The creator of Touhou refuses to let anyone localize his games. Selfish or justified?

#1
I mentioned the lack of mainline Touhou localizations here before, but in light of some recent remarks, I thought it warranted more discussion...

no chance, the main touhou games are solely the work of zun, he wont allow anyone but himself to work on them, not even to create official english patches.
The Touhou games are traditionally single player curtain fire shmups, mostly developed by one guy: Team Shanghai Alice, aka ZUN.


(See the very detailed Community Thread for more examples.)

I've read something to that quote's effect a lot from official publishers. ZUN refuses to let anyone localize his games unless he does the programming himself, so basically, we're stuck getting doujin table scraps:

I hear none of them have sold very well, and most of them are critically panned, yet for the indefinite future, that's all we'll get.


Is ZUN entitled to pretty much ignore everyone outside of Japan like this, basically forcing fan translators to do all the work? While you could say it's his prerogative to ignore the potential sales, it kind of feels disrespectful to overseas fans(especially potential ones) to say they're not allowed to have the offiical mainline games localized.

I'd personally be embarrassed if most associated my work with fan releases since the official thing is unavailable in English(the only way to buy it legitimately is from Playism's site , and it's ONLY IN JAPANESE), but that's just me.
 
Dec 8, 2014
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#15
he doesn't want his characters (as stupid, boring, and tropey as most of them are) misrepresented or changed for the sake of the "holy grail of localization". Makes sense to me.
 

mr jones

Ethnicity is not a race!
Dec 4, 2004
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#18
From what I played, they're not that much fun anyways.

But yeah, I don't consider it selfish, nor justified. Simply his prerogative.

If an indie developer only makes a game for a single game console...
 
Oct 29, 2014
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#23
Well, what's his justification? If he wants to be the only one working on them, why doesn't he just hire a translator and then do all the programming himself?
 
#24
I see the lack of Touhou games outside of Japan as a blessing.
They're very fun shmups, I think. They could easily get a good audience on Steam, too.
Well, what's his justification? If he wants to be the only one working on them, why doesn't he just hire a translator and then do all the programming himself?
I don't think he trusts anyone.
 
Jun 12, 2015
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#25
It can be both selfish and justified. It does suck, but there isn't much to be done. I'm sure he's had enough time to realize that he's missing out, so what could anybody tell him to change his mind at this point, really? No means no. My only gripe is that the fan translations I've used are pretty bad, primarily with the older titles. Hopefully somebody with the skill decides to amend that down the road.

EDIT:
He's anything but selfish. If he doesn't want to do it, that's his choice.
Acting selfish isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's not good to bend over for everyone, regardless of who they are. Nothing wrong with being a little selfish here and there, and ZUN isn't harming anyone in this situation. That said, this situation only benefits him, so in this case specifically, what else would you call it? It doesn't define everything else he does, and he's clearly proven that he isn't a selfish person over the years.
 
Jun 7, 2011
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#29
He doesn't owe shit to anyone. You can think he's a dope and be annoyed that you can't play the games (fyi: you can) but he doesn't have to "justify" anything, christ.
 
Sep 13, 2012
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#30
The Japanese indie scene is weird as hell.

They've existed for a long time but we barely know about them in the West because for some reason they insist on only selling their games on physical media at specific events. It's like they're stuck in the mentality of the PC88/MSX/etc era and refuse to change.
 
Sep 24, 2013
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#32
Is he losing money because of that? Probably. That's his "punishment" for being overly protective with his own IP.
Heh. Touhou is big in Japan. Chances are, the only people who know of Touhou, outside of Japan, are those that decided to buy/saw the PS4 doujin games and... people that are deeply in Japanese media culture (anime, manga, doujin, etc). So, Touhou, in itself is pretty niche in the west. So localizing would need time and effort for a very slim audience. On top of that, the genre of the games themselves are also pretty niche.

There was 1 official game that was officially released in the west: Touhou Shining Needle Castle ~ Double Dealing Character (14th installment) (available on Playism EN). Touhou Deep Secret Record ~ Urban Legend In Limbo PS4 version is also region free but not translated. You can easily import that specific version but, yeah, there's no English here.

For the protection of his IP, that's debatable. ZUN permits quite a bit over his IP as long as they're not done for cash, sold on doujin stores and doesn't use his game assets and code (over-simplified). If his rules are respected, you can do what you want: games, music, plushes, keychains, t-shirt, tapestry, etc.

If you really really want to encourage him, there are various venues to buy the full games. Then, you can use the patches found online to translate the game. (Which I won't link)

Of course, it's not like just heading out to your local GameStop or going to Steam and buy the games.

ZUN as always been like this though; it's not from yesterday. But he knows that there are fans in the west and, in fact, when he went to the biggest anime con in the US (don't remember the name), he was very surprised to see that much fans.

