Translating Humor And Fists For The West, A Tokyo Beat Down Interview

By Spencer . April 2, 2009 . 6:47pm

One of the first screenshots of Tokyo Beat Down had Lewis Cannon shout the line “fists can solve any problem”. It’s clear that Atlus decided not to directly translate Tokyo Beat Down, but the snappy one-liners aren’t out of place. The original game Success released was also comical. In this interview Atlus describes how they maintained the tone of Tokyo Beat Down by adapting it with Western jokes.

 

I’m a little surprised to see Atlus pick up Tokyo Beat Down since it doesn’t fit into the usual Atlus catalog. Why did Atlus pick it up?

 

Aram  Jabbari, Manager of PR and Sales:  The Atlus catalog is as much comprised of quirky, off-the-beaten-path games as it is RPGs, and very often we publish a title because we like the game, regardless of whether it fits into our modus operandi.  That said, five minutes with Tokyo Beat Down and you can immediately see the appeal.  A classic side-scrolling brawler in the tradition of the genre greats, but with one of the funniest, sharpest localizations ever.  There is nothing else like it.

 

image The localization for Tokyo Beat Down isn’t a direct translation is it?

 

Jason Ruper, Editor: The story itself actually remained the same, as did the characters’ personalities and attitudes towards each other, but I’ll admit, we made some (or more than just “some”) alterations to the actual text itself. The original Japanese was a lighthearted, comical game, and we did everything we could to preserve that tone and style.

 

Ted Tsung, Project Lead: I think we would have done this game a huge disservice if we did nothing more than a direct translation. We really fell in love with the humor and atmosphere of the game, but a lot of it was entrenched in Japanese cultural references from the 70s and 80s. It was a challenge keeping the original feel of the game, while doing what we could to make it more familiar to a Western audience.

 

What was the original story like?

 

JR: We changed very little about the main story. If they’re all sitting in a room talking about a criminal, and Lewis tells a joke, then we’d alter his joke to make it appeal to western audiences, but the actual content of the scene would remain the same. It’s kind of surprising, but for a 2D brawler, the developers didn’t cut corners with the storyline at all. There are a lot of characters, intrigue, emotion… and bad puns…

 

image Lewis Cannon is a great character name! What other puns did you sneak in?

 

JR: That name came from one of the other editors, months before we even began work on the game. After he made that name up, it just kind of stuck. Ultimately, we couldn’t NOT call him that…! And Lewis isn’t alone. The game is pretty much overflowing with cheesy characters and bad puns (and I believe at least one good pun!).

 

I don’t want to give too much away, but if you visit the optional town locations, you may find some of my favorites NPCs, like Ikari Anuzi (who happens to carry an uzi), Mano Amano (who’s always down to box), Corrects-Your-Grammar Lady (the bane of Lewis’s existence), Plot-Progressing Officer (a necessity in any cop story), the Vial Temptress (customers can’t say no to her perfumes), and the always creepy Too-Friendly-Too-Soon Kid.

 

Do the Beast Cops learn new moves as the game progresses?

 

TT: The Beast Cops can learn new moves, but it’s not mandatory. The player sometimes has the option to explore the city during the game. During this time, you can come across items that boost your stamina or increase the number of attacks you can perform.

 

What are the differences between the three characters?

 

JR: The characters have different strengths and weaknesses and different attacks, and for each, their personality plays a large role in their combat style. Lewis is cocky, sarcastic, and childish. He always has these delusions that he’s a cop in some action movie, so he uses special attacks that are pretty cliché and superhero-ish. Rika’s very energetic and fiery, and she knows how to use her body language to get what she wants. So her moves are more athletic and… well… bodily! And then there’s Takeshi: he’s very blunt and to-the-point, and his moves are more overpowering and devastating.

 

image How does the story branching system work? Do you play different levels depending on how the story pans out?

 

TT: The story branching system is dependent on the player’s performance during battle and if they happen to pick up key items during the story. The better the player does, the more story and levels they’ll be able to see.

 

How many endings are there to find?

 

JR: It’s probably best if we don’t spoil that…

 

TT: There are three.

 

JR: Hey, I thought we discussed not spoiling this kind of stuff…?

 

TT: There are three. Next question!

 

I’m not sure if this has been covered before, but what is Atlus USA’s relationship with Success — the company?

 

AJ:  Atlus and Success have a solid working relationship, as evidenced by the healthy amount of Success titles Atlus has published in North America.  The two entities are separate, but of course are always eager to collaborate with one another when the project and timing is right. Also: *holds out BFF bracelet*


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  • Aoshi00

    It’s always cool they go the extra mile w/ the Eng. localization to make it even more funny than the original, that happened w/ Phoenix Wright too. Creative and interesting name puns make the quirky chars even more memorable. I don’t think this game sold too well in Jpn right? I’m not sure, but I hardly see any reviews of it, maybe 2D beat’em up is not the most popular genre now.. And out of the recent Deka games, I think this one is the most interesting (there’s another one w/ grilling the suspect in the interrogation room that looks very weird..)

  • Chow

    Heh. It took me more than a couple of seconds to figure out what “Lewis Cannon” was punning.

  • daizyujin

    Can anybody tell me what their personal feelings on the game are? The only review I have read went on about the game having “poor control” which is a lot less subjective than other complaints. I would hate to blow $29.99 on this and have if suck.

    • Aoshi00

      The gameplay was actually my concern too, I saw the import on sale for only 15 bucks and I still hesitated in picking it up, I mean how bad could a 2.5D beat’em up be. Yet there were only negative reviews of it, the very few that I’ve found. But the characters and localization sound so intriguing, Lewis Cannon, good one.

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