Nintendo still on a roll with censorship

I’ve seriously grown tired of hearing how localised censorship is still being practiced nowadays. Nintendo’s infamy with their strict censorship rules with the NES still hasn’t left the industry as games are still being screwed around.

Not too long ago there was a hullabaloo about how Fire Emblem Fates had a scene removed, a scene that never existed in the game in the first place. Now, even more content is being removed for… no real reason but localised censorship and the out-of-hands outrage Internet culture.

Fire Emblem Fates has CERO C as its rating (15 years and up), ESBR has given it equivalent T and looks like PEGI hasn’t given it one as of this writing. This is the highest rating that a Fire Emblem game has got, previous ones hitting PEGI 7 and 12. The content in Fire Emblem Fates is far more mature both in tone and action, but for whatever reason the game can’t be its full product in the West. It’s gimped, cut down in content and stripped of what’s supposed to be there. This is one of those moments where one has to seriously consider if they want to support such actions with money, or simply have their voice out there and condemn stripping a game of its contents.

The sensibilities of gamers haven’t changed, well, ever. They have been pushing computing technology forwards for sure. Games have also caused more controversy than anyone really cares to remember since the 1970’s with games like Death Race. Death Race is a good example, because it essentially caused similar uproar as GTA and Carmageddon did with pedestrian overrunning.

Games have never strayed away from serious matters, and overall speaking one of the most important game series in the history handled serious matters once it began to realize itself to its fullest extent; the Ultima series. Those who think that games are just now becoming a mature medium because it can tell stories in prescribed sequences and engine made cutscenes never played 80’s PC games, especially PC RPGs and Adventure games. Rather, games have not grown, but have become politicised. Slew of software out there claims to be tackle new regions in gaming, but ultimately ends up being nothing but a glorified tech demos with a political or a social message, often both. All this and forgetting the game. These cutscenes and messages are nothing but obstacles to keep the player away from the game.

Because of this, you have seen how certain section of developers have shifted their interest to remove content they themselves deem inappropriate not for the game’s or the customer’s sake, but what they regard as socially inappropriate. Censoring the petting parts and other content from Fire Emblem Fates is precisely because of these reasons, not because they would actually be inappropriate. Hell, it’s anime in style, so you’d think there’d be huge mobs rallying up against it because it gives wrong impression how women should look or other similar bullshit like that.

Personally speaking, I absolutely abhor the idea of censorship for someone’s comfort. As much as people have made a meme about living in a current year, you’d think people have already gotten over cultural differences. Fire Emblem Fates is a Japanese company done by Japanese people with Japanese sensibilities. Mucking with their product to create a conformist version for another region and culture is not only underestimating your audience, but also treating them as children who know of better. The puritanical approach some translators and localisers nowadays use has made the term localisation a term to be used in a negative fashion.

I am all for localising in its more practical terms, finding localised equivalents for jokes and the like, not changing or removing content as it seen nowadays. Actually, some people have condemned how Degica has used the term with Muv-Luv’s Kickstarter, and I do understand the concern. From what I know about the translators, they shouldn’t jump the gun and create bad localisation, but rather a solid translation.

I also get why such things would be made. It’s not uncommon to remove mature content from a game, or from a movie, to get a lower rating and expand its possible audience. Not that anyone gives two fucks about that in the stores when it comes to customers, they’ll buy whatever they want despite the age limit there, or ask somebody older to get it for them. It’s all about marketing and politics, two things the gaming customer doesn’t give two shit about. Well, marketing hits them, but people play games to get away from politics and other real life shit they don’t want to deal with.

Just let the people have their waifu petting minigames. Games allow some of our fantasies to become faux-reality. Anime style is already regarded as something that’s not just naughty, but downright filled with fetishes. It doesn’t appeal to a wide audience, and Fire Emblem itself is a small niche. Further removing and censoring a game that has mostly an audience that fits the age range is downright patronising. It’d be better just to get the Japanese version and find a way to get that fan-translated version on your 3DS. You’ll be getting a better translation and all the content the game has.

