Hoo, boy. I thought I’d seen a fair share of mobile games. Today, I will talk about WAVE: Naminori Boys [literal translation: Wave-Riding Boys], a gacha mobile game based on the WAVE franchise. For those unfamiliar, the series initially screened in theatres as three movies in October 2020, before being broadcast on TV Tokyo for a total of 12 episodes in 2021.
The scenario was pretty similar to that of “sports anime” such as Free! and Hoshiai no Sora. For Hoshiai no Sora, we had the main cast play tennis. For Free!, it was about swimming. Wave focused on the main cast surfing in the waves of Okinawa.
In January 2021, WAVE: Naminori Boys was announced by MAGES, with a release date slated for March of 2021. Then, as it was said, on March 1, 2021, the service began. If the name “MAGES” sounds familiar to you, they are the developers behind the Steins;Gate series. However, they don’t have the best reputation with licensed titles.
But enough about them for now. After the service began on March 1st, the game was met with an enormous backlash from the public, having a game-breaking bug right off the bat, as well as terrible quality overall. The problems with it were numerous, but I’ll name some of the problems that really resounded in the Japanese fans’ posts:
Clunky and Unresponsive UI
The UI was unresponsive, even on devices with the capacity to run the game flawlessly. Pages took forever to load, and the notices screen also clipped on with the UI sometimes. Not to mention, the “game-breaking bug” I mentioned earlier also involves the UI.
Playing some modes in the game was a disaster as well, such as the surfing minigame, where triggering a skill would trigger an animation that was obnoxiously obstructive.
An “English” Bug
Overseas fans playing Japan-only mobile games is nothing new. With apps like QooApp, downloading Japanese games via the APK files, or even using a Japanese Apple ID, it has become effortless to download them. But the bug made the experience truly horrendous.
You see, for some reason, the game’s dialogue had many placeholder texts such as “serif1” or “serif4” during the tutorial, and the character’s textboxes would constantly say the “This is a pen.” phrase during the training mode of the game.
After close inspection, it was determined that the bug only affected you if your phone was set in English. Yeah, you didn’t misread that. Changing the phone to Japanese or even any other language than English would bring back the Japanese text for everything.
Since it is common for Japanese people to put their phones in English for practicing purposes, many people were affected by it, and of course, they were quite unhappy with it.
Then Came The Legal Trouble…
This doesn’t concern the players much, but it was a huge oops for the developers. The voice actors’ names (such as Maeno Tomoaki) had their names miswritten in the app. Not just that, but the characters’ names were also miswritten. In Japan, this is pretty serious. Not properly crediting the voice actor could end up with some pretty nasty legal fees. And that even sparked what happened next.
On March 4th, MAGES began maintenance. An “emergency maintenance to fix in-game data,” as their Twitter account described it:
— 『WAVE!!～波乗りボーイズ～』ゲームアプリ公式 (@WAVE_App_Game) March 4, 2021
Tweet translation: [Maintenance Notice] On March 4th, 1:00 PM Japan time, an emergency maintenance will be conducted. The maintenance’s end time is undefined.
At first, fans thought it would take three days to a week at most for the game to be back in action. But…well…the days passed…and passed…and nothing happened. The game continued to be in maintenance for a good 11 days until the official Twitter account tweeted yet another notice saying that the maintenance was still extended.
— 『WAVE!!～波乗りボーイズ～』ゲームアプリ公式 (@WAVE_App_Game) March 15, 2021
Tweet translation: [Maintenance Notice] The maintenance that began on March 4th will be extended. We apologize for the late notice, as well as for the long inability to play the game.
And well, more days passed after that, and on April 6, 2021, the Twitter account announced that the game would be shutting down its servers. Here’s a timeline of the events I’ve described thus far:
[January – Release date announced] → [March 1st – Service began] → [March 4th – Emergency maintenance began] → [March 15th – Announcement on Twitter that maintenance would still be ongoing] → [April 6th – Service shutdown announcement] → [April 7th – Paid currency refunding process begins]
So, if you do the math, that’s only 3 whole days of service before the app went into maintenance, and then 1 month later, decided to kick the bucket. What a story, huh?
It’s a story like this that makes me truly hope that MAGES can really get their stuff together when it comes to licensed games in the future.
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