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  Perspicacity  
Alex Wollenschlaeger - July 31 '01- 2:00 Eastern Standard Time

So, this is what the inside of Q&A looks like. Not bad, not bad at all.

Hey everyone, and thanks for coming to today's edition of RPGamer's interrogation session. I'll be your host for the day. You might have seen my name (yes, that is my real last name) attached to a couple of news stories over the last month. I'm not one for narcissistic expositions, so I'll rather let my comments speak for me. I mean, do you really care whether or not I am a world-class scuba diver (I'm not) or originally a resident of the Dark Continent (I was)? No, didn't think so.

In the words of many a man more fierce than I; Let's get it on!

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Serendipity

Hey Dagon,

Okay, so I was walking around in a local K-Mart a couple days ago (in the videogames section of course) and looking at all the shiny new PS2 games I couldn't get. Then, all of a sudden, my eyes look down and OH MY GOD!, an unopened, new, fresh, *mint* copy of Final Fantasy Tactics lay there. I calmed myself, for I have been searching for a new copy of FFT for years now. I peered closer just to make sure it wasn't just my eyes, and it wasn't. Then the price caught my attention. On it wasn't $59.99, or $49.99, or even $39.99...they were selling it for the unrealistic price of $20.00!

So, I ask myself, what would cause them to do such a thing? Well, the clerk said it was because the game had been there for so long. I, however, believe it was because they knew, or rather, think, that FFT was coming as a Greatest Hits title. And, if it is, hell, I got the original at the same price! So hah! Either way, I'm happy. The End.

What do you think?

Sephore

Dagon:
What do I think? Since I never got a chance to play FFT when it first came out, I'm ecstatic that I'm going to be able to, and not have to pay a ton for it. I recently popped my TRPG cherry, with Vanguard Bandits, and I'm eager to try out another one with non-mech-based characters. With Saiyuki and Hoshigami coming out in the next couple months, it's actually better that there aren't any PS2 RPGs yet.

On a side note, one thing I don't get about the Greatest Hits re-release (which should be in stores on Tuesday) is that some folks who bought it first time around are having a snit. They seem to think that Square has a personal vendetta against them, since their "rare" copies are now worth less. That's ludicrous if you ask me.

 
Bewilderment

Hi Dagon,

I've heard people say that the Suikoden games have bad translations and localizations. Why do people think this? I never noticed anything wrong with either of them (the first time through, anyway).

Dragon Warrior 3 got an excellent localization. I'd like to see some more like it.

Traks

Dagon:
Well, I've only played the first Suikoden, and I didn't really see too much wrong with the localization. It isn't anything special, but it is competent, and the rest of the game is good enough to more than make up for any shortcomings. I have heard that there are some serious problems with Suikoden 2's though, to the point that there are windows that don't even have any text in them, just a garbled mess.

I think that occurrences like that are inexcusable. I'm no idealist, I'm a realist, and the occasional typo isn't going to ruin a game for me. I do feel that it has almost become the norm for gamers to attack a game based on the presence of a couple of spelling errors, which seems a tad excessive to me. I'm not condoning typos and the like, but I can understand that they pop up when faced with the enormous task of localizing a game. On the other hand, I do think that gross negligence is cause for furor.

As far as Dragon Warrior 3 is concerned, I'm hearing good things about it. If I can ever tear Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 out of my GBA, I might just have to give it a go. Damn you New York secret tape!

 
Contentment

My personal favorite localization is Vagrant Story. Square really did an excellent job on that one. The dialog is well written and it's never awkward. Of course, I haven't played any of the Lunar games.....shame on me.

One of the worst localizations I've seen is Tactics Ogre. Sure, Atlus did a great job on adding new features for the PS (battle save, L1 and R1 shortcuts, etc.), but the dialog.......grammatical and spelling errors are numerous in the translation. Sometimes the dialog is unintentionally funny. One example is when Leonard (in the L alignment chapter) says, "We can't just sit here like Mr. and Mrs. Monkey". Now THATS comedy.

Moogle "There's nothing stupid about a teenage rabbit teaching good hygiene"Man
BTW, Dr.Pepper rocks

Dagon:
MoogleMan, I'm going to have to agree with you. Square did a fantastic job with Vagrant Story. The dialog seems perfectly attuned to the time period, and each of the characters comes across as having a distinctive voice. In fact, the whole game just oozes personality, what with the spot-on dialog, word balloons, and unique gameplay.

