Analyzing Final Fantasy IV’s fourth translation

By Spencer . July 29, 2008 . 10:00pm

ffiv1t.jpgIt’s easy to be dazzled by Cecil’s 3D suit of spiky shadow armor. I was the first time I played Final Fantasy IV on the DS, but now I’m more focused on looking at Square Enix’s latest translation for a game I completed more times than I can remember. Classic lines like “You spoony bard!” still made the cut, but the dialogue and item names went through serious revisions. The boring old Bomb Ring is now called the Carnelian Signet. The Japanese version calls it Yubiwa no Bomb or boring old Bomb’s Ring.

 

The new translation from Square Enix selects a better choice of adjectives than seen in other versions. To be fair, Final Fantasy IV DS has more physical room for translated text than the Super Nintendo cartridge. Actually, the script of Final Fantasy IV DS is not a direct translation as much as it is a localization. In all of the other versions of Final Fantasy IV / II Cecil’s first post-Paladin transformation shield was either called Paladin or Light with a shield icon. In Final Fantasy IV DS the shield is known as the Lustrous with a shield icon. The literal translation from the Japanese version would simply be Shield of Light. Lustrous shield sounds more colorful, descriptive, and cooler. Summoned monsters are known as Eidolons, phantom monsters. Diet Food is called Diet Ration and the Change Rod is now known as the Polymorph Rod, very clever on the last one Square Enix. One switch people may have missed is Edward’s Twinharp has been renamed to Whisperweed in the DS game. This is actually a translation to match the DS game where it is known as the Hisohisora. Hisohiso is used to express whispering in Japanese. Edward is still known as Edward though and not Gilbert.

 

ffivt3.jpgMost of these changes are easy to miss, but the tone of the main story is easy to notice. Similar to how Dragon Quest draws inspiration from Old English, Square Enix went out of their way to make Final Fantasy IV read like a fantasy novel. Kain and Cecil often use words we wouldn’t in daily conversation. I don’t think I ever used “wrought” in casual conversation. Kain does and this makes him plus the other characters from Final Fantasy IV feel like they are from a different world. It would be completely out of place if Kain used slang like “Cecil you’re my dawg man, let’s mess up that Mist Village bro!”

 

Further disconnect from Final Fantasy IV’s world makes it feel like a fantasy world I’m visiting and not a part of.

 

Images courtesy of Square Enix.


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  • John H.

    The translation is UNQUESTIONABLY better this time. While the story itself isn’t exactly Shakespeare, it’s a better story than most RPGs. The thing about it I find myself appreciating most, however, is the increased difficulty. Since I’ve already played through FF IV, the much greater challenge (especially when fighting the fiends) helps to offset the familiarity of the game. Nearly every boss fight from Cagnazzo on requires that the player figure out how to prevent deadly counters and prevent devastating charge-up attacks. I’m not sure how coddled present-day RPG fans will take to it though; there are some fights that I can imagine a player could get seriously stuck on.

  • Chris

    I still like the FFC translation better. I don’t think I like it when RPGs try to coopt the style of literature, and abandon their own uniqueness in the process.

    For instance, I hated the Shakespearean translation of FFT.

  • Pichi

    I also didn’t like the translation of FFT. It might have matched the setting, but it just doesn’t sit well with me.

  • Connor

    So I guess they didn’t keep the Something Awful reference from the GBA version, then? :(

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