For the longest time, I’ve been obsessed with the video game series Boku No Natsuyasumi (My Summer Vacation). It is a Japanese series of games centred around a young boy and his adventures in the Japanese countryside. It embodies everything I love about Japan, Studio Ghibli movies and escapism all in one go. Unfortunately, I’ve never played it. The games never saw a port outside of Japan. This means unless you are willing to play with a guide, it is practically inaccessible.
Attack Of The Friday Monsters
Fortunately, back in 2013, its developer, Millennium Kitchen, released Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale. It was developed for the Guild02 compilation, a series of games published by Level 5 that acted as a way of showing off some of Japan’s most talented developers’ work.
While it was a rather short experience, Attack of the Friday Monsters! managed to capture the essence of the Boku No Natsuyasumi games. It offered players the chance to explore a beautiful, idealistic, recreation of the Japanese countryside, all while indulging in a healthy helping of anime nostalgia. Up until recently, it was the perfect – and only – way of experiencing anything remotely like the Boku No Natsuyasumi games.
Shin-Chan Heading To The West
However, back in 2021, a brand new game by the prolific Millennium Kitchen was announced. Titled Shin-chan: Me and the Professor on Summer Vacation – The Endless Seven-Day Journey – henceforth referred to as Shin-chan because I don’t want to break my fingers writing it out each and every time -, the game follows the adventures of the popular character Shinnosuke Nohara from the anime Crayon Shin-chan. It was initially exclusive to Japan, although the developer claimed he would do his best to bring it to the West.
Fortunately, the ended up being true. On the 28th of June, 2022, it was announced that the game would be coming to the West sometime in August. But why does any of this matter? Why should you care? Well, because games like this are a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and how the general public reacts to it could determine the future of Japanese games in the West.
It’s no secret that Japanese games tend to get region-locked once they come out. Intriguing concepts, amazing stories and mind-blowing experiences are all hidden away from those who don’t speak or read Japanese. From the fourth entry in the Yokai-Watch series to the recently released Megaton Musashi, there are a lot of video games stuck in translation limbo with many western fans still holding on for a potential port.
But, for some strange reason, Shin-chan is getting a western port. It makes some sense as there was a moderately loud outcry for the game to be ported to the west when it was initially announced. However, things like this very rarely happen. Practically almost never. We’ve been teased a Yokai Watch 4 port for a considerable amount of time, but it is yet to materialise. Which is why this is so important. Shin-chan coming to the West is about the best news a fan of Japanese-exclusive games could get. It signals a possible shift in how Japanese studios treat their western audiences. Well, maybe.
Localisation & Translation
It is possible that due to Shin-chan’s launch, more Japanese-exclusive games will come out in the west. However, for that to ever happen, Shin-chan will need to do well. Localisations are not cheap. Even if Shin-chan doesn’t have much dialogue, someone had to meticulously go through it all and translate it so that it makes sense for an English-speaking person. That doesn’t just mean literal translations either. Jokes, concepts, slang and so much more have to be localised, as a lot of it won’t make much sense if translated too literally.
Take for example the Dragon Quest games. A lot of the text is altered significantly from Japanese to English. Whereas the Japanese text will often be formal or simply regular dialogue, the English translation will lean more towards Old English, or even Scottish in some cases. This is a decision made by the localising team, perhaps in an effort to appeal more to an English-speaking audience or to simply differentiate it from the original Japanese.
Of course, I’m not expecting Shin-chan to be translated to such an extreme degree. However, the English dub of the original anime was altered to fit in more with its American audience. It is altogether possible that the translation of the game will be in keeping with the alterations made in the English dub. Regardless, localisations are not cheap, which means that Shin-chan will need to sell a lot of copies in the West.
Why Shin-Chan Is Important
If Shin-chan sells well and at the very least makes back its localisation costs, then it is possible that Japanese developers will see its success as a means to begin porting other games to the West. This is why it is such an important game. Its success could even mean that those inaccessible Boku No Natsuyasumi games may get a Western port. Honestly, I seriously hope so.
The Nintendo Switch is in dire need of more interesting content. It’s been bogged down by needless shovelware and typical triple-A trash for too long. So, if you’re in any way interested in Japan, Studio Ghibli or just fancy supporting Japanese games being ported to the West, then check out Shin-chan. It may just change the video game industry for the better.