「Localization Decisions For Literal Dummies」 Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky

Great game, terrible localization

Alright, I love the crap out of the Atelier series. Old school JRPG gameplay with adorable characters designed by awesome Japanese artists such as Mel and Hidari, and alchemy management with some minor VN elements thrown in here and there? I’m game, definitely better than your annual soulless first-person shooter series. And I totally appreciate the fact that more and more of the games are getting localized and that it’s becoming a trend. But holy shit, even though the localization’s been getting better ever since Koei Tecmo took over from NISA, it’s not really saying much because the quality control still leaves a lot to be desired. It’s bearable for most of the games, but a lot more noticeable with Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky, the game being riddled with mistranslations, bad typography, and inconsistencies with previous games.

Too much text to fit, apparently

There are many instances of text overflowing the text boxes. Everything literally might as well be a bunch of floating subtitles if you’re going to ruin Gust’s pretty graphical assets by neglecting proper typography. Once you’re lenient about crossing the borderline of non-uniformity such as this, you’re pretty much justifying bullshit like entire paragraphs escaping the divine sacrilege in video games known as the text box.

You can play good cop and argue that Japanese has a more compact writing system compared to English, thus “explaining” why these translations ended up being too big for the text boxes, but they could have literally played around with different typefaces, changed up the spacing between the glyphs, or sized the text differently to get better results across the globe. Let’s compare one of Logy’s English field dialogues with its Japanese equivalent.

The right size

Japanese version

HUGE-ASS TEXT

English version

As you can see, this:

よし、いろいろ採れたみたいだな。
楽なのはいいけど、頼り過ぎないでむこう

…doesn’t put space in jeopardy any less than this:

Alright, we’ve gathered quite a lot.
I still shouldn’t ask too much from everyone, though

The difference is that the Japanese version used an appropriate font size and proper spacing, and the result looks really clean. Just look at the English version. For its own purposes, it’s too freakin’ huge, for no reason whatsoever. It’s as if they just chose a basic western typeface but neglected to alter the spacing between the border and text from the Japanese version. The results are messy, to say the least. It’s really lazy, and really undermines any love and care they had for the project if they had any at all.

As a side note, I love the typeface that the Japanese Atelier games uses, it has a very handwritten feel to it. In fact, a lot of manga-styled fantasy JRPGs stylize their text beautifully to suit their themes, while the English localizations opt to use default typefaces you can find on any computer instead. Like Arial or some shit. I’m not going to rail on them for it, but it is disappointing to note. At least they never use Comic Sans.

Type inconsistencies

Notice how this screenshot with Awin’s field dialogue retains the Japanese version’s 3-dot leaders (···) instead of the
typical triple-period glyph (…) that is actually used everywhere else in the game. I have no idea what
happened there.

Slags

Oh boy, let’s hunt for some Slags!

Piccolo is not amused

Wait, so Slags aren’t the problem, but slugs? Lowercase and all? The excavation team’s being hindered by fucking primordial Namekians, seriously?

Lord Slug

#killitwithfire

The translation is riddled with typos and errors all around, which only serves to bewilder and confuse the player. Like, how much lack of communication can a localization team possibly have that results in… well, that, and more. Where was the fucking editor and why the fuck was he/she paid? I would love to get paid doing nothing. Man, fuck that noise!

Slug silliness aside, quite a few quests are mistranslated to the point where you end up shooting for the goal, for example say crafting a certain material, only to realize that material they told you to craft doesn’t exist and you go batshit insane trying to figure out why you can’t complete the quest. It’s asinine and doesn’t need to happen if they took their time play-testing and proofreading in the first place.

KAEPORA GAEBORA

Every time you come back from gathering. It’s actually supposed to say “View items before placing into the container?” Great fucking job, play tester.

Then there comes the actual alchemy. The gameplay itself is as fun as always, but the new localized terms are really fucking stupid and confusing. There’s the power of items, which was formerly known as “Quality” in the previous localized Atelier games, which is renamed to “Effect” in this localization. Alright, I’d prefer it to be consistent with the past games, but whatever, not that much of big deal, am I right? Well, there’s still an entirely different “Effect” attribute that refers to the ability slots you can alchemize your items with depending on how you play around with the elemental gauge. Oh wait, there’s more, “effect” in this game can also just refer to how much damage/heal an item dishes out (i.e. a Bomb or Healing Salve), which is determined by the Quality Effect gauge and item properties.

