Ignition Discusses Muramasa: The Demon Blade’s Localization (Only Japanese Voice Acting!)

By Spencer . June 11, 2009 . 3:02pm

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“For Muramasa we decided to stick with the original Japanese voices and only localize the text,” Shane Bettenhausen, Business Development Director at Ignition, told Siliconera in a post E3 phone interview. “We felt the game was deeply steeped in Japanese tradition, mythology, and culture that trying to dub it, trying to make something more Western is really not a service to the product.”

 

“Who wants some goofy anime voices in this game?” Bettenhausen joked.

 

Muramasa: The Demon Blade will not be localized internally at Ignition Entertainment USA. The task is outsourced to an outside localization firm. Ajay Chada, President at Ignition Entertainment, assuaged fears that Muramasa will not have a lackluster localization like Lux Pain. “You know Lux Pain, when localization was done it was out of our control. We know how important localization is. It is very, very key that everything is translated correctly. We are now working with one or two very high end localization firms to make sure its done correctly so the fans are more than satisfied.”

 

Bettenhausen also took a moment to address a previous quote said by their Acquisition’s Manager. “Robert, he does work for us, but he isn’t an official spokesperson. He might not have a full understanding of the deal. He’s a really passionate guy. He’s the guy who has played through the game multiple times. I think his ideas of how precisely the deal might have happened might not have been accurate.”

 

During the show Macchiaverna commented that “Xseed was kind of being punished” in regards to the Muramasa: The Demon Blade deal. “He was speaking off the cuff a bit there,” Bettenhausen explained.

 

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“Xseed, Atlus, and ourselves are often competing to acquire the same games,” Bettenhausen continued. “All three companies have a real passion for Japanese games, hardcore enthusiast titles. In this instance Muramasa was a game we saw back at Tokyo Game Show and were big fans of. Xseed had a lot of games on their plate and were looking to possibly get rid of some and when that became available to us it was something we were really excited about. We worked with Vanillaware and Marvelous in Japan to acquire that game. Xseed knew very well what was happening. They issued a statement about it.” A day before Ignition announced they were publishing Muramasa, Xseed said they were no longer handling the title.

 

“Xseed got some great titles coming out this year. They have Little King’s Story and Fragile, which they announced. I think the one thing Xseed saw and Marvelous saw is they have a lot of strong titles. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s very hard to give so many titles so much loving in the space of so little time,” said Chada.

 

“As we worked with Marvelous in Japan before they felt — hang on a minute Demon Blade is also a big title as well as those other three I just mentioned and we need to find a partner that’s going to give it the same amount of loving. I think it was something that Xseed had to feel comfortable with as well. Marvelous had to feel comfortable. Martin Defries who is the managing director back in Europe [of Rising Star Games] and partners with Marvelous, we know him very well, and I think that helped us get the title.”

 

Bettenhausen concluded, “Ultimately, Muramasa fit within our schedule. We didn’t have another Wii title, it can be our big game for that quarter. Xseed has a huge lineup of Wii stuff this year and ultimately we can give it more showcase since it’s the biggest game in our line up now.”

 

During the discussion, I asked if Ignition were working on another game with Vanillaware.  “We’re very big fans of Vanillaware,” Chada professed. “To answer your question, no, nothing is happening at the moment with us and Vanillaware.”

 

Bettenhausen chimed in with, “I will say as coming on board Vanillaware has agreed to create new art to help us promote this game. They are going above and beyond what they were going to do and that is exciting for us. Moving forward we would love to work with them again, but right now we’re just focusing on Muramasa.”


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  • Pichi

    That’s unfortunate about the English VA. I’m a strong believer in having many voice tracks for everyone, as the more there are, the more people will play. Its about how one enjoys the product, and if one feels they enjoy it with that VA, its alright.

    • Happy Gamer

      although i love the original voice for wherever the game, movie or type of media it came from, you are definitely right about this one. there are people who don’t think the same as I do, vice versa. im personally ok with both just prefering original voice over dubbing in pretty much anything that has voices as i said…but i know ton of people who get confused when they read texts or feel tired when they read alot. either from lack of reading ability or just don’t like reading, they are still a demographic.

    • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

      Agreed! Although, if they had to choose one to go with, in this case, they chose the right one, but that wouldn’t mean the dub could have been less than decent quality if they went with that, either.
      Bettenhausen has a point, though. I mean, could you see Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai properly dubbed?
      That said, I’m expecting that much more that this game is going to WOW me, which it looks like it will!

      Great interview!

    • http://www.siliconera.com Spencer

      I was pretty surprised that Ignition didn’t include an English voice track.

      Muramasa: The Demon Blade has enough buzz that it can be a mainstream hit. I really wonder if the average gamer (aka people who don’t Siliconera) will be able to stomach a game only with Japanese voice acting.

      I totally agree that more choices is the way to make everyone happy. I know plenty of people who won’t watch a movie with subtitles let alone play a video game only with Japanese…

    • daizyujin

      I fully agree. Options are important. Some people like subs, some like dubs. Just give both and you can meet the wants of far more people. It seems silly and somewhat of a cop out just to use the setting as an excuse to get out of making a dub. Hell I played Otogi with the dub actually, even though both tracks were available. Then I used the Japanese voices as an excuse to play through it again, though I really didn’t need an excuse.

