JAST USA Announces New Localizations, Including Steins;Gate

Visual novel localization specialist announces official English versions of several popular Japanese titles.

News by Pete Davison, .

The visual novel medium is very much a niche interest in the West, but it's an extremely popular style of game in Japan.

It's growing in popularity over here, though, thanks to a combination of factors: the breakout mainstream success of visual novel and visual novel-inspired titles such as Ace Attorney, 999, Virtue's Last Reward and the Professor Layton series; an active fan-translation community; Western visual novel authors such as Christine Love and Georgina Bensley growing in prominence; and the long-standing, dedicated efforts of specialist publishers such as JAST USA and MangaGamer bringing the more "niche" (and often adults-only) titles to the West.

At the recent Anime Expo in Los Angeles, JAST USA announced a number of new localization projects, chief among which was the long-awaited Steins;Gate.

Steins;Gate's method of interaction is through the protagonist's phone.

Steins;Gate, lest you're unfamiliar, is a well-regarded and popular science fiction visual novel featuring themes of the passage of time, time travel, and cause and effect. The player is cast in the role of Rintarou Okabe, an 18 year old self-proclaimed "mad scientist" and paranoid delusional. Okabe experiments with time travel and discovers that he is the only one able to determine the changes between different timelines -- a phenomenon he describes as "reading Steiner."

Gameplay in Steins;Gate is mostly conventional for the visual novel medium; you'll spend the majority of your time reading and listening to dialogue, and you'll occasionally have the opportunity to make a choice. Rather than a simple choice between two or three options, though, Steins;Gate's choices take the form of incoming phone calls that the player can choose to either accept or ignore. Okabe will also receive incoming text messages, and clicking on links in these messages will also trigger various choices, leading to one of several different conclusions.

Alongside Steins;Gate, JAST also announced localizations of a number of additional titles: life sim/card battle game Little Witch Romanesque; School Days spinoff Shiny Days; erotic dungeon crawler -- yes, really -- Lightning Warrior Raidy 3 (don't get that one mixed up with Lightning Returns when preordering); the fandisc for the utterly bizarre My Girlfriend is the President (the only game I know of in which you can have sex with an anthropomorphized spaceship); and two more titles called Sweet Home and Sumeragi Ryouko no Bitch na Ichinichi that I can't find a lot of information on but for which the cover art looks a little, uh, racy.

The girl with green hair is actually a spaceship. That's how My Girlfriend is the President rolls.

JAST hasn't released any further details about any of these games yet, and translating visual novels is often a mammoth undertaking due to the amount of text within. Stay tuned to JAST's blog and Twitter account for the latest updates -- be aware that JAST's site is very, very NSFW in a number of places!

If you're interested in the visual novel medium and not sure where to start, why not check out our recent piece on that very subject?

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  • Avatar for MaterialDefender #1 MaterialDefender 5 years ago
    Huh, I just finished Steins;Gate yesterday, so the idea of a VN for it is intriguing. I'm assuming that that one will be delving further into the time travel mechanic. Could be interesting, and I don't find myself looking at VN's very often.
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  • Avatar for malkav112 #2 malkav112 5 years ago
    The anime is based on the VN, not the other way around.

    Unfortunately, Jast's been great about announcing visual novel translations and incredibly dilatory about, y'know, actually releasing them. Some of these projects, Steins;Gate included, had largely complete fan translations already and Jast hired those fan translators years ago, yet as of right now the only two projects that have actually released are Deus Machina Demonbane and Song of Saya (known, pre translation, as Saya no Uta), and both projects ran dark for well over two years.

    It's particularly frustrating since the process caused takedowns of fan translations for other VNs like Chaos;Head (which is a previous VN by the Steins;Gate folks) that haven't even been announced as something that Jast's going to publish.
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  • Avatar for Mad-Mage #3 Mad-Mage 5 years ago
    I've heard nothing but great things about Steins;Gate. I hope it isn't too expensive. Also, what is the deal with semicolons in visual novel names?
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