C’mon, is it that hard to give them separate names? Why the extra inconvenience? The property descriptions aren’t very consistent either, and it can get extremely confusing whenever you’re trying to create an item with a very specific outcome in mind.

Look at that randomly uncapitalized r in regen

Then there are the S/M/L descriptors for how large of an effect a property has on an item (i.e. Damage L). In the previous localizations, S has meant always meant Small, M has always meant Medium, and L has always meant Large. But this time around, they opted with an entirely fresh translation instead of going with what they already fucking had and set as a familiarity. For reference, in the Japanese versions, S = 弱 (Weak), M = 中 (Mid), L = 強 (Strong). The re-translations are L for… Light, M for Moderate, a S for… Strong.

M is the same, but now L and S are flipped around, which is terribly misleading even if you’re not a veteran fan of this series. It would be a different story if they chose to go with W for “Weak” and S for “Strong”, but no, they go for Strong and Light. STRONG AND LIGHT. Those are barely fucking antonyms! How is a regular person suppose to perceive L and S as Light and Strong from just the initials? Any normal person would think “Large and Small”, especially with an M thrown in there (you’d think “Medium”). It’s like shopping for clothes and reading the letters for sizes – you don’t go thinking “Hmmm, an S! Man, I sure want to buy this strong shirt“. I mean, what were they thinking?! Oh, well, they probably weren’t. It’s as if they were taking pointers from Bandai Namco America. There was no reason to change something that wasn’t broken.

(Note: I was curious about the English dub, so I briefly switched over to that audio option. From what I gathered, there are pieces of missing voice acting and at least one instance where Marion’s voice didn’t match what she was saying in the text. Well, I don’t like the English dub anyway, so it personally kind of feels like a “meh, whatever” deal, but objectively that’s pretty terrible in terms of a video game dub.)

With all that said and done, go out and get this installment of the Atelier Dusk series anyway (or the Plus version). The game itself contains no censorship, is still very polished and a lot of fun, which overall outweighs all of the cons of yet another unpolished localization and translation made for literal dummies. Until next time.

4 thoughts on “「Localization Decisions For Literal Dummies」 Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky”

  1. This localization rant makes me realized that I still haven’t finished Escha and Logy since that gone by the wayside when I started playing Ayesha Plus and Shallie in Japanese. Still, I heard that the localization for Escha and Logy had a lot of issues and Shallie too (and it reintroduced a game breaking bug that was fixed in the Japanese version as well). It’s probably a reason why I play games mostly in Japanese nowadays aside from being a good practice aside from the silly censorship (especially with Nintendo games).

    Which reminds me, I still have to start Atelier Sophie and there is Atelier Shallie Plus that I preordered… Yep, it will be a while before I finish my video game backlog.

  2. @chikorita157: The Shallie localization is pretty spotty here and there, but it’s definitely better than the Escha and Logy localization, and I’m pretty sure the bug’s been patched. The only localization that rivals Escha and Logy is the PS3 version of Ayesha where it has all of Escha and Logy’s terribad TL and typography problems with no dual audio as a saving grace. The Arland localizations weren’t perfect, especially with Rorona originally being done by NISA, but the quality control was so much better compared to the Dusk series.

    I pretty much support the Atelier localizations as long as there’s no censorship and they keep the Japanese voices. They’re pretty good about that (aside from Rorona’s age bump which was all NISA, and Dusk lacking Japanese voices which they acknowledge was a big mistake). I’m looking forward to Sophie. If it happens to never come over here, I’ll just import it no problem. But that’s when I’ll get a PS4 to play Platinum Stars. lol

  3. You also missed how text in item/monster descriptions is often misaligned, blatant typos in categories, random monster names aren’t capitalized, and, oh yeah, how the prompt that you see literally every time you return to the workshop is completely mistranslated and means not quite the opposite of what it’s asking, but pretty damn close.

    Maybe they fixed some of that in Plus, but considering that they actually introduced even MORE errors to Ayesha Plus, I doubt it.
    http://i.imgur.com/ehNYMEW.jpg

  4. @Butts: Actually updated the post with the container prompt when I got back from work because I just remembered it. Man, that alone is a giant red flag indicating that no one actually tested the damned game.

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