A fond farewell to Nyu Media

On June 15, 2022, localiser and publisher Nyu Media announced that it would be closing after 11 years in the business.

“When we started this company in 2011, our primary goals were to support some truly talented Japanese indie developers, and contribute to the growth of the Japanese indie gaming scene,” wrote founder and managing director Seon King. “11 years later, it’s fair to say that, while we made mistakes and fell short at times, we achieved what we set out to do, and we can call this a win.

Nyu Media: Fairy Bloom Freesia
Fairy Bloom Freesia

“The video games industry has changed a lot since we started out,” King continued, “and the tools, resources and perspective available to Japanese indie devs have broadened and improved to the point where there isn’t much need for a company like ours… and that’s great. We hope to see more Japanese indie games making it overseas under their own steam… no crappy pun intended.”

Indeed, it is fair to say that a lot has changed in the last 11 years — not always for the better when considering the big picture of the games industry as a whole, but it’s definitely true that the Japanese doujin game scene is in a much better worldwide position than it was back when Nyu Media was first formed. Not only are a wide variety of doujin games now getting released to a worldwide audience via Steam, many of them are getting console ports with the assistance of publishers, allowing them to extend their reach even further.

Today, it’s hard to imagine a time when one of the only Japanese doujin games on Steam was the legendary Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, developed by EasyGameStation and localised by independent outfit Carpe Fulgur. That was only 12 years ago, so Nyu Media were very much part of that initial push for localised doujin titles — and indeed, a good friend and partner of Rice Digital in its earliest days.

Nyu Media: Cherry Tree High Comedy Club
Cherry Tree High Comedy Club

Nyu Media’s back catalogue includes a variety of excellent titles across a number of different genres, most of which will still be available via their original developers or new publishers once the company closes. The only exceptions to this are the two Cherry Tree High games, which will be delisted from all distributors after Steam’s summer sale — so if you want them, get them now!

I have a number of personal highlights from Nyu Media’s back catalogue — the first of which is actually one of those Cherry Tree High games. Cherry Tree High Comedy Club is a thoroughly enjoyable title perhaps best described as a game that entirely consists of the “social link” gameplay from Persona, with none of the dungeon crawling and battling.

It’s also noteworthy as an example of a game that got “de-localised” during its lifetime, since the script’s original translation (by the team behind the English versions of Ace Attorney, no less) was heavily Americanised, meaning overtly Japanese references like shrine maidens felt very out of place indeed. A new translation restored all the original character names and context to the game — and indeed, it’s now possible to switch back and forth between the “westernised” and “Japanese setting” versions as you see fit.

Nyu Media: Ether Vapor Remaster
ETHER VAPOR Remaster

Beyond that, those who enjoyed the recent Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin may well be interested to explore developer Edelweiss’ previous titles, which include cutesy platform beat ’em up Fairy Bloom Freesia and spectacular cinematic shoot ’em up Ether Vapor Remaster, a spiritual precursor to the team’s excellent Astebreed.

Following Nyu Media’s closure, Ether Vapor Remaster will end up with Playism, publisher of the aforementioned Astebreed, while Fairy Bloom Freesia will end up with Sakuna publisher Xseed Games. These are both eminently appropriate choices — particularly in the latter case, since it’s clear Sakuna’s side-scrolling combat very much grew out of Fairy Bloom Freesia’s fast, arcade-style action.

Also particularly worthy of note from Nyu Media’s back catalogue are SITER SKAIN’s excellent series of highly technical shoot ’em ups in the The Tale of ALLTYNEX series, and Upgrade’s gorgeous eXceed series of bullet hell blasters. While these are all a good few years old now, they’re great examples of how the doujin scene was keeping the shoot ’em up genre alive well after the west thought it was dead and buried — and still a ton of fun to play today. Watch out for pieces on these in Blissful Death soon, for sure.

Nyu Media: The Sacred Tears TRUE

Also worth checking out is The Sacred Tears TRUE, an endearingly retro-style RPG structured in chapters of 5-30 minutes each. The game features card battle mechanics and music from the folks behind Accel World, the When They Cry anime, Atelier Iris and Ace Attorney. Fighting game fans should give beautiful 2D title Yatagarasu Attack on Cataclysm a go. And TyranoBuilder Visual Novel Studio is one of several great options available to you if you’d like to try creating your own VNs.

Speaking for myself, I’d like to say a very sincere “thank you” to Nyu Media for taking a chance on these games and bringing them to the west at a time where very few publishers were willing to do something along these lins.

The doujin games scene of today is constantly vibrant, interesting and exciting — and it’s a real pleasure to see so many of these games come to English-speaking territories without hesitation today. The groundwork that companies like Nyu Media laid doubtless played a big part in gaming becoming the truly international, borderless experience that it is today — and while their work may no longer be “necessary” in opening up these titles to a worldwide audience, their contributions to today’s gaming landscape are well and truly appreciated.

Nyu Media: Yatagarasu
Yatagarasu Attack on Cataclysm

Want to add all these games to your wishlists ahead of the summer sale, which kicks off on June 23, 2022? Here you go:

Don’t forget the two Cherry Tree High games will be gone for good when the Steam sale ends on July 7 — so nab ’em now if you want ’em!

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Pete Davison
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