Complaints about Voltage

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(Depending on how things go, this may be deleted later, haha…) So I started this lowly blog of mine a few years ago, with the intention of logging the various games I play and keeping thoughts/notes/walkthroughs for myself. Time got away from me (rather, I’m bad at time management), and lately, this blog has become mostly walkthroughs or translations with very few reviews, so I haven’t been voicing the passion for my hobbies as much as I thought I would. So I’m sorry that my first review(?) in a long time might come off as heavy, haha.

When it comes to mobile otome games in English, Voltage is probably the most well-known company — at least, I think it is? I used to be really on top of Voltage releases and would compulsively check every app during the week to see if there was even the tiniest update. I used to spend probably an embarrassingly large amount of money on Voltage. Like on top of main stories and sequels, I would always get all the substories that contained my favorite characters, and I have… So many… Multiply that with the amount of substories that exist, multiplied by how many games Voltage has!

This year, however, I’ve cut down my expenses for Voltage drastically. That’s not to say I’ve boycotted them, but the amount I spend has been significantly less than in the past. The thought of boycotting them has crossed my mind a handful of times, but then I think about the fun I’ve had with their old games and how I met really good friends through these games, and I can’t bring myself to completely quit cold turkey, haha. Anyway, there’s a lot of reasons why I’ve been disappointed in Voltage lately, and I’ve been wondering if I’ve been the only one…

My friends who I talk to about Voltage the most share many of my own opinions, so our dissatisfaction toward Voltage are all on the same page. I hear a lot of “fandom” stories from them since they’re far more active on Tumblr than I am, and the fandom stories I’ve been hearing lately have been pretty upsetting, actually. Like downright nasty. I’m not sure if this is just exclusive to the Voltage community on Tumblr… Or maybe because my friends and I are of similar ages/ethnicities/backgrounds, we share very similar values.

So I’m curious to hear your opinion. How long have you been a Voltage fan? Do you like the direction where their games are going? How do you feel about how the overseas branch handle the games? Do you feel dissatisfied in any way? Do you prefer any other (otome) game company and why? Is there something you want Voltage to do or not do? You can even complain about fandom as well (just don’t namedrop, please)!

I’ve mostly heard of the drama(?) that happens on Tumblr, so I’d like to know your opinion about Voltage lately, even if you’re active on Tumblr or not.

Underneath the cut is my lengthy laundry list of why Voltage has been a source of stress rather than relaxation, but please don’t feel obligated to read it!! I wrote far more than I had planned, haha.

To give a little background on myself: I’m Asian-American (born and raised in a large city), and my parents are also pretty Westernized, though that’s subjective, haha. I’m in my 20s, and I go to both school and work. There’s a reason why I have to mention a little bit about myself, haha…

So the Tumblr drama I’ve heard about the most is regarding Voltage’s translations. I never thought it would be such a hot-button issue. I’m talking about Be My Princess Party and Samurai Love Ballad Party specifically, but there are a handful of other games that are guilty as well.

Getting this out of the way: I’m not a fan of the translations for BMPP and SLBP. I’m actually quite angry about them, haha. (I guess for the record, I’m also angry about the Fire Emblem Awakening translation drama, too, haha.) From what I know about the Tumblr drama, the side who dislikes the translations looks like the losing side…

I worked as a translator up until about two years ago, and I still dabble in fan translations when I find the time. Admittedly, the professional translating I did was in the medical field, so my translation ethics will definitely reflect on why I don’t like the translations for BMPP and SLBP.

I was translating for a doctor’s office, so translating there had to be very exact. Understandable since it had to do with health, right? I know that translating for literature, games, etc. requires a little more flexibility because of various factors, and it truly would be boring if something as lengthy as a game was purely transliterated. But I was taught that a translator’s job is to bring something from the original language’s audience to another audience who may or may not know much about the original language or culture. To respect the creator(s) of this work, a translator should keep as much of the creator’s spirit intact when it crosses the language barrier. Even when I do translations for games or anything lengthy, I try to keep it as close to the Japanese meaning as I can, but I arrange sentences in such a way that it’s easier to read in English but also is able to captivate more than just a direct translation.

