If you're a regular here at Dealspwn.com, chances are you know that I love localised Japanese games. Often promising quirky ideas, new perspectives, interesting layered mechanics and gorgeous anime-inspired art styles, these niche titles tend to be a breath of fresh air that break up the release schedule beautifully. They don't get a free ride, but I always muck in and do my best to shed light on the scene, from tiny doujin games or larger yet still decidedly niche gems.
In times past, us Europeans have often found ourselves on the sharp end of import duties, region locking and publishers who just don't see us as a priority. Thankfully, these days, plenty of publishers, localisation houses and distributors are queuing up to bring us a wide variety of translated and localised games on numerous platforms, often with little or no delay compared to the States.
So, with several months still to go in 2014, here's a highlight reel of upcoming localised niche Japanese software, from the sublime to the ridiculous. It's by no means a definitive list, so please bring up and shout about anything you're looking forward to!
Hatoful Boyfriend | PC
Hatoful Boyfriend is very much a traditional dating sim. As a female transfer to St. PigeoNation’s prestigious school for birds, we'll balance middle school life with "dark conspiracies" and interact with a variety of suitors boasting traditional personality tropes (the smart one, the flirty one, probably a tsundere one)... only in this case, our prospective partners all happen to be pigeons.
Yes, that's right. Pigeons. It's an offbeat idea that we're actually rather excited about -- and I believe that Matt's working on a review.
Release Date: August 21st
Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited
Disgaea 4 is another ludicrously deep dose of strategy RPG action and oddball dialogue, brought together with gorgeously colourful artwork and exploding demon penguins, and the upcoming Vita version promises to add plenty of extra content. Exclusive scenarios, new and fan favourite characters, new spells and upgraded high-res sprites should make this one to watch for series fans.
Release Date: August 29th
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair | PS Vita
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is probably the best visual novel I've ever experienced, and gripped me like no other videogame has in many years. Indeed, it got my vote as personal GOTY of 2014 thus far. With superb characters, an unsettling and brutal storyline, knife-edge detective work and unique deduction mechanics, it really is a cut above in terms of storytelling and characterisation.
The sequel, then, has my rapt attention. Bring it on, Monokuma, you deranged robotic teddy bear.
Release Date: September 5th
Natural Doctrine | PS3, Vita & PS4
Kadokawa's ferociously difficult tactical RPG is finally ready to leave Japanese shores, presenting players with a darker and fiercely challenging take on the genre. Japanese outlets are undecided about whether it's rewarding or frustrating in the main, and the graphics aren't much to write home about, but we'll deliver our full verdict nearer the time.
Release Date: September 19th
Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed | PS3 + Vita
As you might have guessed from the title, this one swings more towards the
fanservice pandering risqué side of the spectrum than most. As Akiba, you'll battle your way through Tokyo's eclectic Akihabara district using anything you can find or buy to defeat armies of vampires.
So far so good... but defeating vampires requires you to expose their bodies to sunlight. By, well, stripping them. We always keep an open mind here at Dealspwn, so hopefully there'll be a worthwhile game and story to look forward to alongside all the disrobing.
Release Date: October 10th
Persona Q | 3DS
A new Persona game designed specifically for the 3DS hardware? We are so ready.
Release Date: 28th November
Yatagarasu Attack on Cataclysm
As a hardcore fighting game designed by SNK veterans and crowd-funded by fans, Yatagarasu has the potential to delight the FGC. Apparently its EVO debut went swimmingly, though whether the ambitious project releases this year is still debateable since "the rate of completion of the graphic data is roughly 4 times longer than originally planned." Watch this space.
As mentioned, this is by no means a complete list. Let us know what you're excited for in the comments!