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Author Topic: What's wrong with official translations?  (Read 23019 times)

tagengo

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What's wrong with official translations?
« on: July 27, 2012, 10:49:50 am »
Many people seem to really dislike a number of official translations (i.e. North American/European versions) of games.

Some of these are because the translation is poor (the English is bad), but other times it's in reaction to the changes that have bean made.


Which types of changes (compared to the original) in a game do you think are bad?
Are any changes in games good, in your opinion? If so what?
Are some things OK to change, while others are not?

Would love to hear everyone's opinion on this!  :)
<<NOTE: I'm conducting research on video game translations - I might use some answers (anonymously) in my research, so please only answer my posts if this is OK. More information can be found at https://docs.google.com/a/sheffield.ac.uk/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDRIbGx2aE9hZnhQM2Ff

DarknessSavior

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2012, 11:12:32 am »
I think it's generally pretty universal. If the translation is bad (the English is poorly written, things are mistranslated), people won't like it. If there's censorship (pub -> cafe, getting rid of religious references or graphics, removal of images of scantily clad women, etc), people will usually have issues with it (but not necessarily enough to dislike a game - see Chrono Trigger or Castlevania III).

Or in the case of romhackers, they'll sometimes have issue with the way a game is programmed. The game uses an awful font (Terranigma), most of the names of items and whatnot have to be cut off because of lazy programming (just about any RPG ever).

For example, I hate the official translation of ActRaiser 2 for two reasons. One, the translation was heavily censored. It's supposed to be about the seven deadly sins, but they removed most of that content. Two, the game was actually made HARDER for English-speaking audiences. Which basically makes the game nigh-unplayable.

There's exceptions to all of these. For example, Demon's Crest was made harder when it was brought over. But I still love it. I dislike the translation and the difficulty increase. But I still love the game.

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tagengo

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2012, 12:27:55 pm »
Are the changes in games only for censorship?

What do think about changes/deletions intended to make a games less 'foreign' (if there are such instances)?
<<NOTE: I'm conducting research on video game translations - I might use some answers (anonymously) in my research, so please only answer my posts if this is OK. More information can be found at https://docs.google.com/a/sheffield.ac.uk/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDRIbGx2aE9hZnhQM2Ff

DarknessSavior

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2012, 01:38:12 pm »
Are the changes in games only for censorship?

What do think about changes/deletions intended to make a games less 'foreign' (if there are such instances)?
Not necessarily. Like the difficulty changes aren't censoring anything. Or in...say, Breath of Fire II. They changed character names (Rin Pu -> Katt, for example). It wasn't censoring anything, that was just a poor attempt at localizing.

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Ryusui

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2012, 02:39:09 pm »
The name changes aren't an issue. The simple fact is, the entire translation is a clusterbomb. The whole thing is a mechanical conversion from Japanese, and it's a stilted, awkward mess. It's supposed to be a lighthearted fantasy romp with a crunchy center of drama, but with the bizarre, slightly unhinged feel to all the character dialogue, it feels more like a trip through a medieval Twin Peaks.

Good thing I stepped in when I did. :3
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DarknessSavior

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2012, 03:09:44 pm »
The name changes aren't an issue. The simple fact is, the entire translation is a clusterbomb. The whole thing is a mechanical conversion from Japanese, and it's a stilted, awkward mess. It's supposed to be a lighthearted fantasy romp with a crunchy center of drama, but with the bizarre, slightly unhinged feel to all the character dialogue, it feels more like a trip through a medieval Twin Peaks.

Good thing I stepped in when I did. :3
Oh, I wasn't implying that the name changes were the ONLY thing wrong with it. I was just using it as an example of stupid name changes. I don't know who thought "Katt" was a good idea. That'd have been like calling Bow/Boche "Bark" or "Dogg". >_>

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Spooniest

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2012, 03:32:13 pm »
calling Bow/Boche "Bark" or "Dogg". >_>

~DS

I was under the impression that his name (in the butchered US release) was "Bow" like when a dog says "Bow wow." Which is stupid.

