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Editorial ► Where Square Enix North America Went Wrong With Kingdom Hearts Unchained X



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Chaser

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The recent updates to Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ have disappointed the community. From glitches and bugs to false advertising that gets swept under the rug, Square Enix North America seems content to have delivered a game that is vastly different to what fans have been asking for. The most recent update, versions 1.1.2, is just the tip of the iceberg as the English version of Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ features many differences from the Japanese version. Forum members The_Echo and Cyborg009 submitted opinion pieces to KHInsider about where the localisation with the game went wrong in hopes of raising awareness to these changes.


An Ocean Apart

By The_Echo

July 18, 2013. Kingdom Hearts χ[chi] launches its open beta on the Yahoo! Games service in Japan. It is the series' first ever made-for-browser title. A departure from franchise norms in many ways, it still caught the attention of fans both in Japan and across the globe. Many Western fans, myself included, banded together to cross the regional divide and experience the game.

What followed was a two-year exercise in cooperation, speculation and most of all, fun. The Western community surrounding χ[chi] bloomed and flourished amidst consistent content and story updates which kept interest strong. What we had once thought was a strange side project tiding us over during the wait for future games quickly became a beast all its own, offering a narrative and world full of mystery, couched in an accessible yet addictive set of mechanics and a cute, comfortable visual aesthetic. Despite all its differences, Kingdom Hearts χ[chi] truly felt like a Kingdom Hearts main title.

To the dismay of its players, the game ended service on September 1, 2016, shortly after its third anniversary. But all was not lost; there was more to the world of χ[chi] that had yet to be explored...

September 3, 2015. Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ is released in Japan for iOS and Android devices. A mobile port of the browser original, this game was again very different, but captured the interest of players worldwide regardless. While it had been known that Unchained χ was developed with the intention of localization, many people would step over the border once again. It wasn't a perfect launch; the first month was plagued with connectivity issues. But as time went on, the game slowly became more content-dense and more enjoyable. What had felt like, perhaps, a play-to-win game design was quickly undercut by several improvements and changes made to balance the game for all players to enjoy regardless of monetary investment.

Months went by with no word on a localization. Impatience festered in the community, everyone waiting with bated breath for the day that all Western fans could enjoy this game that the few of us had been for years.

April 7, 2016. Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ is released exclusively to the North American region. This was the first mistake; European fans, Australian fans, and anyone in-between had been wholly ignored and would not receive the game in their local app stores until June 16, a whole two months later. Moreover, the North American and worldwide releases shared the same servers, meaning that NA players had a collective three-month lead on WW players, with all the events and bonuses that came with it. But let's go back to the beginning.

I downloaded Unchained χ's NA release as soon as it appeared on the store page. I had been dying for this localization; I wanted so bad for everyone to understand and experience this game that I genuinely loved. I open the game, create my character, and start moving through the first batch of story quests.
"Defeat all enemies within one turn."
My eyebrow raises. "This is supposed to be 'defeat the target enemy'," I thought.
I finish quest 200. Chirithy gives me the Strength Bangle. "But this isn't supposed to happen until quest 350," I thought.

These initial head-turners are the precursor to what has thus far been a consistent series of alterations made to the game by the localization staff. The reasoning? Well... we can only guess.

Events are altered. The contents of Jewel Boards changed. Medals have their stats and abilities changed, sometimes made worse. Quality-of-life additions in the original are missing with no sign of showing up. The order of Medals added to the game is changed. Prices in the shop are higher when converting the prices in JP. Medals which were free via an event in JP are made paid Medals via altered Jewel Boards.
Despite the early introduction of Guilt (now renamed Special Attack Bonus, which thanks to χ[chi]'s ending we know to be an objective mistake), despite the idea that the localization is meant to be on a "fast-track" schedule to catch up to JP, the addition of Broom Servants and the Mickey & Broom Servants Medals seems ever more like a far-off dream.

The list goes on and only continues to grow. Likewise, the divide between paying players and free-to-play players grows seemingly by the day, with some F2Ps complaining that certain features or objectives are, for all intents and purposes, locked out unless they pay up. An atmosphere of passive-aggressive bitterness is ever-present in discussions of the Western release.

However, the community is not taking this lying down; petitions, discussions, a comically-failed protest, and an endlessly vocal Twitter following have all made it readily clear to anyone paying attention that the ENG community knows they're being played with, and they don't enjoy it. And yet... here we are. On the day I write this a notice released teasing the introduction of Skuld, a character who should join ENG sometime in October, as well as Proud Mode, and the addition of Castle of Dreams and multiplayer which the JP team had teased a few days prior. This seems fine, until you notice that, supposedly, these story developments are slotted to happen in January 2017, three months late.

