And we’re back with another 25th Anniversary feature!
Five years ago, as we were celebrating our 20th Anniversary, we put together a list of 20 localizations we still wanted. Luckily, we’ve received more than a few of those titles, along with a number of other surprise localizations over the years. While we’re still waiting for a lot of them (looking at you, Mother 3), we want to highlight the localizations we do have, so we’re sharing our 25 favorites with you today! These are spread over three pages, so don’t miss the rest!
What are some of your favorite long-shot or “surprise” localizations? What would you still like to see? Did we miss any big ones? Be sure to let us know on either Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Discord, or however you most enjoy interacting with us!
by Zach Wilkerson
428: Shibuya Scramble
By Gio Castillo
428: Shibuya Scramble was, for a long time, just a curious outlier on the list of games that Famitsu scored a perfect 40 out of 40. I knew of it, but I’d filed it away as one of those impossible translations that would never, ever happen. Yet almost a decade later, we almost randomly got this obscure Nintendo Wii visual novel on PlayStation 4 and PC, courtesy of Spike Chunsoft. With the success of Danganronpa and Zero Escape, I have to assume the decision to bring this over was sound.
Speaking of sound, 428 is actually part of the Sound Novel series, a string of text adventures that have largely remained Japan-exclusive. Localizing all of them is a huge ask, but I would nudge Spike Chunsoft toward Machi, 428’s spiritual ancestor. Basically, all the elements that make this game special — real-life photos (often wacky), an offbeat sense of humor, and intricately branching stories — originated from Machi, and I hope that when the time comes for a follow-up article, Spike Chunsoft (or anyone) will have made another miracle happen.
Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg
By Alvin Lim
North America has been getting the Atelier games localized since the release of Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana in 2005. After the Iris trilogy, there was a gap of missing Atelier games for quite a long time. While we didn’t get either of the Gramnad duology — Atelier Judie or Atelier Viorate — like we were hoping for in our prior localization feature, Koei Tecmo and Gust have since revealed they’ve remade Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg. Even better, the original PlayStation Atelier Marie Plus also sees its English debut alongside Atelier Marie Remake! A great Atelier 25th anniversary gift, if I do say so myself.
I technically already met Marie in Cross Edge and Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists, but I’m looking forward to finally seeing her in the game she originated from. Playing the first game in the series with its more modernized remake will be a treat after so many years! Hopefully, fans can see how and why the Atelier series is still going strong today with its origin story.
Dragon Quest V & VI
By Aleks Franiczek
The Dragon Quest series can be contentious when it comes to its translations. There are essentially two approaches: the more literal and plain-spoken translations of the original Dragon Warrior localizations; and the more colorful and playful translations associated with the Dragon Quest name — beginning with Dragon Quest VIII and every English release since. Some fans appreciate the wacky accents and punny one-liners of the latter, while others find them distracting and off-putting. Regardless of your preference, puns feature heavily in the original Japanese script. They’re virtually impossible to translate literally and still make sense to English speakers.
Dragon Quest V was the first game in the series not to be localized in English under the Dragon Warrior moniker, which was reportedly due to Enix (at the time) giving up on netting a solid audience in the West. DeJap released a fan translation of the Super Famicom version in 2002 using the more literal style of the Dragon Warrior localizations. Finally, in 2009, Square Enix released the faithful and smooth-playing DS remaster of Dragon Quest V using the more quirky language seen in Dragon Quest VIII. This version was also ported to mobile in 2015 and remains the only official game localization. Similarly, Dragon Quest VI only reached Western markets with its DS remaster in 2011.
If this isn’t all confusing enough, DQ Translations put out a fan translation of the PS2 remake of Dragon Quest V in 2010 using a more literal approach while still offering an option to use the ability names of the Dragon Quest translations for those now used to them. This is still your only option if you want to play the game in 3D with a beautiful orchestral soundtrack. Despite the commercial success of DQV‘s PS2 remake in Japan, Dragon Quest VI did not receive a remake in the same style.
