Localization is a difficult process, and as players, all we see is the results. When we fall in love with a character, we only think to thank the game’s original creators and scenario writers and not the localization teams that made it possible to engage with them. In a panel at PAX South, translator Moet Takahashi and editor Eric Budensiek talked through the entire localization process for games at NISA.
This involved talking through how they had to change a reference to Japanese baseball teams to American football teams in Danganronpa V3, how they establish character voices and even the dull parts like counting Japanese characters. It’s a complex process and involves many steps that I doubt most fans would have even considered, but it’s all for the purpose of making sure fans playing the game in English can get the same level of enjoyment as the Japanese fans did.
The team also talked about their work on Touhou titles and how so much time is dedicated to researching into the fandom. As Budensiek states, due to the nature of how Touhou games are made, they have become filled with references to other games and its the localization team’s job to make sure new players understand the intent of these lines without taking out any original references.
NISA will soon be releasing The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III and they started off their panel by talking specifically about their process working on this title. Many fans are abrasive about NISA taking over since the previous titles were localized by XSEED Games. The translators allayed fears that they would be changing everything by describing their efforts to understand the previous team’s decisions and how they developed the characters’ personalities.
These sort of panels are valuable and as fans, we need to work to create an environment in which developers feel comfortable talking about their work so that we can learn more about how our favorite titles are created.