With the release of Xenoblade Chronicles 3D this Friday, it is important to remember how Chronicles came to North America in the first place. During the summer of 2011, a fan-fueled campaign to bring Xenoblade Chronicles and two other JRPGs to North America began and set forward one of the most unprecedented community acts in gaming.
When a game gets released in Japan, word spreads quickly. Wallets burst open at the idea of purchasing new role-playing games, fighting games, visual novels. This was entirely the case for 2011's Xenoblade Chronicles.
At E3 2009, a video was released by Nintendo about a new JRPG from Monolith Soft, well-known creators of the Baten Kaitos and Xenosaga series of games. This trailer, filled with robots and giant swords and sprawling landscapes ended with the words "Monado: Beginning of the World". No one really knew what to do with it. IGN's Rus McLaughlin felt it was beautiful; Kotaku's Michael McWhertor felt the reveal left more to be desired. Some fans felt the game looked like a an awful PS2 port, but a select group of fanatics felt the game's vast open world and interesting design held promise.
Despite being held back by the Wii's hardware, Mondo: Beginning of the World held JRPG fans' attention for quite some time, but North American fans soon learned they would have to wait. When Nintendo of Europe announced Monado: Beginning of the World—now entitled Xenoblade Chronicles—tension escalated immediately. With an English dubbed release overseas, why wasn't North America receiving this same game?
With no other place to turn to, fans flocked to the internet, unaware of the change they'd bring to gaming with a few keystrokes. Oprainfall gives its beginnings a retrospective:
"Around this time, those fans started to take action. It all started as a bunch of individuals raced to contact Nintendo of America. Those who already sent emails and made phone calls ran to message boards and forums, unrelentingly telling others to do the same across the comment sections of large video game news sites."
On June 22nd, 2011, IGN boards user themightyme reluctantly took leadership of this fledgling movement to localize Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora's Tower, all JRPGs that were not being localized for North American audiences. Petitions were filed, letters were sent, and fans conspired on Facebook and message boards. The group was even dedicated enough to give Xenoblade Chronicles enough traffic and revenue on Amazon.com to promote it to #1 in the "All Games" section. While petitions and mass-mailings had taken place countless times, what this group had going for it was sheer ferocity and excellent organization."
Come August of the following year, Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story would both be released in North America. Although this may seem to be nothing but the work of rabid, millennial fans, the take away isn't so simple. A grassroots campaign fought to change the mind of a giant company, and, whether Nintendo wants to admit it or not, this had an effect on the outcome.
Nearly four years after Operation Rainfall began, it remains as a community for fans of overseas games that wish to see them localized for North America. It wasn't a march or a public protest, but this chapter in gaming—and technological—history is a unique showcase of the internet's potential to bring together likeminded individuals who seek change.
Tim "Blunder" Redd is a burgeoning English teacher with a bad habit writing gaming articles when he should be focusing on grading. When not writing an article or working on teachery things, he's normally staring into his 3DS or Wii U gamepad. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and read more of his work on his Wordpress!
Image courtesy of TechHive.com.