Localizing Dragon Quest VIII, was it worth the wait?

By Spencer . March 12, 2007 . 11:08am


At the Square-Enix approach on localization panel, Richard Honeywood spoke about doing more than simply translating text when localizing Square-Enix titles. For Chocobo Racing they added rails to make the game easier to play and for the Bouncer they did extra motion capture sequences so players would not have a hard time understand foreign body language. Out of all of the titles discussed, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, got the most dramatic changes when it was localized. Since Dragon Quest doesn’t have as fervent a fanbase in North America as it is does in Japan, the Square-Enix localization team had extra freedom on how they wanted to adapt it. Instead of going for American English like the Final Fantasy series, they choose to give Dragon Quest VIII a distinctly British feel. Voices which were not present in the Japanese game were added in. Instead of using known voice talent a theatrical director and professional actors were cast. The musical score was updated from MIDI music to a full orchestral score and to make room for all of the text the menus were redone. It took an extra year for Dragon Quest VIII to come to North America, but in my opinion the changes were worth the wait. What do you think? Would you rather have Dragon Quest without voices ship faster or patiently wait while Square-Enix upgrades titles for their audience outside of Japan?

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  • slimequest

    It seems like Square-Enix is pretty determined to get Dragon Quest established in the West, and the extra care they showed during DQ8’s localization shows that. I was really happy we got the game at all, but the changes made the game more accessable to newcomers to the series, and as a veteran I didn’t mind them either. Especially the orchestrated music and voices.

    As far as I’m concerned, Japanese gamers should get orchestral music and voices in their future Dragon Quest games, too. There’s no reason to make them western-only additions. Although with DQIX being on the DS it might be a little tough to add in such things.

  • tacks

    Well obviously i think if square-enix put *extra* effort to upgrade DQ8, it’s better than having a sloppy localization, i’m just grateful Square-enix even bothered localizing any game – the only problem i have is when the localization loses the original ‘feel’ of the game. Of course, no translation will be perfect but i think it’s important to retain the original vision of the game instead of westernizing everything

  • Praz

    It’s nice to see them put this effort into localization. I think it’s fine to “westernize” it to a degree. I mean obviously some jokes, customs, sayings, etc don’t mean so much if literally translated. At the same time, I don’t want to see any major changes to the story or characters and no weakening or reducing difficulty of the gameplay (unless it’s to response of some flaw in the original product).

  • Pichi

    I wouldn’t mind either way for localization, I would be happy. I had plenty of other games to play, so I wouldn’t have minded waiting for it.

  • Stormy

    After playing both versions, I quickly abandoned the JP version after discovering the changes made to the localization. The music and menus in the original Japanese version bordered on offensive. Voices were quite a nice touch as well.

    IMO, DQVIII was a rare case of all changes being drastic improvements over the original product.

  • jeffx

    It really depends on the kind of game we’re talking about. In the case of Rogue Galaxy, Star Ocean 3 and Dragon Quest, the delays were well worth my money. DQ8 was an unforgettable experience and went way beyond typical localization patterns.

    On the other hand, games like Disgaea and most of NISA’s roster need very little in-depth work to satisfy me, I’m just glad to play the damn games without having to pull out a dictionary every 10 seconds. Take for instance Rogue Hearts Galaxy; just run the game through babelfish, I couldn’t care less, I just WANT it.

  • Angelous

    I’ll definately wait for localized games. The voices and upgraded emnu system were a definate plus to me.

  • Aoshi00

    I played the Jpn version after the American version, and was surprised by the traditional menu w/ the basic six commands (talk, status, item, etc.), I didn’t know the new interface was an exclusive upgrade for the US version and it’s definitely superior. After using that, the old way feels cumbersome.

    I was surprised by the lack of voices too when I played the original, I think the britsh/cockney accent was very well done and funny, adding a lot to the characters’ personalities, compared to Jpn, which was really quiet.

    If a game is enhanced, but not dramatically altered for no reason, it’s always welcome. I can see why sometimes there are name changes if it’s too weird, like Angelo, which I think sounds better than “Kukule”

  • Aoshi00

    BTW, the extra time taken to localize a game is not really important to me, since I can read Jpn fine. If it’s a game that I absolutely can’t wait, I try to import it ASAP, like Blue Dragon which is my biggest investment for a game so far, a Jpn 360 system, separate wireless controller, and a $100 hard drive (since the memory card is expensive anyway). And now I hear the Jpn sound option will be included in the US version, good things come to those who wait I suppose.

  • Chris

    I hate it when they change the gameplay of titles to sell in the west. It’s one thing to change the feel to a British one to try to find a foothold in American pop culture, but I find it incredibly insulting when they make changes that make the game easier, as in the case with Final Fantasy IV and Chocobo Racing. When they do that they could at least leave the original difficulty in there as an optional setting so people who like it hard can still play it that way.

    It’s like…I want to play the game that they developed — not some bastardization of the game they put together to sell a little better in my country. That’s why I like developers like Atlus so much who do faithful localizations.

  • Too bad Dragon Quest sucks. I’m sorry I wasted $30 on this game, as the resell is like $5 now. FFXII is light-years better.

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