      That being said, I personally am happy it is the Japanese track we are stuck with instead of “just” a dub. The game doesn’t fill the whole disc though so the space is there.

      Hell I own the Dreamcast and Xbox versions of Shenmue 2 just because I wanted to have both a dub and sub.

    • Kashi

      Just another person agreeing =) Although it seems a lot of us enjoy the announcement of a Japanese track, having it as the only option seems a poor choice given that they’re closing off a demographic. Also considering it being their (Vanillaware) first title in North America being released on the Wii, you would think they would invest in a dub as well. Strange as it is, there is a fanbase for dubs and some players want to watch, not read, as they play. If I had shown these to any of my co-worklers, they would’ve stopped listening after I said “Japanese only”.

  • http://myanimelist.net/profile/Kuronoa Kuronoa

    Making it Japanese only is a good choice. I think they could of gave us a dub along side it anyways, but I prefer them doing work on quality text translation instead.

    Also, I like how they learned thier lesson with Lux Pain about localization. I feel I can trust them with Muramasa.

  • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

    Warms my heart to see publishers respect each other this way.

  • Roto13

    Will I at least be able to turn the voices off completely? I just find voice tracks annoying if I can’t understand them.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Spencer

      You can turn the voices off in the Japanese version so you can probably do it in the US one.

      • Roto13

        Well that’s good, then.

  • TurkeyPotPie

    Man, they really had to do some damage control on the Xseed statement didn’t they?

  • Aoshi00

    Had no idea they’re so many people who hate the original Jpn dub that much.. it could be laziness, but for me this is good news if they have to pick just one, just like Yakuza 2 w/ the authentic Jpn feel.

    I don’t mind foreign languages so much even when watching movies, unless I really don’t like that language. Would you rather watch “Downfall” in original German or in English if it’s dubbed? That movie sounded much more authentic than Tom Cruise’s Valkyrie for sure. Or Pan’s Labyrinth, I don’t understand a lick of Spanish, but watching that movie in Del Toro’s original language is very cool.

    Again I’m glad they’re keeping the Jpn track, otherwise I would have to import the Jpn version (I just pre-ordered the black Wii and Pro Classic controller yesterday, woohoo!)

    • TurkeyPotPie

      In most movies I prefer the original language, if only because the voices not matching the mouth flaps are more jarring in live action. For period pieces I definitely prefer the original language. In games and animation I don’t have a preference as long as the dubbing is good, except for ones where a certain language just fits the setting better (like Muramasa or Yakuza).

      One thing I find amusing though is sometimes fans get upset about replacing Japanese audio in games or anime where the setting or characters aren’t even remotely Japanese (like an anime set in Victorian England or something).

      • Aoshi00

        Like Emma right? I wish they would dub the Daddy Long Leg anime in English.
        I don’t mind English dub either if it’s good, but since I understand Jpn and follow seiyuu in general, there’s no reason for me not to watch anime in Jpn. I think in most cases the original dub is better. Some anime might not have Jpn setting, but the characters still look distinctly anime-ish w/ their saucer eyes, I can’t imagine watching Marmalade Boy in English at all.

        If one understands Jpn though, it’s not that jarring to see Hollywood actors dubbed in Japanese, and the mouth flab matches perfectly well. Gattaca is one of my all time favorite movies, and I bought the Jpn Blu-ray just to hear how Ethan Hawke is dubbed in Jpn, he was voiced by Miyamoto Mitsuru (Roger in the Big O, you know the robot anime), of course Jude Law lost all his English charm in there.. but it sounds like Japanese was really coming out of their mouths.

        But like I said I always like to watch things in their original language, I could watch Harry Potter dubbed in Jpn (which I did the first one just for fun), but why wouldn’t I want to listen to the runts speak British English.

        You have it right though, Muramasa is a period piece. Thank god we got over the days of Kid Ying and Dr. Yang.

      • Aoshi00

        BTW, I think FF XII, which obviously has a western fantasy setting, benefited from the English dub, they gave different accents to people to distinguish their nationalities too. Well, the Jpn dub for that game sucks in the first place, at least for Vaan and Penelo. But I don’t even like FF 12 anyway…

        • Moriken

          FFXII is actually the only dubbed game I ever played where I found the dub equal to or even superior to your usual top-seiyuu japanese voiceover…I loved Balthier, he did the Han-Solo-type of characterization really good.

          But dubs like Persona 3/4 or .hack/G.U. were just plain atrocious in my ears. If people like them, fine. I prefer the original audio, no matter the language.

  • Saucer

    XSeed said Ignition outbid them for Demon Blade, and they didn’t drop it because they were working on too many projects at once.

    http://www.joystiq.com/2009/06/06/interview-xseed-on-what-happened-with-muramasa-and-more/

    Given Shane’s past record of smarmy behavior, I’m inclined to believe XSeed.

