Localization: Was WD too free with EB?

For discussion of Lunar: Eternal Blue, the original game for the Sega CD
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Shiva Indis
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Localization: Was WD too free with EB?

Postby Shiva Indis » Fri Feb 24, 2006 8:05 am

I dug up the text of that controversial 1995 Gamefan review today, and I got to thinking about how outraged I was about it back then. How could they carry on so negatively about a game I love so much??

And how my opinion has changed.

I wonder what people around here think about it. Was Working Designs was out of control with all the toilet humor and references to real life products and people? How about the questionable translation choices (jp: Order of Althena -> en: Althena's Cult)?
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Postby Alunissage » Fri Feb 24, 2006 8:13 am

Well, clearly they regretted Althena's Cult, as they replaced it with Althena's Chosen. I imagine Cult was selected to emphasize the not-so-goodness of the group; Order sounds more neutral. Chosen was a good one, though, pointing up the elitism found in Pentagulia.

I remember one of the letters asking about translation and WD responding with, among other things, "...In other words, the Clinton joke is so gone."

I do think that EB is the weakest of the four as far as out-of-place refs and humor are concerned, and I found it obtrusive when I played.

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Postby Imperial Knight » Fri Feb 24, 2006 8:42 am

I can't comment too specifically since I haven't played the Sega CD version (on account of never having owned a Sega CD). For what it's worth, while I consider much criticism of WD in general to be overblown, I do tend to agree with the criticism of their use of real world references. While I don't have much of a problem with cases where the reference is implicit (e.g. having some NPC use a well-known catchphrase) I really think it comes across as jarring and anachronistic when the reference is explicit (e.g. mentioning the name of a famous person). Luckily they seemed to have gotten better in that regard in their later years.

I never read GameFan so I didn't follow the controversy at the time, but I did become aware of it later after I got into Lunar fandom.

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Postby Kizyr » Fri Feb 24, 2006 2:43 pm

They weren't too free. The entire deal was overblown by folks who get a rise out of trashing games. There were, what, two, maybe three NPC references (and townsfolk we're talkin' about) to direct real-world things throughout the game? Some of the other humor was a little crass, but I never thought that it ended up overblown. And so long as it remained out of the main storyline, it never felt like it jarred me out of the game.

That being said, the other translation things WD did I actually really like. Translation is an art, and a lot of amateur translators (and even folks who've been doing it for ages) forget this, and try to use translations that convey the exact word-for-word meaning without considering that it might sound inaccurate in English. The goal of a translation is not to convey exactly what the original dialogue says, but rather to convey what the dialogue would say had it been written in English.

Althena's Cult, for example, is a fine translation, considering how "cultish" the Order of Althena really was. The same way, the transliteration of all the names was much better: Hiro, Ronfar, and Lucia sound much better than Hiero, Rong-Fa, and Lucier. Aside from the understandable umbrage towards the pop-culture references (most of which is, again, overblown), most of the folks who criticize WD's translation job have absolutely no basis for their argument. KF
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Postby Alunissage » Fri Feb 24, 2006 7:03 pm

I'm trying to remember what outdated current-events refs I saw in EB, since I played it four years after it came out, but can only recall two, the Clinton joke and Lorena Bobbitt. I do remember some overdone potty humor.

As far as other aspects of the localization go, I thought Ruby's voice was really, really annoying and the songs were done in a very uninteresting manner. (Maybe my bias against Jenny Stigile is showing there. :P) Other things I'm pretty neutral about or fine with.

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Postby Kizyr » Fri Feb 24, 2006 9:55 pm

Alunissage wrote:I'm trying to remember what outdated current-events refs I saw in EB, since I played it four years after it came out, but can only recall two, the Clinton joke and Lorena Bobbitt. I do remember some overdone potty humor.

As far as other aspects of the localization go, I thought Ruby's voice was really, really annoying and the songs were done in a very uninteresting manner. (Maybe my bias against Jenny Stigile is showing there. :P) Other things I'm pretty neutral about or fine with.


That makes three references, then, if you include the kid in Zulan saying he wants to be like Hiro or "Eddie Vedder. I haven't really made up my mind yet."

I prefer the English versions to the Japanese. The Japanese vocals are way too high-pitched for my tastes, and the localization lyrics-wise was really good. I like the English version of Eternal Blue only slightly better than the Japanese one, but I like the English version of Lucia's song much, much better. KF
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Postby Shiva Indis » Fri Feb 24, 2006 10:36 pm

There are quite a few more than 3 references. I've been browsing a script dump of EB and compliling a list of pop culture references - it's by no means complete, and draws from the dialogue in Larpa, Nota, Horam, Zabak and part of Vane. Thus far I've found...

People: Fabio, Bill Clinton (probably the best remembered), Bob Vila, Rush Limbaugh, Twiggy

Entertainment: made-for-TV movies, Barney (the purple dinosaur)

Products: G.I. Joe, Eggo Waffles

Places: Seattle (in conjunction with the grunge scene), the Betty Ford Clinic

All are mentioned by name, or at least part of a name (Rush Limbaugh was "That 'Rush' guy", for example).

