October 25th, 2016
All has been quiet on the XSEED Tumblr for quite some time, due in part to the absence of that most crucial of resources: time.
Time has been getting away from us as we’ve isolated ourselves either on an alien world, or in an otherworldly school, fighting for survival against impossible odds. But that fight… has finally been won. For you see, on this 25th of October, both experiences shall avail themselves to the general populace! Nintendo fanciers can play Corpse Party on their 3DSes, while Sony devotees can play Exile’s End on their PS4s or Vitas. (Nintendo fanciers will eventually be able to play Exile’s End on their Wii Us, too, but not for a little while yet – sorry!)
The question remains, though: why have we put ourselves through these ordeals? Corpse Party is ground that’s been trodden twice prior: once on PSP, and again on PC. And while this 3DS iteration has much to offer that its predecessors do not – not the least of which being its physical Back to School Edition, packaged with two figurines and an 80-minute soundtrack – it did still require us to devote resources (including the ever-elusive specter of time) to a game you may very well have already played in one form or another.
As for Exile’s End, our Japanese parent company has not only helped fund the initial development of the game, they’ve also released it once already on Steam, meaning it too is well-trodden ground (and that’s despite it being a desolate alien planet!). So… are we mad? Have we succumbed to the Darkening? To space fever, perhaps? Maybe both?
Well… yes, we have. HELPMEMYLUNGSAREFILLEDWITHDYNAMITE.
But we also just really like these games! And I don’t mean as suits in an office, with dollar signs for eyes… but as gamers. Corpse Party, for one, was not a game anyone pitched to us, nor was it a game we pursued with prospects of becoming rich beyond our wildest dreams. Rather, it’s just a game I saw one day while browsing the Japanese PlayStation Store. I saw the screenshots, with their 16-bit RPGMaker aesthetic, and I read the blurb, and looked at the art… and I was intrigued.
So I downloaded the demo, which consisted of chapter 1 in its entirety. I played through the whole thing that night (attaining its most noteworthy wrong end, as I’d missed that key in the stairwell my first time through)… and I loved it. I loved the no-holds-barred brutality. I loved the emotional attachment I’d formed to Naomi and Seiko after just one hour of play. I loved the voice-acting, in all its creepy 3D binaural glory. And I *adored* that first chapter BGM – man, that track is just legendary. (And, incidentally, the 3DS edition features a unique arrangement of it with opera-style vocals, making a good thing even better!)
I went into work the next day and told my coworkers about this awesome horror game I’d played the night before. I lent them my PSP so they could try it too… and my boss shared my enthusiasm for it. He took it to our president, who also really enjoyed it. And then, before I knew it, we’d reached out to the Japanese publisher, and were officially evaluating the game for possible publication in English!
We have a very specific evaluation procedure for games here: there’s a form we fill out called a “TQR,” which I believe stands for… technical quotient review, or something like that? It asks detailed questions about every aspect of a game, and then weighs our ratings on each of those aspects based on the game’s genre and… a bunch of other factors I don’t quite understand.
Regardless of how TQR scores and comments are tabulated, the end result was an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the game. XSEED’s staff saw tremendous potential in it, and to my surprise, a game I’d brought to the attention of my peers because I enjoyed its demo so much was now left in my hands to translate. Imagine that: I suggested a game because I thought it was awesome, and suddenly, I was now in charge of its English localization!
This… almost happened again recently, too, with our PS4 release of Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity. I was the one who brought that game to XSEED’s attention as well (though in this case only after reading about it and watching a trailer, rather than playing it). Nonetheless, we contacted the publisher and officially evaluated the game using those selfsame TQR forms, and once again, the result was overwhelmingly positive throughout the office – the game was a hit all around. (I wasn’t able to personally do any translation on this one, though, as I was busy with Akiba’s Beat at the time!)
(^^ Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity in action. Go buy it now on your PS4s!)
At any rate, Corpse Party has been a very special game for me since the very beginning, and in keeping with XSEED tradition, I was handed the script once more for the four 3DS-exclusive Extra Chapters, which I took special care to translate and edit in the same style as my prior Corpse Party localizations from 2011. The end result should be seamless, and Corpse Party fans can look forward to learning a bit more about the intrepid cameraman Taguchi, Kizami’s classmates from Byakudan, the poor trio of girls from Musashigawa, and – perhaps most surprisingly – that old fop of a bathroom ghost!
What of Exile’s End, then? Well, that’s a one-man show that got some grassroots help from members of our parent company, Marvelous Japan, after they found themselves impressed by creator Matt Fielding’s labor of love. Because of their involvement, we too were inclined to try the game, and I was instantly hooked when I did. Interconnected 2D adventure platformers (Metroidvania or otherwise) are my bread and butter, and Exile’s End is a very pure specimen of the genre, featuring exemplary level designs, tight controls, and an atmosphere so thick and foreboding, it’s like a pea soup monster.
I played the game to completion very quickly, and immediately sent my praises to the developer and all those at Marvelous who were involved in its publication… along with a few bits of constructive criticism, for good measure. Several coworkers followed suit shortly thereafter.
Little did we know at the time that Mr. Fielding was looking to port the game to consoles, and he really wanted to make it the best experience it possibly could be in the process. He’d taken the feedback we all sent him to heart, and set about implementing as much of it as he could.
Because of this, the PS4 and Vita versions of Exile’s End will, in fact, be slightly different experiences from what you may have played on Steam. There are now more hidden treasures to be found, map features that have been altered to help make certain platforming sections flow a bit better, prominent sound effects added during cinematic cutscenes, and – most crucially – an endgame gauntlet that significantly expands upon the somewhat abrupt final encounter from the original PC release.
These console and handheld editions of Exile’s End are therefore the most “definitive,” and if you’re a fan of exploration-centric platforming, I would highly suggest checking the game out – especially around Halloween time, since the game’s lonely, threatening environments set the perfect mood for a dark, stormy night.
…And *especially* when paired with Corpse Party! Death by vengeful child spirit and/or supernaturally induced madness, or death by sickening alien monstrosities on a world where no one can hear you scream?
Either way, you’re a goner. And either way… you’re all set to have one hell of a Halloween.