Analysis

Yumina the Ethereal: The first high-profile official H-RPG release in English…but will JAST drop the ball and forget to market it?

yumina-sanahtlig-header
Written by sanahtlig

Background

After 3 years in the making, JAST USA is finally ready to release Eternal-Will’s popular adult visual novel RPG Yumina the Ethereal. This will be the highest profile ecchi RPG to ever be officially released in English. It’s highly rated on both VNDB (8.3/10; #5 ranked in untranslated RPGs) and Erogamescape (80/100), and is particularly praised for its strong gameplay melded with moe romantic comedy and sci-fi themes. The game was developed by members of the same team that worked on the popular titles Aselia the Eternal (released) and Seinarukana (also being worked on by JAST).

Recommended audience
Those who like RPGs, comedy, or enjoyed Aselia the Eternal.

Synopsis

“The Student Council Election is your only hope. Fight, win, and change your destiny!”
Midorishita Yumina is a junior at the prestigious Jinbu Academy. Far from being a model student, Yumina skirts the precarious line between barely passing and failing hard. One day, a young man named Akashima Ayumu transfers into her class. Ayumu claims to have been sent by his father, an eccentric and possibly delusional man who ordered Ayumu to find and protect Yumina, whom he believes will one day save the universe.

Ayumu and Yumina are at odds from the moment they first meet. They bicker endlessly, day after day, until finally Yumina goes too far and starts a fight just before a critical test. Her failure dooms her to repeat the year.

But just when it seems all hope is lost, a mysterious girl named Kurokawa Kirara appears and invites Yumina to run for Student Council President.

According to Kirara, whoever wins an Election War and becomes President will have the power to change any school rule he or she likes. Realizing that this is her only hope of becoming a senior, Yumina agrees to join the race, and drags Ayumu along for the ride!

Thus begins an epic tale of love and friendship in which youthful passions run high and debates shake the foundation of the heavens.

Release date and availability
Yumina the Ethereal is scheduled for a late July or August release, and is available through JAST, J-List, and RightStuf.

Game links
School-life OP
Sci-fi OP
Gameplay trailer
Official site (incomplete!)
Gameplay screenshots
VNDB
User review

『天空のユミナ』論説部(弓那&雲母&藍)

Why you should support this title
This is the highest profile H-RPG to ever be officially localized.  This is a turning point–a chance to appeal to the types that saw the silly promotional video for Agarest War and bought it in droves.  If this title is a success, we could see the genre blossom and possibly even gain the notice of developers like Eushully.  And who here wouldn’t want to see Eushully’s lineup localized in all its glory?

Why this title is in danger
The discs are being printed as we speak, yet the website isn’t even finished.  JAST’s PR person is on vacation.  It’s quite possible that JAST is about to bumble one of the highest profile releases it’s ever made.  I talked with one of the people on the project (now idle since the work he was contracted to do is finished), and there are currently no plans for a playable demo.  This is crucial to win over the niche RPG fanbase who will naturally view an H-RPG from an unknown developer with suspicion.

The marketing this game needs
For this game to reach the wider niche RPG crowd (fans of titles like Agarest War and Ar tonelico), it needs the following at minimum:

  • A finished website (derp)
  • English gameplay trailer(s)
  • A playable demo (2 Japanese trials for this exist, a short battle system demonstration and a trial for the entire first chapter of the game)
  • Reviews by major sites before or coinciding with the release (there’s no reason JAST can’t send reviewers downloads NOW before the disc pressing is complete)

Other than the demo, we’re not talking about much work here.  Since they already have the full scripts (and the engine worked out), translating a short demo should take hardly any time at all either.

What you can do
If you care about this game, let your voice be heard!  Tell your friends!  Tell the fans of pervy games like Agarest War and Ar tonelico!  And for Christ’s sake, tell JAST to give this game the marketing it deserves!

Peter Payne is the head of the JAST/J-List empire, and he’s responsible for this release.  He’s very active on Twitter, and if enough people shout their support, he’ll have no choice but to listen.

Here’s his account: http://twitter.com/jlist

Tell JAST to do their job and market this game so we can get more and better H-RPGs!

Yumina is crying! Don’t make Yumina cry, JAST!
— sanahtlig

About the author

sanahtlig

A follower of the VN industry for over 10 years, I'm an avid player of VN-style RPGs both in English and Japanese (VNDB user: sanahtlig). I often engage in philosophical debate and industry commentary when I'm not studying Japanese, and recently have been trying my hand at fiction writing. I guest blog on Fuwazette and also maintain a personal blog on Fuwanovel (Sanahtlig's Corner).

31 Comments

  • I’m sorry to be that “guy” but are you freak’n stupid?

    You make it seem like the only reason this game won’t become a bestselling rpg is because of marketing….

