games where localization are a step above the norm?

Mar 6, 2010
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Thank you. Star Ocean 4 was horrific shit in Japanese, and we tried our damnedest to make it less horrific in English, but the client wanted a duplicate of the Japanese. Hence it remained horrific.
This right here is why, despite being a professional translator who makes good money doing it, I'd need some really good incentives to ever work for a Japanese corporation as an in-house translator again. Far too often that your sanity can bear, you find clients/bosses with just enough English to be dangerous demanding that you translate a specific word using a specific English word, context and accuracy be damned, or any number of other nitpicks that make your job impossible to do.

Either have a superior enough knowledge of English that you can work closely with your translators, integrate them into the production team, and make the work true to your visions (see: Matsuno/AOS/Reeder, among others), or leave the translators alone and let them do things the way they see fit.

NichM said:
Mai Namba is a fantastic translator (I work with her on almost every project and on the ones where I don't, I wish I was) but she's Atlus USA staff, not From. I worked with her on fixing up a lot of the B team's item and spell names and descriptions, the canned messages you can write on the ground, and various other things.
Orayn said:
They asked someone at SCEE for help, and got connected with some Scottish production company. I believe the same group was also responsible for Dark Souls.
All these parties combined to do such an amazing job. Who made the decision to cast a Slavic (Russian?)-accented woman for the Maiden in Black? Such a good decision. I'm still waiting for the day when Japanese developers finally discover the flavor that can be added when you make use of non-native-speaker accents (or even extensive use of non-Tokyo accents). I can't imagine the seiyū cartel allowing that too easily!

Is Mai Namba Japanese or American? If the latter, my hat is off even further -- I only hope to be able to someday write Japanese of that caliber!
 

Joni

Member
Aug 11, 2007
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They didn't have much choice as it came out after the International version and typically localisations use the newest version of a product..
Actually Square-Enix normally just used the American version, regardless of newer versions existing. (I had a 50 Hz tv at that time, so the lower speed didn't bother me.)
 

Aokage

Pretty nice guy (apart from the blue shadows thing...)
Feb 28, 2007
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Aokage, just wanted to say that I loved the localization on VP1, It is still my favorite on the series and I think it is because of how grounded everything sounded.

Voice acting was pretty great and outstanding even if you take into account that it was during the PS1 era!

Great Job guys!!
Thanks a lot! We worked really hard to give all the dialogue the same tone. We felt that game was Serious Business (it also happened to be written really well in Japanese—a wonder for tri-Ace). And the eminently quotable magic/special move lines came from the teenage Shakespeare obsession I was going through at the time :)

Edit: At the same time we also fought to keep "PURIFY WEIRD SOUL" because we were in love with it.
 

Aokage

Pretty nice guy (apart from the blue shadows thing...)
Feb 28, 2007
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Either have a superior enough knowledge of English that you can work closely with your translators, integrate them into the production team, and make the work true to your visions (see: Matsuno/AOS/Reeder, among others), or leave the translators alone and let them do things the way they see fit.
The answer.
 
Sep 2, 2007
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MGS castillian spanish dub and translation (apart from some mistakes in the first hour, the rest is top notch and one of the best exapmles of spanish localisations in videogames)

Also Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive.
Amazing translation and dub, much better than the original german, and MUCH better than the shitty english version.
Some friends and I that played the game a lot still quote phrases from it. John Cooper, Doc, Sam, all the mexicans... It was amazing.
 
Mar 28, 2008
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This right here is why, despite being a professional translator who makes good money doing it, I'd need some really good incentives to ever work for a Japanese corporation as an in-house translator again. Far too often that your sanity can bear, you find clients/bosses with just enough English to be dangerous demanding that you translate a specific word using a specific English word, context and accuracy be damned, or any number of other nitpicks that make your job impossible to do.
I heard that was the case with Metroid: Other M, and the metroid was going to be called the "infant" originally to make the motherhood theme less blindingly obvious.
 
Sep 28, 2010
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Thanks a lot! We worked really hard to give all the dialogue the same tone. We felt that game was Serious Business (it also happened to be written really well in Japanese—a wonder for tri-Ace). And the eminently quotable magic/special move lines came from the teenage Shakespeare obsession I was going through at the time :)

Edit: At the same time we also fought to keep "PURIFY WEIRD SOUL" because we were in love with it.
Haha that's great to hear, I always thought it was weird but in a charming way (even though English is not my first language), and yeah VP writing is definitely better than other tri-ace games I have played, and in my opinion a lot better than VP2 (it did had a great battle system, tri-ace style) do you know if they changed the writer from 1 to 2?

