In September 2018, I asked Twitter followers what Japanese video games – new or old – they wish would get official localizations. The response was so enormous that I decided to tally up all the votes and share the results here. Let’s see which games came out on top!
1. MOTHER 3 (53 votes)
MOTHER 3 is the conclusion to Shigesato Itoi’s MOTHER RPG series, known as the EarthBound series outside of Japan. You play as multiple characters across multiple chapters. It’s filled with the series’ unique personality and humor, yet still manages to deliver a moving story.
There’s no doubt that my involvement with the fan translation helped skew the votes toward MOTHER 3, but I’m pretty sure it would be ranked very highly regardless. I actually wrote all about the history MOTHER 3 hype here a couple months ago.
2. Dai Gyakuten Saiban 1 & 2 (52 votes)
Whenever people voted for the Dai Gyakuten Saiban games, they always wanted both, never one over the other.
These Nintendo 3DS games take place during Japan’s Meiji period and the UK’s Victorian era. It stars Phoenix Wright’s ancestor, who’s on a mission to become a defense attorney. He travels from Japan to England, and teams up with Sherlock Holmes and other characters to solve crimes. The games includes the classic investigation and courtroom scenarios.
I recently finished playing the first game, and it was a lot of fun. I felt it breathed some new life and ideas into the series. I forget why, but I also remember feeling surprised how it just… sort of ended. I’m hoping the second game picks up where it left off and rounds out the full story.
3. Gyakuten Kenji 2 (41 votes)
This is the Nintendo DS sequel to Ace Attorney Investigations, a spin-off of the main Ace Attorney series. It stars Miles Edgeworth, Dick Gumshoe, and Kay Faraday who investigate crimes together. Although there’s no courtroom scenario in these spin-off games, Gyakuten Saiban 2 uses a new “logic chess” mechanic during the interrogation scenarios.
4. Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin! (36 votes)
This is a samurai-themed Yakuza spin-off game that takes place in the mid-1800s, during the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate. Yakuza characters play as important people in Japanese history in a perfect blend of goofy substories and a serious main story based on real-life events. The game was released for the PS3 and PS4.
I played through this game earlier this year, and it is by far my favorite game in the entire series so far. The battle system is incredibly fun, and the game features all kinds of side activities. You can own your own home and farm, craft weapons and items, adopt pets, learn to cook, sing samurai karaoke, do drinking games, play strip rock-paper-scissors, build your own samurai army, race chickens, and so much more.
Basically, if you liked Yakuza 0 at all, you have to play this one too!
5. Seiken Densetsu 3 (34 votes)
Seiken Densetsu 3 is a Super Famicom action RPG that Square released in 1995. Fans outside of Japan sometimes refer to it as Secret of Mana 2. The game features multiple characters to choose from, each with his or her unique storyline separate from the main story events. The game saw a Japan-only re-release on the Nintendo Switch in 2017, but has yet to receive an official translation, despite clamor from fans.
6a. Live A Live (23 votes)
Live A Live is a Super Famicom RPG that Square released in in 1994. The game features multiple characters, each with their own short chapter. Each chapter has a unique storyline unrelated to the others, but eventually they all tie together into a big, final chapter. I have fond memories of this game and really enjoyed how it felt like a big collection of small RPG vignettes.
6b. Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan (23 votes)
This is another samurai-themed Yakuza, released for the PS3 in 2008. This one takes place in the 1600s and places Kiryu in the role of Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary swordsman who wielded two swords at once. The game was a best-seller in Japan, but never saw a translated release. I haven’t tried this one yet, but it’s on my to-play shelf.
7. Shin Megami Tensei if… (20 votes)
Shin Megami Tensei if… is an RPG that Atlus first released for the Super Famicom in 1994. It’s a spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei series and focuses on a high school that accidentally get sucked into a demon realm. The game has seen many re-releases and ports in Japan, but has never received an official translation.
8a. Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War (18 votes)
Nintendo released this Fire Emblem game for the Super Famicom in 1996, about seven years before the series saw its first release outside of Japan. The story takes place in the same world as previous entries and spans two generations. The game itself established some of the mechanics used in future Fire Emblem games.
