Ys VIII Being Localized by NIS America

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Bowl-of-Lentils

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#1  Edited By Bowl-of-Lentils

NIS America announced last night during a live stream that they will be bringing Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana to North America and Europe in 2017. They will publishing the original Vita title along with the enhanced PS4 edition as well as a brand new PC port on Steam. The title will have dual-audio and there are some elaborate special editions available for the Vita and PS4 versions of the game.

This announcement was a pretty big surprise for me because I assumed that XSEED would be bringing this title to the West but it looks like the trend started by Tokyo Xanadu is continuing with Falcom branching out to other companies to bring their titles overseas. Either way, it is exciting news nonetheless. I've heard a lot of great import impressions about Ys VIII with even die-hard fans calling it one of the best, if not the best, entries in the whole franchise. Anyone else excited?

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Belegorm

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Darn right I am!

I haven't actually beaten any Ys games since Book I & II, but I have enjoyed a lot of hours in the rest of the series as well.

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Aw yeah. Perfect timing for me since I am playing through the Ys series. Currently playing YS IV: The Dawn Of Ys which I didn't know when I started playing it is the non-canon version developed by Hudson Soft. It's a good game though, some fantastic music.

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Great that it's getting here fairly soon, but feel bad XSEED considering how well they've treated the series in the past. Hope NIS is up to their translation standard.

But yes this will be one of my most anticipated releases of the year, even though I was a little disappointed by Memories of Celceta.

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#5  Edited By Bowl-of-Lentils

@thewildcard: I feel conflicted about XSEED not translating VIII. On one hand I think the company deserves a lot of credit for making the series relavent in the West again, and for bringing over actual Falcom developed games instead of ports made by other studios, but I also feel the translation quailty of the Ys games has never been that remarkable from XSEED. Oath and Origin are based off fan translations and the scripts for Seven and Celceta were pretty bland and dry, although they may have been that way in Japanese too. I think XSEED's work on the Trails games have been fantastic, and I won't want anyone else to work on future games in that series, but I think it is entirely possible for someone like NIS to do just as good a job if not better with Ys.

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Great news. Yet another game I'll have to pick up this year.

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#7  Edited By Pepsiman

@thewildcard: I feel conflicted about XSEED not translating VIII. On one hand I think the company deserves a lot of credit for making the series relavent in the West again, and for bringing over actual Falcom developed games instead of ports made by other studios, but I also feel the translation quailty of the Ys games has never been that remarkable from XSEED. Oath and Origin are based off fan translations and the scripts for Seven and Celceta were pretty bland and dry, although they may have been that way in Japanese too. I think XSEED's work on the Trails games have been fantastic, and I won't want anyone else to work on future games in that series, but I think it is entirely possible for someone like NIS to do just as good a job if not better with Ys.

Full disclosure before I dish out my opinion: I'm friendly with a couple of people who work with Xseed in varying capacities, so feel free to take my opinion with as many grains of salt as you like. I myself have otherwise never worked for them as a translator.

Anyway, the only Ys I've played much of in Japanese I believe is Seven, but I'd argue that those scripts aren't particularly literary in their native language. It's not abysmal or anything, it's perfectly competent, but it's pretty dry stuff overall in Japanese. I think a lot of superfans would agree that Ys' strong points outside of its gameplay are in its overall lore and world building and not so much its moment-to-moment conversations. They're there to help keep things moving and help lay down some atmosphere, which is probably for the best considering what those games are going for with their gameplay.

All this is to say that sometimes with projects like that, there's only so much you can spruce up in translation. Having worked in the trenches in localization for a while now, the number of Japanese games that have really good writing already are, I feel, still pretty far and few between, even in genres that are ostensibly supposed to be rooted in it like adventure games and visual novels. Most are at least semi-okay like Ys and some are outright terrible for various reasons, but the good stuff is rare enough to getting to work on that level of material is always genuinely refreshing. Knowing that, there are certain things you can do in translation to make those okay and badly written games more uniformly polished, but it's hard to put out truly inspired material if you don't have that initial base to work with, those character dynamics and relateable happenings that initially draw you in as a translator and a player. I certainly do my best to have my own fun with that material where I can, but at the end of the day, when it's not creatively your baby, so to speak, from the game's very inception, it's very tough to write a mindblowing translation when the underlying material you're given doesn't even support that proposition in Japanese. There are absolutely localizations that I feel are better written than their Japanese games, but it's either because the Japanese was already great and got that much more writing polish in localization or the original Japanese is just so aggressively bad that the only way to go was up.

Think of it like this: Xseed is a really small company. They employ freelancers to help with a lot of the core translation work, but the main crew that does the editing work and gets the game ready for release is, I think, no more than like a dozen people strong. People have their specialties, but they're going to have their hands in a little of everything. If Ys' English writing sounds dry while Trails can come out really strong, I think that alone says volumes about the base quality of the original Japanese writing in those games when the people working on them are otherwise by and large the same. None of this is to criticize the people who have worked on the translation side of Ys games, I've talked to some on Twitter and they all do good work, but Trails is by and large on a whole other level with its Japanese prose, which makes the potential that much higher for the English script to be equally as memorable in turn.