Also after hearing the voice over in japanise for Valkyrie Profile, I was very surprised to see that both voice actors for Lenneth had that same strong woman vibe, and I actually prefer the game in english ;)

On an unrelated note, I am playing the first Arc the Lad for the first time and I'm actually quite pleased with the translation, do you know who worked on those games?

Thanks
 
Nov 29, 2011
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Nice thread! I'm really contemplating doing translation work as a living later on, so all this discussion is really interesting to me.
(Though being French, I doubt it'll be game translation like some people here, explanations below.)

Without thinking too much, I'll say that I am a big fan of 8-4 localization work (namely Baten Kaitos II and Tales of Vesperia), and about everything Kajiya Pro. was ever involved with. Not really original choices, I know.

I can't quite think of other works on the spot since I'm actually French and tend to give a fair chance to local versions whenever I can. In this light, I guess Square-Enix is the most constant publisher when it comes to quality in a French translation. The only problem is that doing a FIGS localization doesn't seem to be that profitable for about any game with too much text (let alone dialogue - most of the games come dubbed in English only anyway), so they'll only translate mainline FF and their big titles... Exemples of notorious games they published non-translated these last years include The World Ends With You, Persona, The 4 Warriors of Light... A pity, since here most suck at English and won't bother at all with a game that isn't translated.

Last summer, during a TGS party, I got the chance to meet and discuss quite a bit with a French localization manager at a certain Japanese publisher. Work seems to be a bitch, he was working on a big release, and told me they were severely undermanned, which from what I gathered (speculation here) might because the publisher can't afford too much money/manpower on the French side. Guess I need to consider seriously what I'm going to do, but I still have ~18 months left for that.
Barring a few exceptions, French localization work is pretty bland. Not necessarily always bad, but terribly bland, you can hear the same 10 or so actors in every game that will sell enough to warrant a French dub in the first place.

Oh, exception between exception that I totally forgot: Nintendo. Constant, great output. The only nitpick I'd have with their wonderful works would be the random changes in proper names. But I can live with that!
 

Data West

coaches in the WNBA
Sep 20, 2010
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The lair of yin and yang
Hey guys, there's a lot of localizers in here, and I had a question. I figured this would be the place to ask. Why does it seem like all of Square's localizing seem so damn corny? Like, bad anime dialogue lines where they're trying to make everything sound all epic, and it just sounds so unnatural(13-2 is my most recent example). Where as, when I play Persona 4, Ys 7, and even Dragon Quest, it sounds much more like how normal people talk. Unlike Kingdom Hearts, FF, etc.

I noticed these with some of the Tales games too. Where there's a lot of unnecessary gasping and weird wording.
 
Oct 14, 2011
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Hey guys, there's a lot of localizers in here, and I had a question. I figured this would be the place to ask. Why does it seem like all of Square's localizing seem so damn corny? Like, bad anime dialogue lines where they're trying to make everything sound all epic, and it just sounds so unnatural(13-2 is my most recent example). Where as, when I play Persona 4, Ys 7, and even Dragon Quest, it sounds much more like how normal people talk. Unlike Kingdom Hearts, FF, etc.

I noticed these with some of the Tales games too. Where there's a lot of unnecessary gasping and weird wording.

Well in the case of 13-2, localizers can only do so much with what a Toriyama directed narrative provides.

I say they did there best.
 
Feb 6, 2011
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Thanks a lot! We worked really hard to give all the dialogue the same tone. We felt that game was Serious Business (it also happened to be written really well in Japanese—a wonder for tri-Ace). And the eminently quotable magic/special move lines came from the teenage Shakespeare obsession I was going through at the time :)

Edit: At the same time we also fought to keep "PURIFY WEIRD SOUL" because we were in love with it.
The Japanese versions of VP1, 2, DS, Radiata Stories, and Resonance of Fate were all fantastic. So it's not "a wonder for tri-Ace." It's just whoever the fuck they let write the Star Ocean games needs to be fired immediately.
 
Nier was my personal apology for SO4 (I oversaw both). :p

SO4 is not poorly translated by any means - it's just VERY true to the Japanese. It was our first project with SQEX and we were worried about rocking the boat (they had asked us to keep it true to the JP), so we just followed direction. With Nier, they let us have way more say in the actual script, they let us choose the voice studio and handle the voices (I oversaw every line of recorded dialogue in that game in-studio with the director Yoko-san), and the Japanese script was already great to begin with. Made a HUGE difference. I don't think Nier was perfect by any means, but the localization environment was much better than in most titles, and as such, the end result benefited from it.

