Stop Ruining Steam Visual Novels (SakuraGame & MoeNovel)

I was looking over some visual novels on steam
for a future recommendation list, and I was about to put some on the list since I played
and liked the japanese version, but then I came to the terrible realization that the
steam version of this visual novel used what I can only presume to be a translation done
by some guy who had just passed japanese 2, and clearly was holding onto google translate
the entire time. This then made me look back at all the other terrible translations that
have been put on steam, specifically by SakuraGame and MoeNovel and getting madder and madder.
These low quality translations do a great deal more harm than good, both to the original
developers of their products, and to the fans and I thought I’d run down why that’s
the case. If ye don’t agree with my thoughts feel free to share your own opinion down below So let me preface this by saying that, first
off, My personal stance on the whole all-ages cut ero content debacle is that I don’t
really care one way or the other. I have absolutely nothing against their inclusion for the most
part, but I tend to skip them. I get people don’t like cut content, and I would personally
prefer if the game at least add replacement content like GIGA does. Secondly, and most
important there is no translation in the world that will satisfy every single person, as
in the end translating japanese to english is not a 1 to 1 affair, and translators have
the liberty to choose how they work a sentence. In the end, much of translation is up to interpretation.
Whether they choose to adapt a sentence that loses meaning once it goes from japanese to
english, whether they focus on keeping direct meaning over tweaking the sentence to make
it read more smoothly. It’s a rough job that is quite open as to how the translator
tackles it. As someone who reads untranslated japanese
visual novels regularly now, and did some minor translations for fun, I kinda understand
their feelings a tiny bit. When I read translated visual novels, I don’t expect expect some
perfect translation, all I expect is a decent level of quality where I don’t feel any sense
of incongruity of the written text compared to the spoken dialogue. I personally think
the only translation that would be 100 percent perfect for you is the one you translate yourself.
With all that said, holy hell are some of these translations just straight terrible.
Like, on a level where I’m sure some of these are straight up edited machine translations
or at a level of quality which is in my opinion unacceptable. I’m going to take a look at
two repeat offenders whose newest releases sparked my anger in the first place, SakuraGames
and MoeNovel. These two aren’t the only companies, but they definitely are the biggest
repeat offenders. Funnily enough SakuraGame doesn’t refer
to the people who make those mediocre dime a dozen 2 hour long visual novels like Sakura
Swim Club, MMO because that’s actually a company called Winged Cloud. SakuraGame
is a chinese publishing and translation company that translates and releases visual novels
on steam for ludicrously low prices which make you wonder how the heck did they convince
the original japanese developers to give them the rights for this shoddy job. $2.00 are
you out of your mind? Their translations are so terrible and lazy that the steam pictures
don’t even show examples of it and instead just show japanese text. They are literally
machine translations. I took a look at Fortissimo EXS//Akkord:nächsten Phase and I puked in my mouth
a little bit after reading for about 5 minutes. Grammar mistakes, pronouns errors, basic english
is pretty much non-existent, it’s like the person translating it isn’t even a native
english speaker OH WAIT THEY AREN’T. They are also really shady, like their games
have positive reviews… and chances are the only way that this can possibly be the case
is that they are definitely botting their reviews. Others have done research on this
pretty suspicious activity. There is an article which goes more in-depth about it which I’ll
link below. No one with half a brain could read any of their nonsense release. They also
basically lie to and browbeat these small japanese developers, saying that they’ll
make great translations to spread their work overseas, then steal the rights, take the
money, and release straight garbage. There was actually an incident where they were caught
putting up a steam store page for New Glass, a visual novel producer tJapan, without their
permission, or even before finalizing any contracts, and they did this through using
what is probably a copy of the game they illegally on the internet. tJapan publicized their interactions
with the company which were amaetur to say the least, and highly illegal if I were to
be honest. Again more details in the article on Visual-Novel Info. They also lie to the
steam userbase, how is this visual novel an RPG?
Lets get into the lesser of the two evils here, but still a problem, MoeNovel. While
these guys may not be the pure evil known as SakuraGame, they still release honestly
quite shoddy translations except that they’re at least taking some measure to hide that
fact. My favorite example of this is my heart had wings, initially the translation is okay
aside from some errors here and there. After the common route however, the translation
quality immediately takes a nose dive. By the time you see this, you probably have coincidentally
passed the steam two hour refund limit for playing games, HMMMMMMMMMMM. Again, their
translation was really bad. It was so bad that fans took it upon themselves to make
a completely new translation patch for the game… which begs the question, why on earth
are we buying MoeNovel’s version of the visual novel again? I’ve read that a sky
full of stars has a… better translation? Then again they ruined cross channel, and
people have said that their most current translation, the fan disc for my heart had wings, was terrible
so I have no faith in them. From what people have said, the reason why MoeNovel translations
are such a mess boils down to one big problem. In order to cut down costs on translation,
instead of hiring a team, what they do is outsource parts of a single visual novel to
multiple 3rd party translators, so the quality can vary wildly, and the translators themselves
usually don’t have a good grasp of the game, or may not have even played it. As for whether
this is true or not I’m not 100% certain, however it would explain how Cross Channel
and if my heart had wings translations ended up the way they did.
I think you get the point, some of these visual novels on steam have quite terrible translations.
The ramifications of this fact however are probably much worse then you can even imagine.
First off, when a visual novel receives an official incomprehensible translation like
in the case of Fortissimo, that means that they will never ever receive an official translation
from anyone else as SakuraGame now owns the exclusive right to distribute Fortissimo internationally.
This is practically a death sentence for these visual novels internationally, as now more
reputable visual novel companies like MangaGamer can’t even ask for the license anymore unless
they negotiate with these dirtbags. Fortissimo is a set of really cool battle royale visual
novels with super powers, crazy combat scenes, decent music and really pretty CG that’s
actually pretty darn good overall. The original developer La’cryma, who also has brocolli
under their wing, poured their heart and soul to making these visual novels, one every two
years, Thanks to SakuraGame, they killed it in what was probably less than a month’s
work. It’s absolutely ridiculous that’s what it is. What’s even worse is that I
can imagine SakuraGame has made it so that most if not all the money they receive goes
straight to them instead of the original developers, because they are just that shady shady. It
sucks especially because all these visual novels are great experiences, but people internationally