You did bring up the Lunar games, which I was hoping someone would grab onto. Working Designs took the Lunar games, and did a damn fine job of bringing them over. But, I have to ask myself what the game would have been like if they had dropped the perpetually funny slant and given it a more serious take. The fact that the script is littered with pop culture references is something that was amusing, but how are we going to regard those same references in a couple years time?

And Dr Pepper does indeed rock. There's just something about cherry and cola that just works. Like trade summits and bedlam, they just go hand in hand.

 
Frustration

I don't know about anyone else, but I would LOVE it if Working Designs brought Lunar: Magic School over to the US. Also, the Samurai Showdown RPG and all the Ranma games would kick large amounts of butt.

The Masked Mystere

Dagon:
...And then there are the games that we would like to see localized. While I would like to give Lunar: Magic School a run-through, the series that I would most like to see brought over is Sakura Taisen. I've been reading reviews and opinions of these games for a while now (like Jake's new review of Sakura Taisen 2), and it just sounds too excellent.

Combining tactical RPGs with a heavy anime influence and steam-based mechs sounds like a masterstroke to me, but since I speak Japanese about as well as I fly spyplanes (read, not particularly well) I haven't ever had the chance to play any of them. With each new installment, I am more and more hopeful that Sakura and her troupe will be brought over, and each time I'm left disappointed. Looks like I'm going to have to ensconce myself in nihongo if I want to appreciate the chewy goodness that the series has to offer.

Sigh

 
Multifaceted

Hey Dagon,

Here's pretty much all the stuff I could say on localization.

Working Designs does have good translations, but there's way too much humor, and it's not even always that funny. Not all the jokes in the game are things that get every player laughing, and the American cultural references get way too excessive for my tastes. Even if the Japanese versions contained Japanese cultural references I still can't stand all the references, specifically the Lunar games. It's just that the games aren't exactly set in America, it's almost distracting.

I can't stand dubbing for one, just because no company has got it right. Dubbing anywhere is bad, in Japan the dubbing for American shows was bad too. Voices do not match up, and that's what sucks. They should try to match up the new voices with the original ones. The original ones convey what the creators wanted to begin with, why screw that up? Dragon Ball Z is a huge mainstream example where totally different voices, tones, attitudes, etc. just totally change the characters.

Not only is getting the voices right a problem, so too is synching. Remember Xenogears? That was so horrible. You just see the mouth move for so long without a voice, or the other way around.

I rather go the way of subtitles; are they really THAT distracting or annoying? I'm not anti-dubbing, but there isn't a company out there who can really do a great dubbing job, and I can't say it's an easy one to begin with.

Why take out Japanese themes from games? Megaman X (series), Tales of Destiny/Eternia all had Japanese themes, and they all got them taken out. Why? Who out there will refuse to buy a game based on a foreign song? No one cared about Chrono Cross or Legend of Mana having songs they couldn't understand, did they? I love both of their songs, along with the Eternia opening they're taking out.

Here's another thing that bothers me. Titles, why change them? Sometimes maybe. Dragon Quest for one, could've got sued. But, Tales of Destiny 2. Then covers. The Japanese ones are usually very nice, artistic, made to be covers, but American covers are either bland or not meant to be covers. The FF8 one is a rehash of several images put together; for anyone into art, you'll notice the differences in shadows, etc. and it just sucks.

Thanks.

Tristan Adnade

Dagon:
The Working Designs portion I've already touched on, so I won't pursue that. The issue of dubs, though, is one that no one else mentioned. I would also prefer that games were subtitled, for the exact same reason you put forth. However, we are in the minority, and companies don't make money pandering to the minority. A lot of people simply don't want to read subtitles, and that opinion has to be respected as well, if the publisher wants to make any money off of the project. Ideally, it would be best if we were offered the choice of subtitles or dubbing, but this is cost prohibitive, and we probably won't see too many companies taking this path.

The other item we concur on is naming practices, but once again, this is done for financial reasons. Calling it Tales of Destiny 2 is about the stupidest thing I've heard, but you can bet that all the people that enjoyed Tales of Destiny will prick their ears at the mention of the "offensive" moniker.

A comparison of Japanese and American artwork will reveal that they are sometimes very different indeed. I won't argue that there are times that the Japanese one looks better, but the converse is also occasionally true. The Japanese Final Fantasy covers (at least on the PSX and PS2) have been basically the game logo on white backdrops. Not too interesting.

 
Inutility

Don't know if you've ever played Koudelka or not, but I figured I would ask you anyhow. I've been playing the game a little at a time for a while now, and I'm starting to have serious trouble fighting the monsters. They're all considerably more powerful than I am. Maybe it's just the way I fight in this really strange battle system or something, but do you have any advice that might help save me from having to start over again?