8b. Moon: RPG Remix Adventure (18 votes)
Moon: RPG Remix Adventure is a Playstation RPG released by ASCII Entertainment in 1997. It’s an inventive game that parodies standard JRPGs and gets a little crazy when the game goes inside another game in the game. Despite being such an obscure game, this is a title I see mentioned a lot whenever “most wanted translation” topics get brought up.
9a. Captain Rainbow (16 votes)
Captain Rainbow is a Wii action-adventure game released by Nintendo in 2008. A large part of the appeal is that the game focuses on secondary Nintendo characters like Birdo, Little Mac, and the guy from Golf for the Famicom/NES.
9b. Legend of Heroes: Zero no Kiseki & Ao no Kiseki (16 votes)
Whenever the topic of “most wanted localizations” comes up, I regularly see these two RPGs in the Trails series mentioned. I’ve never played them myself, but it makes sense: Ao no Kiseki is a sequel to Zero no Kiseki, which itself is a sequel, so it’s like a big chunk of the series is currently missing.
9c. Phantasy Star Online 2 (16 votes)
This successor to the popular Phantasy Star Online MMO was first released in 2012. It’s been released for Windows, Vita, PS4, Switch, and more. There was a teaser trailer for an official Western release in 2012, but it sounds like the project was canned shortly after. Still, the Japanese Switch release in 2018 has fans hopeful for an officially translated version someday. Apparently there was an English release produced for Southeast Asia, but support for it ended in 2017.
10. Dragon Quest X (15 votes)
Unlike other entries in the Dragon Quest series, Dragon Quest X is an MMORPG. It was first released in 2012 for the Nintendo Wii, but was later ported to the Wii U, PS4, 3DS, PC, and more. Despite the heavy push to release the game on as many platforms as possible, the game has never been translated and released outside of Japan, besides a Chinese version of the PC release.
I played Dragon Quest X for a while last year, but it was the weird 3DS version that actually streamed all the video data over the Internet. It was an okay enough experience, but I think it’d be nice to play it with big, crisp graphics and in English with English-speaking friends.
There have been on and off rumors about Square Enix publishing a Western release, but every time I see an article about it, it feels a lot like all the rumors about a MOTHER 3 translation. The latest rumor I heard was that they might try to turn it into an offline game and package it that way, but who knows.
For fun, here’s a list of some of the games that didn’t quite make the top ten. Some people listed multiple games from the same series, so I’ve lumped them all together here.
|Sakura War series||14 votes|
|Valkyria Chronicles 3||14 votes|
|Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade||13 votes|
|Super Robot Wars series, especially Alpha and Z||13 votes|
|Yakuza PSP games||12 votes|
|Shining Force 3||11 votes|
|Fire Emblem: Thracia 776||11 votes|
|Ganbare Goemon series||10 votes|
|Dragon Quest 11 3DS||10 votes|
|EX Troopers||10 votes|
|Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner||10 votes|
|Bahamut Lagoon||9 votes|
|Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (PSP)||9 votes|
|Dragon Quest Slime Morimori||9 votes|
|Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem||9 votes|
|Shin Megami Tensei 1 & 2||9 votes|
|Marvelous: Another Treasure Island||8 votes|
|Tales of Destiny 2||8 votes|
|Famicom Detective Club series||7 votes|
|For the Frog the Bell Tolls||7 votes|
|Namco X Capcom||7 votes|
|Tales of Innocence R||7 votes|
|Tales of Rebirth||7 votes|
|Sailor Moon Super Famicom games||7 votes|
|Dragon Quest Monsters games||7 votes|
|Tokimeki Memorial series||7 votes|
|Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 3 & 4||7 votes|
|Fate/Extra CCC||7 votes|
That’s Not All
As I mentioned above, I’m sure that my own interests and my followers’ interests might’ve skewed the results a little bit, so I’m curious to hear what other game translations might be in demand.
If you have any games on your localization wish list that weren’t mentioned here, share in the comments. And who knows, maybe someone out there will eventually see this post and realize “hey maybe we should translate so-and-so game after all”.
Incidentally, I held a similar poll a while back about swear words in video games. Check out my article on the topic here!
What about Ni no Kuni: Dominion of the Dark Djinn for the Nintendo DS? It was never localized outside of Japan.
