The lights are on
Xseed Games first caught my eye when it localized entries in some of my favorite RPG series, like Wild Arms and Shadow Hearts. Founded by former Square Enix USA employees shortly after the merger of Square and Enix, the company has been releasing games that are of interest for RPG fans. In addition having an absolutely sterling localization team and library of games, Xseed has excelled by communicating with and responding to the wishes of its fans. When localizations seem like a lost hope, Xseed often makes dying dreams a reality.
We’ve seen this firsthand with the company publishing two Wii titles that fans campaigned hard for in Operation Rainfall: The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower. With the Wii as good as dead for gamers in 2012, Xseed took a huge risk with The Last Story. The gambit paid off, with The Last Story becoming the company’s most successful title to date. The company is certainly hoping that the goodwill carries over to Pandora’s Tower, which will certainly be one of the last games for the platform.
But what’s admirable about Xseed is not only its willingness to take a chance on obscure games like Brave Story: New Traveler and Half-Minute Hero, but the extra effort it puts into localization. The passion permeates each and every Xseed game; the localization team clearly loves the material they translate, often adding quirky and charming humor. Because of this, NPCs rarely feel like the one-dimensional placeholders that occur in lesser localizations.
The effort of Xseed is most evident in its partnership with Falcom. Employees like Tom Lipschultz let their love for this company bleed through, often talking to fans in any number of forums. Xseed stepped up to the plate to ensure fans were getting the quality Falcom themselves infused into Ys Seven, Book I & II, and Oath in Felghana. The partnership also allowed for The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky to make it to our shores. This was met with much fanfare, and once again Xseed nailed it with a top-notch localization, something that different companies weren’t able to succeed with.
Still, quality localization doesn’t guarantee commercial success. While Trails in the Sky won critical acclaim, the sales numbers on the PSP platform haven’t met expectations. The same can be said for another fan-favorite, Retro Game Challenge. Still, despite these pitfalls, Xseed keeps on trucking.
Not only is the company making wise choices like putting Ys games on Steam, but now it’s tapping into the mobile market. For a company with only a handful of employees, these are big steps, and hopefully bode well for the future. While we can probably count out seeing the second and third parts of the Legend of Heroes trilogy started by Trails in the Sky on PSP, perhaps the market on Steam can provide the perfect storm for sales.
Recently, the company announced its spring lineup, and the localization choices not only play to RPG fans, but new audiences as well. Xseed’s big signing is obviously Suda 51’s (a.k.a. Goichi Suda) new game, Killer is Dead. This isn’t Xseed’s first venture with Suda 51; previously it localized the offbeat DS port of Flower, Sun, and Rain. Snatching Killer is Dead is an interesting move, considering Suda 51’s games have been hit or miss – see the aforementioned Flower, Sun, and Rain. Xseed also secured Rune Factory 4, a franchise that Natsume has often published alongside the mainline Harvest Moon titles. The Vita is also about to get a boost from Xseed, with Ys: Memories of Celceta, and Valhalla Knights 3 on the way.
It seems like Xseed is constantly breaking through with a fresh, quirky game. In a market where sequels rule and risk is something frowned upon by shareholders, there are a few companies that defy this trend. Xseed proudly takes this mantle, big publishers be damned.
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