    And yeah I agree that Ignition isn’t dubbing it to save money and their excuse is nonsense.

  • Zuga

    That is great news! For a game as Japanese as Muramasa, sorry, but English VA does not fit. Will definitely be picking this up day 1.

  • Geosaferi

    If this is what a lazy company looks like… Let’s just say I wouldn’t mind if more were lazy. ;)

    I’m not sure if casual gamers really complain as much as you all think. My friends, all casual gamer girls primarily, aren’t opposed to a game having japanese voices. Let’s not forget a lot of games in the past never even used to dub and no one was overly offended.

  • Aoshi00

    Would the ninja and princess speak the Queen’s English then :)? How are games in Europe localized anyway, like say FFX, are they redubbed in British or they just use the American dub?

  • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

    You want a posh accent in a game set in ancient mythical Japan?

  • Aoshi00

    Have no idea what you’re talking about. I was curious if it’s common practice for European releases to do a separate dub (which would be in British), despite an existing American dub, or for a game that has not been dubbed in English. I genuine do not know how thorough an European localization is.

    Hey, I’m all for a good English dub, I said that in this case I think the choice is appropriate if they have to pick only one, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    • daizyujin

      Just ignore him Aoshi, he is obviously just pissed off and acting irrationally. To answer your question, no they usually just use the same dub from most games I have seen.

      I usually prefer the Japanese voice acting. I watch my foreign movies subtitled. Hell I remember back in the 90s buying raw tapes of super sentai and Kamen Rider and loving it.

      Honestly, it is rare that an English dub is so horrid I will knock it, in both anime and video games. While I prefer the original versions, I do think there are a lot of snobs out there that have a superiority complex that makes them hate dubs for some reason. For the most part, dubs seem to be getting much better. Sure you still have your stinkers but it is nothing like back in the day where 2 guys did every voice in a series. (I remember the original English dub of Getter Robo 2 when it was part of Force Five in the US. God that was horrid.) Sometimes the English dubs on games are superior like in pretty much all of the Sonic the Hedgehog games. There are people that don’t want to have to read when they play a game. And that is fine, after all this is entertainment, not education or work.

      Personally, I agree with lazyignition though that it is them being a little cheap. The game would have a much better chance of being accepted by a wider audience if they produced a dub to go along with the original Japanese version.

      Honestly though, the game is fun regardless. The voice acting is good, but nothing stellar. Most people I know of are loving it for the gameplay and graphical style. The voices are not at the top of the list.

  • Roto13

    Yeah, it’s most likely laziness/cheapness. I’m sure the question was never “What would fit this game better?”, just “What can we get away with?”

  • Feanor

    If you can’t deal with Japanese VA in a game like this, then go play Gears of War or something.

    • Kashi

      /facepalm

  • Volcynika

    I’ll still buy it, but damn. Way to disappoint.

    • Serge73

      Same here.

  • Zuga

    How would English voice acting draw realism in a game steeped on Japanese folklore?

    Just for fairness sake, I have watched American movies dubbed in Japanese and I cringe when I hear that too. Games/movies/media that rely a lot on ambience should stick to their original language.

  • jarrodand

    I don’t mind subs, I tend to prefer them really, especially in a game like this.

    I can see why it might bother some but eh… dubs aren’t always appropriate, even if the option’s nice to have. Good thing it’s on Wii too, MS/Sony won’t push through sub only games on 360/PS3.

  • Nikos

    At last. Some developer with logic common sense. I agree 100% that they have to keep the Japanese Audio. American audio voices are so irritating some times. It’s like you watch children’s cartoon.
    Must buy from day 1.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Volcynika

      So…..logic common sense is not offering option of both? It seemed to be going well that devs were offering both English and JP dubs, now common sense is leaving one out? Well ok.

      • Aoshi00

        Sure, if a perfect world dual audio tracks would be a no brainer, DVDs rendered the perpetual dub vs. sub war moot for anime, making everybody happy. But the problem is most games forgo the original Jpn dub entirely, all the recent JRPGs on the 360 or Tenchu SA on the Wii come to mind. So if they really have to make me choose, I would take the Jpn audio any day, which usually has a higher standard, while Eng. dub is more of a gamble. For a game w/ such strong Jpn flavor, not eliminating the Jpn track is not bad at all. Again, they always like to use only one or the other, so…

  • Rorg

    “Who wants some goofy anime voices in this game?”

    Hmmm… I wonder, didn’t many of the japanese voice actors also work on anime? I wonder why the assumption is made that japanese anime voice acting isn’t goofy? Interesting…
    To me, it’s such a shame that Ignition isn’t bothering to record the voices in English. I will be curious to what the sales of the game will be. Like Wartech? Or maybe like Odin Sphere?
    It will be interesting to see how that decision plays out.

  • Eric

    If they really feel the game is “deeply steeped in Japanese tradition, mythology, and culture” I hope they include the Japanese subtitles too. As someone who is trying to learn Japanese, it’s frustrating to see all the US localized releases of Japanese movies and video games strip out the original subtitles. Voice is nice, but I like to have the text as well.

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