In December 2019, I asked Twitter followers for their favorite English game translations/localizations from 2010 to 2019, whether official or fan-made. It was just a quick, informal survey with only about 150 responses, but I thought I’d share the results here for fun.
After tallying everything up, there were three clear winners that stood out from the rest. I’ve listed them below, along with a few others that did pretty well.
The Yakuza series premiered on the PS2 back in the 2000s, but Yakuza 0, remakes of Yakuza 1 through Yakuza 5, and Yakuza 6 were all released in the latter half of the 2010s.
These new Yakuza releases feature brand-new English scripts that take a different localization approach than before. Instead of glossing over or avoiding the Japanese-ness of the series (and sometimes removing content entirely), the new localizations embrace the Japanese-ness while balancing it with entertaining English writing.
Yakuza 0 is genuinely one of my favorite localizations of all time, and I’ve even written a few articles about its localization here.
Dragon Quest XI was released for the PlayStation 4 and Windows in 2018, and a Switch version was released a year later.
I haven’t played this game myself, but everything I’ve read online about Dragon Quest XI’s localization has been incredibly, overwhelmingly positive.
From what I can tell, the localization gives unique local accents and dialects to every region in the game – for example, everyone who lives in the Japanese-esque town of Hotto speaks in haiku, and mermaids from the underwater kingdom of Nautica speak in rhyme. The result is a script that helps the game feel large and full of life.
I think this refers to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, because a moon fell on the original Final Fantasy XIV and wrecked everything. This MMORPG was released on several platforms in 2013, and it’s still going strong with multiple expansion packs and millions of dedicated players.
Because it’s such a massive online RPG, Final Fantasy XIV is constantly growing and changing. I’m sure this makes the game’s localization a unique and interesting challenge, as it too must grow and change to keep up with the Japanese game. Plus the sheer amount of never-ending text is probably mind-boggling.
There were a bunch of game translations that weren’t cited as often as the above three entries, but were still noteworthy enough to include here:
Note that I’ve lumped the Super Robot Wars games together because it’s hard to keep track of them all. Some were fan translations, while others were official English translations included in some Asia-exclusive releases.
These games didn’t break into the Top 4, but they did receive multiple mentions:
- Great Ace Attorney (2019, fan translation)
- Kid Icarus Uprising (2012)
- Trails of Cold Steel Trilogy (2015+)
- 428: Shibuya Scramble (2018)
- AI: The Somnium Files (2019)
- Danganronpa Series (2010+)
- Final Fantasy XV (2016)
- Dragon Quest Builders 2 (2019)
- Magical Vacation (2016, fan translation)
- Dark Souls Series (2011+)
- Tengai Makyo Zero (2017, fan translation)
- Trials of Mana (2019 version)
I haven’t played many of the games on this list, but it sounds like I should give them a try. I’d love to do some more live Wanderbar-based translation comparisons sometime, so maybe I’ll try that with some of these someday.
Again, this was just a super-informal survey and doesn’t really mean much. And since it’s based on my own Twitter followers, it’s certainly not representative of gamers in general. Still, I hope this was a fun look at something you might not have thought about before. And if you think anything else deserves to be be on this list, share in the comments!
If you like seeing what people think about Japanese/English stuff, check out these opinion articles too!