I had quite a few stinks with Capcom this year, and it’s a shame considering I’ve been a fan my entire life. The biggest of these beefs was with the decision not to localize the anime flavored Lost Planet spin-off E.X. Troopers. They’ve been silent on the matter as to why they came to this decision, but a recent announcement made by Capcom USA’s Senior Vice-President Christian Svensson on the official Capcom forums sheds a little more light on the situation.
As it should go without saying. E.X. Troopers was made for a Japanese audience. Not just the fun aesthetic, but also in terms of the multiplayer. Co-op games are huge in Japan now, especially on portables, thanks to the emergence of Monster Hunter. Teaming up with your friends to take down a quick boss or two while on the move is the formula for success these days, and everybody wants a piece of the action.
Capcom wants two slices, it seems. They actually tried to make this work in Lost Planet 2, but it fell on deaf ears to people who wanted a story driven shooter like the first game. Thus, a split happened within the halls of Capcom. Lost Planet 3 was shipped overseas to become more of a western shooter while E.X. Troopers was developed at home in Japan to continue the hunt for another successful mulitplayer franchise.
The problem is that the developers never even considered a demand for a Western release. The language and text bubbles are hard-coded right into the art, requiring more than a simple translation to fix. Svensson had this to say about the game’s status.
“[E.X. Troopers] was not planned for Western release. You can tell this because all of the text is ‘hard coded’ as actual art. The text isn’t just standard ‘text’ that could be swapped relatively easily…
…To localize a release, one would have to redo a ton of art in the game, not just do the localization and loc QA.”
I can kind of buy that story, but I would think text bubbles are just a single layer of graphics and just as easily replaceable by switching an image file out in place of another. But then again, I’m not a game designer and have no idea how the process would work.
It’s also unfortunate because E.X. Troopers tanked its opening week in Japan, pulling in about 17,400 sales on the 3DS. Maybe it was that 5990 yen ($73) price tag on a simple little 3DS shooter that put the final nail in this coffin. The PS3 version was 6990 yen ($84) and sold even less. I have little doubt it would have been a bigger success as a budgeted PSN release or something like that, but, then again, I’m not a game publisher and have no idea how the process works.
E.X. Troopers is a fine little game you can pick up at an import store, and it was Capcom’s most fun game of 2012. Look for it on the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 3.