Localization is one of those elements of a game that doesn't get noticed if
it's been done well, but becomes immediately obvious if it's been botched.
Nothing can hinder the goodness of a title like a bad translation, and
nothing can make one shine like a good effort. This year's crop of games
shows marked improvement over recent years, as developers have taken the
time to make sure their games are appropriate to the market in which they're
Weighing in at the top of both reader and staff picks is Final Fantasy
X. Square generally takes good care with its localization, and Final
Fantasy X is a good example of that. Save for some slight lip-synching
discrepancies, the title shines, as the series' first foray into the area of
voice acting was a success. While in some games, voice acting can be very
intrusive, Final Fantasy X's was well-integrated, and aside from some
slight stiffness early in the game, once the actors get into their roles,
the spoken word becomes more or less ubiquitous. Aside from the voice
acting, Final Fantasy X also has believable dialogue, a compelling
storyline, and all the little touches that make up a good localization. In
short, Final Fantasy X is the standout in this year's field.
This does not mean, however, that Final Fantasy X is the only
outstanding effort. Both readers and staff chose Dragon Warrior VII
among their top three, the game coming in second among staff voters and
third among readers. Rounding out the staff picks is Paper Mario, the
quasi-sequel to Super Mario RPG, and readers felt that Final
Fantasy Chronicles, the re-release of Final Fantasy IV and
Chrono Trigger, was another good effort by Square, placing the title
In the end, Square has put together another strong year, and other
developers have raised the bar themselves. Gamers have come to expect
excellence, and localization teams have responded in kind. Now, the only
question is: can they keep it up? Only time will tell.
Disclaimer: RPGamer would like to remind all our readers that three members of our staff did have a part with the localization of Dragon Warrior VII. While we feel we're impartial in our awards, we feel you should be in the know.