In what almost feels like a mirror universe, there’s actually a Japanese site a lot like Legends of Localization that’s run by a professional English->Japanese game translator – if you know Japanese, you can check it out here!
Anyway, on said site was an article about how the recent Tomb Raider game was the laughingstock of Japanese gamers for a short time, thanks to some early Japanese screenshots. Here’s an example:
Even if you don’t know Japanese, you can probably see that there’s something not quite right here – this isn’t a line in the game! It’s just scene description text! This bit of text says something roughly like:
<Gasps in awe>
And this one just says:
This came across as so unusual and unexpected that Japanese gamers laughed at these and all the other screenshots with comments like:
THIS IS STRAIGHT OFF OF THE SCRIPT
Why would you explain what’s going on in game subtitles
It’s for deaf people, duh
A thoughtful translation for those with Aspergers
And here are a few more screenshots:
Being a professional subtitle translator I’m used to seeing this sort of thing in closed captions… but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done in games before, so it does seem a bit unusual. DO any games use these sort of subtitles? I’d love to know.
In the end, though, I think the final Japanese release took this extra text out, so all the online mockery was a temporary thing. Still, it’s an interesting phenomenon, and I wonder if anything similar has happened over here, where screenshots from an in-progress translation unintentionally caused a lot of laughs and bad press. If anyone knows of any instances, let me know in the comments!
UPDATE: Apparently the English release includes these too? I haven’t played it so I wouldn’t know, but that makes things even more interesting!