Animal Crossing: New Horizons Localizer Explains the Origins of Infamous Sea Bass Joke

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Localizer Explains the Origins of Infamous Sea Bass Joke

Rob Heiret says "it's been humbling" to see New Horizons take off, but he's also a bit tired of the sea bass.

Imagine you're tasked with writing fun dialogue for a game that'll be played by millions on a daily basis. Next, imagine that the game's sales actually far exceed expectations, and that due to a terrifying global pandemic, many are taking solace in that game's atmosphere. That's what Nintendo employee Rob Heiret is experiencing with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and he'd like you to know he's as tired of those C+ sea bass as the rest of us are.

Heiret shared his thoughts on the runaway success of New Horizons in a thread on Twitter, during which he revealed that he both wrote the sea bass pun and that it changed after a round of joke workshopping. At first, it was a bit more negative.

"It was originally 'I caught a sea bass! Well...maybe a C- bass...[']," Heiret writes. "And when we were workshopping the fish jokes, someone pointed out that, as a joke people were going to see many, many times, generally along with disappointment they didn't catch something better, maybe it would be better to spin it positive. Make it a C+ instead."

Heiret points to the "C-" to "C+" tweak as an example of the many ways the Animal Crossing localization team tried to make New Horizons "the most positive, comforting, funny game" possible, along with the dev team. Still, Heiret says the sea bass gag would work better verbally, and in the replies to his thread he also explains the letter grading system to a player who'd never encountered it before. It's not perfect, but "that fish has sailed," says Heiret.

The point of peeling back the curtain on this one joke and the New Horizons localization process as a whole, for Heiret, is to reflect on the huge impact of the game during the COVID-19 pandemic. "During the localization of #AnimalCrossingNewHorizions, we joked repeatedly that we were building the next 5-10 years' worth of memes," says Heiret. "We knew the game would be big, but we obviously couldn't have imagined the real-world circumstances of its release." He adds that "it's been humbling to see this thing [the team] worked on become so important to people, in part because of the weird accident of history that it was released during this scary-ass time."

New Horizons' localizers definitely deserve some well-earned recognition, and besides, it's not as though they had a say in how often sea bass spawn only to ruin our hopes of landing a bigger, better fish. That said, Heiret does take credit for New Horizons' dreadful Manila clam gag as well, and that sin might be a bit harder to forgive.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Mathew Olson


Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

In other news

PS4 Days of Play Sale Returns With Death Stranding, Dreams, and Nioh 2 Savings

It'll basically lead right up to the release of The Last of Us Part 2.

Factorio Dev Gets $39,600 From G2A as a Make-Good For Stolen Key Sales

G2A says it will continue to pay devs for key chargeback losses "if they are able to prove they were illegitimate."

Kerbal Space Program 2 Delayed to Fall 2021 Due to "Unique Challenges" From COVID-19

The new studio behind the sequel says it'll keep fans updated on its progress.

You may also like

Starting Screen | Starting Screen | Could Super Mario Galaxy 3 Ever Hope to Top the First Two Games?

As we celebrate Super Mario Galaxy 2's 10th anniversary, we reflect on how Nintendo threw everything it had into its amazing sequel.

Axe of the Blood God: The Rich RPG Legacy of the Game Boy Advance

From Golden Sun to Fire Emblem, the GBA was a brilliant handheld console for RPG fans.

What's Your Favorite Rare Game?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | With the recent anniversary for Perfect Dark, it's time to figure out what's your favorite Rare game.

Will COVID-19 Mark a Permanent Sea Change for Gaming?

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Executives and industry figures take a deep breath before the next wave of new announcements to speculate on what the pandemic leaves in its wake.