragon Quest X when it comes to international markets on at least two occasions, both times indicating that a localization is likely, or at least being contemplated. At this point, it would be in their best interest to release it; even if it’s just on PC (though, we’d prefer Wii U as well, as it needs something like this for longevity purposes) because it’s been proven that there’s a market for Dragon Quest games in the West. Just look to all the previous titles for the conclusive data. Square Enix, let’s make it happen, boys.

Localization Likelihood: Moderate

05. Final Fantasy Type-0 (PlayStation Portable | Square Enix)

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Ah, Final Fantasy Type-0… One of, if not the only big-name Final Fantasy yet to reach North American shores. Alright, let’s just cut to the chase on this one, then: it’s downright absurd that we’re still even talking about Type-0 not being available in western markets. This is a series that has legs of steel, can sell more copies than almost all other franchises and has a devout following. Yes, the game was released for PSP, but that doesn’t matter, as it could easily be released digitally for PSP and Vita and still sell systems and make exorbitant amounts of cash for both Square and Sony. Moreover, the gameplay of Type-0 is enough to sell the title on its own; combining all the best combat elements from Crisis Core and Final Fantasy X-20 produces the fastest ATB system to date in any Final Fantasy entry. This fusion of mechanics lends itself perfectly to those wanting a more in-your-face, adrenaline-pumping joyride, against the narrative tropes we’ve come to know and love only found in Square Enix’s flagship series.

Being the highest profile game in the series to not get localized in over two decades clearly shows fallacy and repeated missed opportunities on the part of Square Enix. We can take some solace in all of this, however, thanks to director Hajime Tabata stating that the game will “eventually” come to the West. But the tight-lipped nature about the game since that discussion at last year’s TGS makes us skeptical. Either way, hopefully with Square’s recent revelation that North American gamers actually really like JRPGs (see: everything they said about Bravely Default‘s NA success), a western release of Type-0 isn’t too far off.

Localization Likelihood: High

04. Yakuza 5 (PlayStation 3 | Sega)

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Hot damn, Yakuza is a splendid game. It’s basically Shenmue, but with less QTE and searching for sailors. Yakuza 5 is a bit of an oddity, though, when it comes to its absence in North America. Up and to this point, the West has received Yakuza 14 in addition to the side project, Dead Souls. It’s been shown that the games sell well enough here, and the rabid, cult-following has been relentless in their pursuit of getting this bad boy brought overseas. Still, Sega has held back for some reason — up until earlier this year, that is.

If we turned back the clocks to 2013, the prognosis of Yakuza 5 hitting shelves here in the States looked bleak. In fact, it looked bad at the turn of the year as well, but then it was rumored back in February that Sega’s latest acquisition, Atlus, may be taking the reigns on localizing the title. Factoring into consideration Sega’s offer of total freedom for Atlus to localize anything in Sega’s entire library, coupled with Atlus’ previous RPG tastes, it seems only natural and thereby likely that we will get the franchise’s latest installment at some point. After all, missing out on Yakuza 5 would be a blow to all the fans who have supported the series, both financially and emotionally, over the years. Of course, the latest Yakuza title, Ishin, does muddy the waters a bit, but it wouldn’t be the first time a company localized a game that wasn’t the newest kid on the block. Not to mention, 5 is regarded as one of, if not thee, best in the series, therefore not being able to play Yakuza 5 in English would feel like an especially crushing blow. Thus, here’s to Sega and Atlus surprising us all by pulling this one off.

Localization Likelihood: High

03. Fantasy Life (Nintendo 3DS | Level-5)

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One of our favorite games on this list, Level-5’s Fantasy Life is equal parts Monster Hunter and Harvest Moon. If you didn’t just stop dead in your tracks, caught up in imagining just how blissful such a game could be by marrying those two exact genres, then clearly you wouldn’t know a good game if it hit you flush in the face. Nevertheless, Fantasy Life gets so much right, from its design, to its art direction, to the actual application of its ideas, this is a game that feels huge, complete and absolutely polished. Better yet is the fact that, while implements segmented gameplay and an impressive ability to deliver a truly addicting experience, it can still be played in short bursts, ideal for the 3DS’s wonderful on-the-go accessibility. Honestly, Fantasy Life is a success because of how much it probably shouldn’t be a success.

