Famitsu Impressions: English Persona 4 Golden

DISCLAIMER: I worked on this game. This is merely a translation of Famitsu and does not reflect the opinions of Index/Atlus or its staff. I will not be answering questions about Atlus.

So this is an unusual piece of press - Famitsu ran an article on our localization of Persona 4 Golden. Damned proud of everyone who worked on this.

Translation follows:

Software Impressions by Kawashima Kenji, Famitsu editor

I often play the North American localizations of Japanese games, for one reason - to experience the games I love again for the first time. In the case of RPGs, I obviously want to see the characters’ new English lines, but it’s also interesting to discover the little changes in the graphics or cutscenes. This time, I’ll be taking a look at the much-anticipated Persona 4 Golden (henceforth, P4G) for North America.

P4G is an RPG in which the player experiences a high school-like lifestyle while solving mysteries with “Persona”, the power of the heart. Despite being set the rural Japanese countryside, it has been well received by North American gamers. Why is that, you might ask? To me, it could be something like a new experience for this auidence. The story follows a high school student protagonist who has just moved to the countryside from the city. Along the way the player meets new friends and family, lives life with them day by day, experiencing school, the beach, a fireworks festival, a field trip, Halloween, Christmas, Japanese New Year, a ski trip, Valentine’s Day, and more - all once-in-a-lifetime high school experiences that money cannot buy. While even a Japanese player would be hard pressed to find a game that recalls youthful experiences so well, an American player might well learn a lot about the average Japanese high school student’s life, and get just that much more out of the game!

Also of note in the NA version are the use of honorifics such as “-san” and “-kun”, which are used as they are in the Japanese text. This is itself quite rare. Of course, it serves to highlight the Japaneseness of the characters, as well as clarifying their relationships to each other. Allow me to use the protagonist’s friends Hanamura Yousuke and Satonaka Chie as an example. In the Japanese version, Yousuke often calls Chie by her surname “Satonaka.” In the NA version, “Satonaka” is used, but he calls her “Chie” when they face her in the first dungeon. It’s rather interesting that this change was not made in the Japanese version! A few other changes of note are the now translated projector display in dungeons (bottom left of screen), and changes to item names such as the dungeon exit item “kaereeru” (TL: it sounds like “you can go home”) to “Goho-M”. I could really feel the translators’ passion and good humor. Though it’s in a different language, this game is unmistakably P4G.

Those who want to re-experience great Japanese games for the first time have a lot to look forward to!

Sidebar: Can we use it now!? The English of P4G

Chie

This victory line after a battle is a nod to Chie’s passion for all things kung fu. It sounds like something a martial arts star would say.

(TL: If you didn't know, it's a Bruce Lee quote)

Teddie (Kuma)

Kuma’s puns have survived in English. His name was also changed to Teddie in the localization. A bear reference?

Marie

Marie’s response when the protagonist overhears an interesting poem of hers. She throws every insult she can think of into a single word!

29 Comments
30 Comments
Edited by mewarmo990

DISCLAIMER: I worked on this game. This is merely a translation of Famitsu and does not reflect the opinions of Index/Atlus or its staff. I will not be answering questions about Atlus.

So this is an unusual piece of press - Famitsu ran an article on our localization of Persona 4 Golden. Damned proud of everyone who worked on this.

Translation follows:

Software Impressions by Kawashima Kenji, Famitsu editor

I often play the North American localizations of Japanese games, for one reason - to experience the games I love again for the first time. In the case of RPGs, I obviously want to see the characters’ new English lines, but it’s also interesting to discover the little changes in the graphics or cutscenes. This time, I’ll be taking a look at the much-anticipated Persona 4 Golden (henceforth, P4G) for North America.

P4G is an RPG in which the player experiences a high school-like lifestyle while solving mysteries with “Persona”, the power of the heart. Despite being set the rural Japanese countryside, it has been well received by North American gamers. Why is that, you might ask? To me, it could be something like a new experience for this auidence. The story follows a high school student protagonist who has just moved to the countryside from the city. Along the way the player meets new friends and family, lives life with them day by day, experiencing school, the beach, a fireworks festival, a field trip, Halloween, Christmas, Japanese New Year, a ski trip, Valentine’s Day, and more - all once-in-a-lifetime high school experiences that money cannot buy. While even a Japanese player would be hard pressed to find a game that recalls youthful experiences so well, an American player might well learn a lot about the average Japanese high school student’s life, and get just that much more out of the game!

