A few weeks ago, I spoke to long-time Final Fantasy producer Yoshinori Kitase, and the conversation turned to the topic of localization. He asked: What do players look for in the English-language version of a Japanese game like Lightning Returns? What makes a good localization?
I offered to put the question forward to the USgamer community, and he promised to read your responses and offer his own reply in turn. It turns out you guys had a lot to say, so it's taken a while for the translators to relay your comments to him. But yesterday I got word that he (as well as Lightning Returns director Motomu Toriyama) had read through them all and, true to his word, sent a message back in response. Rather than leaving his remaks buried at the bottom of a weeks-old article, we're reposting them here.
Yoshinori Kitase, producer, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII:
Hello, this is Yoshinori Kitase of Square Enix.
I read through the article as well as the comments from the readers and fans. Since we were given such a great opportunity, I would like to share my thoughts with you all.
There were two points that I found particularly interesting.
First, I’m surprised that you (the readers) know the Square Enix games very well (perhaps even more than we do!). Your analysis, which included not only information on the localization quality but the specific names of the people who worked on the translation, was extremely valuable. Sometimes we get fixated on the sales and review scores for other internal titles, so the feedback was especially helpful. Nonetheless, I was reminded once again that one of the best ways to improve the quality is to reflect on our past success within the company. I’m also very glad to hear that the overall localization quality of our titles has generally improved.
The second point I thought that was interesting is that we don’t have to be completely accurate to the original Japanese. As long as the overall direction does not deviate, it’s better to make the necessary adjustments in order to have the English sound natural. This also came up in my earlier conversation with Jeremy.
I actually had a discussion with the localization team at the Square Enix Tokyo Studio, and they too have two different ways to go about doing this. One way is to translate the original Japanese script as closely as possible and raise the quality of the English translation while doing so. The other way is to make bold modifications as needed as long as the gist of it matches up. The method varies depending on the characteristics of the original title and the timing in which the [translation] team is formed at the time. However, in the case of the Final Fantasy XIII series, we leaned towards the former approach. Although the latter is more challenging, we would like do our best to incorporate it into our development in the future, upon receiving this feedback.
Thank you to the readers and fans for providing honest feedback that we couldn’t have received elsewhere.
Lastly, I’d also like to thank USgamer for providing us with this opportunity.
Yoshinori Kitase, Producer
Motomu Toriyama, director, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII:
Hello, this is Motomu Toriyama of Square Enix.
I’m very thankful that there was a serious and thoughtful discussion about the localization of Final Fantasy, and that there were many valuable comments that were posted on the article.
With the increasing quality of graphics, we’ve always encountered a great challenge in the Final Fantasy XIII series to accurately depict the story of the people living in a never-before-seen fantasy world. This is because with each installment, the worlds would become more and more unique. It even came to a point where I wished I could control these unique characters through Paradigm Shift!
Moving forward, we will think about the methods of crafting expressions and characters that can be easier to understand and relatable at the same time. We will also make an effort to retain the edgy and fresh appeal throughout the localization process, and will continue to take on the challenge to create a brand-new Final Fantasy world.
We appreciate your continued support.
Motomu Toriyama, Director
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