What is going on? Is this just poor communication (a consistent issue with the ENG team)? Are they delaying the story updates? If so, what happened to catching up? What about when χ Back Cover releases as part of II.8 in December, possibly spoiling many of the late-game developments? Are they intentionally altering the game to siphon more money from what they thought were unsuspecting players? Or are they just incompetent? No one can be sure.

Recently, the team gave out 1500 Jewels as an apology, and are offering another 600 to those who finish quest 200 (thereby unlocking Guilt Special Attack Bonus). But these gestures of good faith are tainted by five months of disappointment and frustration. It seems for every good move the localization makes, a poorer one is sure to follow.

At this stage, some players may even consider the two versions to be separate games altogether. Some have even jumped ship and opted to play JP instead, despite the language barrier. But what is there to do? Can the community do any more than it already has, or are we doomed to this repetitive back-and-forth struggle with SENA?

To be honest, I have no idea. All I can hope for is a brighter future than the one that's currently written.


To the Kingdom Hearts Unchained X Development Team

By Cyborg009

It has come to our attention that many North American players of Kingdom Hearts Unchained X have made a number of complaints in regards to its content. Although we do enjoy the game as it adds another piece to the franchise’s complex and yet well detailed story, many of us here in the states believe that we have been short-changed in comparison to our counterparts over in Japan. While the list of compliments is somewhat extensive, there are a few major issues that have gained more ire from the fans than others.

The first of these issues is the current absence of the Broom Medals in the game. As we all know, these medals are needed in order to guilt other medals so that they unlock their special attack bonus. Now lately I’ve noticed that some people have managed to easily beat the harder challenges, like the weekly adamantine challenges. This is contributed to the fact that those people were using guilted medals, providing extra boost of power. To come to the point, is up to six months since the release of Kingdom Hearts Unchained X to the US, and yet we have seen no sign of the Broom medals being released at all. This would mean that the only way to acquire guilted medals is to purchase identical medals from daily and weekly deals from the shop. To do so, one must have a hefty amount of jewels in order to purchase medals. And to obtain jewels, one must purchase them in said shop through the use of real money. To reiterate; to guilt high-level medals, one must buy them which cost jewels, which in turn cost money. It is a somewhat unfair and vicious cycle for those who do not have the means to purchase them or have a fixed budget.

And speaking of jewels, there seems to be an unfair difference in regards to the daily login bonus between both versions. On the Japan side one can gain up to nine hundred jewels within five days of logging in straight (100 - 100 - 200 - 200 - 300). They can also complete Daily Jewel Quests, where you get 200 jewels every day. It probably asking yourselves, ‘where is the problem with this’, the answer is quite simple. The jewel quests are not daily, save, for only when it is an event and the login bonuses are cut in half (50 - 50 - 100 - 100 - 200), which add up to 500, That's 400 Jewels less than JP, and that's a huge difference.
Another major difference that has brought some annoyance is the artificial difficulty that has been placed into the game for North America. Within each quest in the game, there are three objectives at the player can complete to earn rewards. That, however, is where the similarities between the two versions end. In the Japanese version, one of the objectives involves ‘Defeat Target Enemy in 1 Turn’. But in the American version, nearly all of those objectives are changed to ‘Defeat all enemies in 1 turn.’ This is quite cumbersome considering the fact that some of the enemies are, if not tougher than the target Enemy. Thereby forcing the player to purchase stronger metals in order to meet those objectives, as was aforementioned in paragraph 2.

So in conclusion, while this game has given us hours’ worth of entertainment and delight, many over in the NA feel that we are not getting any equal content than that of our Japan counterparts. While we do look forward to many new worlds and content that will come forth in the future, we believe that all gamers worldwide should be treated equally in both content and availability.

Truly yours,
The members of Kingdom Hearts Insider

 

Ciel

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Thank you so much for this! As a player coming from the jp ver., I felt incredibly cheated.
 

Leopardess

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It's obvious NA is being cheated and plundered for money to play this game. So, you have to hit them where it hurts and where notice is taken. In their pockets. Quit paying for Epic or Carnival pulls. Just stop it. Play the game without your almighty powerful medals just for a time until we can boycott successfully to get what we want. Stop paying and pulling!
 

