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British English localisation in games


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This is a bit of an odd one, but it's been in the back of my mind since Animal Crossing Wild World. When a game's made, it usually gets localised for the major countries it's going to appear in, translating the language and localising the content to some degree. Britain is in an unusual situation where the US English localisation is usually close enough to British English that we essentially get the American version, idioms and all.

 

I mention Animal Crossing because it's a game that is built heavily around ordinary routines and social interactions, and in that case localisation is probably quite an interesting challenge. When Wild World came out, I was genuinely bewildered by some of the things the animals were telling me. "Hump day", for example, wasn't a slang for Wednesday I knew - the animals just seemed to insist that every Wednesday was for... humping? New Horizons is still an obviously-American localisation: Isabelle insists that the week starts on Sunday, for example. Most of the cultural references come across understandably enough, but there's a sense that you're existing on an island full of specifically North American animals. I wonder if that's the case of the other localisations - do Germans get a version of the game that's more heavily localised, or just a literal translation of the American version?

 

Of course there's a second degree of removal in Animal Crossing too, in that many of the game's original Japanese cultural features were left in the North American localisation, like the Nook store-closing song and the stamp rallies at the museum.

 

I don't have any particular point to make here, I just thought it was an interesting quirk of how games cross borders. Do any games get more specific British English localisations?

 

(Oh, and I just remembered: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_Quiz.)

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Wasn't Dragon Quest VIII a proper localisation? And ones subsequent? Dragon Quest Builders 2 had a lot of colloquialisms in which bordered on stereotypical but were definitely further into the region of understanding the context of such terms rather than just throwing Dick Van Dyke-esque nonsense in.

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Dragons quest was great for that recently too. It's odd that it's JRPGs, almost the last genre I'd expect to go for such effort. Although I think it's more for novelty accents rather than the Welsh character in ni no kuni would have an American equivalent of an accent, like a heavy Boston accent or something. 

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Ape Escape 2 was originally localised by Sony Europe. The UK version has quite an English flavour (a number of monkeys have puns you'd only get if you'd grown up watching British TV comedy) whilst keeping the original Japanese names of the main characters. It was released in the US at a later date, where they redid the voice acting, changed the main characters names to be more American (Hikaru became Jimmy), but strangely didn't change any of the monkey puns.

 

I don’t think many Americans would understand this pun for example:

 

 

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The Dragon Quest games in general are brilliant at this for some reason. 11 has a guy who is obviously, and very accurately, Glaswegian. The turns of phrase are spot on. They got the guy from Taggart to do the voice and everything. 

 

This is one of the main playable party members. I don't know why they did that but it's great. 

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On a more serious note it has always occurred to me that the kind of gammons who think the EU and random unstated immigrants are erasing our culture might want to glance instead at the fact english is now US English worldwide.

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22 minutes ago, deerokus said:

The Dragon Quest games in general are brilliant at this for some reason. 11 has a guy who is obviously, and very accurately, Glaswegian. The turns of phrase are spot on. They got the guy from Taggart to do the voice and everything. 

 

This is one of the main playable party members. I don't know why they did that but it's great. 

I bought, and played a lot of, DQVIII entirely off the back of the localisation and art. Didn't get on with the old school RPG gameplay but it was so fantastic having this very, very British filter over the experience rather than an American one.

 

I think it might be tied to Square setting up shop in Europe in the early 00s and wanting to support the EU market a bit more than the US since RPGs did so well on this side of the pond. This was back when Japan, for some indecipherable reason, decided European gamers were all hardcore masochists who thought Japanese games were too easy, so all the MGS games had EU-exclusive ultra hard difficulty modes and they added new bosses and upped difficulty in FF games before release.

 

I think the next Persona should do a UK localisation, and go full Byker Grove/ Grange Hill.

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1 hour ago, Ran said:

Not sure this is entirely what you were asking for, but I've been playing Ni No Kuni and though I knew the main fairy companion had a welsh accent in the english translation I am pretty blown away/amused at how deep they've gone with his various exclamations and terminology. 

 

Knickers!

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Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower were all localised by Nintendo UK because Nintendo US wasn’t interested in releasing them. I think one of the lead woman characters in The Last Story has a Sheffield accent.

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7 minutes ago, Spacehost said:

I think it might be tied to Square setting up shop in Europe in the early 00s and wanting to support the EU market a bit more than the US since RPGs did so well on this side of the pond.

 

I'm not sure that's the explanation as DQVIII didn't release until 2006. My only thoughts as to why is that it was a decision made on trying to keep the game humourous. Or perhaps the Japanese has lots of regional dialects already and it was easier to get a large range through a UK voiceover studio. The Japanese versions of Dragon Quest don't have voice acting at all so it's a really strange situation whereby I could see a future when the English voices become the default version worldwide.

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28 minutes ago, Dig Dug said:

The two Another Code games on DS and Wii were localised with British English the most apparent of which is the use of ‘Mum’.

 

It does occur this is one of those things that's got harder with modern games.  Back then you could do a lot of the leg work with a find and replace on US English text.

 

Now it's all voiced.

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Final Fantasy XIV is pretty good. It's written in a kind of flowery medieval English but it's decently done. It definitely feels like it's been translated by Brits rather than Americans. Even better, they sacked off the entire voice cast after the first release (who were mostly Americans doing British accents really badly) and replaced them all with actual Brits for all the expansions so far. It's been a huge improvement. I think maybe the success of things like Game of Thrones has meant that more people can tell when a "British" accent isn't quite right.

 

On a slightly different note, I do absolutely love the Phoenix Wright games, where the translators took the (entirely sensible at the time) decision on the first game to relocate the game to the US, only to be absolutely shafted by every subsequent game in the series getting more and more obviously culturally Japanese. To be fair they have absolutely rolled with it and the weird US-Japanese hybrid the games have ended up with is a huge part of their charm.

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49 minutes ago, Garwoofoo said:

Final Fantasy XIV is pretty good. It's written in a kind of flowery medieval English but it's decently done. It definitely feels like it's been translated by Brits rather than Americans. Even better, they sacked off the entire voice cast after the first release (who were mostly Americans doing British accents really badly) and replaced them all with actual Brits for all the expansions so far. It's been a huge improvement. I think maybe the success of things like Game of Thrones has meant that more people can tell when a "British" accent isn't quite right.

 

On a slightly different note, I do absolutely love the Phoenix Wright games, where the translators took the (entirely sensible at the time) decision on the first game to relocate the game to the US, only to be absolutely shafted by every subsequent game in the series getting more and more obviously culturally Japanese. To be fair they have absolutely rolled with it and the weird US-Japanese hybrid the games have ended up with is a huge part of their charm.

There's loads of swearing in FFXIV too 

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4 hours ago, Alex W. said:

North American localisation, like the Nook store-closing song and the stamp rallies at the museum.


we have stamp rallies here too. I’ve just never heard them called that.

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Not quite the same thing, but I seem to recall Forbidden Siren being localised by Sony London and seemingly using the same voice actors they used for the Getaway. So you had this odd mix of pseudo-photorealistic Japanese characters, in a game very much set in Japan, speaking like characters from Eastenders or the Archers.

 

I don't know why it was so odd, because any dub into a foreign language will by definition be incongruous, but for some reason the voices Sony used seemed extremely, specifically English in a way that was utterly out of sync with the look of the characters. It might just be as simple as being used to games dubbed into American English, but for some reason it was impossible to take the game seriously when a cockney-accented Japanese man turns up.

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