How a Major JRPG Wound Up Getting Totally Re-Written Months After Release


#1

When a game ships out the door, it’s very common to see patches to address various issues players have. It’s quite another to see a company admit they screwed up a foundational element, and commit to re-doing it. But that’s exactly what happened when NIS America announced JRPG Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana would get a complete re-retranslation, after weeks of critics and fans roasting its localization.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/7xwzmb/how-a-major-jrpg-wound-up-getting-totally-re-written-months-after-release

#2

Translation will always be a tricky thing and 2017 has started to show what weak points Atlus and NIS has despite years in doing it. At least they are redesigning their system with the coming years so hopes that they will do better.


#3

Sort of has me wishing they’d do the same for the extremely dry Persona 5, whose localization was a major step down for Atlus after 3 & 4.


#4

Games are getting bigger and localization studios are not.


#5

I’m someone who will defend most of the “bad localizations” people complain about in the past few years (esp Persona 5, Fire Emblem: Fates), but some of the examples in this article are just… just…

rfLbv


#6

I’m a supporter of “Big Hole”. It sounds very ominous as a big hole should be.


#7

A shame, really, since this is the best game in the series in a long time.

I don’t know the Japanese version of FE Fates well enough to say much about its localization, but I’ve seen enough of P5’s localization to say those quotation marks are unwarranted for it. Like, a lot of it just seems like old anime fansub levels of stiff dialogue. I seriously do not get how anyone can defend that.


#8

I was wondering how much coverage this story would get and I’m super happy to see @patrick.klepek give it some attention. For me personally, this is the biggest mess of the year. I say that as a huge fan of JRPGs, Ys, and Falcom as a developer.

XSEED’s work on Falcom games is the gold standard for localization right now. Their dialogue doesn’t even seem like it was translated, it reads so naturally in English. They worked with Falcom on Trails of Cold Steel 2(my GOTY last year) to make smart artistic and technical changes for the English version. Ys VIII is about as far in the opposite direction as you can get. It’s robotic, unnatural, and every character’s “voice” sounds exactly the same. Day one fansub level of “we wrote the meaning of the words and didn’t spend any time smoothing them out to sound right in English.”

I wasn’t happy NISA got the game in the first place and my worries turned out to be well placed. It’s a good thing they’re taking the effort to make it right but I just can’t work up the effort to really care about it. I optimistically gave them the benefit of the doubt, bought the game at $60, and spent 50 hours with it. It’s a fantastic game that could have been one of the best of the year if every non-playable scene wasn’t so grating. Horribly disappointing.


#9

NISA = Not Interested in Subcontractor Accountability


#10

I have yet to play VIII yet, but Memories of Celceta was freaking fantastic and one of my favourite games of the past 5 years.

I’ve seen enough of the Japanese P5 literal translation to see that the game isn’t great, but I’d never call it bad. Maybe I just go used to the stiffer translations of the PS2 era growing up. Maybe it’s because I continue to see worse in games I play today. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t make me recoil in horror, so it’s better than most fan translations I play or terrible subs I have to sit through when my friends watch anime.

Probably a mix of them all.

While I haven’t played Cold Steel 2 yet (still making my way through the Trails in the Sky trilogy first), I wholeheartedly agree with this. There is no better localization studio out there than XSEED.


#11

“It’s very important to us that we deliver on our promises and we deliver a high-product."


#12

I have, let’s say, some big issues with XSEED’s staff and how they handle criticism of their localizations, but otherwise they do tend to have the best localizations of the companies in this space.

NISA has sorta gotten increasingly worse about this. I find the fact that they’re retranslating this encouraging, but this is only one game and it was a big release that got a lot of attention due to a combination of that and how significant the issues are. Plenty of their other games are also translated badly, but in subtler ways that just seem slightly wonky to people (like me) without understanding of Japanese and that need someone familiar with the JP release to point out what the actual issues are. Danganronpa V3, for example, had 4 different translator+editor teams that split the game by character which is a pretty bad sign of the game being rushed to begin with, and apparently has some weird character choices differing from the original Japanese (Gonta supposedly didn’t speak like a caveman?) along with mistranslations and other such things.