Chaser

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It's obvious NA is being cheated and plundered for money to play this game. So, you have to hit them where it hurts and where notice is taken. In their pockets. Quit paying for Epic or Carnival pulls. Just stop it. Play the game without your almighty powerful medals just for a time until we can boycott successfully to get what we want. Stop paying and pulling!
I remember the last time a group of people told everyone to not buy jewels.

They ended up with fully guilted Terra's 3 days later.
 

Kiro

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Just wanted to point out, April 7th to June 13th is closer to 2 months than 3 like it claims.
 

Muke

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Whoa, these absolutely reflect my opinion.
Nice work, Echo and Cyborg!
(I might edit this post later to add more)
 

The_Echo

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Dang, wasn't expecting to see this show up so fast

Just wanted to point out, April 7th to June 13th is closer to 2 months than 3 like it claims.
Whoops
 

Oracle Spockanort

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If anybody else wants to share some thoughts, feel free to send them our way.

EDIT: (Note that it doesn't all have to be negative. There is plenty to talk about on both sides if you want to share a rebuttal or an agreement to the current ones)
 
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Muke

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If anybody else wants to share some thoughts, feel free to send them our way.

EDIT: (Note that it doesn't all have to be negative. There is plenty to talk about on both sides if you want to share a rebuttal or an agreement to the current ones)
Huhh... a (discussion) war of Editorials, you say? :p
 

alexis.anagram

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The_Echo said:
passive-aggressive bitterness
Guilty as charged haha.

Nicely stated complaints, big props to The_Echo and Cyborg009, as well as to Spockanort and Chaser and everyone here for going ahead with publishing these! I think they effectively sum up the reasoning behind the negative sentiments which have ensued as a result of the changes made to NAUx. I've said it before, but the onus is really on Square to make the case that these changes are for the better. So far, I haven't heard a convincing argument in their defense.

Meanwhile, I've expressed frustration in the past with the way the game's structure feels kind of immutable at this point, and I wonder if there has been any brainstorming as to what could be significantly improved so that we don't have a constant back-and-forth where it feels like the game's progress is minimized as a result of its seemingly entrenched pattern of always aiming squarely for the players' wallets. Would simply nudging (or steamrolling) it in the direction of JPUx be the desired result here?

With the growing discontent, I'd be surprised if NAUx hasn't taken a hit and if there isn't more damage to be done. I think the developers really underestimated the fact that, as a KH game, this title has a significant, committed baked in audience who (like myself) nonetheless have very limited experience with "hardcore" mobile games and therefore a completely different expectation for the game as an entry in the franchise.
 

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This is great, but is missing one thing, like most other articles I've read regarding not only where this game falls short, but how SENA is blatantly milking us for money. Voice acting on the medals. Some medals even having character themes playing on them in our JP counterpart of the game. I would seriously love this aspect added to our version, and we do not have enough people bringing this issue up. Simple things like that make the fanbase appreciate the game so much more.
 

Chaser

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This is great, but is missing one thing, like most other articles I've read regarding not only where this game falls short, but how SENA is blatantly milking us for money. Voice acting on the medals. Some medals even having character themes playing on them in our JP counterpart of the game. I would seriously love this aspect added to our version, and we do not have enough people bringing this issue up. Simple things like that make the fanbase appreciate the game so much more.
Apparently the voice clips were removed/not included because Square would have to pay a licence fee which they would 100% afford but are just being completely stingy.

It's a shame, I really liked the idea of different music playing in the Fountain Courtyard :(
 

Izzu Ziq

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I never really played the English version of the game. Been sticking to JP version... because the English version is not even in the Southeast Asia region.

But knowing the whole thing with this... I feel sorry for those who feel cheated...
 

JR199913

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I remember the last time a group of people told everyone to not buy jewels.

They ended up with fully guilted Terra's 3 days later.
Hahaha, yeah good times. Some guy even made a Youtube video about how mad he was. We can't do that again, not so soon. Maybe we can get all of KHI to agree, maybe even KH13, but how many of the ENG fanbase would we reach? There are fans on Reddit, the Wikia's, Youtube, even some that didn't join any.
If anybody else wants to share some thoughts, feel free to send them our way.

