MangaGamer Interview: Bringing Rance to the West for Eroge Fans
Recently, MangaGamer announced that they will be localizing Rance 5D and Rance VI for Western RPG fans. For some this will be the first time hearing about the series that has been receiving titled entries since 1988 in Japan.
DualShockers got the opportunity to talk with MangaGamer’s Localization team members Arunaru (Rance VI), Amy (Rance 5D), and Kouryuu about the localization process for Rance and localizing eroge in the West.
Azario Lopez: First off, who is Rance as a character and what’s his story?
Arunaru: The series is founded on being a fantasy RPG with a hero who’s the opposite of heroic, so Rance is a selfish jerk who only does things for himself, while maybe coincidentally doing heroic things along the way. He’s not so much cold and calculating as he is gleefully impulsive and kind of dumb, so I find him more fun than most anti-heroes.
Rance is generally lazy and half the games start with him being out of money and taking a job at a guild, so the stories in the bigger games have less to do with him personally than they do with bigger things he ends up wrapped up in. Rance VI is about a country where people who can’t use magic are systematically oppressed, and Rance ends up involved in revolutionary work there due to a series of circumstances.
The scope and scale of the stories in these games varies wildly, with 5D being one of the smaller ones and VI being one of the big ones, but at their best, the characters and world-building are among the most effective you can find in an RPG. I’ve played some embarrassing number of JRPGs at this point, and the only comparable series I could offer up are the Trails games.
AL: Rance has been receiving entries in the series since 1988 in Japan, for an adult themed video game 28 years seems like a very long run. What do you think makes the series so popular?
Arunaru: I could just say ‘because the games tend to be great,’ but for a more interesting answer, they’ve done an impressive job setting up a detailed universe and a recurring cast of likeable characters. The next game coming out in Japan, Rance X, is supposed to end the series off, and while next to nothing has been revealed about that game, I already know I’m all over that just to see what happens. That helped it sustain a dedicated, long-time following who’ll buy every game that comes out, whereas a lot of dead RPG series from especially around the PS1 era failed to retain that kind of excitement.
Amy: I think there’s just nothing quite like it. A lot of eroge tend to be kind of samey, I think, and just being set in not-high-school is a big plus for me, personally (haha). Rance is such a strong protagonist too, compared to the average faceless eroge protagonist. I also think a lot of eroge end up being popular sort of despite their erotic content or at least not because of it, but I appreciate that the porn is such a central part of the Rance series. And then there’s the fact that each entry in the series is pretty different gameplay-wise, so you know you’ll be getting a fresh experience with each game.
AL: Recently, MangaGamer announced they will be localizing Rance VI and Rance 5D in the West. What made you chose these two titles?
Arunaru: Picking where to start with the series was a challenge due to just how long it’s been running, with the oldest games not being at all feasible to put out for sale anymore. The games prior to 5D are all freeware now, in fact. Thankfully they’ve been remaking the older games, but they don’t have plans to remake 5D and onward, so if we want to release some edition of each game in the series, we have to at least go back as far as 5D. But 5D is a bit of a small game to put out on its own for our first Rance release, so including it with VI seemed like a solid solution. VI is still a pretty old game having been first released in 2004, but we’ve put a lot of work into upscaling it from its original 640×480 resolution to make it more enjoyable to play on modern PCs.
While there’s a large cast of recurring characters and a high level of continuity between the games, the main story in each game usually stands on its own enough that you could start from anywhere without too much trouble. VI does a great job of introducing all the important characters, while 5D is a bit of an odd game in that it uses very little of the cast to begin with, so they’re both perfectly accessible. Ideally we’ll be releasing the remakes of the prior games in the future, but those games are total recreations that end up referencing the later games too, so I’d start with these games regardless.
AL: Rance 5D and Rance VI both feature an RPG-like battle system, how deep does the leveling and customization go for these titles? Are they easily accessible to players that aren’t seasoned RPG gamers?
Arunaru: 5D is one of the most unique games I’ve ever played, so in a sense, it’s about equally accessible to everyone. The RPG elements are pretty light in this one, it’s more of a very luck-driven adventure game.
VI is a full-blown first person dungeon-crawling RPG. I’d say it’s on the easier side as far as those go, but I’ve been playing RPGs for ages, so it’s hard for me to say how a newcomer would take it. I don’t think it’s much more complex than, say, a Final Fantasy, so it’s about as good a place to start as any. As to customization, the game has a large number of set characters with unique skills, so the main choice you’re making is your party setup rather than individual character setups. There’s also a system that limits the number of fights a character can participate in while you’re in a dungeon, so you need to switch up your party frequently.
Another thing to mention about this series as an aside, is that most of the games play completely different from each other. They’re all RPGs on some level, but they do a total upheaval of the mechanics all the time to keep things fresh.
Amy: I would just add that Rance games don’t tend to have very involved tutorials, so you’re probably going to have to experiment a little to figure out what everything does in each game. “Don’t be afraid to mess around in the beginning” would probably be my advice for both games, since they both start you out pretty easy.
AL: Both games feature some eroge scenes, do these scenes play into the story of the game or are they optional?
Arunaru: With a couple exceptions, those scenes are mostly superfluous and you wouldn’t be missing out on the story by text skipping through them if you’re not interested. A good number of them will happen during required events and others will happen if you want to advance character events, though, so they’re not so much avoidable.
Amy: Rance’s main motivator is sex, so there’s going to be a lot of sex and almost all of it is going to be part of the story of the game, even if that story is just “and we’re in this dungeon because Rance heard there was a pretty lady here.” Yes, you could skip a lot of them, but I would hope you could find something to enjoy in each scene, whether it’s the music (Rance has a famously good ero scene theme), the comedy (some scenes are quite funny), or the uncensored artwork (which I think is quite nice).
AL: Does a series like Rance need promotion? How does MangaGamer go about marketing a game with adult content?
Kouryuu: Of course it does. Having a large base of people who know of Rance and are excited for Rance is definitely a major boon, but we still need to expend effort marketing the game just to make sure all of those existing fans know about the release–it’s hard to get fans excited for something they don’t know about! Not to mention, we want to try and introduce new players and new fans to the Rance series as well, so we have to try and market the games to get new people interested in Rance too.
Adult content is actually surprisingly tricky to market, simply because it’s hard to get coverage on a lot of mainstream sites. It easily takes much more effort to get a gaming website to cover an adult game than it would to get them to cover the next Call of Duty clone. So while we do spend a lot of effort trying to get traditional outlets to cover our games, we also do a lot of work on social media and in other avenues to try and spread recognition and awareness. Having fans willing and enthusiastic to share their excitement for upcoming titles is a great help and also very encouraging to our staff working on the games.
AL: Does MangaGamer hope to continue to work with Alice Soft to bring the other Rance titles West?
Arunaru: I’m a huge fan of these games and would like to bring the rest of the series over eventually. It’s of course dependent on how successful these are, but I’m fairly confident we can do more.
AL: How is the localization process handled when it comes to Rance? Are you forced to take liberties when it comes to the localization to make it make sense to Western fans?
Arunaru: Rance takes place mostly in a Western fantasy world, so not too much high level localization is required. You’ll get occasional references to things that never came out outside Japan and those need to be changed, that’s usually the extent of it for these games, off the top of my head.
Amy: The biggest challenge of the localization is just that the setting of these games is so detailed and there are so many terms to keep track of through each game. We actually had several meetings between the teams handling both games to put together a term bible for the whole series (that we’ll inevitably have to update with each new game we do!) just so that we can make sure that all the monsters, places, items, even things like characters’ skills are all consistent through the games. I wouldn’t say we had to “take liberties” really, but we did put a lot of thought into trying to make sure that say, each item name that’s a horrible pun in Japanese is an equally horrible pun in English, to make sure that English-speaking players will be groaning, er, laughing, about the same things Japanese-speaking players do.