Meanwhile you have Aksys. I’ve actually been buying much less games released by them than I used to for no particular reason, but they’ve been putting out a decent number of otome games the past few years (with a ton on the way next year), and I’ve been playing some of them lately. While the translation does not seem outright bad, and I’ve enjoyed playing them a ton, they seem to be rushed and marred by a lack of a final QA pass. It’s always deflating to be waiting for a game for months, have the game ship and be on its way to you, and start seeing forum posts and tweets talking about how the number of weird errors, characters using the default name instead of input ones, inconsistencies with how characters talk to and address each other across routes, outright mistranslations, etc. and that’s what happened for me with Collar x Malice when that came out earlier this year. I was able to enjoy the game a lot still, but the issues were definitely noticeable and seemed to be largely avoidable, but weren’t given the chance to be fixed. They will very likely never be patched due to the cost of doing so, and the only hope for improving these games is that in some cases they have PS4 ports which might have edited/redone translations.

All of this just makes me sad as someone who plays a lot of games that were not originally written in English and who is very interested in the process of localization. This game getting an improved translation is an exception, but translations needing to be improved are unfortunately not. For most games, there will only ever be one translation, and if it’s a game you were really looking forward to and it wasn’t handled well, that’s it. You will forever have an inferior game to the original Japanese release, and the more you like the game, the more that hurts.

And frustratingly, people do not care about this, even when told about it, because most of the time it’s serviceable enough and they got the game they wanted to play. So we’re stuck with what we get, because there is absolutely no pressure to do better due to players being complacent with whatever gets released, as long as it doesn’t produce any fun memes like “Big Hole”. And there needs to be that pressure, especially as in cases like the Aksys games I mentioned the blame is clearly less on their localization team and more on the JP side of things pressuring them to get the games out fast without time to do more QA. Without criticism, there will be nothing that they can present as evidence to get more time to work with for future games, and so on. At least when it comes to those otome games, the players are usually pretty good about both caring about and listing/presenting errors in a calm though critical manner, which is very encouraging and could potentially mean improvements in the future.

But, in general, that’s not going to happen because people are far more likely to get outright enraged about the slightest bit of localization (often legitimately good localization!) that they perceive as censorship, while eating up translations with far more serious issues without the slightest bit of criticism, and that’s so disappointing.


#13

You mean the same Xseed that isn’t consistent between games, has unnecessarily added or altered lines badly to even their better localizations (lookin’ at you, chapter four of Trails in the Sky SC), and is run by garbage people who think GorblerGate wasn’t as bad as people say?


#14

Aksys is putting out the enhanced version of Tokyo Xanadu, another Falcom game, this month and have apparently gone through and redone a lot of the localization for it. They put out the basic version on Vita earlier this year and it was riddled with small grammatical errors and even some stuff left untranslated. Like you said, Aksys just seems to have trouble with QA for whatever reason whether it’s being rushed or not having good processes in place. Really curious to see how this new version of TX turns out.

Huh, do you have any stuff that expounds on this? I know they have some strange employees who I vehemently disagree with(Patrick also wrote about Tom’s, uh, meltdown over a game earlier this year) but I hadn’t heard anything about some of them being GG apologists.

Also I’d be curious to know what the issues with SC were. I know that was a nightmare project for them and when I played it I definitely felt there were a few sections that seemed a bit worse than their usual super high standard for the series.


#15

I probably am thinking more of Tom than anyone else, since he was the one employee who posted on their official forums back when I was posting there, but it did seem like none of the higher-ups did anything to reign him in, so it really wouldn’t surprise me if much of the company is also soft on GG.

As for SC, chapter four has two instances of weird line changes that caught my attention. The first is when Zin sides with Agate that Schera should get some rest, with the Japanese line just having him suggest that she’s probably more exhausted than they are due to all she’s done, while the English line adds in him saying that “it has nothing to do with gender,” which comes off as way more defensive than the Japanese; the second is when Estelle is trapped in the illusion of her past, where Lena says in the English version that Estelle can still express her femininity through her “boyish” hobbies, whereas the Japanese has the much better, "It’s fine to let her do what she wants."
Some might argue that these are minor compared to the mistakes in FC’s original localization, but they do mar SC’s.