I usually don’t use this site to soapbox, but if you’re reading this, I assume you’re into niche games, and at very least have heard of the omnipresent Touhou franchise.
If by some chance you haven’t, it’s a long-running shmup series basically created by one guy: a doujin/indie developer who goes by ZUN. He does it all: programming, music, art, and story.
ZUN is an extremely talented and prolific individual, and I’ll never contest that.
What I will say is that he comes across as one of the most stubborn, prideful developers in the industry, and he’s only doing him and his works harm as a result.
ZUN is notoriously protective of Touhou, to the point that he has yet to allow anyone to make an anime out of the franchise, despite what I can assume are dozens of lucrative offers.
He additionally has refused to let the games see official localization. Although there is a very devout fan community that continue to translate and patch his games for them to receive wider notice, his pride continues to belittle their efforts by refusing to let the games get any proper release, dooming them to a tiny niche.
This brings me to Playism.
The Touhou community was abuzz with the news that Playism had struck a deal with ZUN to release the newest title, Touhou 14: Double Dealing Character, digitally on PC.
This was unexpected, and a great cause for optimism. Maybe ZUN had lightened up! Maybe Touhou was finally getting the official globalization it deserved!
Except… the game was completely untranslated. Menus, story, EVERYTHING was left in Japanese.
At ZUN’s insistence.
That neither the media or community has expressed outrage at this is beyond me.
It is unacceptable in this day and age to expect players to pay money for a lazy localization.
I’m sure there’s people out there who think that this is just a shooting game, and localization doesn’t matter.
Well, people say the same thing about BlazBlue in regards to its story mode. But there are people who play those story modes. There are people who care. And they deserve just as much respect as those who play the games to dodge ridiculous amounts of bullets. (Personally, I play them for both.)
It’s entirely possible that Playism had no control. Maybe ZUN’s stipulation was that they could only release it untranslated.
If that really is the case(and I believe it is), then were I in Playism’s shoes, I’d have told ZUN to get lost. It’s not worth the reputation, the insult to fans’ intelligence(especially when they had it patched within days), or catering to ZUN’s foolish pride.
As an aside, some may mention that Touhou games have begun to finally see some official release on Sony’s platforms… except these are only fan made ones.
All the games so far have been derivatives of Touhou works, nothing from the mainline series.
If this is the precedent that ZUN hopes to set in western territories with his franchise, then maybe it really is meant to stay over there. If ZUN doesn’t care about us, then we have no obligation to care about him.