Localization Roundup #5


I always have small things to share that don’t really need dedicated articles. So I’ve started collecting them for these roundup updates!

1. Recent Image Hodgepodge

I collect so many pics during my research that I felt it’d be a shame not to share them from time to time. Here are some recent finds:

2. The Inside History of Sega’s Biggest Console Failure

There’s an incredibly detailed article about what went on behind the scenes of that weird Sega Genesis add-on before the Sega Saturn’s release. There’s also some discussion about the translation aspect that kept developers on their toes!

3. Translating and Localizing Final Fantasy XIV

Entertainment translation has changed a lot since I first began my career. One of the biggest changes is that entertainment is now more long-form, speed-oriented, and always being added to.

With anime, you now have to translate shows while they’re still being made – meaning you end up making translation choices that can bite you in the butt years later because no one knew where the story would eventually end up. And with games, you now have to think about DLC add-ons and always-expanding online worlds – things that can stretch out for years beyond the original release.

Here’s a short interview with the head of the English Final Fantasy XIV localization that touches on this topic and the modern challenges of translation vs. localization.

4. NIS America Shares Translation Stats and Details

It’s rare to see specific stats and numbers from translation/localization companies. NIS America recently shared some inside info, including how big game scripts are these days in comparison to novels.

This suddenly reminds me of that Trails in the Sky photo from a few years back:

5. That F’in Sale

A few years back a store in Osaka made worldwide headlines when it tried to combine the Japanese word fuku bukuro (lucky bags) with English. Oh, how I wish I had been there to get some of my own photos. I wonder what happened to the posters too – those would make lovely conversation pieces!

6. New Fan Translations!

There were some big fan translation releases during the last few weeks while I wasn’t looking!

The Cursed Treasure of Cleopatra (Famicom, English Translation)
Last Bible III (Super Famicom, English Translation)
Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon (Mega Drive/Genesis, English Translation)

7. Greatest Moments in Voice Acting

I loved Crispy Gamer’s old “Greatest Moments in Voice Acting” series and have wanted to share some of my favorites for a long time. Below are two games that involve very poor voice direction by their localization teams.

First is this tidbit from Mega Man 8:

And next is the infamous Chaos Wars! Apparently Sony required an English voice option for all Japanese-voiced games back then, so the localization director had his friends and family members do all the English voices:

Voice 'Acting' in Chaos Wars

Well, that’s all for this roundup. If you find anything that’d be a good fit for future roundup articles, let me know on Twitter or in the comments!

If you liked this, check out This be book bad translation, video games!, my book dedicated to game translation disasters from the 1970s until today!
  1. I just can’t tense my muscles at all.

    1. I know you’re having fun but could you stop a sec and tell me why I’m involved with this?

      1. I wanna believe that was an actual statement from the person they had voicing the lines, wondering how exactly they got involved with this train wreck 😛

  2. How about we equal Nintendo of America’s ridiculous censorship policies with bad English from video games back in the day? Besides, Nintendo of America’s game localization policies were just as retarded as the bad English we all know and remember.

    1. schrodinger's bear

      How about we don’t, because they aren’t.

    2. Actually, I do have some dedicated articles to NOA content changes planned for down the road actually. I even covered a bunch of the topics briefly in my EarthBound book!

  3. Forever laughing at how people continue to use Wheel Of Time for text lenght comparisons – now if only more people read it (seriously, our fandom is tiny).

    1. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it but that length does seem kind of daunting, yikes!

      1. Yeah, it’s good, sad that people keep thinking A Song Of Ice And Fire to be “cooloer” one, tho. As for the lenght, try skipping all the clothing descriptions, half of the nature ones, and all times where someone is talking paragraphs without any plot bearing, you’ll get like 40% less lenght, seriously.

  4. The “underwater mysteries” game is Aquanaut’s Holiday: Hidden Memories for the PS3. Lovely game, a favorite of mine. Sadly, the English version is now rare and painfully expensive.

    1. Thanks! I ran across it last year while working on my bad translation book but I can’t remember why exactly. For some reason I tucked it away in my brain as a Wii game afterward.