One thing to consider about Ys VIII switching ships to NISA, though: a friend who knows those games much better than I says that VIII is extremely referential of the past games' lore, seemingly more so than is typical with an Ys game. This puts NISA at a pretty severe disadvantage for several reasons; not only will they ideally have to have translators that are either intimately familiar with the series or at least really good at their research, but if that game makes specific call backs to previous in terms of specific lines or terminology, they're not inherently going to have access to the previous games' localization files to consult, if they even recognize those references to begin with. Certainly, Xseed isn't obligated to hand over any of its work to NISA if they're not going to be paid to be involved in this new game's localization and while Falcom probably still has that data on hand, they're such a small company still that I've noticed telltale signs over the years that would indicate the amount of manpower they can devote to localization support is usually incredibly small. (Indeed, the only reason the Trails games run as great as they do on PCs in English is because a lone programmer at Xseed did the reprogramming herself.) That's not to fault Falcom; they do well, but essentially have to always focus on new games for the Japanese market in order to stay afloat first and foremost. This means that there may be times where NISA is on its own when dealing with certain issues and while, speaking from experience, they're not impossible hurdles to overcome, that minimal support can impact the final translation quality that can be achieved, especially with a release date that's not that far around the corner by localization standards.

Hopefully all of that makes sense. I have my suspicions as to why this switch probably happened, as Xseed people have indicated they didn't give this game up voluntarily, which I'll just say bodes interestingly for this game and the business politics behind it.

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@pepsiman: Wasn't expecting such a large comment from Giantbomb's resident translator :) Hope I didn't come off as dismissive of XSEED's translation efforts, I was just trying to be optimistic that NIS could deliver a product of equal quality I suppose. I understand that the Japanese scripts for the Ys games just might be weaker than the Trails games, leading to a preserved difference in translation quality. I also am well aware of a lot of the nuances of localization that you spoke about, I know very little Japanese but I love reading interviews about the process of localizing games, and I realize that NIS is at an inherent disadvantage by jumping into a storied franchise that they have never worked on before. Let's just hope for the best I guess.

There does seem to be some politics happening behind the scenes with both Tokyo Xanadu and Ys VIII being published by different companies, maybe Falcom is just branching out or maybe these companies are bringing something to the projects that XSEED can't (PC ports?).

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This news makes me feel like this:

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@lentfilms: Oh no, not at all! I'm just a rambley type in general and thought I'd chime in since I could speak to these things a little. We're more than fine, I promise, and I apologize if I came off as aggressive. c:

Regarding the politics, I think it's partly what you've said where it might be down to being able to offer specific perks someone like Xseed can't necessarily do on their own and I think it's also quite possibly down to them offering a better deal for localization rights up front. What's weird about this instance is that usually these sorts of drastic changes don't happen in long, outstanding business relationships with Japanese companies. Capitalism is capitalism at the end of the day, but usually small to mid-tier companies like Falcom especially maintain these sorts of ties with similarly sized companies unless they have a really pressing reason to break things off. To hear Xseed people tell it, at least, they were pretty caught by surprise to not land this game, which makes me wonder what's going on internally at Falcom.

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@pepsiman: Wasn't expecting such a large comment from Giantbomb's resident translator :) Hope I didn't come off as dismissive of XSEED's translation efforts, I was just trying to be optimistic that NIS could deliver a product of equal quality I suppose. I understand that the Japanese scripts for the Ys games just might be weaker than the Trails games, leading to a preserved difference in translation quality. I also am well aware of a lot of the nuances of localization that you spoke about, I know very little Japanese but I love reading interviews about the process of localizing games, and I realize that NIS is at an inherent disadvantage by jumping into a storied franchise that they have never worked on before. Let's just hope for the best I guess.

There does seem to be some politics happening behind the scenes with both Tokyo Xanadu and Ys VIII being published by different companies, maybe Falcom is just branching out or maybe these companies are bringing something to the projects that XSEED can't (PC ports?).

I suspect that does have something to do with it. Which makes one wonder if XSEED will be able to hold onto Trails going forward.

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@pepsiman said:

@lentfilms: Oh no, not at all! I'm just a rambley type in general and thought I'd chime in since I could speak to these things a little. We're more than fine, I promise, and I apologize if I came off as aggressive. c:

Regarding the politics, I think it's partly what you've said where it might be down to being able to offer specific perks someone like Xseed can't necessarily do on their own and I think it's also quite possibly down to them offering a better deal for localization rights up front. What's weird about this instance is that usually these sorts of drastic changes don't happen in long, outstanding business relationships with Japanese companies. Capitalism is capitalism at the end of the day, but usually small to mid-tier companies like Falcom especially maintain these sorts of ties with similarly sized companies unless they have a really pressing reason to break things off. To hear Xseed people tell it, at least, they were pretty caught by surprise to not land this game, which makes me wonder what's going on internally at Falcom.

Don't worry, you didn't come off as aggressive, I just wasn't excepting such a detailed response from my casual post. Thank you for the insight though, I had seen a lot of your posts on the site over the years but I hadn't realized that you were working on official localizations now (congrats on that by the way).

But yeah, I really wish I could have been a fly on the wall during the negotiations between Falcom and NIS. Seems a lot of Japanese companies are switching to different publishers in recent years, such as the Harvest Moon series being given to XSEED instead of Natsume.

I suspect that does have something to do with it. Which makes one wonder if XSEED will be able to hold onto Trails going forward.

I hope they can, if XSEED deserves to hold onto any Falcom franchise it is the Trails games. They're work on the series has been of a high quality and no one in the West would even know what the Trails series was, except for hardcore Falcom fans, if it wasn't for them.

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