「Localization Decisions For Literal Dummies」 Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky

Great game, terrible localization

Alright, I love the crap out of the Ate­lier series. Old school JRPG game­play with adorable char­ac­ters designed by awe­some Japan­ese artists such as Mel and Hidari, and alche­my man­age­ment with some minor VN ele­ments thrown in here and there? I’m game, def­i­nite­ly bet­ter than your annu­al soul­less first-per­son shoot­er series. And I total­ly appre­ci­ate the fact that more and more of the games are get­ting local­ized and that it’s becom­ing a trend. But holy shit, even though the local­iza­tion’s been get­ting bet­ter ever since Koei Tec­mo took over from NISA, it’s not real­ly say­ing much because the qual­i­ty con­trol still leaves a lot to be desired. It’s bear­able for most of the games, but a lot more notice­able with Ate­lier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky, the game being rid­dled with mis­trans­la­tions, bad typog­ra­phy, and incon­sis­ten­cies with pre­vi­ous games.

Too much text to fit, apparently

There are many instances of text over­flow­ing the text box­es. Every­thing lit­er­al­ly might as well be a bunch of float­ing sub­ti­tles if you’re going to ruin Gust’s pret­ty graph­i­cal assets by neglect­ing prop­er typog­ra­phy. Once you’re lenient about cross­ing the bor­der­line of non-uni­for­mi­ty such as this, you’re pret­ty much jus­ti­fy­ing bull­shit like entire para­graphs escap­ing the divine sac­ri­lege in video games known as the text box.

You can play good cop and argue that Japan­ese has a more com­pact writ­ing sys­tem com­pared to Eng­lish, thus “explain­ing” why these trans­la­tions end­ed up being too big for the text box­es, but they could have lit­er­al­ly played around with dif­fer­ent type­faces, changed up the spac­ing between the glyphs, or sized the text dif­fer­ent­ly to get bet­ter results across the globe. Let’s com­pare one of Logy’s Eng­lish field dia­logues with its Japan­ese equiv­a­lent.

The right size

Japan­ese ver­sion

HUGE-ASS TEXT

Eng­lish ver­sion

As you can see, this:

よし、いろいろ採れたみたいだな。
楽なのはいいけど、頼り過ぎないでむこう

…does­n’t put space in jeop­ardy any less than this:

Alright, we’ve gath­ered quite a lot.
I still should­n’t ask too much from every­one, though

The dif­fer­ence is that the Japan­ese ver­sion used an appro­pri­ate font size and prop­er spac­ing, and the result looks real­ly clean. Just look at the Eng­lish ver­sion. For its own pur­pos­es, it’s too freakin’ huge, for no rea­son what­so­ev­er. It’s as if they just chose a basic west­ern type­face but neglect­ed to alter the spac­ing between the bor­der and text from the Japan­ese ver­sion. The results are messy, to say the least. It’s real­ly lazy, and real­ly under­mines any love and care they had for the project if they had any at all.

As a side note, I love the type­face that the Japan­ese Ate­lier games uses, it has a very hand­writ­ten feel to it. In fact, a lot of man­ga-styled fan­ta­sy JRPGs styl­ize their text beau­ti­ful­ly to suit their themes, while the Eng­lish local­iza­tions opt to use default type­faces you can find on any com­put­er instead. Like Ari­al or some shit. I’m not going to rail on them for it, but it is dis­ap­point­ing to note. At least they nev­er use Com­ic Sans.

Type inconsistencies

Notice how this screen­shot with Awin’s field dia­logue retains the Japan­ese ver­sion’s 3‑dot lead­ers (···) instead of the
typ­i­cal triple-peri­od glyph (…) that is actu­al­ly used every­where else in the game. I have no idea what
hap­pened there.

Slags

Oh boy, let’s hunt for some Slags!