Anyway, thanks for the Nier (and MH3 & BKO!) comments. :)
John, regarding SO4, even if you polish a pile of shit, its still a pile of shit. Nothing you or your colleagues could have done would have made the english version of that game any better.
 
Jan 19, 2010
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SO4 would have been a lot better if the goofy space adventure/Anime Star Trek feel was intentional/self-aware and not just a product of terrible writing. Is that what you guys were going to try to do before the devs balked?
 
Jun 6, 2004
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www.8-4.jp
SO4 would have been a lot better if the goofy space adventure/Anime Star Trek feel was intentional/self-aware and not just a product of terrible writing. Is that what you guys were going to try to do before the devs balked?
I don't want to get to into it but if it were up to us we would've changed or wrote around a lot. Also, several character names would've changed too.
 
Jul 21, 2004
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On an unrelated note, I am playing the first Arc the Lad for the first time and I'm actually quite pleased with the translation, do you know who worked on those games?
I did Arc the Lad I, II, III, Arena for English as Arc the Lad Collection. It was a huge project that was originally supposed to be a tag team of me and another writer, but I had to fire him when Arc I was barely underway, so I ended up doing all the games personally. It's the series that gave me carpal tunnel - literally. There was a LOT of dialogue in that game and I had to write it in a very short amount of time, relatively speaking.

Glad you enjoyed it. Arc I is okay, but Arc II, especially, is really great. When you love the story and characters, it makes it easier to do the localization, and I *loved* the characters. The English release was a love letter to the Japanese versions I adored.
 
Jul 21, 2004
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All these parties combined to do such an amazing job. Who made the decision to cast a Slavic (Russian?)-accented woman for the Maiden in Black? Such a good decision.
Probably one of the best things about Demon's Souls. Her performance and dialogue juiced the atmosphere of the game so much. Delicious.
 
Jan 12, 2012
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snatcher, mgs1, ace attorney.
These are all good choices. Snatcher was probably one of the first legitimitly good english translations I have ever seen in a videogame. I think it really set a high standard for its time. Metal Gear Solid 1 and Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations were both great too. Jeremy Blaustein was incredible in his early days.

Working Designs had a lot of great localizations too, durring the Sega CD/ Saturn/ PS1 days. Though some of their earlier games did go a bit overboard in throwing in westrenized humor, but that's also part of their charm. The packaging designs in the WD games were always top notch too.
 
Jan 10, 2010
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Again, Baten Kaitos Origins has the best localization I've ever seen. So much charm crammed into one game it's almost illegal.

And then there is Treehouse. Aside from Other M, pretty much everything they touch turns out great. Also, Atlus' Persona 3 was pretty good too.
 
Aug 17, 2009
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psnprofiles.com
Thanks a lot! We worked really hard to give all the dialogue the same tone. We felt that game was Serious Business (it also happened to be written really well in Japanese—a wonder for tri-Ace). And the eminently quotable magic/special move lines came from the teenage Shakespeare obsession I was going through at the time :)

Edit: At the same time we also fought to keep "PURIFY WEIRD SOUL" because we were in love with it.
I think the best localized tri-Ace game for me are probably Valkyrie Profile 2 and Radiata Stories. Though it has been quite some time that I've played VP2.
 
Jan 19, 2010
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I did Arc the Lad I, II, III, Arena for English as Arc the Lad Collection. It was a huge project that was originally supposed to be a tag team of me and another writer, but I had to fire him when Arc I was barely underway, so I ended up doing all the games personally. It's the series that gave me carpal tunnel - literally. There was a LOT of dialogue in that game and I had to write it in a very short amount of time, relatively speaking.

Glad you enjoyed it. Arc I is okay, but Arc II, especially, is really great. When you love the story and characters, it makes it easier to do the localization, and I *loved* the characters. The English release was a love letter to the Japanese versions I adored.
Yeah, I could definitely tell while playing through them that you really cared about these games, because they felt like you put way more effort into them than anything else in your catalog (and it was pretty obvious that you cared a lot about those games, too :p). Is that why you also kept the pop culture jokes to an absolute minimum?
 