By Patrick Gann
I am a stickler for playing a series in its proper order. So much so that I refused to touch EarthBound until I could play the first Mother. There is a long and storied history to this title, as it had been fully localized and was ready to be published, but Nintendo of America purportedly scrapped the American launch because, by the time it was ready, they were focused on promoting the early titles for the SNES and weren’t interested in pushing a first-party title for older hardware. And so, the infamous “EarthBound Zero” was shelved. Decades later, the game finally reached the English-speaking world — first in 2015 on the Wii U (which is how I played it), then in 2022 through Nintendo Switch Online. Those who haven’t played this game — yes, it is a “Nintendo-hard” RPG with grueling, unbalanced sections. Fortunately, the modern ports allow save states, which negates much of the challenge should you choose. If you want to know the story of those who came before Ness, the original “Ninten” and his crew, be sure to check this one out.
And hey, Nintendo! About Mother 3…
Final Fantasy III
By Audra Bowling
Final Fantasy III originally released in Japan in 1990. It wouldn’t be until 2006 and 2007 that a Nintendo DS remake would be made available worldwide, with the game’s original version not getting its chance at a Western release until the Pixel Remaster version in 2021. That’s quite a long waiting period either way! The DS remake was the first time any version of FFIII released in English, though some gamers might have been confused because the first localization of Final Fantasy VI was initially called FFIII in the Western gaming market. I adore Final Fantasy and was ecstatic to play this “missing piece” from the classic series’ past with the remake, to the point that I bought a Nintendo DS console for that very purpose. Even now, I still hold a nostalgic fondness for the DS version despite its quirks. Getting the chance to play the original version of FFIII thanks to the Pixel Remasters is also a welcome treat! Now there are two good versions of Final Fantasy III available worldwide for players to choose from.
Final Fantasy V
By Izzy Parsons
Final Fantasy V first released for the Super Famicom in 1992 — it took seven whole years to re-release it on the PlayStation! That anyone had to wait until after Final Fantasy VI, VII, and VIII were released in North America to play Final Fantasy V is an injustice that Square Enix will never be able to atone for. Still, the game is available to us now and is my favourite among the 2D entries, so maybe I can forgive them just a little bit.
Final Fantasy V has everything going for it — a gorgeous soundtrack, an incredible job system, and more whimsy than Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon duct-taped together. Plus, it spawned the greatest of fan events, the yearly Four Job Fiesta. If you still need another selling point, consider Final Fantasy IX owes this Final Fantasy entry for its existence more than any other.
If you have yet to play Final Fantasy V, do yourself a favour and pick up the Pixel Remaster to take a truly magical journey.
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
By Ben Love
Towards the end of the 3DS’ life, the status of Fire Emblem remakes was up in the air. Shadow Dragon had done poorly in Western sales, and New Mystery had been passed up. With the new entries in the series doing well, most fans figured Intelligent Systems had finished doing series remakes, content to leave the past behind. That was until Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia was revealed for a 2017 release. With beautiful 2D art provided by Hidari (of Atelier Dusk trilogy fame), a newly orchestrated soundtrack, and highly detailed animation work, Echoes is one of the most technically impressive games on the 3DS. Intelligent Systems expanded the storyline and character dialogue, adding the Support System from later entries while retaining the unique gameplay concepts of the original Fire Emblem Gaiden. It was truly a surprise to receive a remake of the most forgotten game in the franchise, especially for it to be the best of the series on 3DS.
Front Mission 2
By Patrick Gann
Okay, technically it’s not here as of this writing, but I don’t think anyone was expecting Square Enix to come through on Front Mission 2 anytime soon. And while they technically did, it is Forever Entertainment who is both developing and publishing these remakes. Alongside a recent remake of the first game (stylized as Front Mission 1st), Forever Entertainment announced the second title in this sci-fi strategy RPG series would finally be released to an English-language audience. Considering the game’s large cast of characters and unique charms amidst an otherwise dreary, dark planet Earth, there should be plenty of interesting dialogue and character development. The plot circles around three differing perspectives: Ash, Lisa, and Thomas, each character entering a chaotic military and political divide from differing circumstances. Not only am I glad to have the game available to play finally, I am definitely excited to delve into the plot of Front Mission 2.