Also of note in the NA version are the use of honorifics such as “-san” and “-kun”, which are used as they are in the Japanese text. This is itself quite rare. Of course, it serves to highlight the Japaneseness of the characters, as well as clarifying their relationships to each other. Allow me to use the protagonist’s friends Hanamura Yousuke and Satonaka Chie as an example. In the Japanese version, Yousuke often calls Chie by her surname “Satonaka.” In the NA version, “Satonaka” is used, but he calls her “Chie” when they face her in the first dungeon. It’s rather interesting that this change was not made in the Japanese version! A few other changes of note are the now translated projector display in dungeons (bottom left of screen), and changes to item names such as the dungeon exit item “kaereeru” (TL: it sounds like “you can go home”) to “Goho-M”. I could really feel the translators’ passion and good humor. Though it’s in a different language, this game is unmistakably P4G.

Those who want to re-experience great Japanese games for the first time have a lot to look forward to!

Sidebar: Can we use it now!? The English of P4G

Chie

This victory line after a battle is a nod to Chie’s passion for all things kung fu. It sounds like something a martial arts star would say.

(TL: If you didn't know, it's a Bruce Lee quote)

Teddie (Kuma)

Kuma’s puns have survived in English. His name was also changed to Teddie in the localization. A bear reference?

Marie

Marie’s response when the protagonist overhears an interesting poem of hers. She throws every insult she can think of into a single word!

Posted by TechHits

That's kinda neat, also I never got the Goho-M reference when I played the game.

Edited by SpunkyHePanda

Pretty cool. Definitely an interesting perspective. Also, do you think the name "Teddie" could be a reference to his bear-like appearance?

@TechHits said:

That's kinda neat, also I never got the Goho-M reference when I played the game.

I think I had a friend point it out to me. The Disgaea series has a similar item called the "Mr. Gency's Exit." I played several hundred hours across multiple games before working that one out.

Posted by Eirikr

Yay, my scan seems to be making the rounds.

Of course, the SMT IV ones I did with hot new demon reveals don't seem to be generating the same buzz. Figures!

Glad to see it translated! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by mewarmo990

@SpunkyHePanda said:

Pretty cool. Definitely an interesting perspective. Also, do you think the name "Teddie" could be a reference to his bear-like appearance?

It is absolutely a reference to his appearance, name, and speech. This was one of the easier 'clever' word choices for us to make. "Kuma" literally means "bear" in Japanese, and Japanese Teddie ends most sentences with "kuma!".

Edited by mewarmo990

@Eirikr said:

Yay, my scan seems to be making the rounds.

Of course, the SMT IV ones I did with hot new demon reveals don't seem to be generating the same buzz. Figures!

Glad to see it translated! Thanks for sharing!

Yep, we noticed, one of our editors shared it on FB. Thanks for the scan! It made us feel fuzzy inside.

Posted by Eirikr

@mewarmo990 said:

Yep, we noticed, one of our editors shared it on FB. Thanks for the scan!

Oh, I totally glossed over the fact that you work at Atlus. I'm glad to have been able to share it!

I knew Nich at the very least would see it where I posted it, which was intentional. :)

Posted by PolygonSlayer

Great little read. Persona 4 is without doubt one of the best localisations I've played.

Posted by SpunkyHePanda

@mewarmo990 said:

@SpunkyHePanda said:

Pretty cool. Definitely an interesting perspective. Also, do you think the name "Teddie" could be a reference to his bear-like appearance?

It is absolutely a reference to his appearance, name, and speech. This was one of the easier 'clever' word choices for us to make. "Kuma" literally means "bear" in Japanese, and Japanese Teddie ends most sentences with "kuma!".

Sorry, I was being sarcastic. I thought the question in the article was funny. Somehow I missed that you worked on the localization. That is awesome, and Persona 4 is my favorite game of all time, and you are awesome. Did you work on the original or just Golden?

Posted by ChrisTaran

I saw this scan on Twitter and was hoping someone would translate it. Thanks so much mewarmo990!

Posted by FluxWaveZ

Here's the article online.

Would love it if there was a full translation of it, seeing as it apparently goes into more detail than that single scan.

Posted by ma_rc_01

Man those articles sound really cool, you should probably translate them all, right now, because I demand it...please?

Edited by ThunderSlash

I always wondered what a native Japanese speaker would think of the Persona 4 localization's decision to keep the honorifics. Glad to hear that this guy likes it.

Posted by Jedted

Kinda crazy to see a Japanese reviewer recommending a English localization game. Although a lot of people do play Japanese games when they only have basic understanding of the language.

Nice to hear that the localization team did such a good job that it can still be appreciated by Japanese audiences.

Posted by falling_fast

that's pretty awesome. nice to see you guys at Atlus USA getting some props for your great work, for sure.

Posted by dungbootle

That's really cool.

Awesome job localizing by the way. Some of the best work I've ever seen.

Posted by Phatmac

Kudos to the Atlus USA team. Your translations are fantastic. Persona 4 and Golden are a prime example of it.

Posted by Bishna

This is really interesting. I especially like when he says

Despite being set the rural Japanese countryside, it has been well received by North American gamers. Why is that, you might ask? To me, it could be something like a new experience for this auidence.