EDIT: (Note that it doesn't all have to be negative. There is plenty to talk about on both sides if you want to share a rebuttal or an agreement to the current ones)
So I"m gonna need some pointers. I don't play the JPN version so, what are ALL the differences? There are:
- Brooms
- Objectives
- Nerfed Medals
- Artificial Diificulty
- No voice acting
- Not enough free Jewels
- Too hard to Guilt
- Translation errors (talking about the Guilt here)
- Slowing down story process
That's all of them?
Also, who is the "big boss" of this game? I've heard Nomura isn't very involved in this game beside the storyline. Who makes the final decisions? Should I talk in the "we" form or the "I" form. To who should I direct it? Are you gonna post them all in this thread, or will they actually get sent to Square? Stuff like that.
Huhh... a (discussion) war of Editorials, you say? :p
But who wants to be on Square's side?
This is great, but is missing one thing, like most other articles I've read regarding not only where this game falls short, but how SENA is blatantly milking us for money. Voice acting on the medals. Some medals even having character themes playing on them in our JP counterpart of the game. I would seriously love this aspect added to our version, and we do not have enough people bringing this issue up. Simple things like that make the fanbase appreciate the game so much more.

Apparently the voice clips were removed/not included because Square would have to pay a licence fee which they would 100% afford but are just being completely stingy.

It's a shame, I really liked the idea of different music playing in the Fountain Courtyard :(
Wait, games actually do that? I thought it was a JPN only thing. I've never seen a ENG mobile games who had English voice acting.
 

Axeken

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I didn't realise these were issues in the game. I've been playing it since it launced in Australia and other then the timezone annoyances, I've never had an issue with the game. I also haven't pay a cent for it and I'm caught up on the story. But it does sound that the Japanese version is heaps better. I guess ignorance was bliss for me. I mean i knew it was further ahead story wise but the level of gameplay differences is astonishing.
Also what is guliting haha? 😅
 

The_Echo

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Also, who is the "big boss" of this game? I've heard Nomura isn't very involved in this game beside the storyline.
Nomura is listed for director/concept design/story

His co-director, which I believe must be the man taking the project on full-time while Nomura is busy with way too many other projects is someone named Hiroyuki Itou

But who wants to be on Square's side?
You'd be surprised.

Also what is guliting haha?
It's the percentage multiplier that serves as the final stage of strengthen the Medal's ability. In ENG it was renamed to "Special Attack Bonus," except, y'know...

It's a canon element of the story so they kind of pulled the blunder of the century right there.
 

MardukKurios

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Thank you for writing those lines, I always thought that there were some issues but never could quite put my finger on those. Especially the Quest Objectives which changed to "Defeat all Enemies in 1 Turn" which I remember from the Japanese Version being "Defeat the Target Enemy in 1 Turn" and I wasn't sure if I was imagining things and kept this to myself.

Which also annoyed the hell out of me was that stupid 2 month or 3 for getting the same Version which is already out - I thought that they use the time for making translations or whatever the reason for such a delay. In the end I only felt betrayed.

And for the Jewel Pulls I mostly feel betrayed because from m point of view this whole System just seem to be rigged especially when it wasn't long that you mostly got free to play Medals which are obtained from Quests and you paid realy money for this.

I can't understand why they're so focused on money in that Game - it has to be a fun experience and not disappointment all the time - do they finance KH III with this?!

I really hope that Square Enix NA will someday realize that they are doing us some unjustice and change this whole trainwreck they are driving right now.
 

Axeken

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It's the percentage multiplier that serves as the final stage of strengthen the Medal's ability. In ENG it was renamed to "Special Attack Bonus," except, y'know...

It's a canon element of the story so they kind of pulled the blunder of the century right there.

Oh. That changes everything. Wow. That shit is hard to and to find out Japan can do it easier can pisses me off a bit.
While I haven't seen the ending to x[chi] yet, the fact that its a canon aspects kinda messes a few thing. Now I'm really intrigued in the ending. It it possible to change it in a patch or to change the story around it?
 

SORA619

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Ι haven't gone that deep with Ux maybe because I play it with my pace, but man those are some differents. I don't know about the medals you are talking about, but the jewels is one key part of this game and getting 400 less jewels every week breaks the game. Also I found out about the story update yesterday and I was suprised considering 2.8 releases in December. What is wrong Square?? In localization aspect since I live in Greece, I had to change the account to a US one because I didn't wanna lose all the bonuses that European fans would lose because of all this wait. I haven't changed back to my EU account because I don't know if the facebook save will be okay. All in all I hope Square see these messages. I don't want to leave the game but I don't want to be treated like sh#t too.
 
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