RPGamer Feature - Publisher Pow-Wow - NIS America
NIS America
Nao Zook
Publisher: NIS America
Disgaea 3
Mana Khemia: Student Alliance
Cross Edge
Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?
Discuss on Message Board

NIS America

First off, could you detail the decision making process for selecting which games are released in North America. Who is involved and what steps does the process go through?
Nao Zook: We always keep our eyes open for games that are released in Japan. When there is a game which may fit with NIS America, we try out the game ourselves and evaluate if this game would fit for North American audiences. If we feel that the game fits, we go ahead and start the contract process with the developer in Japan. After that, our localization process starts.

This is the same thing for NIS titles. It's not that we always release every title NIS has in Japan. We evaluate their games, and decide which ones to bring over to the North American market.

To what extent is the game's developer involved in the publishing process? Could you share some examples of how they are involved?
Nao: The game's developer is heavily involved more in the localization process than the publishing process. When we localize the game and start debugging, we report the bugs to the developer. They fix the bugs and send a new ROM to us. We continue this routine until there are (hopefully!) no bugs left. They're also in charge of replacing all the Japanese text with the English translation.

The developers are also involved in making package art and other printing materials. We receive art files from the developer and we create the NA version of package, logo, advertisements, and so on. We decide how we create the NA version of these assets, but without their timely support on sending us the materials, we wouldn't be able to work on time. So we always appreciate their help and cooperation.

What difficulties and/or barriers have you had to overcome in publishing games in North America? Could you share some examples of barriers that have been overcome and/or those that could not be? What barriers are different from platform to platform?
Nao: That would be memory size for certain game systems. We know that our audiences really enjoy Japanese voiceover, so we always try to have dual voices in our games, but unfortunately it cannot always be done due to space issues. This is something we cannot really overcome, and we are always really sad about it when it happens.

When ramping up for a game's release, how are the decisions made as to where to advertise, which game gets priority, how many copies to produce, and when to release the game?
Nao: As for advertisement placement, we usually release niche games, so we always select websites and magazines intended for hardcore RPG fans or Japanese RPG fans. So for example, advertising on RPGamer is a perfect fit for NIS America titles. :)

As for when to a game is released, that all depends on how long the localization process takes. When we have a game with less text, obviously we can localize the game fairly quickly. However, games with lots of text and a long story, such as the Ar tonelico series take much longer to translate, edit, and record voices for. So basically, it all comes down to the size of the game. Our longer titles usually take about 10 to 14 months from the start of translation to the release date.

How are translation decisions handled, things like renaming a game or character? Any games you've had a really enjoyable time taking liberties with? Do you have any examples of games given a less-strict translation that influenced your own?
Nao: We usually try to keep the original Japanese names. However, when we feel that the original Japanese names are too complicated or too hard to pronounce, or if the name doesn't make sense in English the way it does in Japanese, we tend to rename the characters for our own audience.

As you already know, NIS America releases games with lots of humor and quirky characters. We tend to keep the original Japanese text, but when they talk about something that only Japanese know we usually change these jokes to American culture-related ones. Also, when there are expressions or jokes that only Japanese would "get", we try to change it so that our audiences get the same kind of laugh even if the context itself might not be exactly the same. So our script writers had lots of fun localizing the Disgaea series and Ar tonelico series. These titles were full of innuendo and unique storylines, and there were lots of places where out editors could utilize their creativity and humor. For quick examples, our script editor had Yukimaru say "Zam" whereas Japanese Yukimaru says "Gozaru". Also, our script editor had a little (or lot of) fun creating this "French" Tink in Disgaea 2. The Japanese version had a funny Tink, but we believe that our Tink topped it. And fortunately, our fans enjoyed Tink a lot as well. There are also numerous times where our editors inserted references to American culture that were lacking in the original Japanese. I believe these changes were perfect for the characters, and our script editors make lots of these small changes to our games.

Any interesting or horrific stories that you could tell us about? You know, maybe that one office incident that everyone laughs about and shares with new hires?
Nao: Well, there are too many interesting/ horrific stories at the NIS America office. We work really hard, but we are all fun & crazy people, so when we party we push ourselves to the limit! I think it is fair to say that you can consider NISA's work place about 10 times that of the worlds of Disgaea and Ar tonelico!

It's hard to come up with just one example...let's see here... when we had our press event in 2008, the bar owner was nice enough to let us use the place all night just for NISA staff. Imagine, all the NISA staff with an open bar...we went nuts, dood! By the end of the night, some of us jumped over the bar counter and started bartending, breaking glasses, and ejecting our stomach contents with pride! Afterwards, the NISA President had to piggyback most of the female staff to the car! He's totally the man! (Please note that none of us drove that night!) This event has become a kind of legend at NISA. I don't know how we can top that kind of after-party!

Thank you very much for this opportunity! I hope this interview will help your audiences feel closer to NISA, as we are just like them. We love games and work hard to bring quality games over to North America. We appreciate your continuous support.

© 1998-2017 RPGamer All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy