An Analysis Of The Overseas Handling Of Front Mission
- Front Mission First (Nintendo DS)
- Front Mission 2089: Border of Madness
- Front Mission Evolved
Using the leftover budget from the Front Mission Project, PDD6 created an enhanced port for Front Mission First on the Nintendo DS. It was released in Japan on March 22, 2007. Of all versions of the original Front Mission, it is this one that finally receives an overseas release. Largely thanks to a certain, passionate developer who felt that Front Mission 3 and Front Mission 4 proved there were fans in the West, Square Enix Co., Ltd. decided to localize Front Mission First. The release was marred by the same problems found from the previous two localizations – censorship (which Sakamoto admitted was done to appeal to a younger audience), sloppy mistakes on basic game data, and continuity elements less pronounced on both campaigns.
The localization faults were minor compared to what Square Enix Co. Ltd. decided to do with Front Mission First's marketing. Unlike Front Mission 3 and Front Mission 4, no marketing campaign was done whatsoever. Nothing on TV, print, and barely anything online. In fact, because the company was a no-show in terms of advertisements, the only way anyone would know about the release was through word-of-mouth.
Front Mission 2089: Border of Madness; it was not tailored for an overseas release.
A year after the release of the enhanced Front Mission First, PDD6 launched a remake of Front Mission 2089 titled Front Mission 2089: Border of Madness. It was released for the Nintendo DS on May 29, 2008. Like Front Mission 5: Scars of the War, the video game had not been tailored for release outside of Japan. The chance for an official localization still exists to this day, but it is very low and will likely not happen.
A portion of Front Mission Evolved's localization blunders. A notable mistake shown is Rexon; this was first incorrect in Front Mission 3 as Rekson, but corrected in Front Mission 4 as Recson.
Front Mission Evolved, which was just released last year on the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and the PC, marks the first and only time that Square Enix Co., Ltd. handled a Front Mission title well to some degree. A decent marketing campaign was done across various media, and it seemed like the company admitted they've done a poor job of handling the franchise in the past. Still, that did not mean that the localization effort was flawless as errors were found. In particular, the localizations for game data were done poorly. Naming conventions that had been fixed from Front Mission 3 via Front Mission First and Front Mission 4 did not stay static in Front Mission Evolved; they were subject to unnecessary changes. It's common practice within the gaming industry to honor any continuity elements in a series of video games, and unfortunately Square Enix Co., Ltd. didn't get the memo.
Although this article has not touched on the handling of Front Mission's expanded universe supplements, it's not hard to see why they would not be considered. After all, if a company could constantly make critical errors with their game localization attempts, why bother with the non-video game material? It's truly baffling how a large video game company could completely fail to do any justice to one of their most known and respected works outside of its homeland.
Front Mission is no Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, but it's one of their longest running in-house franchises that has become a success across various media. Its video games perform reasonably well, its action figures sell like hotcakes, its books are perennial top-sellers among the mature/adult reader audience, and its other merchandise become rarities in a short period of time. Yet, while Front Mission is a beloved heirloom in Japan, it's almost a complete unknown in the Western world.
Alas, one can only imagine what would have happened if Square Co., Ltd. actually decided to take Front Mission seriously in the mid-1990s and released the video games without censoring them. One can dream about it, right?