Censorship is bullshit, and I’m tired of it. If you consider games as art, you should be infuriated by the idea of art being censored rather than appreciated. If you don’t, you still should be infuriated because a product has been censored due all the reasons mentioned above and then some. The best censorship is when the citizens themselves censor each other and pushing the ideas and matters beneficial for the government or other body in power. I would rather see games showcasing any and all matters than have them removed. I don’t need to like all of them, but hey, I’m already selecting not to purchase certain products. We’re all reasonable human beings who can select themselves what we can handle. If we’re mistaken, well then we just need to toughen up and take it as an experience.

I don’t care what sort of content is being removed in the name of localisation. If it’s there, don’t go and take a knife at it. You’re neutering your own product.

Langrisser makes a return. Again.

The strategy-RPG game series Langrisser is one of those interesting franchises that has a certain profile in the video game history, but not large enough to actually be famous. Developed by Masaya, Langrisser is without a doubt one of their most recognized brand and that’s not saying much. As a section of NCS, Masaya has produced more or less steady range of decent but rarely stellar titles throughout the years. There have been few next to Langrisser, e.g. Assault Suit Valken and Assault Suit Leynos 2 and Gleylancer. I’m not sure if Cho Aniki could be counted as a high grade game, but it certainly has its own cult following.

After Leynos 2, NCS pretty much dropped from the serious console game development and concentrated on producing various mahjong, shogi and go games with the occasional license game or two. It is rather safe to say that the 1990’s was the golden age for Masaya as a game producer and publisher. In the mid-2000’s a company called Extreme acquired Masaya’s library.

As such, it make sense to apply the Langrisser brand to a new game for the marginal recognition the series has, but that alone won’t carry the upcoming reboot.

Langrisser has been a combination of three distinct elements that has made it a fan favourite. First is the epic scale of the gameplay, and I do not use the term epic lightly here. The player will find themselves controlling numerous generals, which have power over hundreds of individual units on the field. Granted, these units are combined into squads of ten, but that doesn’t make it any less grand in scale when you have humongous amounts of units on stages that can span screens. There’s a huge amount of depth to the gameplay while still allowing leeway on how the game is being played, unlike other similar franchises, e.g. Fire Emblem. That said, it is more about the strategic thinking than just powering up than Nippon Ichi’s grindfests and while the games are slow paced overall, they don’t enforce stupid repetiton like the aforementioned.

Secondly, the games’ settings have always been simple at core, but can get highly complex. The traditional idea Light and Darkness fighting each other via their avatars is a recurring element in Langrisser, and the title itself refers to the holy sword within the game world. The Darkness has its own sword as well, the Alhazard, which could be said to be the original as Langrisser was created to oppose the Alhazard while being based on its core.

Thirdly, Satoshi Urushihara. More often than not people have found about Langrisser via Urushihara’s works, and that’s not a bad thing. As a fan of his production, Urushihara is a long time veteran in the animation and comic industry in Japan, especially in the adult markets. While his style divides people, it can’t be denied that what he does is extremely skilfully made and is unique. However, his style has been synonymous with the core Langrisser series since its beginning and lasted through the whole series. I admit that I have a bias for Urushihara’s works.

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The music has been pretty good for the whole series, too. It is distinctly Japanese in flavour, but that goes to the whole damn series.

 

This is not the first time Langrisser gets a reboot. Langrisser Millennium and Millennium WS; The Last Century tried to create a new ongoing series, but seeing how Millennium is pretty awful and The Last Century was on WonderSwan, it’s no wonder the series slowly died. Now, granted nobody knew how to treat Langrisser at this point. The original staff had moved unto Growlanser series, which is essentially a spiritual successor to Langrisser in many ways. Not only it has most of the same staff, but it continued to have Urushihara as its main illustrator.

Langrisser in itself is a sequel to Japanese only PC games Elthlead, Crest of Gaia and Gaiframe. Technically speaking, Crest of Gaia is a remake of Elthlead, but that’s beside the point. These three games introduce the world where Langrisser takes place and introduced elements that would later appear in Langrisser, like the recurring enemy Böser. It should also be noted that Elthlead was published in 1987, year before Master of Monsters as can be traced to be one of the first games of its genre in its relatively modern form. It also precedes Fire Emblem, released in 1990.