I’m surprised no one has ever bring it up.
Have you played the recent English fan translation?
Most of those other games have fan translations too, so that’s still a valid point.
It plays differently, but the PS3 version (which was officially localised) has the same story, so there’s less demand for it. I’d be more interested in seeing Hotroit Stories get an updated port and localisation. It’s a prequel spin-off to Ni no Kuni that looks very Mother-like and has a unique story, and was only released on mobile phone in Japan.
Ys V would have been great, too. Fan translations exist, but to this day, Ys V is the only Ys game yet to receive an official English-translation release.
Maybe we’ll get lucky and Falcom will remake it like the rest of their clasdic Ys stories, but they currently have their sights on making Ys IX.
On the other hand, Falcom may eventually go back to Ys V and remake it since it is currently the black sheep of the series. Should that remake happen, we can finally officially have Ys V.
Wait, Bahamut Lagoon didn’t get an English release? I swear I remember owning a SNES cart of that as a kid. I didn’t LIKE it, but that mostly just reflects my tastes as a child.
No, OK. I’ve looked up pictures and it clearly never got a US release and is nothing like the game I was remembering. The game I remember was an uninspired action RPG with oddly-wide character sprites. I wonder what I was thinking of.
There was an early SNES game called just plain “Lagoon” that had pretty large sprites? I remember enjoying that one for a while, but don’t recall much about it now.
Lagoon on SNES was a port of a X68000 Ys clone. The SNES version was pretty crappy but supposedly the original was a better game. However there’s almost NO interest in translating X68000 games, though I imagine there’s got to be one hardcore group out there that wants to put in effort this obscure platform, as I heard awhile ago of a group to start tackling PC-98 games.
It’s too bad given the X68000 has the best FM sound of any console, a lot of great soundtracks virtually undiscovered by the west.
Well, you’ve got me intrigued. Here’s the X68000 game modified to render text using 8-bit half-width characters, and a bit of placeholder English text injected accordingly: http://nleseul.this-life.us/lagoon_hey_ya.png
(I have so many other things I should be spending my time on… Maybe some actual hardcore group will pick this up from me so I don’t have to keep being tempted to work on it.)
Tales of Destiny: Director’s Cut is one that the Tales fandom has wanted for a long time, but it’ll probably never happen because Bandai Namco America has been soundly ignoring any Tales entries older than Symphonia for a long time now. I guess the series is still too niche for us to get English versions of the older titles.
Also, I noticed you put Persona 2: Eternal Punishment on the list, but that game actually has an official English release. To be specific, people were likely referring to the PSP port of the game, which they didn’t bother to localize for whatever reason.
Yep, it’s indeed referring to the PSP version. Sorry for the confusion, everyone!
I’m surprised the Tengai Makyō games (aka Far East of Eden) didn’t even make the honorable list. Though I guess that series would be difficult to localize.
It would certainly be nice for Nintendo to localize a lot of their older works. You have things like the main character of For the Frog the Bell Tolls showing up in Smash as an assist trophy, and most non-Japanese players are only going to know about him through emulation. And Nintendo has been on the warpath towards emulation for the longest time.
I never understood this craving for an official translation of games for which a fan translation already exists. As long as the translation is good, what does it matter who translated it?
It matters because it’s a chance to support the people who translated the game as well as the people who made it (many people don’t buy the original japanese game when using fan translations, sadly). Plus, official translations usually reach a wider audience. It would be a chance for mainstream recognition of a thing you love, something many people desire.
It depends on which game is fantranslated. For recent games that are stll purchasable, it’s ok. But for old snes RPG games such as the Super Shell Monsters Story franchise, Live a Live, G.OD. or TM Zero, to name a few, the only way to acquire it in physical format is used from second hand shops, so the original developers won’t receive any money for that purchase.
And yeah, I know, now there are Virtual Consoles and you can buy them there, but the price is sometimes exaggerated and, in my opinion, if you buy a Japanese game on VC just because someone fantransalated it, you encourage the publishers not to try to release official translations.
Not to mention fan translations aren’t all 100% trustworthy.
Course sometimes official translations aren’t trustworthy either.