Merging all of its concepts and elements into a single, coherent body of work is not a task easily accomplished; yet Level-5 has shown that even a small, humble handheld can produce big experiences — the kind meant to serve players of all skill ranges and backgrounds; the kind meant to bridge genre gaps; the kind that looks adorable, whimsical and fluffy on the outside, but deep, rewarding and masterfully executed on the inside. Best of all, Level-5 filed a trademark for the game in both North America and Europe last year, which could indicate that they have plans to bring it to the West. In fact, we’d wager a bet and say that, of all the games on this list, Fantasy Life is one of the more likely to actually materialize. Here’s hoping it does.

Localization Likelihood: High

02. Dragon Quest VII (Nintendo 3DS | ArtePiazza)

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What is there to say about Dragon Quest VII that hasn’t already been said? This is a classic; a true icon of its type, right up there with the ranks of its younger brother, DQ VIII, and various other titles within the genre. Dragon Quest VII is such a fantastic addition to the well-respected series because of its structure — it plays out like a television show in that the adventure is actually made up of a slew of smaller, self-contained segments, rather than just one titanic adventure. This is a unique approach, definitely, and one that I wish happened more often in the JRPG scene, as it lends itself extremely well to storytelling and a gamer’s style — want to play the game straight through, go ahead; want to play it for a while, put it down to play another game and then come back to it a month later, you can do that as well since you won’t run the risk of forgetting everything that happened in the story up and to the point where you left off.

That aside, Dragon Quest VII for the 3DS is especially magnificent, though, as it’s one of the most fully-realized remakes to be found on the market, or at least the system. From the beautiful graphics, to the enhanced audio, to the content additions, this is DQVII on steroids — as if the original PSX game wasn’t already gigantic enough! Although it’s been hinted at that Dragon Quest VII for 3DS will see the light of day here in the States, we’ve received no hard confirmation. Only time will tell on this one, but if we had to guess, odds of it coming stateside are looking fairly high.

Localization Likelihood: Moderate

01. Phantasy Star Online 2 (PC, PlayStation Vita | Sega)

Yes, we're well aware that this is not art from PSO2, but we liked it regardless -- so get over it, fanboy :]

And then there was one. Well, in this case “two” — Phantasy Star Online 2, to be exact. PSO has been loved ever since its first go back on the Dreamcast at the turn of the century. The game has become such a success that it’s gone on to spawn several expansions, a prequel and a spiritual successor, and is still so spectacularly popular that, even though the official servers for the original PSO and its expansions are long since dead, private servers still host games that are regularly crowded. I mean, this is a title that has a colossal following and backing, so much so that fans have taken to translating Phantasy Star Online 2 into English simply because Sega has been dragging their heels on the project. The most frustrating part of PSO2’s story is the fact that Sega has talked about it several times and mentioned that it was indeed coming to North America… Unfortunately, those talks were some time ago, and as of recently the company has gone silent whenever the subject is brought up. It’s all very weird and hush-hush, to the point that hopes have dropped dramatically; but still, that hasn’t stopped fans from asking fervently.

Phantasy Star Online 2 is so hotly desired because of how flat-out fun a game it is. This is mostly because of how effective a job it does at playing to several audiences at once: it’s big enough to feel MMO-like, small enough to not scare off those who aren’t into MMOs, loot-driven enough to pull in anyone wanting to dungeon crawl with friends, and story-driven enough for folks just wanting a solid JRPG tale. Should Sega decide to release it, even if it’s only on PC and they skip the Vita entry entirely, they would bear witness to just how big an audience there is for PSO here in America. It amazes me that folks are willing to go through the hassle and headache of playing it through the Japanese servers. If people are that enthralled with the title, then clearly it’s a hit — and one that shouldn’t only be experienced by those willing to play the game in less-than-ideal circumstances.

In truth, PSO2 is a game that many folks from my generation have been anticipating for 13 years. It’s time to pull the trigger, Sega. It’s time to remind people of why you were, at one time, the head of your class. With as big of a financial success as the game’s been in the East, it would be plausible to think that a release stateside would turn a pretty penny as well. And, well, remember Sega: you already confirmed a North American release. Don’t go back on your word now. That’s just a dick move.

Localization Likelihood: Moderate


“The [Top] Hat” is an editorial evaluating the reasons why certain games are great or awful and/or the overall accomplishments of our gaming industry. Sometimes we take on the top 20 best games of the 2000s, and other times we look at all the games Final Fantasy VII overshadowed. It is a lengthy editorial piece designed to elicit either nostalgia, or an assessment of a product or group of products within this medium. It is also a time for Bradly to rant about his opinions on the industry and its efforts. Agree or disagree, love his opinions or hate them, “The [Top] Hat” is the article you will want to look forward to.