    I’m sorry to tell you this, but this is a niche game for a niche market. Yeah I would love to see more visual novels being officially translated and sold here in the States, but it won’t happen because of major mainstream support.

    What do you think will be gained from sending early review copies to sites like Kotaku, destructoid, ign, gamespot, joystiq polygon….Do you honestly think they are going to give this game the time of day….Games like Ar Tonelico and Agarest Wars were critically panned, hated and made fun of because of their sexual nature (of course we’re ignoring the fact they were objectively bad rpgs, lets be honest we only love ar tonelico because of the visual novel aspects of it). I think you are totally going at this all wrong.

    What Jast should be doing is start focusing their PR with popular youtube personalities that do Let’s Play videos of VN, and popular Visual Novel fansites that actually review Visual Novels. They need to make sure that the people who play these types of games know this game is out. THAT SHOULD BE THEIR NUMBER 1 GOAL. Sites like siliconera, rpgfan and rpgamer (although they are not Visual novel site) are a lot more open to these types of games. Major review sites are not the way to go…especially the current anti-sexism climate that sites like kotaku are starting to focus on. Look at whats happening Dragon’s Crown…need I say more?

    We don’t need another goddamn article from kotaku telling us that this game is misogynistic and the people who play are it freak’n sexist creeps.

    Now regarding the other points made. In this world of social media individual game websites are a thing of the past and its a reason we dont’ see shit like that anymore. What jast should be focused on is keeping a strong social media presence on this game, through tumblr facebook and twitter. Get people talking about the game. Start interacting more with the fanbase.

    I know we all are freak’n burning the torches and picking up pitchforkcs against moenovel, but what they are doing is the right way in marketing the game. Doing interviews with niche enthusiast sites like siliconera or anime focused blogs are the way to go.

    Yeah I agree overall Jast complete lack marketing is freak’n stupid but going mainstream in their promotion of it is a stupid way to go.

    • I actually didn’t name any review sites. You filled those in yourself. Kotaku had a fairly positive review of Saya, as I recall. On the other hand, I just talked to RPGFan, and they refused to review the title at all (“we don’t review games with mature content”). I actually think Destructoid is one of the better options. Siliconera seems like a good idea as well.

      I’m not sure why you seem so upset with me. I suggested 4 marketing ideas. You (potentially) disagreed with one, after reading your own interpretation into it. Your ideas seem fine, but some (like a strong social media presence) involve more work potentially than simply handing copies of your game around. I’m trying to make reasonable demands of JAST that won’t cut into their bottomline–and could only enhance it.

    • AmuroRX has a point when he mentions IGN, GameSpot and their ilk. That’s the wrong media to target. They seem to be anti anything that comes from the other side of the globe, they’ve destroyed many good (and bad…) J-RPG titles just for the sake of it with their poor reviewers and biased editors. (That’s my personal opinion of course, but I know many share the same thoughts.)

      I do think a playable demo would help raise interest, having a good website to advertise the product too, but let’s be fair: The best thing we fans can do is make sure our good friends who have the same tastes as us put their money into it as well. That’s also marketing and the most reliable kind of marketing that exists.

    • I’m going to say having a website depends on how cheap they can find a web developer and the scope of the website. It should be a quick easy job. Nothing fancy, like most h-game websites. If this is the case, then they should make it. The extra advertising can never hurt.

  • Sorry for the harshness. I took what you were saying as hey this could be really popular if only they marketed this to major sites. Which you did. If what you meant with major sites were different then what I was thinking then i’m sorry about that I was wrong. Major sites to me aren’t the rpg/anime centric websites thats just how i view it. Honestly I was just being overly expressive and I agree with your major point that marketing is needed, but I kinda don’t see why they should. I think talking to anime fan sites and popular bloggers is a lot more effective then just passing copies of games to major sites (again if what you meant were sites like siliconera then forgive me on that). Their lack of website is not really important, but I do believe that creating video clips of rpg game mechanics on youtube would be a better idea and actually interacting with fanbase that streams their games on twitch and youtube is way better marketing strategy. But again I don’t really see this game being a major seller.

    It all falls down to them making honest projections and creating a modest budget with releasing these games. Keeping communication with the fanbase and have a strong interaction in social media space is just the way to go. Honestly I think the people who want and likes these types of games are already buying them, just that market isn’t that big for it. Games like Stein Gate are only real chance to get more people to buy these types of games and even then thats still going to be a very small group. Add in H-scenes and you get an even smaller group. I thin Jast just thought hey we had major presence in anime expo we’re talking about it alot on twitter, what else do we need to do, why waste more money on trying to sale to game to a bigger market that won’t buy it anyway.

