It's a lot of work to translate a non-English game into English -- but it's disappointing to fans when said English translation deviates too significantly from the source material.
This is the message received loud and clear by Focus Home Interactive, publishers of Spiders Studio's sci-fi role-playing game Mars War Logs. In a press release issued today, Luc Heninger, director of production at Focus Home Interactive, acknowledged that the localization from French to English of the game was not what it could be and, in a somewhat surprising move, announced that the game has been completely rewritten and revoiced in order to provide an experience closer to the intentions of the original French writers.
"Mars [War Logs] contains a vast amount of dialog, even by RPG standards," said Heninger. "The plot has numerous strands and the dialog often has many variants to mirror the hero's changes in reputation. The tight deadlines between the game's release dates meant that the initial English translation lacked depth and contained a number of errors; it was then sent to the recording studio, making the job of the actors extremely difficult."
Heninger and the rest of the team at Focus were so embarrassed by the poor-quality localization that they took the decision to halt the submission process of the proposed Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network releases of the new game, instead taking the time to rewrite the game text and even rerecord the actors with the new material.
"All these problems will be fixed in the console version," said Heninger, referring to the new September 2013 release date of the XBLA and PSN versions of the game. "An update is now available for players with the PC game, and we have also incorporated the new audio in the PC versions on the various download sites."
Focus posted a video on YouTube showing the first seven minutes of the newly-translated game -- perhaps any of you reading this who have played it can comment on whether or not it's an improvement?
Heninger's comments are rare to see in the modern game industry -- it's a genuine acknowledgement that mistakes were made, and that steps have been taken to rectify them. It's honestly almost unheard of to see a localization of a non-English game receive such treatment post-release -- more often than not, if a game has a poor translation, you're stuck with it for all time.
Hopefully Focus Home Interactive's handling of this situation will set a good precedent for other publishers putting out subpar English translations -- and raise the expectations of a community of consumers who are all too often forced to put up with bare-bones hack job localizations.