But Bosch is a cool sounding name. Really, that BoFII Translation is just essential.
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KingMike

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2012, 03:58:44 pm »
He goes bow-wow when he's not shooting things with his bows.
Someone probably thought the double pun was genious.
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Gideon Zhi

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2012, 04:06:55 pm »
Most official translations - especially these days - are fine. The kind of people who have a problem with them are the kind who don't know any better. I myself was guilty of this 10-15 years ago! There was a link I saw some time ago, I'll see if I can dig it out over the next few hours, but it basically said something to the effect that it's the dumb people who think they're smart don't know enough to know that they're smart, but it takes a certain kind of smarts to know your own inadequacies. I've gained some of that over the years.

In the 16-bit era standards for localization were much, much lower. Some of the most common complaints come at the expense of Ted Woolsey's stuff, where liberties were taken or incidental stuff gotten wrong, but given both the time and corporate constraints he was working under, he did a marvelous job. They're good even compared to other localizations of the time, and I'd argue that they still hold up today, despite a few unimportant things (item names, monster names) he might have gotten wrong. Most localizations of the time were of reasonable quality, though. The further back you go, the lower the standards and consequently the lower the quality.

Of course, there are exceptions. Breath of Fire 2's been brought up, and yes, it is a *huge* mess. Another example is Assault Suits Valken, whose localization (as "Cybernator") removed literally half of the events where characters spoke, as well as (under corporate concern, I'm sure) a scene in the final level where the enemy president commits suicide. I'm sure the reason the speaking events were removed was that Konami corporate thought that they interfered with the gameplay (as they came up during the action, while the player goes through the levels, and they do not *halt* the action in the way all of the text that remains does) but it still removes a lot of character (and, uh, actual characters) from the story.

As far as changes to make a game less "foreign", it depends on the change. If it alters the gameplay balance, then it's probably not a good thing. (See: changing yen to dollars in Persona 1 for PS1.) Otherwise? I suppose it depends on how large the change is. If you're talking about completely altering the setting and the characters? Probably not a good thing. If it's more along fixing jokes that people wouldn't get? By all means, go ahead.

LostTemplar

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2012, 04:20:43 pm »
Recently I've been playing a lot of Xenoblade in Japanese, but sometimes peeked at an English guide on GameFAQs. What I instantly noticed is that a lot - if not all - names were changed during localization. This is one of the things that is often frowned upon by fan boys, but I think it was quite adequate most of the times. Foreign names made up by Japanese writers usually just sound stupid to Western ears (especially in this game, where there are literally hundreds). It's interesting that the translators even tried to keep the initial letter of each name and to make it at least sound similar to the Japanese original, but not too weird. I haven't seen that much else of the translation, but it at least seems like it was done very well.

Ryusui

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2012, 05:24:46 pm »
One recurring issue is that sometimes people will complain about "name changes" that are simply different translations/romanizations. It's at its most annoying when the "original" "Japanese" "translation" is wrong and the "butchered" official English name is right. Yes, I'm still bitter from the bad old days of the Yu-Gi-Oh! fandom, but things are getting better. Even if I do sometimes run into someone who stubbornly clings to "Exceed" instead of "Xyz" (the original is エクシーズ).

Again: name changes aren't intrinsically a bad thing. Neither is Westernization, really. It's just a matter of how ham-handed the localization as a whole is. Phoenix Wright is not the same animal as your typical 4Kids dub.