That being said, it didn’t sit well with me when the MC of BMPP changed personalities suddenly… I played the Gree version of Be My Princess before the Gree games were wiped, and BMPP’s translations were drastically different than Gree’s.

After a few of us noticed the change, we were curious and started playing the Japanese version of BMPP to compare. The example that sticks to me the most was how in Zain’s route, where the Japanese version ended the epilogue, the English version faded to white and added on a few spicy lines that were literally created from thin air. I saw a lot of comments that said they enjoyed the heavier implication of sex, but there’s that part of me that’s incredibly annoyed that there now exists something that shouldn’t have existed in the first place!?

That’s not to say I don’t like smut because I’m definitely not a prude and do like my spice lol, but why is it there when it didn’t exist before!? If you wanted this “badass” MC whose badassery is solely based on her sexual confidence with a beastly man who’s ready to devour her, can’t you just… make an original game to satisfy the audience who wants just that? Which I thought Amemix was the answer to that, but people are still complaining, sigh. But that’s another complain I will list later, haha… This post is already an essay, sorry.

I also really hated how Keith called MC a bitch on multiple occasions. I know Keith was supposed to be the stereotypical American, but if Keith truly loves MC, why would he call her a bitch? MULTIPLE times? Please show me where Keith calls MC a bitch or the equivalent of a bitch in the Japanese version. I know some people argued that being called a bitch is not a big deal, but I don’t know… I’ve only been called a bitch (to my face) once, and I was really upset. Actually, I was called that by a male friend, so I felt like that carried more damage than it would have if a girl had called me a bitch. Anyway, I’ve always considered it to be a pretty heavy insult to be thrown around in reality… BMPP is not reality obviously, but I know a lot of people self-insert when it comes to otoge (myself included, to a certain degree), so the weight of the insult was still there.

So I’m not sure if my consideration of “bitch” as offensive has to do with my background (which was why I mentioned it at the beginning). My parents, even as Westernized as they are, are the type who think that if you call someone a bitch, you think of them as someone as low as dirt. My offense with the word doesn’t run quite that deep, haha, but I do feel like it holds a lot of weight. Honestly, I cuss like a sailor (so it’s not like I’m against cussing), but it’s usually interjections when I’m frustrated and yell at air. I don’t make it a habit to actually call someone a bitch. So I understand why people were butting heads over this because many people think of “bitch” as “just a word,” but not everyone thinks that, and curse words may carry different weights in different cultures. I think Voltage forgets that they’re not just writing for the American audience… If I were to turn it around, I wouldn’t call the person I love any kind of curse word, even if I were mad. I would curse, but I wouldn’t directly call them anything derogatory because words really can have an impact. I feel like if I ever got to a point where I have to call someone a bitch or something equally heavy, there are some other issues that need to be addressed, haha.

Most of my dissatisfaction for the translations are for the Party games, but once in a while, it’ll happen within the paid apps, too. The ones that come to mind the most for me are the PoV stories from My Forged Wedding… I mostly blame this on having different translators/editors working on one game, but I really wish they had at least gone back and read the main story for consistency. Whoever worked on the PoVs decided to Westernize a lot of things suddenly, like… In Yamato’s PoV, shochu suddenly became vodka, and Yamato’s beloved warabi mochi became marshmallows!? Why was that even remotely necessary… The game had been so consistent with warabi mochi, especially… It was Yamato’s charm point… Of course, if you bring it up to Voltage, they’re not going to fix it, lol. (I already tried.)

The fandom
There are a lot of things I have to gripe about the Voltage fandom, so I may have to break this into sections (omg)… Because of this disagreement over translations, it looks like people have been running to confession blogs to gripe about bloggers who dislike the BMPP/SLBP translations. Like people are being specifically named, as if it’s a vendetta! My friends have been namedropped on multiple occasions! Griping in general on confession blogs is one thing, but is calling out a few individuals because they have different opinions than you (over translations, of all things) really worth it? Honestly, the Voltage fandom is the pettiest I’ve ever seen.

