Final Fantasy II for the Super NES is one of my all-time favorite games. I remember often wondering what the Japanese version of the game was like – back then I didn’t even realize it was known as Final Fantasy IV in Japan! But now that I’m older and am a professional translator and localizer, I can go back and compare the two versions of the game.
So let’s take a look at the Japanese Final Fantasy IV and the North American Final Fantasy II and see how they differ! We’ll also take a look at the localization process for the game and see what worked, what didn’t work, and why.
While we’re at it, we’ll also take a look at Final Fantasy IV Easy Type, which was a simplified Japanese version of the game for players who were new to RPGs. The differences between these three versions should be interesting!
From time to time we’ll also look at some of the later translations of the game, including:
- The PlayStation version, to see how the second official translation tried to improve in some spots but failed in others
- The J2E fan translation patch, to take a closer look at the inner workings of fan translations and see the pros and cons of such projects, as well as the problems they tend to face
- The GBA translation, to see how the third official translation tried to improve even further over the previous two
- And sometimes we’ll look at the DS translation and PSP translation, to see how modern game localization compares to game localization in 1991
This is going to be a lot of work (and a lot of reading!) so it’ll take some time to finish it all. I’ll be updating this site periodically with new sections and revisions to old sections, so check back every once in a while.
Unlike other Legends of Localization projects I’ve done, this Final Fantasy IV one is much more in-depth and looks at even the most insignificant lines of text. I didn’t intend it to be that way originally, it just sort of turned out that way. Eventually I’ll make a summary page that outlines the biggest and most interesting changes, similar to what I did with my EarthBound comparison.
Anyway, you know how when you explain a joke to someone it makes it completely not funny at all? Well, the same sort thing happens when explaining the nuance differences between translated text and source language text – it makes the differences sound bigger and more dramatic than they really are. So although we’ll be taking a really detailed look at a lot of text in the game, that’s not to say that every line is a travesty of translation or anything like that.
My hope, though, is that by going into this level of detail it’ll show how much work goes into video game script writing and video game translation. And maybe it’ll give Final Fantasy fans some interesting stuff to read too!