BlogSquare Enix have announced the release date for Final Fantasy XIII in a swanky video with a presenter. They also managed to plug Leona Lewis, who is getting one of her songs chosen as the theme for the game's Western release. Her album, Echo will be released on November 16 and November 17 in the UK and the US respectively.
This choice marks the first time (correct me if I'm wrong) that a Final Fantasy title has had the theme entirely change for a western release. Fair enough for say Final Fantasy IX, where the same singer sang an English version, but this song is entirely separate from the Hamauzu/Sayuri Sugawara collaboration.
Is the company doing the smart thing and picking a song Western people will understand more? Could it be argued that this is therefore a 'real localisation' as opposed to previous titles that included either the same theme as the Japanese release or a translation of the theme? Or is this really just Square Enix throwing around money for a cross promotion on Leona's new album?
Also artistically, is it better for the theme that was composed by the game's composer to be used, or is it better to choose an existing song that was created entirely outside the realm of the game?
Most important; will most people care? Probably not. Feel free to post comments if you have a view. I'm undecided at this point, the only title I can think of off the top of my head from Square Enix that has an entirely separate theme for the Western release is The Bouncer. Given that the English voices for the title were recorded first and that Takashi Tokita advised fans that the English theme Love is the Gift lyrics will allow you to understand the game's theme1 that's not much help to me.
With the only easy to find public opinion found as a comment on the YouTube video I linked at the beginning of this rant being "leona louis can suck my fat one" I'm yet to find any form of helpful discussion so far.
I'm considering importing the soundtrack when it comes out in Japan, so I guess we'll see when I have a chance to compare. Hopefully for my preference of Japanese voices the game comes with dual audio, though given how big the game probably is on the disc I don't carry high hopes.