Square Enix Discusses Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride’s Localization

By Spencer . February 13, 2009 . 1:10pm


In just a few days Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride crosses oceans. In the beginning of the game the hero is a young boy traveling with his father. As the tale progresses players watch him grow from rescuing monsters as a youth to becoming a father. The way Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride follows one character through his life is unique and we’re going to experience the story for the first time on the Nintendo DS.


Since this is the first official release of Dragon Quest V overseas the English script is brand new. We spoke to Christopher Kennedy, Translation Director, to give us an insight on how Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride was localized. 


What do you feel the medieval text added to Dragon Quest V?


Christopher M. Kennedy, Translation Director: We spend a lot of time working to build and maintain a specific style with Dragon Quest titles. A lot of this relies on the use of British English, accents, and even some archaic language. This gives the Dragon Quest world a distinct medieval, fantasy feel without going too over the top, and remains loyal to the original Japanese.


What was the most difficult part about localizing Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride?


Apart from all the arduous hours translating, late-night teleconferences with our overseas offices, and hot debates on just how much alliteration hit the sweet spot, it was probably having to play a fun game like Dragon Quest V and thinking of it as work.


It also takes a good amount of effort to fully localize the game from Japanese but maintain the flavor of the original. Dragon Quest series creator Yuji Horii is never short of good ideas, interesting characters, or exotic locales, so it’s a challenging experience to ensure that everything gets packed in nice and neatly in all the target languages. There’s a lot of teamwork involved.


What are you most proud of?


We are proud that we were able to take such a classic Japanese game and not only bring it to new shores for the first time, but also provide an experience where players can delve into a meaningful story filled with charming, unforgettable characters—and a lot of good puns!


We’re also confident that the style we’ve been honing since Dragon Quest VIII shines through in this installment. It’s reassuring, and gives us focus for future projects.


dqi2 Was working on Dragon Quest V harder than Dragon Quest IV since this is the first international release of Dragon Quest V?


Each title presents its own unique brand of challenges. Since Dragon Quest IV had already been released as Dragon Warrior IV, there was already a translation out there, and naming that players were familiar with. So it was a careful balancing act to blend the old with the new, resulting in names like Ragnar McRyan and Torneko Taloon.


With Dragon Quest V, our challenge was to deliver one of the most beloved entries of the series to a new audience for the first time. There was a lot of hype to live up to, but we’re confident players everywhere will enjoy the experience.


Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen had regional dialects. Did you keep these in Dragon Quest V? What do you feel they add to the game?


The regional dialects in Dragon Quest IV played an integral part in underscoring the “scene changes” between each chapter and making the world feel as large as it was envisioned by its creators.


The accents are still in place in Dragon Quest V, but since this title concentrates more on the life of a single character than a group coming together from different corners of the globe, they are not as prevalent as they were in the last installment.


Nonetheless, a great amount of time was spent discussing how the accents would work, what speech patterns or “catchphrases” characters from different regions would use, or how the accents would be reflected in text. It’s a huge challenge to portray an accent solely through text, but it’s also a lot of fun.


dqi3 Is the party talk feature in the US version of Dragon Quest V?


Yes, the party talk feature is fully implemented in Dragon Quest V. And there is a whole lot of it, too! It is an excellent opportunity to chat with your fellow party members during the quest and learn more about them. It meshes in with the NPC messages and event text, providing another window into the game and delivering oodles of information about the world of Dragon Quest V.


And being that this is Dragon Quest, there is no shortage of shenanigans or want for wackiness. Be they man or beast, there is a huge amount of humor in each character’s lines.


How did you localize the monster speak in party chat?


We always have a lot of fun working on lines for monsters. A lot of time has been spent over the years thinking about and debating—probably more debating—how each type should speak based on their appearance and other characteristics. There’s not only slurping slimes and wily wax murderers, there’s also restless armours who can’t finish a sentence without their helmets—Clank!—crashing down over their faces, and metal slimes eager to show their “mettle” in battle.


Now that Dragon Quest V is almost in stores how is Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie progressing?


Things are moving along just fine. This installment is one of our favorites, and we cannot wait to share it with the world.

  • pressstart

    This game fell off my radar somehow. I didn’t realize it was coming out soon. Must have been eclipsed by SF4, and I don’t even have a 360 or PS3 :(

    Got to get this sooner or later.

  • Volcynika

    Good interview, Spencer! Might check this one out even though I’m not the biggest DQ fan.

  • Mazen

    Great interview, Iam still sad they removed party talk from DQ4 which someone said it have good jokes and it develop the characters very well.

  • Zefiro Torna

    I really enjoyed this interview, especially in regards to learning how they approached the monster speak in party chat and hearing the reasoning to utilizing accents in the manner that they did. Here’s to hoping that you’ll one day score an interview with Plus Alpha Translations.

  • DQ Translator

    I respectively disagree. When I took a look at translating a Dragon Quest 5 remake from scratch the only place archaic language is used in the original is…

    1. Some of the Sugoroku board text
    2. Estark.

    The other types of speech used — very stiff indirect, casual speech, old person slur, drunken slur, delinquent slur, religious talk (Oh Lord! Bless thy…), arrogant speech by Mildrath, Gema, and some random npcs, and a couple of other obscure things. Some npcs use different words to refer to the same thing. Making most things British or modern english is fine by me, but accents, blah…

    You will find those same speech patterns throughout the original in numerous towns. Cabochi being an exception (hickville).

    What I think this localization *does* do is add flavor. The use of alliteration I saw in the videos posted so far are cute and somewhat within the spirit of the original. I’ll take it as one interpretation of Dragon Quest 5, and although it may be the official one it is *one* among *several* translations.

