Why Eidolons Were Brought Back For Final Fantasy IV DS And FFXIII

By Ishaan . April 28, 2012 . 1:30pm

RPGamer interviewed former Square Enix translator, Tom Slattery, covering his beginnings in the business, how he gained a full-time translating position at Square, a little insight as to what their localization process was like, and also a few of the games he worked on.


With regard to specific games, the case of Final Fantasy IV DS was an interesting one in particular. Square initially only required that the existing text for IV from the Game Boy Advance be touched up. IV just so happened to be Slattery’s favourite Final Fantasy, however, and he asked that he be allowed to write the DS version’s translation from scratch.


“I ended up putting forth a case for doing a new localization from scratch–offering to do it in the span of the original schedule–and obtained approval,” Slattery shares. “Fortunately, they decided to expand the project schedule to allow me enough time to do a retranslation without having to sleep under my desk.”


Slattery also reveals a few of the changes he made to the new translation, such as renaming the term used for the game’s summons.


“The Mysidian legend was also something I had wanted to update badly, as previous translations had failed to convey effectively what it referenced,” he shares. “The naming related to summons was another. Every other Final Fantasy had given them a name–Espers, Eidolons, Guardian Forces–but Final Fantasy IV simply called them ‘summons,’ or ‘summoned monsters’. ‘Esper’ had just been revived for XII and ‘Eidolon’ hadn’t seen any love outside of IX, so I brought it back for IV and then for XIII as well.”


“All things considered, Final Fantasy IV DS was my most enjoyable project at Square Enix,” Slattery recalls. “The team was amazingly kind and supportive. They put translation credits in the opening movie, which is almost unheard of. They added the localization staff to the hidden Developer’s Room. The director, Mr. Tokita, even suggested I do a cameo voice in the game as he had done in the Japanese version (I’m the "Lord Captain! Monsters at the fore!" in the opening scene). The reasonable schedule also kept things from ever getting too stressful.”


You can find more details of Slattery’s Square Enix projects at the RPGamer link, including his work on Chrono Trigger DS, Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy VI Advance and more.

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  • well that’s good for Mr. Tokita as long there summons, i dont care what they call them. 

  • Aeon is the best

    • Revorse

      I agree. Nothing beats Aeon, but Eidolon is a close second

  • Jirin

    I think the Chronicles translation was the best.

  • SirRichard

    It’s always interesting to hear from translators, and it’s great to hear he had a good time working with Square. I honestly prefer IV DS’ translation to the GBA one, kind of a shame the guy’s left.

  • badmoogle

    I’ve never noticed the translation credits in the opening movie even though i must’ve watched it 100 times.:oI guess i was too busy marveling at the visuals.
    But yeah it must certainly be a great honor to see your name appear in the opening movie of such a classic game.

  • Guest

    I’ve never liked the word Eidolon.  It looks fine on paper, but when spoken aloud it sounds too strange.  Esper or Aeon sound much better, IMO.  Honestly though, I liked it best when each numbered Final Fantasy gave its summons a unique name.  VI had Espers, VIII had Guardian Forces, IX had Eidolons, and X had Aeons.  They should come up with a new localization whenever XV materializes.

    •  Its pronunciation is quite different in greek than in english.Doesn’t sound so strange if you pronounce it correctly.

      etholon with e as in eco and th as in there

  • I’m never buying the “Complete Collection.” It’s not freaking “complete” if it doesn’t have the DS version’s translation, especially its awesome rendition of the Mysidian prophecy. Tom Slattery’s right, by the way – his is the only version that translates the first line properly.