Then I’ve seen confessions that gripe about those griping about Voltage for whatever reason. It’s obviously an unending cycle of griping, but I’m not sure what’s so bad about expressing dissatisfaction… So many retailers offer surveys to ask your opinion of their service or products, and if they see that many consumers are complaining about the same thing, then they’ll use survey results to improve what they sell…? Like even Voltage puts out the occasional survey… I don’t… I don’t get it…

“Badass” MC
This is an extension of my complaint about the Voltage fandom, haha. How many times have I seen complaints about how MC is too clueless about romance/sex… HOW MANY TIMES… I think a lot of people are forgetting that these games were originally marketed for the Japanese female audience, who may have different ideals… This is another reason why I brought up my background, haha. I suppose because I’m Asian and because of my personality, the MCs in the Japanese games are easier to relate for me, so this is why I’m feeling what I’m feeling. I also have my limits as to how naive MC can be, though, haha, but I can’t relate to the MCs in the Amemix games. (I also thought having MC with a flat personality was supposed to be easier for the player to self-insert…) But yeah, I thought Amemix was the solution to the demand of a “badass” MC, but I guess you can’t satisfy everyone.

Actually, the MC in Liar! is pretty “badass,” I think! I really like her because she can be sassy but still won’t bend her morals (for example, she won’t kiss any of the men until she knows they have established a relationship). But I saw a lot of reviews in the App Store about how they thought the Liar! MC was “too much” ahhhHHHHH truly, there’s no way to satisfy everyone, haha.

“Games should be free”
Two words: Mystic Messenger
Just kidding. Actually I’m not kidding. That Mystic Messenger drama was the only time I thought there was a fandom worse than Voltage, lol
Another extension of fandom. Where does the idea of “all mobile games must be free” come from? Do people say the same thing with a PS4 game? A mobile device, in this case, is just another gaming platform as opposed to something like the PS4. During the Mystic Messenger chaos, seeing excuses like “I’m a student and can’t afford to pay for games” really just sent my brain into overdrive… Even when I was a job-less student, I still saved what little money I had and bought only one route when I could? I just sacrificed a Starbucks drink and brewed my own coffee. Seriously, where does this logic come from? Am I just old?
So whenever I see reviews of one star in the App Store with comments like “I’ll give this game five stars if it’s free,” I just!! Want to scream!!

Unreleased stories
Back to complaints to actually relate to Voltage, haha. It annoys me in general to see something unfinished (my own projects included, lol), so naturally I become very irritated when I see a Voltage game in English that has not been updated in eight months… only to open the Japanese app to see either a large handful of stories that have yet to be translated or to see that the Japanese app is continuing strongly with regular updates.

For example, the English version of 10 Days with My Devil, as far as we know, is finished. But it’s actually missing at least six substories that never made it outside of Japan, and now they’re lost for good because Voltage removed the Japanese verrsion of 10DWMD off the servers. So much for that!

I know a lot of this is based on business needs, like if sales are low… I try to rationalize it, but I’m still angry, haha. I guess it feels unfair to not have the same content as the Japanese games.

No teacher/student stories
I’d really like to know why Voltage decided not to touch any story (main or sub) that has to do with a teacher/student relationship… (Genuinely curious, is there some kind of restriction for either Google Play or the App Store?) But some slip through anyway, like there was an even in My Forged Wedding Party where MC was Yamato’s student… And now there’s a substory in Star Crossed Myth where MC is the teacher to the gods as students? (Please correct me if I’m wrong about this.) Still annoyed regardless because we’re still missing stories because of this!

Refusal to update the interface for Pirates in Love and Seduced in the Sleepless City
God, how long has it been… WHY aren’t they updating the interfaces for these two games? The Japanese versions have the new interfaces!? Not only that, the Japanese versions of Celebrity Darling and A Knight’s Devotion were using the old interface, and they’ve been nuked from the App Store. I’m not sure if they’re still in Google Play, but it looks like with iOS 10, Apple has been nuking apps that aren’t compatible with iOS 10 or apps that haven’t been updated in a long time. I believe Celebrity Darling and A Knight’s Devotion (JP) were deleted with no warning from Voltage, so I’m honestly counting down the days for when PIL and SITSC will disappear, too…  I don’t have any faith in Voltage anymore, lmao