Piccolo is not amused

Wait, so Slags aren’t the prob­lem, but slugs? Low­er­case and all? The exca­va­tion team’s being hin­dered by fuck­ing pri­mor­dial Namekians, seri­ous­ly?

Lord Slug

#kil­litwith­fire

The trans­la­tion is rid­dled with typos and errors all around, which only serves to bewil­der and con­fuse the play­er. Like, how much lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion can a local­iza­tion team pos­si­bly have that results in… well, that, and more. Where was the fuck­ing edi­tor and why the fuck was he/she paid? I would love to get paid doing noth­ing. Man, fuck that noise!

Slug silli­ness aside, quite a few quests are mis­trans­lat­ed to the point where you end up shoot­ing for the goal, for exam­ple say craft­ing a cer­tain mate­r­i­al, only to real­ize that mate­r­i­al they told you to craft does­n’t exist and you go bat­shit insane try­ing to fig­ure out why you can’t com­plete the quest. It’s asi­nine and does­n’t need to hap­pen if they took their time play-test­ing and proof­read­ing in the first place.

KAEPORA GAEBORA

Every time you come back from gath­er­ing. It’s actu­al­ly sup­posed to say “View items before plac­ing into the con­tain­er?” Great fuck­ing job, play tester.

Then there comes the actu­al alche­my. The game­play itself is as fun as always, but the new local­ized terms are real­ly fuck­ing stu­pid and con­fus­ing. There’s the pow­er of items, which was for­mer­ly known as “Qual­i­ty” in the pre­vi­ous local­ized Ate­lier games, which is renamed to “Effect” in this local­iza­tion. Alright, I’d pre­fer it to be con­sis­tent with the past games, but what­ev­er, not that much of big deal, am I right? Well, there’s still an entire­ly dif­fer­ent “Effect” attribute that refers to the abil­i­ty slots you can alchem­ize your items with depend­ing on how you play around with the ele­men­tal gauge. Oh wait, there’s more, “effect” in this game can also just refer to how much damage/heal an item dish­es out (i.e. a Bomb or Heal­ing Salve), which is deter­mined by the Qual­i­ty Effect gauge and item prop­er­ties.

C’mon, is it that hard to give them sep­a­rate names? Why the extra incon­ve­nience? The prop­er­ty descrip­tions aren’t very con­sis­tent either, and it can get extreme­ly con­fus­ing when­ev­er you’re try­ing to cre­ate an item with a very spe­cif­ic out­come in mind.

Look at that randomly uncapitalized r in regen

Then there are the S/M/L descrip­tors for how large of an effect a prop­er­ty has on an item (i.e. Dam­age L). In the pre­vi­ous local­iza­tions, S has meant always meant Small, M has always meant Medi­um, and L has always meant Large. But this time around, they opt­ed with an entire­ly fresh trans­la­tion instead of going with what they already fuck­ing had and set as a famil­iar­i­ty. For ref­er­ence, in the Japan­ese ver­sions, S = 弱 (Weak), M = 中 (Mid), L = 強 (Strong). The re-trans­la­tions are L for… Light, M for Mod­er­ate, a S for… Strong.

M is the same, but now L and S are flipped around, which is ter­ri­bly mis­lead­ing even if you’re not a vet­er­an fan of this series. It would be a dif­fer­ent sto­ry if they chose to go with W for “Weak” and S for “Strong”, but no, they go for Strong and Light. STRONG AND LIGHT. Those are bare­ly fuck­ing antonyms! How is a reg­u­lar per­son sup­pose to per­ceive L and S as Light and Strong from just the ini­tials? Any nor­mal per­son would think “Large and Small”, espe­cial­ly with an M thrown in there (you’d think “Medi­um”). It’s like shop­ping for clothes and read­ing the let­ters for sizes — you don’t go think­ing “Hmmm, an S! Man, I sure want to buy this strong shirt”. I mean, what were they think­ing?! Oh, well, they prob­a­bly weren’t. It’s as if they were tak­ing point­ers from Bandai Nam­co Amer­i­ca. There was no rea­son to change some­thing that was­n’t bro­ken.