I really want to hear what Japanese gamers think American gamers are into. We have our otaku stereotype of the Japanese gamer, it would be interesting to hear what the American counterpart is.

Posted by falling_fast

@Bishna said:

This is really interesting. I especially like when he says

Despite being set the rural Japanese countryside, it has been well received by North American gamers. Why is that, you might ask? To me, it could be something like a new experience for this auidence.

I really want to hear what Japanese gamers think American gamers are into. We have our otaku stereotype of the Japanese gamer, it would be interesting to hear what the American counterpart is.

probably a mental image of a frat man-child pounding beers with his bros while playing call of duty, and howling racial abuse into a mic. :P

Posted by wchigo

I don't think I actually realized the Goho-M thing until I heard Vinny pronounced it on the Endurance Run. I always thought it would've been pronounced go-ho-em as 3 separate syllables, instead of 2. It was almost a "Phoenix Down" moment for me.

Posted by ThunderSlash

@Bishna said:

This is really interesting. I especially like when he says

Despite being set the rural Japanese countryside, it has been well received by North American gamers. Why is that, you might ask? To me, it could be something like a new experience for this auidence.

I really want to hear what Japanese gamers think American gamers are into. We have our otaku stereotype of the Japanese gamer, it would be interesting to hear what the American counterpart is.

It's called a Hideo Kojima. Seriously, if he's not tweeting pics of what he's eating, he's tweeting pics of collector's editions of American TV serial dramas and comic books.

Posted by TobbRobb

@SpunkyHePanda: Oh man, you just blew my mind with Mr. Gency's exit. I never read it that way. XD

Edited by Sooty

@Jedted said:

Kinda crazy to see a Japanese reviewer recommending a English localization game. Although a lot of people do play Japanese games when they only have basic understanding of the language.

Nice to hear that the localization team did such a good job that it can still be appreciated by Japanese audiences.

Japanese games rather impress me as a lot of them pretty much cater for those who are more advanced at Japanese than others, for example, the Pokemon games allow you to play the game in kana only or with kanji in use. In a way playing it with kana makes it harder because reading lots of Japanese in just kana is hella confusing. The better way to do it is furigana where the kanji have the kana on top of them in addition, a lot of games do that too.

Just find it interesting that these things are there, it makes sense too as younger Japanese gamers won't have learnt all of the kanji yet. As a knock on effect it also helps those learning Japanese, although the bigger barrier is knowing all the vocab as kana won't save you there.

Edited by mewarmo990

@FluxWaveZ said:

Here's the article online.

Would love it if there was a full translation of it, seeing as it apparently goes into more detail than that single scan.

Thanks for the link. When I have some time later tonight I'll get on it.

EDIT: Actually it's not a full version of the scanned article, instead a related feature on the same topic. It's an interview with Yu Namba, our project lead. I'll read it over dinner tonight.

Posted by probablytuna

Oh god, that moment when you realise what Goho-M means.. It's Phoenix Down all over again...

Posted by Hailinel

@probablytuna said:

Oh god, that moment when you realise what Goho-M means.. It's Phoenix Down all over again...

I'm actually amazed that there are English speakers out there that didn't get the joke until it was pointed out to them.

Posted by probablytuna

@Hailinel said:

@probablytuna said:

Oh god, that moment when you realise what Goho-M means.. It's Phoenix Down all over again...

I'm actually amazed that there are English speakers out there that didn't get the joke until it was pointed out to them.

I think more often than not people, like me, just overlook these names and just think of it as weird Japanese terms. I think about what the function is, instead of the actual name itself, so I never notice what they actually mean until someone else points it out.

Posted by MiniPato

@probablytuna said:

@Hailinel said:

@probablytuna said:

Oh god, that moment when you realise what Goho-M means.. It's Phoenix Down all over again...

I'm actually amazed that there are English speakers out there that didn't get the joke until it was pointed out to them.

I think more often than not people, like me, just overlook these names and just think of it as weird Japanese terms. I think about what the function is, instead of the actual name itself, so I never notice what they actually mean until someone else points it out.

I didn't get it until I watched the endurance run and actually heard Vinny try to pronounce it out loud.

Posted by TechHits

@probablytuna said:

@Hailinel said:

@probablytuna said:

Oh god, that moment when you realise what Goho-M means.. It's Phoenix Down all over again...

I'm actually amazed that there are English speakers out there that didn't get the joke until it was pointed out to them.

I think more often than not people, like me, just overlook these names and just think of it as weird Japanese terms. I think about what the function is, instead of the actual name itself, so I never notice what they actually mean until someone else points it out.

especially since persona 4 throws around Japanese terms so casually.

Posted by selfconfessedcynic

@mewarmo990:

Thanks for helping to bring me my favourite game ever.

Man, if I were interested in working in the games industry I'd be totally jealous of you.

Anyway, that was a really interesting article considering where it's coming from. Crazy stuff.