Spoiler:
I'll confess that, should I ever make it that far, I do intend to use some of the names 4Kids came up with for Fighting Foodons in my Bistro Recipe translation. "Fried Ricer," "Omelette," and "Applegator" spring immediately to mind. Also "Glutton" for the villain rather than "Bishocker," a pun on 美食家. Seriously thinking of "King Gorge" for their leader rather than "Don Cook." Probably going to stick with the Japanese names for the main cast, mind, but I'll admit I'm also considering changing the title screen to the Fighting Foodons logo, just for recognition's sake. Broken clocks, and all that...
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DarknessSavior

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2012, 05:44:48 pm »
Phoenix Wright is actually an example of localization that I absolutely love. Just as an example, in Japanese the titular character is "Naruhodou Ryuuichi". That's a pun on なるほど (roughly "Oh, I see!" or "That's right!") with another word that contains the kanji for "dragon". Phoenix Wright is slightly changed, but incredibly genius as far as localization is concerned.

All of the names in that series are like that.

~DS
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geishaboy

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2012, 08:46:45 pm »
The whole idea of people complaining about translations doesn't make much sense. If someone complains that the English translation doesn't match or do justice to the Japanese original, then that would mean that they are proficient enough in Japanese to understand the Japanese version in it's original state, meaning that they could play the Japanese version just fine, meaning that they would have no need for an English translation in the first place.

I think a lot of what Gideon said holds true. I think a lot of people out there like to dismiss official translations because they get a kick out of convincing themselves that they are more knowledgeable about the Japanese language than professional translators with relevant qualifications and years of experience. It also makes me chuckle when people talk about the poor writing in translated games, especially the ones from yester-year. I hate to break it you, but the originals weren't exactly Shakespeare.

I can understand people getting pissy about censorship and other major modifications made during the localization process, but it is an unavoidable reality of the translation industry. It happens with a lot of things, not only games.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2012, 12:56:42 pm by geishaboy »

BRPXQZME

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2012, 11:37:59 pm »
The whole idea of people complaining about translations doesn't make much sense. If someone complains that the English translation doesn't match or do justice to the Japanese original, then that would mean that they are proficient enough in Japanese to understand the Japanese version in it's original state, meaning that they could play the Japanese version just fine, meaning that they would have no need for an English translation in the first place.
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DarknessSavior

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2012, 12:35:15 pm »
The whole idea of people complaining about translations doesn't make much sense. If someone complains that the English translation doesn't match or do justice to the Japanese original, then that would mean that they are proficient enough in Japanese to understand the Japanese version in it's original state, meaning that they could play the Japanese version just fine, meaning that they would have no need for an English translation in the first place.

I think a lot of what Gideon said holds true. I think a lot of people out there like to dismiss official translations because they get a kick out of convincing themselves that they are more knowledgeable about the Japanese language than professional translators with relevant qualifications and years of experience. It also makes me chuckle when people talk about the poor writing in English translated games, especially the ones from yester-year. hate to break it you, but the originals weren't exactly Shakespeare.

I can understand people getting pissy about censorship and other major modifications made during the localization process, but it is an unavoidable reality of the translation industry. It happens with a lot of things, not only games.
I agree with most of what you said here, except a few things.

The people who are pointing out translation errors and censorship and whatnot, who could just play the Japanese versions? We're not fluent in Japanese, for one. I doubt very many of us fan translators have JLPT 1 certifications and are able to read all of the kanji and know all of the vocabulary in a Japanese release. I for example could probably get a JLPT 2, and for example, was able to play through Gensou Suikoden with no problems. But did I understand 100% of it? Nope. And I wouldn't be able to without hours upon hours of work looking up words and kanji I don't know (granted, this is actually something I want to do in the future, but it's a good example). So wanting an English-language version that isn't censored or doesn't have screwed up translations isn't a bad thing.

Also, you're forgetting an entire group of people who are being misinformed or losing out on parts of those games: the people who don't speak a lick of Japanese. Now, I know there's a whole group of people out there who couldn't give a damn. But there are numerous people (many of whom are here at RHDN) who appreciate the efforts of people who do re-translations for those reasons.

Are there people out there who are idiots, throwing out official translations just because they're the official ones? Yes. Just like they're people who will always say that subtitled versions of anime are better than dubbed ones, despite the quality of English dubs improving many times over in the last decade or so. Go watch the dub of Death Note, for example. They did an amazing job there. But there are people who will still say that you should never watch it, because the Japanese dub is so much better. I call bullshit there. Like you said, the original isn't exactly Shakespeare.

