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By Michael A. Cunningham

The PlayStation Portable was and still is a very successful system in Japan. As such the PSP is home to many RPGs that, for various reasons, have not been released in English. One of the main reasons for this is likely the poor reception the PSP has received in North America. The system, while successful in its own right, was not adopted in as mainstream a fashion here as it was in Japan. As such, Sony's first handheld became a bastion for RPGamers, as that is one area where the system has excelled over the years. The system is still seeing a few games trickle out for it, but as the end is clearly in sight more are doing so via the digital-only route. As the PSP begins its official descent into retirement status, we take a look at a few RPGs that could have been the most viable in the North American market had timing worked out better.

Final Fantasy Type-0

Final Fantasy Type-0 - Official Site
Pub: Square Enix | Dev: Square Enix | Release: 10.27.2011

From the moment Final Fantasy Type-0 was renamed and repositioned from a mobile phone game to a PlayStation Portable title, it was easily one of the most marketable PSP games for North America. This is especially true given that Square Enix fans in the region with PSPs have eaten up pretty much anything thrown at them. A quick look at the top selling PSP RPGs on Amazon shows that a good number of the top twenty are from Square Enix, so with Type-0 being a completely original game, there was no reason to expect anything less with it. Made by many of the same people who were involved with Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Type-0 features a large, diverse cast of characters, insanely impressive visuals, and a fantastic soundtrack. The game's production value is through the roof, and it shows. Square Enix director, Hajima Tabata, reported that an English version of the game was in the works, but with each passing day, that is looking less likely.

Why It's Not Likely: There have been rumors going around about a Vita port, but nothing has materialized yet. With the Vita not doing too hot in Japan, chances of this are going down daily. There is also a lot of voice acting that would require localization to consider as well.


The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC - Official Site
Pub: Nihon Falcom | Dev: Nihon Falcom | Release: 09.27.2011

Falcom is quite the prolific developer in Japan. Since a number of the company's games tend to be very text heavy, especially the Legend of Heroes titles, it's no small wonder why North America has received so few. After the English release of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, fans were dying to know when they would get to play the rest of the series, as the second game picks up right where the first leaves off. For a series with such great characters and an intriguing story, it's a backhanded blessing that Falcom keeps releasing them at such a rapid pace in Japan, because it's tough for any localization team to keep up. Not all hope is lost for this series as it originated on PC, and Falcom has never been shy about porting games, so fans should keep their fingers crossed that The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC might actually make it out in English someday.

Why It's Not Likely: XSEED Games claims that this game's localization is still in progress, but it's looking increasingly unlikely that it will happen on PSP. With the company now publishing on Steam, that seems to be the most likely route at this point.


Persona 2: Eternal Punishment

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment - Official Site
Pub: Atlus | Dev: Atlus | Release: 05.17.2011

In a reversed scenario from 2000, it's looking highly likely that North America will not be receiving Persona 2: Eternal Punishment as a follow up to Persona 2: Innocent Sin. Over ten years ago in the PlayStation era the opposite happened, where North America missed the beginning in Innocent Sin, but got the end in Eternal Punishment. Fans who jumped into the series with the PSP release of Innocent Sin will likely not get a chance to experience the second half of the duology in English without hunting down an expensive copy of the original. It's a shame, because this upgraded version not only had an improved user interface, enhanced graphics, and newly arranged tracks from Shoji Meguro, but also a brand new storyline revealing more of Tatsuya's background. While there is still hope of an English release, it's not looking very likely at this point.

Why It's Not Likely: Atlus has never been hesitant to release niche games on older or dying hardware, as has been proved by bringing out Gungnir and Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time late in the hardware's life. That said, it's getting a little late in the game.


Suikoden: Centennial Tapestry

Suikoden: Centennial Tapestry - Official Site
Pub: Konami | Dev: Konami | Release: 02.09.2011

While not Suikoden VI, series fans were at least happy to have been thrown a bone with Suikoden: Centennial Tapestry. That is, Japanese fans could be happy, because it seems as it seems as if Konami is doing its best to ignore the series in North America. Since the 2009 release of Suikoden Tierkreis on the DS, Konami USA has been completely indifferent about franchise. That said, these side games might be the only chance fans have of ever seeing anything new, as the original development team that existed at the creation of the series is no more. This release adds back some key series features such as having a six-person party, but is still a side story in the main Suikoden universe. The game takes place in three different time periods: the present, 100 years ago, and 200 years ago. Playable characters take on one of eight job classes, while support characters fill other non-combat roles for the team. Despite selling well during its launch week in Japan, the game didn't seem to have legs enough to keep its performance good enough for Konami to bring it across the ocean.

Why It's Not Likely: Konami long ago abandoned the PSP in North America and seems to care very little about the Suikoden series. If the publisher can't bring fan favorite Suikoden II even to PSN, hard to imagine Konami would bring this out.


Valkyria Chronicles 3

Valkyria Chronicles 3 - Official Site
Pub: Sega | Dev: Media.Vision | Release: 01.27.2011

The original Valkyria Chronicles for PlayStation 3 was far from a huge financial success for Sega. Critics loved the game, but Sega dropped the ball in marketing it, so its release went practically unnoticed. Over time the game developed a strong fan base, and after a significant price drop, more and more people fell in love with it. When the second title was released on PSP, fans expected more of the same. Instead they received a game with a few new gameplay ideas, but a disappointing high school-style setting and limited mission structure. It lost the charm of the original. Thankfully, Valkyria Chronicles 3 returned closer to form by offering a darker story, less teenage whimsy, and fixing many of the complaints with the second game. Sadly, Sega has shown no interest in bringing this one out in English.

Why It's Not Likely: Like many things Sega stopped caring about, the publisher has added some potentially great PSP RPG to that list. Valkyria 3 is just the latest victim. Despite having released two versions of Valkyria Chronicles 3 for PSP in Japan, this one has been cast aside.


Honorable Mentions
There is a large number of PSP RPGs that will not likely see an English release for whatever reason. Most reasons come down to simple economic decisions, but the games above are easily the ones most likely to be successful had they been released. That said, there are still quite a few honorable mentions, and in reality these games might have to pass fewer barriers to see an English release.
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