On June 28th, 2018, it was announced that Liber Entertainment Inc. (company that created mobile games A3! and I Chu) and CYBIRD Co., Ltd. (company that created the Ikemen Series–a series of mobile games in both Japanese and English) had concluded licensing agreement for a worldwide release of the popular ‘actor raising’ mobile game “A3!“. CYBIRD has a press release [link doesn’t work anymore] on their website which goes into more detail of this joint project, you may have already read it on other websites.
I’ll try not to repeat a lot of stuff that’s already been said, especially when I’m already late to the party to talk about this. So instead I’d like to explore this news with some insight as a player/user of A3!
—Some background of CYBIRD
If you’re part of the otome mobile game community you may know of CYBIRD, particularly their Ikemen Series that includes their well-known ‘Ikemen Sengoku’ mobile game that got an anime (well a 3D chibi/SD anime of short eps), a PS Vita port by Otomate and much more. They have a range of Japanese mobile games, which some if not all end up getting a worldwide distribution in English and seem to be keen on broadening their audience with trying different themes and genres as well as delivering them worldwide. Heck, apparently they have world tours for their Ikemen Series to visit major anime conventions in different countries and they’re having one this year too, which is something I would like to see from Otomate and other companies lol.
I haven’t played their games in English (nor Japanese) but I have heard that they do a good job with translating, so maybe I don’t have to worry too much about.
—Thoughts about CYBIRD localising A3! and its potential reception from the West
CYBIRD distributing A3! worldwide may as well be their first time translating a third party’s game as their other English games being part of their Japanese side. I don’t think they’ll distribute it as part of their Ikemen Series and may treat A3! as its own thing, so hopefully they won’t change it too much.
I’ll put my faith in CYBIRD to localise A3! and give it the justice it deserves. All in all I’m pretty happy that there’s a company that takes an interest in localising a mobile game like this. Of course there may be risks with localising a game like this, especially to countries that have different cultures, preferences and thought processes than the country A3! was originally made for–Japan.
I don’t know about you, but I know my country doesn’t have a lot of young people going to watch stage plays, with Japan there is a market there especially when media like anime/manga, video games and even drama CD franchises (i.e Diabolik Lovers) get stage plays so you get fans and otakus frequenting stage plays, which then creates another demographic of fans/otakus of stage actors so in a way they kind of become somewhat similar to idols (which makes big bank with idol mobile games let me tell ya). So there is an interest of stage actors in Japan, but I dunno if your average Western otoge/mobage fan would care about stage actors or acting (but heck there’s always room for growing to like it).
Another thing to worry is that the gameplay may not be appealing to the West, it’s not a rhythm game and its more like a zero effort stat raising game where you collect cards. This kinda works out in Japan because the groups that are known to whale (slang term for people who pay to win) hard in this game are working women in their 20s or 30s who have no time to play but can easily put their game on auto mode to do raise their boyos while at work. Some players of the West may see the gameplay as boring or off-putting, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t people outside of Japan who don’t like playing it. Anyway, its just that one of my fears is that the worldwide version of A3! may under perform compared to its original Japanese that they’d shut it down early.
My last concern, and it’s not so big, is what are they going to do with the CD exclusive SR/SSR cards? Are they going to translate them or try to add them into the game somehow? Because you could only get those cards from serial codes that came with CDs of the songs, and those cards would have stories attached to them that you could unlock. Like, I have a feeling they won’t sell the A3! CDs for people outside of Japan with lyric translations so I guess we’ll never see those cards in the worldwide release. I do wish they’d compensate that by adding Worldwide Exclusive Cards™, kinda like how Chinese Enstars has exclusive cards that will never appear in Japanese Enstars.
I also hope they manage to sneak in the A3! april fools events in the worldwide release because those made me crack up.
—Some positives of having A3! localised
So as a fan and a player of A3! there are some positives of having the game localised and to be shared across the world. Here are some positives of A3! (for those who haven’t played the Japanese ver and would like to know more about it):
■ Great underdog main story – The story of A3! is about how the heroine, Izumi Tachibana, gathers people from different walks of life to rebuild Mankai Company–a stage company her father was attached to–to its former glory as she steps up to the plate to become the Director of these boyos. A lot of good character development going on in the main story too. It’d be fun for me and many other fans to finally read all the stories in A3! in English.
■ Fully voiced main story!
■ A fantastic cast of characters – With about 20 actors to take care of (later on it becomes 24) there’s bound to be at least one character that checks all the boxes for your fav type of character.
■ Lots of songs in game – Not only can these boys act but they can sing. The songs in A3! are gosh darn good and vary between different music genres depending on the stage play it’s based on.
■ No need to buy tickets to read main story, game is pretty much free – Unlike CYBIRD’s games where you have to purchase tickets to read chapters, you just unlock stories by leveling up your player rank or maxing out affection of each card. You can also smoothly get by in playing events and other stuff as a free to play player, hopefully the worldwide version will be crazy with throwing diamonds (premium currency) at you as the Japanese version has, like as we speak I have 800+ free diamonds from saving up and one 10 roll gacha is about 145 diamonds. Pretty neat (if only the gacha added new SSRs from limited gachas in the past to its premium gacha pool, but hey what can you do).
■ No over-complicated gameplay, you can play this game while multitasking
■ Heart pounding ‘Backstage Stories’ where you get to know your fav character more and see different sides of them – Though (I’m gonna be real with you) take note that this isn’t a full on otome game, there is no end game where the heroine will end up with someone, there’s some hints and some scenes that almost get to peak otome moments but that’s as far as it goes. Though tbh, the real end game is
Kamekichi x Isuke Sakyo x Izumi.
■ Everyone in A3! interacts with each other in some way or another – Because all the boys live in a dorm for being part of Mankai Company, everyone is pretty close. In some ways it’s like a big loving family, which is kinda cute.
Hopefully with the worldwide version’s events won’t be as hard to rank in as the Japanese server because heck… I’ve given up trying to get my fav boyo’s cards bc I can’t compete with the whales in this server.
As it had only recently been announced that they concluded licensing agreements, don’t expect this worldwide version to come any time soon. Right now A3! has been around for over a year now, even so there’s a lot to be translated especially when the first half of the main story has 157 chapters (second half of the main story was released this year with just about the same amount as the first half) and then there’s the event stories and backstage stories for cards. I’d give it a year or so to translate the necessary things that need to be available on launch.
Either way, just having localisation announced is good news, hell it was a pleasant surprise hearing it. I hope everyone will like it and have fun playing it whenever it releases.
Good luck to CYBIRD and their endeavors to make sure they’ll deliver us a good product.
Thanks for reading!