At last, nothing is too Japanese for Americans

I guess the anime invasion has reached its apex, the point of ultimate conquest of us big-eyed, pointy-nosed, pink-skinned types: Both Baito Hell 2000 and Cooking Mama are coming to the U.S. For those unfamiliar, Baito Hell is basically WarioWare except weirder and intentionally awful, while Cooking Mama is a ridiculously addictive game in which a middle-aged woman teaches you to cook. I’ve played the import a fair amount but I can’t really cook much besides rice since a solid knowledge of Japanese is sort of assumed. (However, my rice is wicked awesome, gold medal stuff — perfectly glutinous and firm without being undercooked. In a virtual sense, I mean.)

I actually rather like Cooking Mama more than Brain Age, which also features a middle-aged Japanese person goading you to excellence. But when you screw up in Brain Age, Professor Kawashima is kind of a smug jerk about it; when you screw up in Cooking Mama, the lady just seems sad and slightly disappointed. Then her eyes burst into flames. It really provokes an interesting mixed sensation of shame and fear that I don’t think enough videogames achieve.

The real point is that neither of these games are going to exceed four-figure sales because, really, they weren’t even very popular over in Japan. So from now on, it’s safe to assume any game can make it to the U.S. regardless of how suitable it is for American tastes. Which means that if a game doesn’t make it over, it’s because that publisher hates you. Hates you, personally.

Now I just need to break my habit of typing “Cooking Mana” every time. It goes from being a charming culinary school game to an adventure in serving up Rabite meat.

Mushboom gets batter-fried!

28 thoughts on “At last, nothing is too Japanese for Americans

  1. Ah, yes, but what about the hipper, crunker Wario Ware-style game from Atari? I worry that it may steal Baito Hell’s thunder in a most unfortunate way.

  2. I’m furiously angry and I’m not even allowed to tell you why… outside of AIM.

  3. I agree with Adam that this will be a tragedy if Cooking Mama is localized and Mother 3 is not.

  4. Now the question is whether Cooking Mama will be fully localized, or if [North] American audiences will learn to cook only Japanese food. I assume Brain Age’s Reading Aloud and Syllable Count sections originally presented texts familiar to its Japanese audience (as opposed to the Declaration of Independence or Treasure Island.) But then, replacing text and modifying a few variables is easier than drawing entirely new graphics or coming up with more international recipes.
    Meh, as long as it doesn’t have me betray my origins to make an octopus and mayonnaise enchilada, I’m hip. I’m just foreseeing an odd period of living primarily on Japanese (or Japanese-styled) cuisine in my near future.

  5. If it’s anywhere near as good as Oreno Ryouri for PS1 (anyone?), then I’ll be the one and only pre-order for this at the Culver City EB.

  6. Sorry Adam, that’s the cosmic irony of the situation. We’ll get Cooking Mama, but Nintendo will not see fit to bring us Mother 3. However, I’d love to be proved wrong.

  7. I’m very surprised to see Baito Hell coming over. I’ve had the import since late 2005 and it’s pretty great, but unlocking new minigames is so painful. It’s all baed on vending machine luck. I kind of gave up after getting the same stupid trinkets–not new games–over and over and over.

    Cooking Mama I wasn’t surprised. I was just hoping Atlus would bring it over so Tomm could handle the text localization!

  8. Video games teaching me to cook Japanese dishes?

    Oh snap, as those trendy kiddies say these days. Now only if I had a DS…

  9. And to think I was saying “Oh Snap” over 15 years ago. Ah-boom-chika-bap-boom-boom-boom-bap.

  10. Ooh, if I were an ointment, I’d be topical! That is to say, this reminds me of the travesty that is Siren 2. From what I’ve read so far, it’s only coming to Europe and Japan? No U.S. release? Argh. I guess it probably didn’t sell well here, I don’t know, but I loved it. Is there nothing you can do, Parish? You have powers when it comes to these things. Sinister powers that I don’t want to know about because I enjoy having a light blue, pure soul. I believe in you!

  11. “Which means that if a game doesn’t make it over, it’s because that publisher hates you. Hates you, personally.”

    Damn. I wish I knew what I’d done to piss Namco off so badly, because I really wanted to play NamcoXCapcom and Tales of Rebirth.

  12. You can always take empty solice by relating to how Metroid wasn’t very popular in Japan but is a massive hit in the states. Or was. Or wasn’t. Whatever. Take false hope where you can generate it.

  13. “It really provokes an interesting mixed sensation of shame and fear that I don’t think enough videogames achieve.”

    Considering some of the articles on this site I’d say you’re lying. :) Maybe there’s hope for Zombie vs Ambulance as well.

  14. I wouldn’t count on Zombie vs. Ambulance, despite it being the awesomest concept in history.

    Quite frankly, Namco x Capcom’s lack of a localization eludes me. Most news outlets seemed to cite the game’s abundance of voice acting as the primary roadblock, which is absolutely bologna considering a lot of gamers prefer Japanese dialouge to dubs.

    As for Suikoden I and II… well, Konami obviously just gets a laugh out of Suikoden II regularly being sold for 100+ dollars on ebay.

  15. BTW, what’s said above about Konami is actually true. Excepting as long as they can make money off of you, then they won’t kill you and your family… Quickly… Good thing I shoot blanks (duuuuuhrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr *stare*)

  16. Bottom line. Konami absolutely hates US gamers. They enjoy watching us squirm like bugs in a glass jar.

  17. While seeing your favorite Namco and Capcom characters working together is neat, the gameplay in Namco X Capcom really isn’t all that much fun.

    But that Oreno Ryouri game sure is cool.

  18. “a lot of gamers prefer Japanese dialouge to dubs”
    No. A lot of gamers on the INTERNET prefer Japanese dialog to dubs. Do not believe Teddy’s lies.

  19. It depends on the dub and the original voices, really. In some cases you get a phenomenal English cast and a really low-budget Japanese cast, like in Metal Gear Solid.

    The reason a lot of people prefer the original voices is how awful a good percentage of all dubs are.

  20. Webrunner, it sounds like it’s been a good few years since you listened to a (non-Viz) English dub.

  21. This whole nipponophile “we prefer subbing over dubbing” thing reminds me of mercury spills. When you spill some in a lab, there’s usually a special protocol utilized to clean it up because Mercury is a toxic substance that is readily absorbed through the skin. But in the industrial world, some factories simply don’t deal with the problem and instead dump the toxic material into the water table where it eventually enters the food supply and consumed by people who become ill.
    What I’m trying to say is to speak for yourself. If you prefer the movie/game/whatever in its native tongue along with English subtitles, that’s great. YOU like that. Don’t get other people confused with what YOU like though. You are not the center of the universe. There are people who like watching Japanese movies in English. They don’t exist to fight you and there’s no reason to argue the point with everyone. All it does is create a mess that a special team has to come in and clean up. And this is why I chose to use mercury poisoning as an analogy. Some of these guys act as if they are jacked up on mercury in the head on this particular topic.

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