Removal of Gossip Girl Party from servers
They removed the paid version of Gossip Girl (in Japanese) from the servers as well, but the social version is still going strong. But the English-speaking side is getting completely shafted, haha. I’m not sure if they’re doing this because of server issues or because of licensing issues, but… Still salty. All that money I spent…

Poor customer service
Honestly, I get pretty good service when it comes to technical support, but with anything else, it’s really awful. I don’t usually go out of my way to email complaints to Voltage (not like they would listen), but I emailed the support for Pirates in Love to beg them to update the interface, in fear that Apple will remove the game for good, and when I finally got a reply, it was from A Knight’s Devotion support instead!? I mean, I know one person probably handles several games, haha, but I’m still… squinting…

… Is that it? I actually think I had one or two more things to say, but I have work in the morning hahahaHAHAHA, but it was good to finally get this off my chest. I also wish I could write this much for school in one go like I did tonight, lol

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Comments: 9
  1. impracticaldemon

    Hi, it’s good to meet another person who started/is on PC. I actually got into otome games because of playing Amnesia on Steam. I then discovered Hakuouki on the PS3 and recently played Code Realiza on the Vita. I haven’t played the phone games at all, except that some of the D3 games are now on Steam (e.g., Shinsengumi). I still prefer the PC for gameplay and wondered what you thought of otome content now on Steam like Ozmafia! and Backstage Pass? My feeling, from reading this blog (and quietly observing on tumblr), is that the games are a little less generic? Of course, with more and more ports that’s a little different now, too. But then there’s also Mystic Destinies (MDSOA) on Steam, which is more like a phone game in terms of buying the routes instead of the game (which I found weird – but really just not use to it). The game’s quite good and the MC was more interesting than most. I’m looking forward to trying Norn9 on the Vita.

    On the translation angle, I prefer the translation to be adapted to make sense (as you say, metaphors are a good example), but otherwise left intact.

  2. buxton

    I have been playing otome games for a while i started on pc then got a tablet and got into Voltage and shall we date games, and now am moving back to PC. I find the content of the games on mobile particularity voltage has become quite similar and i have more and more trouble relating to the MC. I do prefer the American Voltage games as i enjoy the writing more (maybe its more familiar) but i like that each MC has been different. The trouble i have with the normal MC is not really the meek or isn’t sexy it that i often find it hard to relate to her and feel the writing of the MC is weak as i find it hard see why she would give up stuff and get into danger.

    I really have enjoyed playing winter wolves otome games from an EVN and i am enjoying the recent translations, really enjoyed and related to the MC in Amnesia, i need to play code realise.

    I don’t mind the changes to translations for changing to read better in English or changing a metaphor for the audience but i prefer it to be a similar as possible as that was the story as the designers/writers meant it to be told.

    Sadly i have been on tumblr for a while and have noticed the fandom has gotten more and more toxic, i stay out of it as much as possible now.

    I wish they would finish apps and support the party apps more i understand they might not be making money but feels sad and annoying that they release new apps but discontinue old apps (i miss metro PD :()

  3. Eleanor

    Eh? I didn’t know there was even a debate with the translations! Lol, I try to avoid the Tumblr fandom though. The thing you wrote about paying for apps was so on point!

    I hate seeing bad ratings combined with people commenting “release this in English” to Japanese games as well… Like giving 1-star reviews will help your cause?

    Ah, I hope they do the student story in After School Affairs; it looks interesting. In Star Crossed Myth, the MC is a student and Krioff is a teacher. It’s not really a romantic substory, it’s more comedic. If you like that type, I would recommend it! It was fairly funny.

    Great post!

  4. malpertuis

    I love 10DWMD – my first love otome. (Ohhhh Shiki) I downloaded the Line version just so I could hear them. The only exposure I get to the fandom was at their Anime Expo booth and In Real Life that is prolly the most genial fans at the con. Haha

  5. Lehst

    I enjoyed Amnesia so very much! I loved trying a heroine that was designed to be total self-insert, and with a plausible reason to boot (she wasn’t all there lol!), and of course the rest of the game was fun.

    oh yeah that is an excellent point, and I agree here:
    “But it was the base game that evolved, I think, not the localization that changed the game. These are all high end games, in terms of localization though, aren’t they? And it makes a big difference.”