The biggest thing I never agreed with ZUN is how the ending are copyrighted. In other words he has been doing Atlus-like ban (like the Persona 5 fiasco) before it was "cool". Yes, you CAN'T find scripts of the game endings online: "Finish the games if you want to see the ending". Just.... no.....

Anyway, whatever your stance, it's his IP and he does whatever he wants with it and to our biggest disappointment because it's quite the hurdle to get the games legitimately otherwise.
 
Jan 6, 2005
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#33
The "our way is always the best because it's our way" shit is kinda dumb, but that also goes in spades for the western absolutist "you're practically forcing us to pirate your shit by not delivering it to us exactly how we want."

Especially because, at its core, it's a damn verti shooter. Nothing's preventing you from playing it in Japanese, where the under-a-paragraph dialog interludes are famously allegorical-to-nonsensical even for native speakers.
 
May 20, 2014
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#34
They're his games so whatever.

Like every game this happens with, no English translation just means I'll probably never play them. More because of trouble buying them than because of language in this case, but whatever.

That's kinda annoying for me and a potential loss of profits for the developer, but ZUN seems happy enough.
 
Jul 5, 2013
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#35
The Japanese indie scene is weird as hell.

They've existed for a long time but we barely know about them in the West because for some reason they insist on only selling their games on physical media at specific events. It's like they're stuck in the mentality of the PC88/MSX/etc era and refuse to change.
In the end it's their loss. If paranoia or "baka gaijins" are the reason to withhold their own game from a wider audience, so be it. Someone else will come along, they always do, and at least try to provide a similar, if not better, experience/game.
 
#36
The "our way is always the best because it's our way" shit is kinda dumb, but that also goes in spades for the western absolutist "you're practically forcing us to pirate your shit by not delivering it to us exactly how we want."

Especially because, at its core, it's a damn verti shooter. Nothing's preventing you from playing it in Japanese, where the under-a-paragraph dialog interludes are famously allegorical-to-nonsensical even for native speakers.
Mentalities like this is why it was okay to turn Castle Shikigami into Mobile Light Force 2. Some people care about the characters and stories and want to know what's going on.
 
Aug 6, 2012
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#41
Aren't the fans of this kind of stuff always talking about how their waifus are too pure for filthy localizers and how the English language sucks all of the meaning out of everything? The creator just happens to agree with them this time.
 
Jan 6, 2005
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#42
Mentalities like this is why it was okay to turn Castle Shikigami into Mobile Light Force 2. Some people care about the characters and stories and want to know what's going on.
I'd argue just the opposite - it's quite explicitly rejecting the game itself, the creator's conception of the stories or characterizations, or the social movement it was meant to promote in favor of an infantile insistence on immediacy and samey-ness.

MLFization is based on exactly that unfortunate, misfortunate insistence that everything needs to be, and that anything CAN be, a self-contained package for the reader from Omaha.

(That's before even going into the empirical results; "forcing" us to unleash the JP202 term project workforce on Touhou has a long and sordid history of abject messes which can only claim to be technically correct in that they consist, in large, of nothing but Romanizations pasted together with grammatic kibble.)
 
Aug 22, 2014
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#43
Touhou is a series of vertical shooters where the scripts rarely amount to more than a few pages of text depending on the game. You don't need to read to play bullet hell games.

As well, ZUN's had this stance forever now, and I think it's perfectly acceptable. Not only has he been the sole person behind the mainline Windows Touhou games, he's not doing it out of some resentment of the west. The man just wants to keep things a one-man show regarding the bullet hell games, which include potential localization. In that sense he's justified. One could call it selfishness, and I won't try to argue that one, though ZUN has never made Touhou games with dollar signs in his eyes anyway.

In any case, Touhou is a niche series in a very niche genre with niche aesthetics. There aren't many people in the west who'd willingly seek out a vertical bullet hell shooting game featuring somewhat average drawings of girls being smug jerks to each other, regardless of language. Hell, not many people are clamoring for the vertical bullet hells we already have anyway.
 
Feb 28, 2013
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#44
It is selfish but he can do what he wants

Mentalities like this is why it was okay to turn Castle Shikigami into Mobile Light Force 2. Some people care about the characters and stories and want to know what's going on.
I already mentioned this in the previous thread, but there's not a whole lot of story in the games themselves. Most of the story and character profiles come from the side materials that come with each game (meaning there's definitely worth in localizing the games for that purpose). But the in-game dialogue and endings don't often actually help in explaining the story (sometimes it will, but often it won't).
 
May 26, 2013
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#46
I don't think the money is a big part of why he continues to make his games the way he does. He wants to make something purely his brain child; if you have the means to access and enjoy it then fine, but if you don't then your SOL and he feels that's not on him.

It's his creation at the end of the day and he'll do with it what he will, consequences be damned.