Jul 21, 2004
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Yeah, I could definitely tell while playing through them that you really cared about these games, because they felt like you put way more effort into them than anything else in your catalog (and it was pretty obvious that you cared a lot about those games, too :p). Is that why you also kept the pop culture jokes to an absolute minimum?
Arc didn't feel like the kind of series that lent itself to wacky pop culture jokes and lots of jokes in general. I and II, especially, are pretty dark. So I was pretty much respecting the tone of the game by doing it the way I did. That's not to say there aren't jokes, puns, and lighthearted bits here and there, but it's dialed way back from the usual effort. The balance turned out pretty much just-right.

Fun fact, I'm not really for swearing in games. I think it's a cheap shortcut to a place that can be attained in a more substantial, emotional way through careful writing, but in Arc II, there's the only "goddamn" I've ever used in a game. At the endscene, nothing else seemed strong enough to really comvey the emotion of what was happening. There might have been a better way, but after a number of tries over several months, I couldn't find it, so I broke my rule - once.
 
May 24, 2006
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i'm a bit disapointed to see Elite Beat Agents just brushed aside here. yes, it's arguably a different game, but the goal absolutely was to bring Ouendan to the west. that Ouendan couldn't have been done justice without completely changing just about everything shouldn't take away from the fantastic job done with Elite Beat Agents.

the sweeping changes were all for the sake of making the game work for a different culture. they were all localisation decisions aside from a few minor gameplay tweaks.

and obviously it's a step above the norm. the norm would be translating the game, and maybe dropping the lyrics from the songs. new storyline, new art, new songs (and therefore new patterns)... it's a fantastic localisation job imho that obsolutely captured the appeal and charm of Ouendan.
 

djtiesto

is beloved, despite what anyone might say
Jul 26, 2004
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Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume - while I'm not the world's biggest AOS fan, his 'olde-English' dialogue works fantastically in this game. Really underrated translation that I never hear mentioned.

And of course the usual suspects - DQ8, Baten Kaitos: Origins, Nier, Tales of Vesperia, MGS series... and I loved the VAs for the English version of Resonance of Fate. Also RIP Working Designs, some of the references they threw in back in the day are extremely dated, but that's part of the charm! They really paved the way for every single localization company who came later on... Atlus, X-SEED, Aksys, etc.
 
Aug 19, 2011
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Anything by Working Designs in the PSX era. Games like Lunar: Silver Star Story and Vanguard Bandits got not only well-adapted localizations that compromised the original translations with new material, but in-package feelies and deals that were quite worth taking a look at. I highly respect Vic Ireland and everyone he worked with at WD and now at Gaijinworks.
I was going to post the exact same thing... even further they included a space in the instruction manuals to let you know of further changes to the game during the localization, i always enjoyed/appreciated that...
 

Akuun

Looking for meaning in GAF
Nov 10, 2004
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Fate/Extra had a really great localization. The writing flowed very naturally, character personalities were consistent, and there was never any sense that something was lost in translation. It didn't feel translated at all.
 
Fun fact, I'm not really for swearing in games. I think it's a cheap shortcut to a place that can be attained in a more substantial, emotional way through careful writing, but in Arc II, there's the only "goddamn" I've ever used in a game. At the endscene, nothing else seemed strong enough to really comvey the emotion of what was happening. There might have been a better way, but after a number of tries over several months, I couldn't find it, so I broke my rule - once.
While I agree that swearing can sometimes be a shortcut (especially when someone is trying to make things "gritty") I feel like avoiding it wholesale can be just as much of a mistake. Yes, it might be used in place of more emotionally specific writing, but that can be just as true to life: Plenty of people don't have the faculties to express themselves accurately and at length, and for them swearing is the best approximation of their emotions that they can achieve. To me, at least, it follows that some characters in videogames would have the same shortcomings—if you want to call them that.
 
Oct 30, 2011
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Arc didn't feel like the kind of series that lent itself to wacky pop culture jokes and lots of jokes in general. I and II, especially, are pretty dark. So I was pretty much respecting the tone of the game by doing it the way I did. That's not to say there aren't jokes, puns, and lighthearted bits here and there, but it's dialed way back from the usual effort. The balance turned out pretty much just-right.

Fun fact, I'm not really for swearing in games. I think it's a cheap shortcut to a place that can be attained in a more substantial, emotional way through careful writing, but in Arc II, there's the only "goddamn" I've ever used in a game. At the endscene, nothing else seemed strong enough to really comvey the emotion of what was happening. There might have been a better way, but after a number of tries over several months, I couldn't find it, so I broke my rule - once.


