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On Localization (Harmony of the Translation)

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I was pretty much raised by this game. This probably explains a lot of things, the least of which being my taste in game localization.

To quote someone quoting someone else (thanks to Colony Drop’s twitter for the link):

“’Translations are like wives: the faithful ones are not beautiful, and the beautiful ones are not faithful.’”

Truth! As illustrated above (just pretend like I have a translated screen of the original Japanese for comparison), Lunar: Silver Star Story‘s English translation by Working Designs included converting a whole village from a quiet home of normal “Welcome, adventurer!” NPCs to a veritable breeding ground of hillbillies with exaggerated American South accents. And it was good. Though the primary goal of localization is indeed to covey the same feeling of the original to a different audience, in this case, the change had almost nothing to do with preserving that feeling; in fact, I assume that it was just added to enhance the entertainment value of the game for the new audience. Some might not appreciate this, but I think that where translators find it appropriate do this in a game, they should. There’s no harm in it as long as the change doesn’t affect the original producer’s vision. (In the Lunar: SSS‘s’ cases, though WD’s translation was often witty or even downright immature–jokes about IUDs come to mind–the humor never encroached on the main story or turned the plot into a comedy. That’s what the Boat Song was for, after all.)

Anyways, I could seriously just post Lunar screens from now on, and the quality of this blog’s posts would skyrocket (from 0 to 11). On that note (and again quoting someone quoting someone else):

‘… XSeed was still weighing its options regarding the translation in LUNAR’s upcoming PSP port. After a complex series of coin tosses and white board drawings, the company has decided to forge onward with its own script rather than use the one Working Designs did for the game’s PlayStation release. In related news, Lunar: Silver Star Harmony will be released in Japan this November, and some vague time in 2010 in North America. This writer hopes the line, “All dreams are real unless you dream they’re not,” is axed from Luna’s song. Fuck that line.’

– (great active NeoGaf thread on the matter quoting RPGLand)

Working Designs translation or no, I’m still excited for Lunar: Harmony of the Silver Star, if a little nervous–yes, because of the new translation (and who is handling it). The last/first non-WD Lunar game to be translated, Lunar Legend (a GBA remake), is not a great comparison and it’s probably unreasonable to compare it to its 32-bit cousins, but we all know how that turned out. (Thanks, Ubisoft.)

tl; dr Lunar is awesome and raised my personal bar for game localization so high that few have ever come close to matching it, and it wouldn’t have been so good had WD not strayed so far from its original run-of-the-mill JRPG script. Don’t f this up like you did half of the PSP’s library, XSEED. This is my childhood we’re talking about here.

Written by mellytan

2009/11/29 at 09:45

Posted in language, videogames

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