Stop blaming Level-5 for “localization issues” of their games

A message to those who have left the Yo-kai Watch fandom as the company has been facing late exports of their franchises

Photo by Ryan Quintal on Unsplash

It’s been nearly nine months since the Yo-kai Watch franchise failed to gain attention in North America. We want to give Level-5 another chance. If Yo-kai Watch 4 is going to be localized, they would skip the North American release date completely. The reason why their European branch has now become more prolific than their (now-closed) North American branch is that their games would be better in Europe rather than in North America. We want to give you this: Level-5 is definitely not EA.

The company’s North American branch has a history of roadblocks and very long schedule slips, as it has been giving infamously mixed signals about whether the others have six months to a one-to-two-year gap on release dates or if they have to skip the NA release date because its Twitter and Facebook keep reporting on the releases on their games and franchises — in Europe only.

The now-localized Snack World uses six Blambot fonts: Voice Activated BB (free for personal use only), Out of Line BB (35 USD / around 3,700 JPY), Secret Origins BB (20 USD / around 2,100 JPY), Piekos FX Rough (20 USD / around 2,100 JPY), Astounder Squared BB (25 USD / around 2,700 JPY) and Earthman Heavy BB (20 USD / around 2,100 JPY).

Photo by Melvina Mak on Unsplash

Level-5 is known for late exports of their franchises and Yo-kai Watch 3 took nearly three years to come out on an all-but-dead Nintendo 3DS system. The localization team (which consists of three to four people) instead opted to release one version of the game instead of three like the previous titles (and the Japanese version), since there were not many North American players taking interest in the third game or the Yo-kai Watch franchise as many have preferred Pokémon following the release of Pokémon Sword and Shield. And with the Pokémon anime series leaving cable, we have no other option but to subscribe to Netflix and cut the cable. Here are the comparisons between the originals and the fourth game:

Before Yo-kai Watch 4
After Yo-kai Watch 4

On Yo-kai Watch 4, the fourth and final video game of the main series which was released for the Switch in Japan in July 2019, Level-5 announced that the game is being localized, but with only Japanese voice tracks since the franchise’s English dub’s voice actors — both original and recast — have moved on to other projects and a high chance of skipping the NA release date. Yo-kai Watch 4 has the worst sales in the series to date, largely due to hype building for its direct competitor Pokémon Sword and Shield. Overall, it sold 200,000 copies sold in Japan compared to Pokémon Sword and Shield, which sold eight times that in that same country in under a month. The 4++ rerelease fared much worse, as the Switch version only sold a little over 10,000 copies, though a lot of that is likely due to the extra content being available as DLC. However, the PlayStation 4 version (which marked the first time Yo-kai Watch showed up on a non-Nintendo console) sold less than 3,000 copies.

So what’s next after we learn from Yo-kai Watch’s failure in the west? Do we have to look at the fighting type trainer Saito/Bea from Pokémon (Twilight Wings version: Kitamura Eri in the original Japanese and Laura Stahl in the dub, Journeys version: Hikasa Yoko in the original Japanese and Tiana Camacho in the dub; Sword only game-wise)?

GIF credit: corsolanite at Tumblr

…or Rurina/Nessa from the same popular media franchise (also appears in Twilight Wings short — Amamiya Sora in the original Japanese and Anairis Quinones in the dub)?

NO FASTBALLS

I hope you have Pokémon Sword (Bea) or Pokémon Shield (Onion/Allister) on your Switch.

Update 2020/11/17: Level-5’s North American branch, including Level-5 Abby, have been shut down due to low sales, killing any chance of localizing Yo-kai Watch 4 in North America.

Update 2021/05/07: Netflix removed Yo-kai Watch from its catalog on April 14, signaling the end of the franchise in North America.

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A no-paywall 1980s/1990s pop-culture blog that covers anime, manga, and video games from the past. (no longer active)

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Cory Roberts

Cory Roberts

American freelance illustrator and manga artist who specializes in shonen fighting manga with 1990s/Y2K aesthetics. (He/him, straight)

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