Also, I don't hear much about Koudelka, really. My guess would be that almost nobody has played it... I'm amazed I was able to find it, honestly. Was there some sort of limited print issue with it? I know that Sacnoth and SNK are both fairly well known companies, so the best I can figure is that it just got bought up really fast by the gothic/horror fanatics.

Assuming you haven't played Koudelka, I've got another question regarding Phantasy Star 2 (another game you might not have played). Until PSOnline, I hadn't played any of the games in the series, so this might not make too much sense. My question is: what does it have to do with the rest of the series? I've only played 2, 3, and Online, and I don't really see much semblance of the connected story that everyone else always tells me about... Do I need to play the original and buy a Master System?

Thanks!

ASV

Dagon:
Looks like you have a penchant for choosing games that I've not yet played. Never fear though. Our resident slime oozed its way over here to give an answer for you. In its words, "HECK YES!", you should play Phantasy Star 1, since there is most definitely a continuous story. In fact, the slime-ball goes on to expound that while PS3 and PSO don't have too many (seeing as how they were developed by different teams), PS2 and PS4 are riddled with references to the first installment, the latter especially.

I don't know about you, but I trust the word of an asexual amoeboid ball of cytoplasm implicitly.

 
Inescapable

Hey (monks sing) DA-GON

I have to do the obligatory questions.

1. What is your quest?
2. What is your favorite color?
3. What is the air-speed velocity of an unlaiden swallow?

Also, on those localization question. I want it to where they at least don't talk like robots. I want it to sound like natural dialogue. Also, I want grammar at least better than what I do since I know my grammar is bad. I especilly want proper nouns spelt right and constantly (i.e. names and places). FFT and Suikoden II were real noticable where people and places had several different spellings making things confusing and odd.

Imperial Mog

Dagon:
What debut column would be complete without RPGamer's version of Olav Beemer?

1. I am on a never-ending voyage of eradicating evil, or tasting as many cereals as is humanly possible (whichever gives me the most pleasure at the time).
2. What is blue?
3. That all depends on the velocity of mine holy hand grenade that has been dispensed in an act of pure belligerent benevolence.

As for your comment, I think that non-robotic delivery is the very least that we can ask for. You would think that proper grammar and spelling would be a given, but unfortunately it's not.


Quickies

Will Squaresoft ever produce another Final Fantasy tactics game?

James Andrus III

Well, considering that Final Fantasy Tactics has been out for quite a few years now, and yet there has been no rumbling of a sequel, I would wager that it's not going to happen. Of course, the Greatest Hits re-release of the game could spark enough interest to convince Square that a sequel is in order. Don't hold your breath though.

I know the boxes or cases or whatever of the PlayStation Greatest Hits have stupid lettering on them, but do the CDs look the same? I hope so because I lost my FF Tactics CD but I still have the case!

Merc

I have to plead ignorance here. I have no clue, and a quick poll of the staff room yields the non-answer, "Some of them are different." You could always just pop into a store tomorrow and check firsthand.

The Last Laugh:

Well, that was fun, though it took a lot longer than I expected, due in part to some late letters. The column's not too long tonight, thanks to the dearth of letters, but, eh, what are you gonna do? While I'm here, I might as well take a page out of Chimerasame's book and proselytize on behalf of Editorials. I am going to be in charge of the section for the next two weeks, while Mistress Nightshadow sorts out the frenetic details of her life. Feel free to send in a well-arranged collation of your thoughts. One thing I would like to hear your opinions on is the suggested Q&A topic. Do you prefer it when one is proffered, or should everyday be a free-for-all?

Tomorrow, Aegis will be back to entertain you, and to make sure that you don't stray too far from the path, he too will have a topic for you. Bartleby, a drum roll, if you please;

Aegis:
Greetings, folks. For tomorrow, I want to find out why people buy the games they do... not just RPGs, but video games in general. Write in and tell me a bit about your gaming habits (are you a casual gamer? do you play only RPGs?), and let me know which factors influence you when making game-buying decisions (if these are different for different genres, explain). Is it company or brand recognition? Advertisements? Previews and reviews? Box art? Also, tell me what you'd change about the way most games are marketed and sold today. I look forward to everyone's responses, and I'll see you all tomorrow.

Dagon "What gear are you in?" @rpgamer.com
An unofficial no-prize for anyone who can deduce which movie I'm watching as I type this.

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