(Note: I was curi­ous about the Eng­lish dub, so I briefly switched over to that audio option. From what I gath­ered, there are pieces of miss­ing voice act­ing and at least one instance where Mar­i­on’s voice did­n’t match what she was say­ing in the text. Well, I don’t like the Eng­lish dub any­way, so it per­son­al­ly kind of feels like a “meh, what­ev­er” deal, but objec­tive­ly that’s pret­ty ter­ri­ble in terms of a video game dub.)

With all that said and done, go out and get this install­ment of the Ate­lier Dusk series any­way (or the Plus ver­sion). The game itself con­tains no cen­sor­ship, is still very pol­ished and a lot of fun, which over­all out­weighs all of the cons of yet anoth­er unpol­ished local­iza­tion and trans­la­tion made for lit­er­al dum­mies. Until next time.

4 thoughts on “「Localization Decisions For Literal Dummies」 Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky

  1. This local­iza­tion rant makes me real­ized that I still haven’t fin­ished Escha and Logy since that gone by the way­side when I start­ed play­ing Ayesha Plus and Shal­lie in Japan­ese. Still, I heard that the local­iza­tion for Escha and Logy had a lot of issues and Shal­lie too (and it rein­tro­duced a game break­ing bug that was fixed in the Japan­ese ver­sion as well). It’s prob­a­bly a rea­son why I play games most­ly in Japan­ese nowa­days aside from being a good prac­tice aside from the sil­ly cen­sor­ship (espe­cial­ly with Nin­ten­do games).

    Which reminds me, I still have to start Ate­lier Sophie and there is Ate­lier Shal­lie Plus that I pre­ordered… Yep, it will be a while before I fin­ish my video game back­log.

    1. @chikorita157: The Shal­lie local­iza­tion is pret­ty spot­ty here and there, but it’s def­i­nite­ly bet­ter than the Escha and Logy local­iza­tion, and I’m pret­ty sure the bug’s been patched. The only local­iza­tion that rivals Escha and Logy is the PS3 ver­sion of Ayesha where it has all of Escha and Logy’s ter­rib­ad TL and typog­ra­phy prob­lems with no dual audio as a sav­ing grace. The Arland local­iza­tions weren’t per­fect, espe­cial­ly with Rorona orig­i­nal­ly being done by NISA, but the qual­i­ty con­trol was so much bet­ter com­pared to the Dusk series.

      I pret­ty much sup­port the Ate­lier local­iza­tions as long as there’s no cen­sor­ship and they keep the Japan­ese voic­es. They’re pret­ty good about that (aside from Roron­a’s age bump which was all NISA, and Dusk lack­ing Japan­ese voic­es which they acknowl­edge was a big mis­take). I’m look­ing for­ward to Sophie. If it hap­pens to nev­er come over here, I’ll just import it no prob­lem. But that’s when I’ll get a PS4 to play Plat­inum Stars. lol

  2. You also missed how text in item/monster descrip­tions is often mis­aligned, bla­tant typos in cat­e­gories, ran­dom mon­ster names aren’t cap­i­tal­ized, and, oh yeah, how the prompt that you see lit­er­al­ly every time you return to the work­shop is com­plete­ly mis­trans­lat­ed and means not quite the oppo­site of what it’s ask­ing, but pret­ty damn close.

    Maybe they fixed some of that in Plus, but con­sid­er­ing that they actu­al­ly intro­duced even MORE errors to Ayesha Plus, I doubt it.
    http://i.imgur.com/ehNYMEW.jpg

    1. @Butts: Actu­al­ly updat­ed the post with the con­tain­er prompt when I got back from work because I just remem­bered it. Man, that alone is a giant red flag indi­cat­ing that no one actu­al­ly test­ed the damned game.

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