A few weeks ago, a little while after GameSpy published my article on Japanese indie games, I found out about another indie PC gem from that country that’s being hard-pressed to make it into English-speaking hands.
The doujin fighting game Yatagarasu has been known at least since last year when it was playable at PAX Prime, but is still pretty far under the radar. Basically, it was made by a handful of ex-SNK guys, debuting in Japan in 2011 with a visual style evocative of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike.
It is every bit the classic-style fighting game in a sea of the modern ones that have hit consoles in recent years. Where Capcom’s gone all the way for 3D graphic with 2D physics, Yatagarasu is all classic 2D, feeling like a new game that travelled here from 1999 or something. The character designs and backgrounds are also new and unique, yet evocative of late 90’s King of Fighters games as well as 3rd Strike. Heck, it even runs in a native 480p resolution.
For a game that feels so classic, developer Circle Edge put a lot of modern amenities into this game for an indie effort. It’s got netplay, and they’ve been patching it frequently over the last 12 months, the latest version releasing only a couple weeks ago as of this writing.
The problem right now though is getting the game properly available outside of Japan.
Nicalis announced intentions to release an English version on the 3DS of all platforms (I’m thinking due to its low native resolution), but we don’t know when. I hear a lot of criticism these days about Nicalis’ reliability in even getting localization projects released, but I don’t know enough about them to form an opinion.
Never mind an official localized version, just getting the current PC edition running on an English language version of Windows is a hassle. Even with Unicode characters installed you might not be able to see a lot of the letters in the game properly unless you’ve switched Windows into the Japanese regional setting. The game is even more crash-prone unless you do this or run it with Applocale. The patches (which you must install in sequential order) won’t work at all unless you do one of those things, and even then it’s a big maybe.
Because of the nature of Yatagarasu and how Circle Edge is developing it I think it’d be perfect for Steam. Steam could at once accommodate the game’s netplay as well as the frequency of its patches. Nicalis is thinking about it but we don’t know any more than that. Though, at that point the game would probably have to go through Greenlight (despite Nicalis already having at least one game on Steam), and it took La-Mulana forever to get enough votes despite being already available elsewhere.
Stuff like this just shows how isolated the Japanese indie market is in the midst of the market’s explosion in the rest of the world. There needs to be some kind of language bridge or something.
- Mind the Japanese commentary in the video above. I don’t think it’s in the actual game.
- I should add that fighting games are actually a pretty popular genre for Japanese indie studios.
- If you’ve played Hotline Miami you need to see this. http://flip.it/tyrJw
- Writer, editor, and intimacy http://flip.it/qQ9bQ
- Collector’s editions of games are now officially out of control: http://www.allgamesbeta.com/2013/01/splinter-cell-blacklist-collectors.html