Krystallina gives her take on NIS America's lackluster translation of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, and exactly how it was pretty disastrous.

Ys and the ARt of Translation Maintenance

Have you heard about Pixel Earbuds? Although not the first device to do so, you put them on, and through the power of Google, you get a real-time translation of what people are saying. While these and others like the Waverly Labs’ version hold a lot of promise, we won’t know how accurate they are until people really get their hands on a set and try them out.

However, if you’re worried about awkward machine translations, then I have some sobering news for you: an actual Western publisher — one that has been established since 2003 —  somehow turned this location’s name:

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Crevice of the Archeozoic EraInto this:

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Archeozoic Big HoleIf you think it’s just a weird name, think again:

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Archeozoic Big HoleI’m not sure if that’s machine translation or someone as NIS America has a perverted sense of humor. I’m also not sure which one would make me feel better…

(Images from here.)

And yes, the irony of English being written right on the Japanese version is not lost.

The Ys Controversy

The Ys video games may not have the name recognition of Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, but a good number of the series have been translated into English. The Japanese developer, Nihon Falcom, doesn’t have an international division. So their games have been localized and published by several different companies including Konami, XSEED, and, most recently, NIS America. It’s this latest entry for the PlayStation 4 and Vita consoles that has caused a lot of commotion.

Besides the “big hole”, you can browse some of the complaints and examples here, here, here. Suffice to say, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana had some issues:

  • Incorrect names (“Mephorashmoo” for “Mephorashm”)
  • Swapped item descriptions (an SP boost food is really EXP boosting and vise-versa)
  • Awkward phrasing (“Try not to make any sound door when you close it.”)
  • Bad flow (explaining to a confused individual that a “medical student” is a “student who studies medicine”)

Some of the examples in the lists are arguable. The “…” trap line, for instance, could maybe show he’s currently examining it. The クルの実 is supposed to reference an item in a previous Ys game, but hey, even Square Enix can’t keep their own adaptations consistent. (Although the picture does look closer to a fruit than a nut, and the reading does sound very close to the Japanese term for walnut, hence Wall Nut.)

But not trying to figure out the source of foreign words when written in is katakana is bordering on lazy. Not even bothering to LOOK at the Japanese version that has English plastered all over is just plain dumb. Okay, if they didn’t find “Crevice of the Archeozoic Era” to be standard English, that’s one thing.

But to come up with “big hole”?

Was the big hole in somebody’s head?

That’s not to mention the utter fail of quality checking items. It makes a big difference to players whether a dish gives them an SP boost or an EXP boost. Nobody tested this game or double-checked the Japanese script?

But fans were expressing their concerns before they got their hands on a copy.

 

 

I haven’t played the game, but I’m pretty sure that Sahad isn’t an “it”.

 

I’m even more confident that this isn’t a vase. Well, at least they got rid of the “vase” in the name, but people still wonder what happened to the “jaws” part of the description. Yes, Japanese can be complicated with all the different readings for the same word, but isn’t that what playtesting and quality checking is supposed to be? Did someone think the party was going to fight a cold urn?

Even various reviews around the Internet reference the translation as one of the most significant lackluster parts in this otherwise solid game, but still others didn’t find it bad at all.

The blowback has been significant enough that the NIS America’s president/CEO issued a statement apologizing for the quality on Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. He promised “a new translator and editor go over the entire localization to fix grammatical errors, typos, inconsistencies, and also to take a fresh look at the dialog and characterizations. For the script, where necessary, we will re-translate and re-edit the game including updating voicework to reflect these changes”. The updated script will be available for free to download around the end of November.

The good news: NIS America is taking full responsibility for the quality and is taking large steps to correct this.

The bad news: Why wasn’t this done correctly in the first place? Obviously, customers who bought this game at or near release shouldn’t have to wait two and a half months to get a smooth and accurate script, especially when they have to download something that should have been programmed into the game directly. Until the revised version is launched, fans won’t know if the revised version is great either of course. Regardless, no doubt NIS America will have to spend more money doing corrections than if the game had a good localization in the first place.

If you look at some of the comments around the web, some people complain that NIS America is not known for their quality work. That is up to debate, but I don’t think Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is going to go far in shaking off that reputation.

Have you played Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana? From the examples you’ve seen, what do you think of the game’s localization? Did fans rightfully make a fuss? Does the whole incident make you more or less likely to buy a NIS America game? Are there any other games or media you wish would have been retranslated because the script was so bad?