    I totally love dedicated writers that try to convey what the original script said, all the while making it an enjoyable novel that reads easily to an English-speaker, but sometimes it does require changes that seems a bit far. (It is often a tough call.) But generally better localizations is why I go for the console/PC releases.

    I think if I had to name my top 3 otome, it’d be Nameless, Hakuouki, then Code:Realize. but so many others I love too~
    I remember hearing so much hate on Chizuru, and while I get it, it seemed like some people were way too upset. T_T she isn’t my favorite but she’s still okay and didn’t break the game, and she was even cool sometimes when she’d get insightful and considerate. oh well…

    D: it’s a shame it seems Voltage games aren’t getting as good treatment. I wonder if they could’ve found more balance between catering to aggressive personalities and still being reasonable with the text and harsh language. You don’t have to use crappy language to be a tough character.

    lol its ok to type these heavy posts. well, so says the high-word-count-demon I am lol.

  6. Cat

    I think it’s good you’re starting to do what you wanted to do, and I say, keep them coming! ?
    I’m not really in tumblr so the drama bypasses me, thankfully, but it’s incredibly rude that that happened to your friends. SMH at all those name-dropping them ugh
    The drama with the MM fandom was crazy, even tho I’m playing it, I’m staying far away from it. I don’t really like getting involved with messes :’D
    I don’t really play Voltage, my backlog is huge, so spending money on mobile games would ruin me :’D But I did start playing their Liar! game and I’m loving it a lot!
    Translations will always depend, some get good ones, others iffy, it depends on the translators themselves ._.

  7. impracticaldemon

    Thank you to both Anette @welcometowonderland and @lehst for your thoughtful posts. I am new to fandom, really, having discovered tumblr (to my great and continuing surprise) and fanfiction (ditto) just this spring. I am still surprised that some people don’t observe the basic courtesy that makes life so much more pleasant for themselves and others – and I am amazed at myself for still being apparently naive “at my age”. Just a few comments, some of them very general and probably very obvious to those who have been at this longer than I have:

    I don’t play the mobile games for the simple reason that I don’t own (by choice) the appropriate smartphone. However, I tend to follow the world of otome games simply for interest, and I’ve had to adapt my understanding of the games accordingly. As a PC gamer all my life, playing console games came as a surprise, because while there was some overlap, by and large they were still very different. The PC games tended to be more detailed and varied, while the console games had a more unyielding “pattern” to them – and there was a great deal of comfort in that, by the way, just as McDonalds may be mocked by many but it is *successful* because most people like to know exactly what they’ll be getting.(at least if they go to McDonalds). The mobile phone apps are even more restricted, in many ways, than the console games (although that’s changing, ofc). In all cases, there is a lot more overlap now than there used to be, which means that a game like Amnesia is now available for both PC and console without noticeable differences. But it also means that I know that if I choose to play a mobile port on Steam, the game may not have quite the range or feel to it than what I’m used to from a “regular” Steam game. As an example, I had no idea what I was getting into with the “Forbidden Love” version of the Shinsengumi, but once I did, the story and “feel” made more sense to me. I didn’t like all of it, but I *did* appreciate that it was on Steam so that at least I had a choice of whether or not to buy it.

    Second, I tend to be in the camp that prefers the localization to try to stay faithful to the spirit of the original. I appreciate localizations that take the time to use an appropriate metaphor, simile or idiom, but I prefer them not to go so far as to change the “tone” or “feel” of the original. On the other hand, maybe I don’t have the experience to comment properly. Or maybe I don’t care for “westernization” that makes all the characters too aggressive for my own comfort zone? Hard to say. I absolutely do not like the use of the word “bitch”. It would have to be used to indicate the most extreme situations only for me to accept it as part of my relaxation space. Again, maybe that’s me. But I can’t easily deal with a word that has become so laden with venom over the years – and for which there is no true male equivalent for men (those who think that “bastard” even comes close are kidding themselves, in my opinion).

