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The Shrinking Borders of the Digimon World: The Woes of Western Localisation

Digimon-Logo-01
Monster friends to the boys and girls

Cast your minds back, if you would, to a magical time known as 1999. The 21st century was still on the horizon and virtual pets were all the rage. Born out of some kind of business trickery that convinced children responsibility was fun (which it kinda was), these digital companions created a bond between man and machine that would never be undone…until the pet passed on and was immediately replaced by another. But then that bond would stand the test of limited time, until you left it alone to go to school, or play with friends, or watch TV…man, games used to be very clingy. But we loved ’em and one thing that Digimon had over Tamagotchi (the heavy hitters in virtual pet technology) was simple: battling. Boy was that fun. Raise your pet to be happy and healthy? Cool. Raise your pet to be happy, healthy and powerful? Awesome.

But wait, what is that? Is it…an anime? Why yes, I believe it is. An anime born from a virtual pet, who would’ve guessed? But whatever its origins, it existed and proceeded to accrue countless fans throughout the years. Seasons upon seasons of content, telling the story of heroes fighting to save two worlds. But you know what’s even more fun than watching heroes save two worlds? Being one. Thus fans found themselves with a new medium to enjoy…well technically the oldest medium in the franchise, but with a little more graphical depth. I speak of course of video games. Though apparently somewhat of a polarising title, Digimon World allowed players to explore a piece of the environment they had come to enjoy, with a monster partner who was totally awesome…most of the time. Freakin’ Sukamon. From here the Digimon World franchise saw a number of sequels and, when fans wanted more, new titles were created to support the demand. Rumble Arena anybody? Digimon Racing? Seriously, you know something is cartoonish and popular when it receives a kart racing game.

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With faith in ourselves and trust in each other, we live by the rubber we’ve burned

Our love for this brand of virtual pet spawned media that would last for years…or so we thought. It is here my friends that I divulge my real purpose for the words that I write. It is not just my personal view, but undeniable fact, that Digimon games have seen a steady decline in the Western world. Whereas the past provided us with wonders such as the ever trying Digimon World, recent times have left a void in interactive media. Would anyone care to guess the last time we here in the West saw a localised Digimon game? 2008. Let me reiterate, two thousand and eight. That is six years people. I mean, it’s not like the franchise has fallen into obscurity, there’s still new anime being created, still being dubbed in English even. Therefore it remains a mystery to me why there have been no recent attempts at continuing the gaming side of the franchise.

I myself am very interested in the latest Digimon title that is slated for release in Japan. For those who know not of what I speak, the game is to be titled Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. Though not too much information has been revealed about the story, we do know that it will involve Hackers and (most likely) some form of Cyber Sleuthing. Besides, the graphics look awesome. Also, since it’s being developed for the PS Vita, Western audiences are finally in line with Japanese portable consoles once more. For those unaware, the PSP received a much longer run in Japan, even after it had long faded into disuse in the West. Admittedly, this disparity in platforms was perhaps a factor in our localisation woes, but this is no longer the case. We’re now in reading one book everybody, let’s just get on the same page.

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I wonder what they’re talking about…

Now this isn’t some sort of “One vs the World” escapade, many others fans feel the same way. There is even a petition, known as Operation Decode, being run by like minded people who wish to see Digimon World Re:Digitize Decode brought to the West. A petition people. This is what it has come to. But let us not be bogged down in disbelief, let us instead follow the lessons we’ve learnt from the media that we wish to return. Let’s play the game. Let’s sign petitions, tweet our thoughts, let it be known that there are still fans in the West who would love to see Digimon return in all its gaming glory. It’s all we can do. Now I don’t mean to make this sound like some glorious call to action, because it really isn’t. It’s just the musings of one fan who would very much enjoy returning to the Digital World. But at the end of the day there’s only one thing that really matters: What do you think?

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