Go look at the DS translation of Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions or Final Fantasy XII. Those are amazing official translations. You'll be hard pressed to find people saying anything bad about them because they're amazing. And like Gideon said, there are definitely some 16-bit translations that while not word-for-word from the Japanese text are still amazing works of art in their own right. But that doesn't mean that some translations don't deserve to be cut down and replaced with better ones.

~DS
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Ryusui

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2012, 04:31:16 pm »
In short: the people who complain the most about translations are the ones who understand the least.

Japanese knowledge is unnecessary and in fact counterproductive to the Way of the Weeaboo, which is fueled by ignorance: it doesn't matter whether the translation is "good," only that it is "accurate," which in this context means "keeping true to the source material as closely as possible by using awkward grammar and leaving as many words untranslated as possible." They don't know a lick of Japanese; they just know what they want, and what they want is "whatever doesn't look like heathen English."
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DarknessSavior

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2012, 04:33:17 pm »
Yep.

This is why I've taken the Deuce approach to translations. I like to try and maintain a balance between saying-what-the-Japanese-script-says and making-sure-it-sounds-good-in-English. If that balance is impossible, I tend to lean towards the latter.

~DS
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LostTemplar

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2012, 04:54:28 pm »
In short: the people who complain the most about translations are the ones who understand the least.

True.

Only slightly related, but also aggravating as hell: when people complain that the German (I guess it's the same with other languages as well) translation allegedly is inaccurate because it differs from the English translation, although both have been directly translated from Japanese. I hate that. People are so ignorant; don't speak a word of Japanese but think they can judge a translation's quality. Often, they don't even know that Japanese was the source. One example: Final Fantasy IX. One of the characters in the theater group in the beginning speaks Kansai-ben in the original, which in the English version was just ignored and rendered with standard English, while the German translator used a Bavarian dialect for this character. Both are valid approaches, and using a dialect can be questioned in other ways, but saying that it's stupid just because it's not in the English version is just that, stupid. Even in the German Wikipedia article for the game that I just checked they state that the translator came up with the idea of using a dialect. That's what you get when just about everyone can edit articles...

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2012, 06:01:01 pm »
It's true people who don't know Japanese, like me, can't judge the quality of the translation.
HOWEVER the can juge the quality of the final script. For example, even though English is my 2nd language and that I don't know a word of Japanese (well technically a few words but that's all), I can tell BOF2 was not greatly translated because a good part of the English script makes few sense to me and was obviously too simple to fit the situation.

Phoenix Wright games were well translated in French, despite the fact Justice for All had some errors, the first game and Trials & Tribulations were perfectly tranlated.
But then Capcom and/or Nintendo decided NOT to translate the sequel,  Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth at all, which is why I am pissed about official translations.

tagengo

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Re: What's wrong with official translations?
« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2012, 06:21:49 am »
Only slightly related, but also aggravating as hell: when people complain that the German (I guess it's the same with other languages as well) translation allegedly is inaccurate because it differs from the English translation, although both have been directly translated from Japanese.

Hi LT,

Sorry to bombard you with questions, but this is a really interesting point to me.  :)

Do you think people hold all the official versions of a game as equally 'canon', or is the source game (which is usually Japanese, right?) seen as 'different' or more valid somehow?

Is the English version seen as more valid by players?

You said that some judge the German on its differences from the English version, does this happen a lot with German players? Why do you think it may be?

How has any of this changed the way you or others translate games?

Does anyone know if anything like this happens among players in other languages? Or something different?
<<NOTE: I'm conducting research on video game translations - I might use some answers (anonymously) in my research, so please only answer my posts if this is OK. More information can be found at https://docs.google.com/a/sheffield.ac.uk/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDRIbGx2aE9hZnhQM2Ff