will probably never able to enjoy them now. On this note I gotta say MoeNovel isn’t
QUITE as scummy as they are a branch of PULLTOP’s parent company, the japanese developer which
actually makes their visual novels.=, so their profits do probably go towards them… that
said it doesn’t change the fact that the translations they put out are terrible. Not
like… as bad as SakuraGame but still pretty bad. At this point you might say that hey,
there is a retranslation patch done by fans which completely replaces the official translation,
so why don’t I just buy the steam version once that comes out 4 years later. To which
I say, why don’t you just give that money to the fans who worked so hard, and why on
earth does MoeNovel need to rely on fans to wipe their ass when the translation is the
entire reason for their existence. Those fans worked for free for like 5-years on this passion
project, while I doubt MoeNovel even put in a fraction of that time or passion. Companies
like these don’t listen to words, what they listen to is cash, and they need to see it
dry up before realizing that we consumers come to expect better, that they can’t just
keep getting away with releasing mediocrity. I’ve seen some people say it got better,
some say it just went straight back to being worse.
This brings up the last point I want to make, the existence of these cheap visual novel
is a detriment to visual novels on steam everywhere. I’m about to make a point that sounds really
bad at first but let me explain. The visual novels sold by these two companies are way
too damn cheap and make other visual novels who are selling at more normal prices appear
to be selling far higher then it should. There are two reasons why SakuraGame and MoeNovel
can afford to get away with selling at penny change. For SakuraGame it’s because they
don’t care at all, they take license for cheap from innocent japanese developers, machine
translate with little to no editing, then sell them at ludicrously low prices so that
they can make a profit off people who don’t know any better. MoeNovel on the other hand
already owns the license since they are owned by the company, and outsources their products
to third-party groups to translate their game for cheap leading to inconsistent quality
but faster translation. Otherwise there is no way their games should sell for prices
like $15, $10, or heaven forbid $2, like $2 are you shitting me? You know what the original
price is for this game in Japan? 81 bucks on launch, and around 35 bucks now for this
8 year old game. While visual novels certainly aren’t the highest budgeted product, prices
like this continue to make them seem like joke products to send to friends for a laugh.
They also make translations that people spend actual time and effort on like Evenicle by
Alicesoft translated by MangaGamer seem a tad bit over expensive at $45 when that’s
totally a fair price. Am I saying every visual novel should sell for 81 dollars, not at all,
cause A, that’s the the regular price for games in Japan and not internationally, B
I think 15 to 45 dollars is a good price dependent on the amount of content, length, and quality
of the work like what MangaGamer does. What’s the solution here? Up the price of SakuraGame
and MoeNovel releases, then take that extra money and go hire some actual experienced
translators. But I mean, we all know they ain’t going to do that even if they did
up the price. So ye know, don’t give them money in the first place. If people start
to have expectations that visual novels should be dirt cheap, then ones already doing a great
job will have to start cutting corners to lower their prices and compete, which would
lead to a decrease in quality overall. If all visual novels continue to be released
in poor quality and low prices, they are only going to continue to be laughed at rather
than respected as works with powerful stories, told in a way unique to the medium. Imagine
a world where a critically acclaimed work like Stein’s Gate was released at the same
price and looked at the same way as something like Huniepop. I for one, do not ever want
to see that kinda world. This ain’t the early years of the 2000’s
where people were scrambling to look for any translations at all, where even fan translations
were scarce and barely anyone in the western hemisphere have even heard of a visual novel.
Publishers like JAST USA, MangaGamer, Spike Chunsoft, VisualArts, Aksys, Solpress, and
heck I’ll even put in sekai project even if I think that they juggle wayyy too many
projects at once at the expense of quality. These publishers work hard to put out good
quality work, even if they do they take quite a while sometimes *cough* Rance Quest *cough*.
We shouldn’t have to settle for mediocrity when other companies have already up’ed
there game and I do think if any Japanese companies are interested in getting their
VN’s to an international market, they should look towards those publishers. Some people
like to defend MoeNovel by saying, oh they’ll get better in the future, it’s been 6 years
man… and clearly they haven’t learned anything. For the others saying that we should
be happy with what we got, I say no, we really shouldn’t and already aren’t. At least
make me feel as if you care about the english reading audience, that from over the 6 years
from when you started you have slowly found translators whom you have hired and put to
work. Ignoring Love Kami, all I can see from their track record of 3 terrible releases
and 2 alright ones is that, they’re continuing the same old tactic of tossing out their product
for random third parties to translate. Their primary goal isn’t to introduce their stories
to the international audience, it’s get a quick buck which is why they can stomach
releasing objectively flawed versions of their product for cheap to the international market.
Come on, you are pretty much the official translation branch for PullTop, put some more
effort into it. Finally to those who point to fan re-translations, that’s ridiculous,
that’s amazing fans doing the companies job for them and if anything you should support
those fans by giving the money to them instead. I’d rather pulltop stop using their own
localization company if they can’t even give their own visual novels the respect they
deserve, and hand it off to publishers with proven track records.
Not even going to bother with SakuraGame anymore cause at least everyone unanimously agrees
they are a joke, and a horrendous company to boot.
To sum it up, all I’m saying is that expect more from the visual novels you read, and
support publishers who care about the product they are selling to the customers. This ain’t
2 decades ago, we have choices as what visual novels we can choose to experience, and we
certainly shouldn’t settle for less. If publishers like these are making it worse
for other visual novel companies and don’t even attempt to grow, I’d rather they stop.
I for one want to see the visual novels I love become another video game genre to be
enjoyed and respected by all. I tried to show some fun examples of the bad translation when
I could, if you’ve got any favorite lines you want to share or examples of other companies
dropping the ball tell me down in the comments. If you want to defend MoeNovel feel free,
these are just my opinions on the matter and from my experience playing some of their titles
and doing some research on the side. A bit different then my usual videos, curious to
see how you all like it. I just really wanted to talk about this topic after seeing that
SakuraGame butchered yet another visual novel. As always there is the like button, and hey
let me point out something important due to how youtube works now. If and when you subscribe
to my channel, you actually are not notified to when my new videos come out unless you
also press the bell icon, so if you actually want to receive a notification when I release
more VN related content then check right now to make sure the bell icon is also pressed
and filled in. That’ll be all, see ya next time