Right, and there was also lots of censorship on most official translation back in the day (Mother 2, for instance, had lots of things changed/removed on its English localization). There’s been a lot of censorship an content removal as well on Western localization of recent eroge/ecchi games.
Well in EarthBound’s case, it had to be done. Japan is pretty weird about what they put in games, and they got away with a lot of copyright infringement in those days. U.S. game companies didn’t want to risk being sued by big companies like Coca-Cola or what have you.
It matters if you care about playing it on real hardware, without any issues. For MOTHER 3 I looked into flash carts and emulators, and nothing guaranteed a 100% accurate experience. And then I could always buy some fanmade cartridge version on eBay, but that’s not exactly legal–or cheap.
And so, more than 10 years after the MOTHER 3 fan translation was released, I still have not played it.
Shin Megami Tensei did have an official English version for iOS, but it was never updated once 64-bit support became mandatory and has since been delisted.
With Dai Gyakuten Saiban, Capcom has said there’s unspecified reasons why they can’t release them. I suspect it’s because Sherlock Holmes is mostly but not entirely public domain in the US until 2023.
The original did, yes. But the one that made the list was Shin Megami Tensei If…, not Shin Megami Tensei
It was listed as an honorable mention.
Love me some Rudra No Hihou and I’m surprised not to see any mentions given the strong showings for other mid-90s Square titles. I’d much prefer an official localization of that over Bahamut Lagoon.
Rudra no Hihou never coming overseas is still one of the greatest tragedies in gaming history.
Right now I really just want Persona Q 2 localized
“Each chapter has a unique storyline unrelated to the others, but eventually they all tie together into a big, final chapter.”
That sounds very similar to Dragon Quest 4. Speaking of which, though, i would love to see DQ10 released here. I’m not big on MMORPGs, but i would love to try that offline version they teased.
I’ve kind of given up on Mother 3 ever being released by this point. Additionally, i’m starting to feel the game is a bit over-rated. I remember some years ago, Mato did a post on how Japanese fans viewed the franchise (I forget if it was on here or his Earthbound Central site), and it seemed most of them preferred the first two games over the third for various reasons. Lately, i feel like i’m starting to understand what they meant, and prefer the first two games more (in particular, i’ve started appreciating the first one a LOT more after recently playing the NES Dragon Quest games). Honestly, i feel like a large portion of the third game’s popularity with American fans is because of the fact that it’s not available (legally) here. I just feel that without that forbidden fruit angle, the game just isn’t as good as the first two. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good game, and i would still love to see it released in the US, but i’m not really holding my breath for it anymore.
Found the original article: https://earthboundcentral.com/2013/04/mother-3-and-japanese-fans-revisited/
I’m not as negative as some of those comments, but i do still kinda see a lot of their points about the third game not being as good as the second.
As someone who was “late to the party” (I finally played Mother 3 for the first time early last year), I kinda get what those Japanese fans were saying. Like, I wouldn’t go with the level of vitriol some of them expressed, as I found it a very enjoyable game, but — and I’ll try not to spoil anything if I can — I definitely found the much-hyped up “tragedies” weren’t as impactful as I’d expected, due simply to how *early* the biggest ones happened; I don’t feel like there was enough time for me to get to know and care about the characters involved. It’s kind of nitpicky, I admit, but after how many people told me I’d “cry my eyes out”, I was surprised and disappointed to find how… emotionally unmoved I ended up. I’m not a heartless, emotion-less monster or anything, I just felt like I needed more time with the characters before things went wrong in order to truly feel the magnitude of it all.
Still, that aside, and the fact that I could never get the hang of the “rhythm combo” system, on the whole, I really liked the game, I found the translation magnificent and professional quality, and I’d totally have picked it up had it been released here. But I definitely feel like Mother 3 was one of those games that could never, for me at least, live up to the reputation it’s gained from western RPG fans.
Samurai Shodown (Spirits) RPG. Years ago someone was supposedly working on a fan translation it but nothing ever seemed to come of it.
That is one title I had wanted to play for ages with an official English translation. I consider that one a true lost holy grail.
No Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 3 among the picks? The rest of the Summon Night series for that matter
I was surprised to see IFI announce Record of Agarest War Mariage (maintaining the original title’s singular r) announced at the end of November. Never expected a Japan-only PSP game released almost 7 years ago to get an English release, let alone a PC exclusive port with new content (the announcement mentions alternate costumes, which weren’t in the original release). Unlike the rest of the series this one is supposed to be good.
As it stands Summon Night 6 is the only thing that has any translated info about Swordcraft Story 3’s story and characters, including the official English title.
For what it’s worth, Agarest War 2 is actually the most polished of that series, since it has a battle system similar to Cross Edge, and that was one of its more glowing points.
It is truly sad that there are still so many games that have yet to ever be officially translated, and they likely won’t be due to the age of the games. If I had to throw in a suggestion, it would be Madō Monogatari, the Saturn title from 1998 that was the last entry in the Madō Monogatari series before they came up with that Vita remake in 2013 (which was also technically the only title in the series to make it overseas, despite it was a completely different game with brand new characters because they couldn’t legally use Arle and the others).
Captain Rainbow on Wii and Giftpia on GameCube. Love their art styles, and the later even reminds me a bit of Animal Crossing.
I’m guessing Moon gained a following due to it being, apparently, quite similar to Undertale. Whether this is intentional or not, I’m not sure, but it’s no big mystery why so many people want to see it translated, really.
…I had more to say, but accidentally hit “Post Comment” after that one sentence. Go me.
Some of the games on that list, it really surprises me that they haven’t seen English releases. I believe Seiken Densetsu 3 is the *only* Mana game that hasn’t seen an English release now.
I’m also surprised that Genealogy of the Holy War hasn’t even been *fan translated* yet. I wonder if it’s just one of those tough games to crack or something, because I think that one and Thracia 776 are the *only* ones not to see *any* kind of English translation. Kind of strange.
And… man, there are so many Legend of Heroes games, I can’t even keep track of them all. I know there are like five for PSP alone, a bunch on Steam, and… apparently that’s *still* not all of them? Dang.
There. *That’s* all I wanted to say. 😛
Legend of Heroes is even more confusing because it split off from the original overarching umbrella series Dragon Slayer, so the earliest games had Dragon Slayer: Legend of Heroes as their full title. X_X
Genealogy has been fan translated. At least twice, and Thracia has at least on full translation as well.
Some of Genealogy’s are along the lines of J2E FFIV quality- crude and casual. But I believe the Project Naga translation has class and more of a professional touch.
The only Thracia translation I’m aware of is pretty bad. Besides Olwen being called a bitch on several occasions, they inserted an “in America!” at one point, it also has some menu translation issues. Although there have been multiple attempts to retranslate T776 with a professional mindset, none have come to completion. It is a shame I hear.
This said, TearRing Saga- the PS1 game that is basically an FE in all but name and created by Kaga, a founder of FE, has a full and good translation available. Some things have had names changed to make them more familiar to FE players though, for instance, the skill Heaven Saint was renamed Sol, since it is identical in effect to Sol in FE.
Then there is Berwick Saga, a plotwise unrelated sequel to TRS, which has an FE basis for gameplay, but with some radical differences. This game has a professional-esque translation in the works, it presently goes up to and including Chapter 7 I believe, plus all items and menu text has been translated.
If that doesn’t sound like a lot, that is about 2/3rds of the text done. The game is only 15 Chapters long, but it does have four EX Chapters- sidestories for select playable characters, and every Chapter prior to 11 has one mandatory battle and two optional ones afterwards.
I think M2 said they would’ve been willing to localize SD3 for the Switch collection if Square-Enix would’ve allowed it. 🙁
Persona 2 eternal punishment being on the honorable mention list is misleading. It does have an offical English version
problem is fans want the remake of the game that came out for the psp, not for the ps version to be ported to the psp which is what they did Because honestly being like “well unlike with 1 and 2Is you already have a decent translation of 2Ep” is kind of lazy.
I know it’s not the main list but people are still gonna read the honorable mention list you know?
This was actually SCEA’s fault. They had a long standing policy of blocking PS1 to PSP ports without an arbitrary level of “new content”. This is why the Breath of Fire 3 port (among a few others) was released in Europe but not the US and why Tactics Ogre had all the Japanese DLC included in the western release’s UMD.
