One of the representatives from RJP Pro explained about the current progress on the localization of the Tenbatsu! Angel Rabbie anime and game product they were working on. The subbing and dubbing of the anime are done at this stage, and all that’s left on the anime side is to author a good DVD menu and send it off to DVD replication.
The game is completely done, and the representative showed a demonstration of a beta copy of the game in action. The opening video has had all the Japanese in the video footage replaced with English and all the credits are English credits of the Japanese staff. The inserted English don’t look out of place at all, and are done in the same style as the Japanese, including the title logo. The menus, etc. are cleanly done in English in the original style of the Japanese menu. The game is pretty much a non-branching visual novel told like a fairy tale. There seemed to be a slight problem with the main dialogue text not displaying correctly using the right font, but that seemed to be a quirk with this particular copy and the notebook computer he was showing it on. In terms of technical aspects, RJP Pro. decided to go for a data localization only and not to change the actual program code.
The game (Magical Twirler Angel Rabbie) also came with a Beatmania-ish song game a la Angelic Serenade and Symphonic Rain. He showed the launcher, which was a normal window fully translated into English. From the launcher, one goes into the actual game. The “in game” video played in the background during the game has been fully translated into English, and an English translation of the lyrics also show up on the screen. When asked about the possibility of romaji, he said that it won’t be on the shipping product, but they might offer the possibility of downloading data files to show the song in romaji instead of translation English subtitles.
The representative apologized for the current delay, as he has not had much time to work on this because of the various other freelancing jobs he had taken on to help him earn a living. He hopes the entire package will be out this summer with the original bargain price. The package would essentially be the game disc with the game and minigame, the anime and a Rabbie figurine. We at VisualNews would like to thank him for giving us a preview look into the game and keeping us up to date with the current progress.
Hirameki’s panel was entitled “Visual Novel Games & the Japanese Otaku Market.” They started off with an introduction to the visual novel genre and a brief history. The size of the bishoujo game market was stressed. In fact, there are 550 brands of these games and 535 new titles in 2005.
Hirameki also commented on their two visual novel formats, the AnimePlay DVD and AnimePlay PC lines. They originally thought that DVD games would be more accessible and wouldn’t require a computer. However, these didn’t really mesh well with the market, where people usually just pop in a DVD and sit back. Also, DVDs don’t allow as much interactivity as the PC format. Hence, this is why they have started releasing games for the PC. Currently, their budget doesn’t really have room for redoing the old DVD games back into PC games.
For the panel, they showed the Ever17 opening, which had hardsubbed onscreen text and credits which are similar to some of the work current fansub groups do on some anime. A clip from Animamundi was shown, along with clips from Piece of Wonder and Yo-Jin-Bo.
Piece of Wonder is their new title announcement. From the doujin group Studio Cross-Fire, this is to be Hirameki’s first attempt at selling the game as a download. However, box versions will also be available. The download version of the game will be DRM-protected requiring a connection over the Internet to the central server to validate each play, similar to G-Collection’s V-Mate. The release date is yet to be announced and some details considering the download method are still being decided (They have not said anything affirmative with respect to BitTorrent). When asked about how much they are worried about piracy, they responded that at this point they are more worried about bringing the popularity of the genre out than about piracy. Aoyama-san noted regretfully that the market over in the US was much smaller than he had imagined.
Some of Hirameki’s future aspirations include getting more retail stores to carry their games. Best Buy did a trial run of 1500 copies and they sold really fast. Among some of the questions asked in the panel are questions like the possibility of publishing American made visual novels to which they responded that they still need to gauge the market and see what is possible. Another question was about the possibility of licensing games from Elf or Leaf. Elf has refused to allow their games to be censored for the localization as Hirameki only sells clean games. Leaf’s a big company and have lots of PS2 and anime titles as well and hence their price is rather high.
Previously, Hirameki had stated that they would want to aim for licensing A*r if sales of Ever 17 were good enough. However, sales so far hasn’t really met expectations so they are not really looking into such expensive properties at this point. However, in addition to Piece of Wonder, they have a few more titles in the pipeline, including Exodus Guilty 2 and 3. Furthermore, they are currently in negotiations concerning a title they cannot disclose at this point. All they can say is that it is of the adventure game genre and that it has a famous anime based on it.
When asked about how they research into possible games to bring over, they said that Aoyama-san (one of the representatives) used to be an editor for TECH GIAN and Hirameki’s Japanese headquarters (they are a Japanese company) are located in the middle of Akihabara and hence in the midst of otaku gaming culture. Aoyama-san has admitted to browsing http://www.moonphase.cc/ everyday as well.
When asked about wallpapers, they said they are still working on them and don’t know about what sizes. They will be releasing them soon.
We would like to thank Aoyama-san and Takashi, his translator, for their time in answering our questions. Please be sure to visit their site and forums in the meantime. Oh, and everyone who attended either got a raffle prize or a 50% off coupon towards a game. Unfortunately, I had already bought Ever17…
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