    I’m more interested in how the party chat was translated. Pippin’s pretty much a teenage boy trying to score, he’s also a source of much of the humor (i.e. puns). The boy and girl are excited about their father and try to impress him, they can be pretty silly at times. Bianca is pretty spunky at first, but seems to settle down. Flora is shy, but loosens up throughout the game (Nera, wtf, you fail, she has blue hair, Deb has black hair). Sancho is all :words: and fatherly at times.

    Also, I came up with Zoomfen and Zoomoon Grass as an alternative to Rulafen and Rulamoon Grass. :)

    Nun of the above? Come on. Was that in the original? Was the original trying to make a joke of the abbey? It’s cute, but it’s not the original intent. The same with Professor Toilen Trubble (or Ol’ Man Benett). I guess the North American audience needs these extra bits like accents and puns to sell the game. That’s really the only reason I can think of to include them.

    I will say though that any monster chat that Square Enix comes up with will be amazing. Those sounds are one of the hardest to try to translate as an unofficial translator because you never know if you’re going too far. I feel uncomfortable changing around grammar too much, though I’m getting better at not caring, but that’s one thing that the localization has carte blanche to do (and is correct in doing so!).

    I could go on… but I’m already rambling now.

    P.S.: The site design here really sucks. Half of this article was blacked out, images overlayed text, I had to copy and past the whole thing to a text editor to READ it.

    • lostinblue


      You know, I’m still looking forward to a Dragon Quest V PS2 remake translation :3

      • Dwaine

        Oh, it’s a-comin’! Over a third of the beast known as party chat has been slayed.

        What’s often misinterpreted as “nerd rage” is the random name change or when something is taken out of its original context. Lenoule/Lenoire is a good example. The dialects get a little pass since it’s originally a French name, instead of the Monbabara region. While I appreciate the thought and wit put into the “ooos” and changing King Eric and Queen Sophia to Count Uptaten and Miss Count, it’s not a situation that calls for a joke. It’s supposed to be a somber little tale of a childless couple whose kingdom was slaughtered by monsters. I’m all for characters sounding gruff, evil, or silly, but not when it seemingly strays from what was intended.

        • Aoshi00

          I haven’t been a huge DQ fan, to a purist it might seem the Eng. translation takes a little too much liberty sometimes in order to create a more colorful fantasy world. I don’t compare translation too much generally, since I usually forget how the original script is even after playing the Jpn ver. But I notice other games do that too, like Chrono Trigger, Phoenix Wright, or Izuna, w/ the US ver. throwing more jokes into the game than the original.

          I think that DQ8 was much better w/ a full voice over in the US version, Angelo, Jessica, & Yangus all came to life, in contrast the Jpn ver sounds “quiet”… DQ Swords’ dialogue was much more interesting than the original Jpn script as well, w/ medieval English and British accent. Perhaps they go a bit overboard w/ the variety of accents some times.

    • Icon

      I agree. The puns? Like I mentioned, it’s amazing we’re seeing a Square-Enix behave like Working Designs. This is what it’s come down to.

      • Kahran042

        Please. That’s an insult to Working Designs, since they actually knew when to be serious. :-P

  • Thanks Spencer for one more great interview.

    I think I will make a translation to my blog, if you let me use the source. :)

  • Icon

    It’s striking that in 2009, we have a Square-Enix that is doing all of the wrong things that Working Designs did with their localizations.

    And I certainly do understand the nature and purpose of a localization. I’m not one of those nuts who wants the direct Japanese translation, because I know that will come off as stiff and strange.

    But the overly complex accents, the inclusion of foreign words… this goes against what Dragon Quest is, and that is a simple, appealing game. I’m not charmed when I have to google a French word to know what an NPC just said. It doesn’t make me laugh when I’m being confused by an Akira Toriyama bitmap sprite.

    I wish I could say that this will change, but it won’t. They’ll do what they do because of the art on the box and that’s that. It’s a real shame. I love the traditional formula of these games, but I feel like abandoning the official releases in favor of fan-translated ones. Sorry, Square-Enix.

    • lostinblue

      But… is the fan translation for DQ5r PS2 is still coming?

      • Icon

        I have no idea. I’m relatively new to DQ, starting with DW7.

      • Dwaine

        Check my other reply to you.

        • lostinblue

          Oh, I see 1/3 of the party chat is done, that’s a big progress. Good to know it is coming along.

          I was worried, because… Kojiro Translations seems to be down, I don’t follow it that much but checked recently and… it’s seemingly gone.

          • Dwaine

            The main game script is mostly done too. Everything is being polished to make sure it reads well. There’s just so much party chat, even for places you’d never bother to go at certain points in the game. Some things like different sayings if you’re down on HP in particular areas I think were added just to torment testers.

            Like many translators, Kojiro decided to drop out of the game. As far as I know, he wasn’t involved with DQ V at all.

          • lostinblue

            I see, so Kojiro dropped out but the translation goes on? are you from/involved in a translation group for this one? where can I follow your work/news/progress? or will I only know through romhacking when it’s over and done with?

            thanks (and sorry for possibly being quite uninformed)

    • Mazen

      I heard the japanese version of DQ have defferent accent but from parts of japan, also was there things in frensh in DQ4 other than a castle name or town name?
      can you give you example because if it was just ”Banjour misyou” I think its not big deal.

  • Happy Gamer

    im so psyched its out tomorrow..that or being in Florida, another day maybe, seems to ship a day later sometimes in east coast.

    of all the DQ games i wanted to play but couldn’t (they were 3, 5 and 6) this one has a special place in my aching heart lol. used to read magazine extensive review and walkthrough back when i lived in Korea like all the time. :) dreams come true in 1-2 days

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos