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Demo Available for 428: Shibuya Scramble

Spike Chunsoft’s 428: Shibuya Scramble has a demo available on the PSN now. The visual novel combines the stories of five characters revolving around a kidnapping. It uses text and live action video to tell the stories of an ex-gang leader, a researcher, a journalist, a detective, and a guy in cat costume. They may not be immediately intertwined, but any decisions you make while playing one character could dramatically impact the life of another and result in one of 50 different endings. (I will put the trailer at the top, so you can see what to expect.) Unfortunately, as of the writing of this article, it seems to only be available in NA.

The good news is that there is an interview with the game’s localization director, David Kracker, on the NA PlayStation Blog. Even if you can’t play the demo, this will give you a window into why this game needed to be brought to the rest of the world.

The first thing he does is acknowledge that 428: Shibuya Scramble is a niche game, and “428[: Shibuya Scramble] is the most Japanese game in our back catalog”. According to him, that’s not a bad thing, and people want these types of games. (I know I do.) He explained,

“My favorite Japanese video games have a certain sensibility that you don’t find in Western titles. They’re off-kilter, but in a good way, you know?”

After convincing the producer to start the process, he started looking at the many still photos from the game and planning. He also read through the translation of the game. He said the translation

“had me laughing and crying at all the same places as the Japanese original, which I think is the hallmark of a great localization.”

It looks as if the demo will cover the first hour of the game and introduce you to the journalist and the ex-gang leader. It should be a good taste of the full game. If you are on the fence, it’s free.

I am fascinated by game localization as you can see here and here. There is a transformative process to verbally and visually make a game into something another language and culture can understand and appreciate, while still retaining the unique magic that made it worth localizing in the beginning.

Coming September 4th, 428: Shibuya Scramble will show how the lives of five people intersect around a kidnapping and bioterrorism. As a fan of “off-kilter” games, please check back later for my thoughts and full review.

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