Arc 1&2 are great. Two of my favorite games of all time.

Hey Vic, any chance of you getting back into the business doing something like Carpe Fulgar? Would really love to see what type of gems you could dig up and bring over via Steam.
 
Jul 21, 2004
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Arc 1&2 are great. Two of my favorite games of all time.

Hey Vic, any chance of you getting back into the business doing something like Carpe Fulgar? Would really love to see what type of gems you could dig up and bring over via Steam.
Our next games are on Sony, announcement and details forthcoming. These will actually see the light of day (unlike PS2 Goemon and the unannounced XBOX360 one). I believe they will make some people very happy for a couple very specific reasons.
 
Jul 21, 2004
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While I agree that swearing can sometimes be a shortcut (especially when someone is trying to make things "gritty") I feel like avoiding it wholesale can be just as much of a mistake. Yes, it might be used in place of more emotionally specific writing, but that can be just as true to life: Plenty of people don't have the faculties to express themselves accurately and at length, and for them swearing is the best approximation of their emotions that they can achieve. To me, at least, it follows that some characters in videogames would have the same shortcomings—if you want to call them that.
I can see that point, and I think there's a place for those characters/games, but in general they're not the kind of games I'm drawn to do anyway, so the conflict with characters that demand coarse language to accurately portray hasn't presented itself.
 
Our next games are on Sony, announcement and details forthcoming. These will actually see the light of day (unlike PS2 Goemon and the unannounced XBOX360 one). I believe they will make some people very happy for a couple very specific reasons.
You mean... a bonafide Gaijinworks release? :O

You best hype this up appropriately.
 
Jul 10, 2006
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Our next games are on Sony, announcement and details forthcoming. These will actually see the light of day (unlike PS2 Goemon and the unannounced XBOX360 one). I believe they will make some people very happy for a couple very specific reasons.
I'm expecting Tengai Makyou 4th Apocalypse. Don't let me down, Vic.
 
Sep 28, 2010
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I did Arc the Lad I, II, III, Arena for English as Arc the Lad Collection. It was a huge project that was originally supposed to be a tag team of me and another writer, but I had to fire him when Arc I was barely underway, so I ended up doing all the games personally. It's the series that gave me carpal tunnel - literally. There was a LOT of dialogue in that game and I had to write it in a very short amount of time, relatively speaking.

Glad you enjoyed it. Arc I is okay, but Arc II, especially, is really great. When you love the story and characters, it makes it easier to do the localization, and I *loved* the characters. The English release was a love letter to the Japanese versions I adored.
Thanks a lot Victor, I really appreciate what you guys did during those days, and while I couldn't afford most of those games (I lived overseas until my 20's) I had a friend who was a collector of anime/games and through him I awed at all the details included in the lunar games, you don't see those in retail anymore :( (loved Grandia too!)

I don't know if I can get Arc the Lad II for a reasonable price but if I do I will definitely will be looking forward your translation, best of wishes in your newer efforts and I really hope that we can get more smaller Japanese games over here in the states.
 
Mar 28, 2008
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This is making me want to play the Arc games now. The only one I've played is Twilight of the Spirits, which had some fun battles, but everything else was kind of forgettable.
 
Thanks a lot Victor, I really appreciate what you guys did during those days, and while I couldn't afford most of those games (I lived overseas until my 20's) I had a friend who was a collector of anime/games and through him I awed at all the details included in the lunar games, you don't see those in retail anymore :( (loved Grandia too!)

I don't know if I can get Arc the Lad II for a reasonable price but if I do I will definitely will be looking forward your translation, best of wishes in your newer efforts and I really hope that we can get more smaller Japanese games over here in the states.
It's on the PSN.


And the PS2 Arcs are supposed to be mediocre at best.
 
Jul 21, 2004
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I don't know if I can get Arc the Lad II for a reasonable price but if I do I will definitely will be looking forward your translation, best of wishes in your newer efforts and I really hope that we can get more smaller Japanese games over here in the states.
About $6 on PSN right now is definitely in the reasonable range. ;)
 
I'm going to toss out one many people wouldn't think of or agree with:

SFIV series.

The ability to have per character language, if that counts as part of the localization of the game.

The international feeling of SF2 back in the day was bolstered by the presence of accents and natural English where appropriate for the character.

Actually that reason is a complete lie. I put everyone in English and simply think the quality is great. I hate the mixed thing Tekken does. I just think more people would agree with me for the reason above.