    I enjoyed Amnesia: Memories, even though it meant admitting that I could enjoy a game with a fairly submissive MC. It helped to discover that she was a more relatable character before she lost her memories, but that didn’t change the fact that I’d discovered a new genre of computer game to love. I enjoyed Hakuouki so much that I now write again, which is wonderful. Hakuouki has its flaws, but I don’t want to hear about them (just kidding, but I do love that game). I just finished Code Realize and I agree that having an MC with more of an active personality was great. It was a terrific game and I look forward to seeing some of the sequels in English. But it was the base game that evolved, I think, not the localization that changed the game. These are all high end games, in terms of localization though, aren’t they? And it makes a big difference. I also enjoyed Ozmafia!, even though it’s a rather strange game in and of itself. I related least well to that character, though.

    So… I can see the point that maybe for the “free” and then “pay as you go” games that Voltage has, the “localization” becomes more of a “new” game that just uses pre-written material and art/animations almost as basic game assets. It *sounds* as though maybe they’ve gone too far (?), but I do take the point that they are a for-profit company, after all. Unfortunately for me, I seem to prefer my escapism somewhat milder than where the more modern trends are going (sometimes I feel like a throw-back to a previous century, but let’s not go there).

    Well, that’s more than enough and more than I meant to write. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts. Agree or disagree, anything shared in a thoughtful and respectful manner can contribute to a meaningful discussion. The reverse just makes people defensive and angry, and accomplishes very little other than hurt, which I find sad.

    ~impracticaldemon (here and on tumblr)

  8. starry traveler

    Interesting post! Have not played any Voltage game but I did notice English translations in some otome games (played OKKO and Arithmetic) are filled with typos or grammatical mistakes. Before the whole copyright “witch hunt” on Youtube, I was able to read some of those games in French and boy the translation was so much better compared to English! =_=” I guess that I start to feel sad that I cannot read Japanese and play original games instead of dealing with terrible translations.. (ToT)

  9. Lehst

    Sometimes fandoms are rough… but then sometimes they can create wonderful things. It’s sad to hear that things can get so nasty though. It’s totally fine to voice your opinon, but calling people out is way too harsh. It’s directly hurtful.

    I rarely play mobile games because of the simple issue of having to connect to a server to play. I made an exception with Mystic Messenger, but as a joke I call it a life-ruiner lol. And I wish I knew that it’d be available to play offline if Cheritz takes it down way in the future.

    Issues about translations is an arguement seemingly as old as time. Now, I haven’t played much Voltage, only checked out a few to see how they were, but I wasn’t really impressed with the writing. I kind of think mobile games have a bigger problem of just all-around stiff and awkward writing, and maybe the fact that the original scripts are usually not the greatest to begin with. When it comes to translating the game, we have to remember they are localizing it, and can change it to suit the new audience as they (and hopefully the fans) see fit.

    I think it all comes down to money. The cost of a worthwhile and dedicated English script is probably more than they want to pay. And if they made stuff up out of thin air, they probably thought that is what the new audience wanted. It’s cheaper to edit something that is already there, than to make something new. Ever watch Power Rangers? It cost less to use Japanese fight scene footage and then add in and edit it however. They changed A LOT sometimes. (Later series’s had more American fight footage but only cuz they could afford it, and probably had someone that cared to do better, by then.)

    It really is impossible to make an MC that suits everyone. I’m in the camp they enjoys a little more confident MC (like I love Saki of Bakudan Handan and Cardia of Code:Realize) but I enjoy the meek and mild ones too. I like variety, so I’m ok with a lot, I just hope they stay true to their own character. Though, from my perspective it does wear on me to see basically the same generic Japanese MC, because I really can’t relate to them at all. I’m not necessarily a strong person, but I’ve grown up always being influenced by society around me saying I should be tough and independent. Being timid and compromising is weak and lame. Girls and feelings are stupid. (lol ok, while I have heard that last one, I always knew it was bullshit.) Meh, sometimes the romancible characters wear on me too, if I see the same unrealistic trope (or badly written disrespectful jerk) too much. To each his own huh?

    Sorry if it sounds like I’m defending Voltage; I’m not really, since I don’t play their games, but I’m pretty much always up for discussing localizations. Yeah, I prefer the games Aksys has given us because they care about their localizations. Same goes for anime studios that make the effort too.

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