The last few years of the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP made for a depressing time to be a portable gaming fan in America, but that wasn't necessarily the case in Japan.
This period saw plenty of great Japanese games--some from extremely well-known brands--that, due to the effects of piracy, lack of interest, or the need for an extensive localization, simply didn't see an American release. Off the top of my head, I can think of Grand Knights History, the Final Fantasy Legend III (AKA SaGa) remake, Last Ranker, and Last Window: The Secret of Cape West (which actually had a European release)--though I know I'm missing plenty of others.
Recently, though, the tide has started to turn for some of these formerly lost portable games. The Brandish remake (which Jeremy reviewed) finally made its way to us after six years, and, next week, Final Fantasy Type-0 will be jumping ahead two generations of hardware with a PS4/Xbox One enhancement of a 2011 PSP game--a fact I'm still having a problem processing. And let's not forget that Danganronpa 1 and 2--which hit the Vita last year--originally released for the PSP in 2010 and 2012.
But even with this renewed interest in slightly old stuff, some games need to work outside the bounds of their kind masters in order for anything to happen. And Ace Attorney Investigations 2, which just received a full and complete fan translation as of yesterday, stands as a perfect example of this phenomenon. Now, as someone who follows the series, I know Ace Attorney fans can be pretty caustic towards Capcom, but this second Miles Edgeworth game put them in a tough position: Had they decided to localize it themselves, it most likely wouldn't have made it to the US until fall or the holiday season of 2011--not a great time to release a boxed DS game made for a somewhat niche audience.
Ultimately, though, what made an official localization impossible is the fact that AAI 2's team disbanded shortly after production--something that ends up killing a lot of localizations (like Dragon Quest IV on PlayStation, advertised in the back of Dragon Warrior VII's manual). Localizing a game means working directly with the Japanese team who created it in the first place, mostly because they're often the only people who fully understand its inner workings. If they're busy with something else, localization teams are often out of luck--which explains why so much of fan translation is devoted to decoding the arcane programming tricks engineered by the original developers.
For a game so absolutely packed with text, Ace Attorney Investigations 2's translation is an achievement on par with that Mother 3--at the very least, it's had the same degree of frothing demand pushing it forward. And while I haven't had a chance to check out AAI2 for myself, everything I've heard from the Ace Attorney community tells me it's a big improvement over the previous game (which I still liked), and one of the best installments of the series. Of course, you'll need to do a bit of legwork to play this English version of Ace Attorney Investigations 2, but, thankfully, Japanese copies of Gyakuten Kenji 2 (its Japanese title) are plentiful and cheap, if you want to do the right thing. Again, if you'd like to play AAI2 for yourself, all the information and instructions can be found by following this link.
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