    2. What kind of game is it? I don’t know why, but that one screenshot and you praising it have made me pretty intrigued!

      1. It’s an undersea exploration game, fairly gentle – no death or any real threats to the player character, though it can be suspenseful or melancholy at times. Its story gets kinda trippy, e.g. mysterious voices speaking in your head, communicating with fish through sound patterns (the “twitter” of the screenshot), odd things happening to your minisub’s AI.

        If you’re curious enough to give it a watch-through, I did an LP of it some years back, and while it’s not my best work… I was constrained by YouTube’s old 10-minute time limit for much of it, and didn’t have the best video capture gear at the time… it’ll do in a pinch. My name on the comment here is linked to my YT channel, and AH:HM is in the playlists.

        (Apologies if this is too close to self-promotey, Mato; I just love to share the AquaHol.)

  5. If you want another amusingly poorly translated game, check out the classic arcade game Dragon Saber. Even the Japanese version of the game is fully in English, and the text is so broken it’s actually pretty hard to even understand what the game is trying to say. Amusingly the game got a port for the PC Engine, and while the English is still pretty bad there, it’s actually cleaned up slightly, with some of the worst typos and grammatical problems corrected.
    It’s a fun one.

  6. It’s always nice to hear from the Final Fantasy XIV localisation team. The localisation panel they did at PAX East was pretty great! (You can watch it at https://www.twitch.tv/videos/247743226?t= )
    I remember another interview too about a boss from the Crystal Tower raids in XIV. The boss was called Titan in Japanese, referencing a boss from Final Fantasy III. Since there was already another boss in XIV called Titan, the localisation team named him ‘Acheron’, after another enemy in Final Fantasy III. Skip forward a few months, however… The devs forgot about the usage of Acheron in the English translation and proceeded to put the actual enemy called Acheron in the next part of the raid. So the boss-formerly-known-as-Acheron became known as Phlegethon. They also adjusted some quest text:
    “…A giant of a man wielding a shimmering scimitar, you say? Yes, that will have been Phlegethon. Not Acheron. Phlegethon. He was a hero of the Allagan revolution.”
    All in all, I love how they managed to come up with a solution And turn it into a little inside joke.

  7. Hey, I recognize some of those screenshots! 😛 Man, there’s so much ridiculous English in WorldNeverland. Even its eShop screen is Engrishy. I know the online reviewer Jim Sterling, in one of his videoes, just read its eShop page for his opening bit. No context.

    That second screenshot is, I think, a good example of the dangers of using one generic handler for everything… or at least why you need to think of the phrasing for your generic handlers very carefully! That particular game has “events”, and that “Would you like to join?” textbox is the basic one that appears whenever there’s an event you can view. It makes sense for when the “event” is something like a wedding or a contest in an arena, but it sounds pretty odd when asking about a character’s death! Maybe a better phrasing would’ve been something like, “Would you like to view this event?”

  8. “it tried to combine the Japanese word fuku bukuro (lucky bags) with English.”

    That’s the official story, but nobody – not even Japanese people – buy it in the slightest. I sure don’t.

  9. I think it’s criminal that we only got the first Last Bible game while the rest stayed in Japan. I’m sure the fact bible being in the title was what prompted the name change to Revelations: Demon Slayer. I wonder if most people realize bible doesn’t necessarily mean what they think it does, despite the Megami Tensei series pretty much crapped all over the concept of the Christian interpretation of God.

  10. That “Greatest Moments in Voice Acting” show had a rarely-seen three-episode run on The Gameological Society under the name “The Great Performances”. Archived here: https://archive.org/details/yt-gameological

    1. Wow, I had no idea! Thanks for sharing!

  11. There are signs within Kirby: Star Allies, itself, that the ability to play as Kirby within a mode you’re not supposed to be able to play as him within to be an easter egg, rather than a glitch. Many just say it to be a glitch due to placeholder information such as his pause screen description. (One of the gimmicks of that mode is that each and every single character gets an entirely different description from the main mode, even if they didn’t have one before). There’s also the fact that certain mechanics don’t work the same for Kirby as it does within other modes.

    Signs include the fact that the game selects has an assigned level set for Kirby, himself (for the record, each and every single player character has level sets unique to them, making playthroughs with differing characters unique from each other) and the fact that the game treats completing with him accordingly (he does not appear among the credits crowd as with the other player characters). There’s also the fact that the so-called “glitch” exists in spite of the game already being patched. That could mean anything, but…