Last Friday, Mitsuru Hirata, chief director of Tokyo Mirage Sessions hit up Twitter to ask western gamers to buy the game despite various localization changes.
“Come to think of it, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE release date is this week on 24th isn’t it! For various reasons we had to change some outfits, contents of events and vocals, but I think the outfits of the overseas version are quite cute! If you live overseas and own a Wii U by all means buy the game!”
Okay, let’s unpack that comment, shall we?
I agree that the new outfits are quite cute (you can see them in the screen provided) and I appreciate that they went to the trouble to actually design and model new duds rather than lazily painting pants on the bikini-clad characters but I completely disagree that the old outfits or any of the myriad other changes “had” to be changed.
What all changed? Well, some of the outfits have been altered or replaced. The characters (who are mostly 17) have been aged up one whole year. And all references to gravure modeling have been scrubbed.
Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: NONE of the content in the original Japanese version of the game would have come anywhere close to earning this game an M or PEGI 18 rating nor is any of its content in violation of any local laws.
Now that that’s out of the way, the outfit changes are unnecessary and inconsistent. For example, Tsubasa (the character in the center) wears that same bikini elsewhere in the game! Some or her outfits have been altered to show less cleavage and yet her main battle outfit is a VERY deep cleavage, belly-bearing, short-shorts ensemble.
Seems kind of silly to cover up some cleavage when the game is still chock full ‘o cleavage! Don’t believe me? Here’s how the ESRB describes the western release of the game:
“Some female characters are depicted wearing low-cut clothing that reveals large amounts of cleavage; a handful of cutscenes contain brief close-ups of characters’ cleavage.”
If you check out the ESRB’s rating page for Tokyo Mirage Sessions you’ll also notice that despite the removal of some suggestive lines of dialog, the game STILL contains “characters [who] occasionally engage in suggestive dialogue.” The game is even rated for “Suggestive Content.” So what in the blue blazing heck is the point of these alterations?
As for gravure modeling, most Americans don’t know what that is so I can understand why a localization team might think it was a good idea to change it. After all, localization changes are supposed to facilitate a new audience’s understanding of a foreign product (NOT hide things you’re uncomfortable with them seeing).
So, what is a gravure model? I’ll explain it to you. A gravure model is… a magazine model.
Yeah, that’s pretty much it. If you’re wondering, “gravure” comes from a word used to describe a printing method of illustrated magazines.
Anyway, the game looks fun and the changes, while they may re-contextualize parts of the game, don’t harm the gameplay or story so I do plan on picking it up despite the long list of unnecessary and nonsensical localization choices, at least once the price drops. If you know me, you know I won’t pay $60 for a video game.
For those who would like to play the game with as few silly changes as possible, a patch is being developed that undoes all that nonsense. It’s currently on version 0.9.2. Here’s a brief overview of what it does:
– Reverted costumes back to Bikini’s, also changing the menu icons back and their original names and descriptions.
– Completely redid Chapter 2 and a few other small files to return references to Gravure Modelling, this also uses the original voice files.
– Fixed any map changes relating to pictures in dungeons that were changed.
– Swapped the English files out for Japanese versions for retranslated files.
– Healing points no longer come in envelopes.
– Changed Profiles to reflect the character’s real ages and change back references to Gravure Modeling.
– Reverted any censored prerendered Cutscene files.
You can check out the patch here.
If you pick up Tokyo Mirage Sessions (reviews are positive!) and decide to use the patch, let Nintendo know! If it sees a bunch of people patching out the stupid changes, maybe next time it won’t waste money making them in the first place. Or, at the very least, provide gamers the option between “altered” and “unaltered.”
After all, like Hirata said, the new outfits are quite cute.
UPDATE: Reader Infophile makes a good point in the comments below. Hacking a game to run a fan patch is against Nintendo’s Terms of Service so maybe don’t tell Nintendo your NNID when letting it know you support niche releases like Tokyo Mirage Sessions but not its ludicrous localization choices. Also, it’s probably best to keep your Wii U offline while running the patch and scrubbing all evidence of it off your hard drive before reconnecting. Happy gaming!