The upcoming Langrisser remake worries me because of what it could be. The initial scans have leaked somewhat ambiguous information. We know very little about the game. However, the following thins are true; a company called Extreme owns the rights to the series now after acquiring Masaya under its wing with the rest of the Masaya library. Well, to be accurate, their website states that they have an agreement with NCS to use trademarks and copyrighted materials related to Masaya’s library. It looks like that Extreme is in joint cooperation with NCS, as Masaya’s website shows copyright information of both NSC and Extreme. Looking at their offering we can see that they have an emphasize on moefied mahjong games both on PC and on mobile phones.

Whether or not Langrisser is in good hands will remain to be seen. However, the information we’ve gained thus far is not too promising; while 10 unit squads return as per standard, but both the initial beginning and sword mentioned doesn’t seem fitting. The story seems to about a boy who finds Excalibur and goes find a girl who was taken from his side. Now, granted, that shouldn’t tell much, but when they’re explicitly going Excalibur, there seems to be only little hope.

There are reasons why this sort of approach to include that damn overused Arthurian piece into Langrisser as the first prominent sword for the hero is because they want to do something new. The CEO of Extreme, Soshi Saito, mentioned that they want to make this Langrisser be something different from the past games and the reason they opted not to include Urushihara as the illustrator is because… they felt they needed something new.

Then what’s the point of using the name Langrisser if you’re not making a full blown Langrisser game after all this time? The name has little to no recognition, only the very first title was releases outside Japan and I doubt they would have been successful either way thanks to Langrisser being extremely Japanese series and the sort of strategy RPG it is and that despite its cult following Langrisser never top sales.

However, at the same time I have to understand why they’re using the name. Brand recognition, the little it has. That, and Extreme themselves have practically nil brand recognition. They have been the ones distributing Masaya’s games via Wii’s Virtual Console, so I can thank them for Gleylancer. However, their own brand names have no carrying weight as they are mostly mobages.

Langrisser Millennium was an awful Langrisser game. It had no reason to carry the name, but at the same time it was shown to branch off from the main series with the Millennium title. I’m afraid that the 3DS Reboot will fail not because they want to deviate from the formula, but that they decide to deviate from the formula like Millennium. Langrisser Millennium had all the possibilities of being decent, but it had no strategic depth to it, or massive scale battles. I can’t remember how bad it really is as I haven’t played in some seven years. I’ll give it a go at some point. Same goes for the WonderSwan game, Langrisser Millennium WS; The Last Century, which in all honesty is adhered closely to the original games. At least one thing Millennium series has in common with the previous series of games was that it had an established porn comic maker as the illustrator, thou whether or not the designs are better up to personal taste. They aren’t for me.

Langrisser was essentially rebooted the twice before the 3DS Reboot. I talked Schwarz before, and it seems the game is essentially vaporware. If Extreme has the sole rights to the franchise, the Free-to-Play MMO won’t be released as Gamania was its developer, unless written documents say otherwise. Or seeing how Extreme had been controlling Masaya’s assets for about ten years now, it’s more applicable that Gamania has the legal rights for the name and has licensed Langrisser title from Extreme or something similar. In all honesty, Schwarz was a bad idea with good intentions, but if had been named something like Langrisser; Elthlead Saga or something like that would have told that the games took place in the same world, similarly as with the games preceding Langrisser. I like how the official Schwarz site proudly tells its past and doesn’t try to keep itself down. Even the characters have the fanservice and overdesigned clothing Urushihara’s illustrations had for Langrisser.

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Yet, that something different from the 3DS Reboot looks uninspired, generic even. I just keep asking from myself; it they wanted to something different than Langrisser, then why the hell they had to call it Langrisser? We can live in good hope, we’ll have to see what will come. Tomorrow, perhaps. At least it looks promising at the moment, outside the damn bobblehead soldiers in battle sequences.