Friday, June 4, 2010

Lolis Gonna Pass Me By

So it is looking more and more like the US localisation of Cave's Loliween horizontal shooter, Deathsmiles, is going to be region-locked to this country. That sucks because my Xbox 360 is Japanese.

I already own the Japanese version of the game, but it'd been nice to get the goodies that are being made available in the American limited edition, and to be able to see the in-game dialogue in English.

Info on the teh intarwebs is conflicted because no one will own a retail copy for another three weeks as of this writing, but I think some staffer from Aksys, the US publisher, has been quoted as saying USA-only.

That being the case if I decided to buy it to get the LE extras, I probably would have to wait until it showed up on Games on Demand to actually play the English version. No intention at this point of buying another 360.

For the Xbox 360, as usual it appears the smaller publishers are the ones to region lock here in the USA. Which is really odd considering how copy-protection in any media is usually considered to be 'big corporate stupidity'. In my collection the USA games that are not region-coded are either the American ones or the ones from big Japanese companies, like Capcom and Sega.

I just find that interesting and paradoxical. The companies that would benefit the most (seemingly to me) are the least likely to make their games region free in this country, ie Koei, Genki, and D3 Pub. So if I want to play a 'little game'-- one that could probably use all the sales it can get-- like Dynasty Warriors Gundam, Kengo Zero, or Earth Defense Force 2017, I have to get the JPN one. But if I want to play Super Street Fighter IV or Sonic Unleashed-- games that were never going to lack for sales no matter what restrictions they might've had-- I can just have at it on any region's console.


Mind you, I'm not complaining about Capcom and Sega's choices. Its just how often do the big guys stand up as the exemplars of customer convenience? I don't think they made a conscious choice, they probably just can't be arsed to deal with it, 'cause they'll sell so many copies no matter who buys it where.

The thing with Deathsmiles is a little different and even more paradoxical. Given US company Aksys' track record they don't region-code (see BlazBlue or Agarest), yet THIS game, designed by one of the few small JPN companies that HAS flirted with all-region discs themselves (Cave) IS probably locked.

Double WTF?

This sort of bullshit used to be a big problem with DVDs in this country. You'd have to buy an all-region player or hit the conventions for fansubs or fan versions. It can still be kind of a hangup if you're an anime fan who wants the latest shit currently showing over in Japan. But nowadays most foreign films can be had on USA region discs if you are patient or know some good gray marketeers on the internet. I want to get the big fat five hour version of Red Cliff, released in theaters in Asia but not here. So when I went shopping for it I half expected to have to hassle around like I did in the old days when I built my kaiju/tokusatsu film on VHS. Who'd release a five hour chinese historical film here? One of the HK distros like Tai Seng or Meh Ah could have a fully subtitled one, but they are frequently expensive and of dodgy quality.

I needn't have worried. There's a US-printed Blu-Ray available on Amazon, all five hours-- nineteen and a half dollars. There is a network of publishers of all sizes, keenly aware of fanbases and snapping up all sorts of properties. There's frickin' competition to get these weird, obscure things released here these days.

Boy, I wish video gaming was like that. If it was, even with region coding there'd be no need to buy overseas versions. I wouldn't even have had to buy a JPN Xbox 360.

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