    Birthed from womb of dragon’s maw
    And borne unto the stars
    By light and darkness cast aloft
    Are dreamtide oaths resworn
    Moon is swathed in ever-light
    Ne’er again to know eclipse
    Earth, with hallowed bounty reconciled

    • I’m never buying the Complete Collection because it has FF4:TA in it and tries to make FF4:TA further into canon. FF4:TA was very clearly a half-assed project the team didn’t really care about much, thinking “Oh it’s just a cheap cell phone game, why bother.” This got more and more obvious the longer it went on, from completely reusing old plot devices to forcing poor characterization on Cecil, Rosa and Ceodore for the sole purpose of putting Kain on a pedestal, to flat out destroying the mystical nature of crystals by saying they were completely fabricated from an ancient science experiment. The only thing I can say good about FF4:TA was that the new characters had potential before the story they went with ruined everything from the very first episode.

      I was at the opinion of “maybe they’re on the path to being great again, give them a chance” after FF4DS, which was subsequently lost when they half-assed Chrono Trigger DS and then proceeded to spit on FF4 in the process of making FF4:TA. A sequel could have been great, but instead the team chose to completely undo FF4’s character development for no reason (Cecil and Rosa and their relationship especially), lazily reuse plot devices (frying pan on Yang, Sand Ruby on Ursula), disrespect key themes tied to concepts (the crystals, by making them pure science instead of magic) and ultimately make a mockery of their own story (Ceodore ends up even worse than when he started at the end of FF4:TA).

      • JustaGenericUser

         Did you go by the name Raltese in 4chan by any chance?

  • I’m glad they re-translated the game for FF4DS, having some bits a little more reflective of the original script is a good thing. But I also don’t like that Slattery took it upon himself to rename summons as eidolons.

    Not hateful, mind you, I just don’t like it. Yes, just calling them “summons” and “summoned monsters” is more basic than later games, but suddenly calling them “eidolons” both hurts the faithfulness of the new script and misses the point.

    It’s akin to if he thought the term “Hovercraft” was too basic and he renamed it something like “Great Damcyan Sand Rover.” Or perhaps I should say it would be like having angels in a game and deciding it’s important to suddenly change the name “angels” to “seraphim” in a remake. Aside from not needing an extra fancy name, it detracts from the sense of wonder and amazement you can have for the summons. Before, they were summons and summoned MONSTERS. It was evident by their names that they were mystical creatures. They’re so amazing and mysterious, they don’t even need to be called some super special name. But now they’re called “eidolons,” and when you go to the Feymarch, there’s a distinct loss of the sense that you’re going somewhere mystical, special and otherworldly. Now you’re just going to meet some random extra race like the dwarves inside a cave that Rydia can page to help you in a fight.

    I tried my best to preface that paragraph noting I’m not foaming at the mouth or anything about the change, but I still sort of expect people will take this comment the wrong way anyway.

  • Developers don’t need to change the names every time they make a new FF game. Espers? G.F.s? Eidolons? Aeons? Just give them one name and stick to it.

    • Paradox me

      I like it. It helps set the games apart from one another and makes their worlds a bit more unique, especially as later games began incorporating summons more heavily into the story.

    • Solomon_Kano

      I actually like that it keeps changing. It plays up the fact that each game’s world has its own lore. Rather than have 13 different sets of “Espers” or whatever name they would’ve gone with, it’s just something new each time.

  • Syltique

    That’s pretty neat.  I like Eidolons.  Avatars in XI is neat.  I don’t know if I can pick a favorite.

  • Solomon_Kano

    I always like hearing from translators. It’s always cool to see where little things in the script originate from.

    • Yes. More interviews with translators, please!

  • Tom_Phoenix

    My hat’s off to this guy. I really liked the localisation in the Advance versions of V and VI. He also gets bonus points for being a Game Boy Micro fan (I ADORE my Micro ^_^). Incidentally, VI Advance was one of the first games I played on my Micro. =)

    It’s a shame to hear the PSP version of IV uses the GBA script rather than his DS one, especially since it’s the PSP version that is sitting on my shelf right now. =( 

    Also, it’s nice to hear he is still in the business of localising games. I wonder why he left Square Enix, though. Infact, it seems a lot of people he knew from there left Square Enix….seems like things were very problematic in the company. Oh well, he can still do a lot of good by working for NoA.

  • