Special Feature: NIS America at Anime Expo 2017

In my previous posts, I featured titles Bandai Namco and Aksys Games announced at Anime Expo this past weekend, companies that saved many of their gaming announcements for this event instead of letting them be buried among larger titles at E3. But among those who’ve made this a habit, one company was missing: NIS America. They were present and provided a new trailer for Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, but they had nowhere near as large a presence as in previous years. Given how they also didn’t have anything new to show at E3 a few weeks ago, it made me wonder if they were considerably scaling down the number of games they want to handle at a time.

As it turns out, they did make several new announcements at AX. They were simply given a press embargo until Tuesday, Independence Day. I’m not sure why they made that decision, but perhaps they didn’t want their stuff buried by other AX announcements. Hey, maybe this event is also getting too crowded as far as localizations of niche Japanese games are concerned.

One game newly announced was Penny Punching Princess, released in Japan as The Princess is Money Hungry. This is a sprite-based action game with an overhead camera view about a princess who’s been robbed of her kingdom, and has to fight back and obtain it. She can’t defeat the enemies and regain her rightful crown alone, but since she’s still rich, she can bribe some of those enemies into switching sides. Additionally, the princess herself can learn over 70 moves, many of will which rely on the use of various weapons. More weapons and equipment can be acquired after recruiting specific high-level enemies. It has the traditional goofy theme that’s typical for a Nippon Ichi Software game, and hopefully it also inherits the quality aspect of those games.

The game released in Japan on November 24th, though the lack of impressions regarding its quality should show how little it sold. Maybe it will do better in western territories, since NIS America will release it on Switch in addition to Vita on March 20th next year.

The other new title announced was Experience Inc.’s Demon Gaze II, a sequel to the previous first-person dungeon crawler NISA also localized. It takes place in a world where a malevolent entity named Magnastarhas has brainwashed the populace of Absteriainto into obeying his rule. It’s up to the protagonist to defeat him and liberate the people using the powers of demons that can be recruited, with some help from human (and human-like?) companions. Relationships can also be developed among the latter group, which will lead to dating events, a necessary feature for niche Japanese games these days.

Since dungeon crawlers can be intimidating, this title will have difficulty options to make things easier for those who don’t have much experience with the genre. The Demon Gaze titles are Experience’s more lighthearted titles, to get their consumer base experienced enough (not sorry) for harder ones like Stranger of Sword City.

Demon Gaze II released in Japan on September 29th last year, and those who played it claimed it was as good as the first one. It will release in western territories sometime this fall on Vita and PS4 this time, instead of being Vita-exclusive. That’s no surprise considering NISA no longer publishes Vita exclusives due to the risk involved.

NISA also provided details on other localizations they’re working on. The localization for The Longest 5 Minutes went MIA after it was announced nearly a year ago. It’s a game about a hero who has five minutes to recall his memories before fighting the Demon King, whose minutes last as long as Planet Namek before it exploded, hence why they’re long. The western release is still coming, but it’s been delayed until sometime in 2018. As compensation, it will release on Switch in addition to Vita and PC. The game released in Japan on July 28th last year, but NISA didn’t mention why the English version is taking so long.

Yomawari: Midnight Shadows for PS4, Vita, and PC, the previously-announced sequel to Yomawari: Night Alone whose localization was confirmed with the Japanese reveal, will arrive on October 24th — notably right before Halloween. Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony and Culdcept Revolt are also part of their upcoming lineup, which are due for release on September 26th and October 3rd, respectively. There was a panel for the former featuring voice actors from the English dub and a new overview trailer, while the latter was also given a new trailer, which confirmed the delay from its original August 29th date.

There are two noteworthy takeaways from NIS America’s announcements here. We’re seeing likely signs that they’re indeed scaling down their localizations a little, considering the delays, and how their video game schedule isn’t quite as packed as it used to be. Note how this is happening after they also stopped translating anime, and hopefully this doesn’t lead to layoffs. It’s also worth noting the two games that are being ported to Switch, both of which are localizations of titles published by their Japanese arm. Where there are no public sales numbers, it’s an indication that Disgaea 5 Complete sold well on the system. Expect more of them, though whether they’ll also release in Japan is unknown.

More info for these titles will be added to NIS America’s site when they get around to updating, but preorders for them and their limited editions have already started. Good luck getting them, because they’re almost always in short supply.

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