15 thoughts on “Stop Ruining Steam Visual Novels (SakuraGame & MoeNovel)

  1. You'd get infuriated by Paper Games' otome game Mr Love/Love and Producer's english.. it's fucking disgusting..
    I wish Steam would have some kind of quality check before letting a game onto their platform. Enough with censoring lewd content, let's censor bad translations..

  2. I bought Endless Jade Sea (
    SakuraGame) and I'm unable to understand most of it. It's a shame because the story is really good and like you said, it won't have another official translation

  3. Great video. The VN side of the Steam store feels like such a mess, I wish they would clean it up a bit. But than again, we are talking about Valve here.

  4. With Moenovel I think pointing out that they remove H-scenes and censored the hell out of if my heart had wings is also important. The most scummy part of this in my opinion is with the lovekami VNs where they first released the VNs in english without H-scenes never mentioning that they were supposed to have them then later releasing them in japanese with H-scenes, basically making the english market believe they got the complete product then later reveal that what they had gotten was actually the censored version by giving the japanese people a superior product some months later.

  5. I thought SakuraGame meant Sakura series for a while. lol. In fact, the native English writers at Winged Cloud are amazing people who can't even write the perfect tense properly. And back to the video's topic… Their companies were more than just low-level translations. I got new information. It's a great video.

  6. I do disagree with you about a vn that was for teens and adults to be for all ages.
    Cutting content and not giving players who wished to play the cut content a chance is far worse than you might expect. I did play games such as Smite were removing content is the exact equivalent of alienating the very reason they exist and can cause a huge split and distrust for the community.

  7. Machine learning is going to put Sakura games right out business they're going to be able to have a machine Learning System that can translate Japanese into English

  8. I dont know if you heard of a visual novel called world end syndrome. Its actually a great mystery horror game that needs attention. Translation, censorship everything looks cool. A guy started doing a walkthrough. Do check part 1 out man. And hey if you enjoy it do a walkthrough?

  9. The only ones that are good on steam are steins gate and our world is ended (danganronpa doesn't count for me sorry as visual novel )

  10. idk about the sakuragame but someone mentioned from facebook group that moenovel is IGNORE every critic regarding to "restore" 18+ and H-scene because their goal is to "attract" more reader from west without making them thinking negatively (of course because the HENTAI)…

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