    On a side note I freak’n hate kotaku sometimes because of their goddamn hypocrisy. At one moment they’re railing against how women are portrayed in games and anime and then they next they’re posting their “awesome” cosplay pics of half naked chicks. One day their creating major scandal about Dragon Crown’s sexist art style and then the next their talking about the awesome art of some indie concept artist showing half naked fantasy chicks.

    Maybe I’m just an angry guy about all this….sorry

  • I want to add one more thing:

    The only way we’re getting more people to buy these types of games is talk about it. If we like the game then we need to tell people about it. I’m at fault here too because I don’t. Sites like fuwanovel and the small number of visual novel review blogs are whats helping this market grow and if we need want JAST to keep doing wht they’re doing then we the fanbase need to step up buy their games and tell other people do it to. I agree with the guy that says we need to tell all our friends about this…however honestly all my friends hate this weeabo shit (as they call it). But if you friends that have a soft spot for romance, sexy times rpgs then tell them about it. Freak’n talk about this game on your youtube channel. When you get the game stream some of the combat show off how the game works. This is the only way its going to work out.

  • To be honest , Agarest as well as anything that came from Idea Factory just straight up suck balls when it comes to gameplay, even Japanese players agree. It’s just not the type of game worth supporting. Pick carefully, you don’t want a terrible first impression for people outside the niche.

  • This seems to be the biggest issue for most big name titles. Unless your in the right networks some of these are being missed. however I have this on pre order and can not wait to play it.

  • For the people who are already into visual novels JAST did a good enough job at advertising it, enough so that I had it on preorder a long time ago, but I don’t really see how they can broaden it from there. Getting it reviewed by major websites would be nice, but who goes to those websites and reads every little review? You read the review for what you’re already looking at buying. In order to even think about buying it you have to know the websites, JAST, JLIST, and I’m sure a few other niche online stores, but in order to know them then you’re already into the market and would have seen ads for it starting like two months ago.

    • You’d be surprised. The sales of Boob Wars seem to have been boosted immensely by Destructoid’s review. And they gave the awful game an awful review! Mere exposure can be enough to rocket a game into the relative limelight when your basis for comparison is basically no attention at all. It would be incredibly sad if a game like Yumina sold worse than Boob Wars simply because no one reviewed it. I think I’d have to cut myself.

  • Ah well, it’s school themed which I don’t like but I will probably buy it despite that. 😐
    I’m certainly more eagerly awaiting Seinarukana game. 😛

  • For those that are interested, I contacted both RPGFan and Siliconera. Regrettably, both declined to cover or review the game due to the adult content and youthfulness of the character designs. I’m waiting to see if Destructoid will respond, since they have an age gate and they reviewed Boob Wars recently.

  • Wow Thats just great…..thanks siliconera…thank you for the hypocrisy…..

    For those hoping that destructoid will review it….Read Jim Sterlings review of Boob Wars….Its filled with so much hate its ridiculous (lets put aside its not that great of a game….) He constantly makes fun of the people who like these types of games. Ever since he’s turned a new leaf and is now sensitive to the issues of “SEXISM” he’s been turning his attention to the way females are portrayed in games. God forbid you like sexy women in your games….if you’re a male then you’re the scum of the earth…if you’re female…well female who like sexy anime chicks don’t exist so thats a stupid idea HAHAHAHAHAHAHA….

    God I hate mainstream game journalism so much….

    • Hate is still attention the game otherwise wouldn’t be getting. Also, they’d be forced to comment that it was better than Boob Wars. Sites like SomethingAwful and Destructoid have their place in promoting VNs too. Unfortunately, such sites tend not to be interested in reviewing games they can’t spin in the worst way possible.

      I’m trying to cast a wide net by trying sites with different angles, whether they be sites that cover RPGs, other VNs, or just sites that like to satire VNs. It’s quite possible that the game is in a dead zone that no one wants to review: a game that has adult content, youthful-looking characters, and is too high quality to convincingly satire.

  • JAST completely redesigned the site, and they also made the PDF manual available for download. I may write up a first impression based on the demo, which includes the entire first chapter of the game (1.4GB!).

    I’m glad that JAST is coming through on the promotional materials. This game may yet get its moment in the spotlight.

    • “How do you market an h game for western countries?”
      See article above. Without promotional materials, it’s difficult even for fans to spread the word. I’m pretty confident that we’ll get everything I asked for here except reviews (a fan on Mangagamer’s forums made gameplay trailers from the free trial). Getting reviews out prior to release was a lofty goal that would’ve required a concerted effort by JAST. Yumina will hopefully get reviews after release, but they won’t have as much of an impact.

  • I think that it would be better to tell people who have played rpg’s like the witcher, dragon age or even baldur’s gate 2. For these games have had romance and mature themes.

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