Much of Working Designs' approach to localization can be justified very reasonably by Kizyr's claim that the goal of a translation is to convey what the dialogue would say had it been written in English. However, the Order -> Cult issue exceeds the scope of that arguement since it involves the addition of a negative connotation where there wasn't one before.

While the name 'Althena's Cult' describes the organization better, it always bothered me because it breaks the subterfuge. The organization is working for the resurrection of a dark god right under the noses of the everyday people (and even some of its own members). How is it that people treat them as little more than a nuisance when they call themselves a cult?
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Postby Alunissage » Fri Feb 24, 2006 11:36 pm

Oh, I didn't mean to say that I thought there were only three. I was just illustrating that they didn't stick out that much to me if that's all that came to mind. I only played it through once, though, plus parts of it again when my sister played it. I have the script dump as well but haven't looked through it out of some feeling of not wanting to spoil things for my eventual replay, which is pretty dumb.

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Postby phyco126 » Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:12 am

This pretty much sums up my feelings about game translations. I personally found WD's translations nice and never even thought they where out of line (actually, I was more excited everytime they mentioned something I knew.)

http://loserz.scribblekid.org/index.php?id=121
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Postby Alunissage » Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:55 am

I think one of the biggest chuckles I had was this.

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Postby phyco126 » Sat Feb 25, 2006 5:23 am

Hehe, so the wheaties reference was in TSS as well eh? I knew it was in SSSC but I didn't know it was in TSS as well :) Though, the suntea reference in TSS still cracks me up.
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Postby Shiva Indis » Sat Feb 25, 2006 5:52 pm

The sun tea one was funny. :D Lunar 1 kept that stuff in hand.

One of the things I love about Lunar is how most of the NPCs change what they have to say after major events. There is so much text that when I read through the script, I wonder if I've ever even read it in-game. When I find references, it's often like seeing them for the first time. (Besides, I was 16 or so when I first played, and I couldn't identify most of the references in the first place.)

The ones I definitely remembered, on the other hand, are Fabio (since it's early in the game), Clinton and Bob Vila. Lorena Bobbit sounds familliar though... does anyone remember where that was?
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Postby Alunissage » Sat Feb 25, 2006 7:28 pm

Yeah, that's in the Neo-Vane mines...one of the NPCs mentions her friend "Loraina" in connection with doing something violent. I forget the exact wording.

The main stuff I found in the TSS script dump that I hadn't seen was the text for trying to sell all the unsellable items in each town. There was a lot more of it than I expected. I guess I'd only ever tried to sell the Prison Key.

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Postby BraveKing » Thu Mar 16, 2006 3:40 am

I saw no problem with the localization whatsoever. really a random villager make s a clinton joke, whoopdy do. It's dosent take anything away fromt eh story and it was funny as hell
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Postby phyco126 » Thu Mar 16, 2006 4:17 am

Well, I think the problem is more so with people's sense of humor. It varies. One's joke can be another's offense. I may find the translation as humorous, and you might find the translation a slap in the face. That's what makes the job difficult. You try to make it where everyone's happy, but there will always be the group of people who find it distastful, offensive, and a complete slap to the face because it dishonors whatever.
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Postby BraveKing » Thu Mar 16, 2006 4:19 am

Then those people have the option of not playing it if it's offensive to them instead of complaining about it and ruining it for those who like
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Postby Alunissage » Thu Mar 16, 2006 4:39 am

You're missing the point. Immersion is part of the nature of the role-playing game, and it's hard to form a coherent impression of what the world you're playing in is like when there are references that break that. I mostly wasn't bothered by them myself but I can see where people are coming from who are. It's like having the knight in shiny armor wearing sneakers.

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Postby phyco126 » Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:08 am

Eh, the sneakers wouldn't bother me. If they where where called knike' it would even be better :P I mean, I like immersion and all, but sometimes I find it nice to see an outside reference. I mean, look at people who got immersed in Everquest. They ended up divorced, jobless, and out on the streets. I would like a little thing to keep me reminded that it's a game.
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Postby BraveKing » Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:42 am

The games does a good enough job of emerssing me with the charecters already. :P

Besides one of the things I liked about Lunar was how it didnt take itself to seriously. And the humour and one liners were really in charecter too.
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Postby Kizyr » Thu Mar 16, 2006 6:37 am

phyco126 wrote:Eh, the sneakers wouldn't bother me. If they where where called knike' it would even be better :P I mean, I like immersion and all, but sometimes I find it nice to see an outside reference. I mean, look at people who got immersed in Everquest. They ended up divorced, jobless, and out on the streets. I would like a little thing to keep me reminded that it's a game.


Look, anything is bad if it's taken to extreme. Immersion can be a lot of fun, and make any experience enjoyable. Immersion taken to the extreme is bad.

Saying that immersion is bad by pointing at people addicted to Everquest is like saying swimming is bad by pointing at people who've drowned. KF
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