To start, I greatly appreciate your name choice, but secondly I’m a little confused? The psp Eternal Punishment we have is a port. So I don’t understand how blocking ports with no new content would play in here? I could see that being a reason they would choose to localize the Persona 1 psp remake since by those regulations they couldn’t just port the horribly translated one to the psp. But then why were they able to port Eternal Punishment?
The one we got is a “PS Classic”, basically an emulated version of the original PSOne game that we got way back when. There’s another PSP version that’s rebuilt to run natively on the PSP, full resolution and everything, making it an actual port. Presumably there wasn’t enough new/different stuff in that version to satisfy Sony of America.
Ah got it. To me a port just means to move one game to another system it wasn’t originally designed for so I was confused. There’s quite a bit of complication on what terms like port, emulator, remake, remaster, etc mean extactly with various people giving slightly alternate versions of the same idea so *shrugs* but now I know so thanks
This is not true in the slightest. Both the PSP releases of Persona 2 (IS and EP) were enhanced remakes with significant amounts of new content. You are confusing this with the blocked localization of Devil Summoner PSP, which was just an emulated ROM on a UMD disc.
The simple truth of the matter is that Persona 2: Innocent Sin PSP *bombed*. The PSP market was always bad in the US, and near death when Persona 2: IS launched. Even despite the reputation of P2: IS for its excellent story plus being a “forbidden” title in the PS1 era, it was on the wrong platform to ever make a dent in sales. So naturally, Atlus cut their losses and didn’t waste money on localizing a direct sequel that required the first title to understand fully. I seem to recall that they put the PS1 version of Eternal Punishment out on the Playstation Store around the time they canned the P2:EP PSP release. So at least people that wanted to finish the story had *a* version if not the up to date enhanced version.
Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII
Rhythm Tengoku (GBA)
Super Famicom Wars
“A large part of the appeal is that the game focuses on secondary Nintendo characters like Birdo, Little Mac, and the guy from Golf for the Famicom/NES.”
And Lip from Panel de Pon (who actually plays a larger role in the game than any of the characters that are mentioned here)! Please give us an official translation of Panel de Pon someday, Nintendo.
Panel de Pon needs to come back in full force. I haven’t played a puzzle game that addicting since Puyo Puyo Tetris.
Lip needs that high class localization effort because it’s way too good to be ignored. Addictive gameplay for sure.
The historical Ryu ga Gotoku games are DEFINITELY on my list especially since that sheer mass of localization would be a lot more difficult for a fan project than something like a Famicom/SNES game would be. I don’t know how difficult the programming is, comparatively, but I figure that’s a factor as well when hacking a modern game versus an older one.
ffffffghagkadfhkbnlgh I wanted to run the first Live A Live fan translation I played along with the newer larger one with the Wanderbar (if possibleeeee) but I cannot find the old one anymore. I don’t know if it was made by same or different people, I don’t know when it was made, or by who, or what’s actually different. But… … I don’t like the … fonts they added in the newest one. I know, it’s stupid, but, I want to play it how I played it the first time again. And I don’t like the changed fonts, it feels childish and bad to me (s-sorry…). It would have been fun if I could throw the Japanese text (and Google) into it too, like Mato did with FFVI. I feel like a failure though. I can’t even pass the first step before figuring out if I can accomplish the rest, haa!
Seiken Densetsu 3 has been released after 25 years, so there is still hope for these localizations.
And PSO2 and Moon are getting localized.
I would honestly love to see an official localization for any of the Medarot games (or Medabots as it is known in the west). We only got gba remakes of the 2nd game as well as 2 spin offs (AX and INFINITY) but there are so many games in the series that never got released outside of Japan including 9 mainline games. Im sure other people would be interested as well since alot of people have watched the anime but never played any of the games.
I’m still kind of bummed only the fifth Legendary Starfy game ever got localized.
They’re basically underwater Kirby games in terms of mood and presentation, and use a surprising amount of text for being platformers meant for young kids. I really liked the first one when I played it, despite being in the dark about what exactly was going on.
A fan translation of Sakura Wars Taisen has already been out since December 2019:
Can’t seem to make it work properly in android (using Yaba Sanshiro, can’t make it to work in RetroArch too). Will try it in PC using Mednafen.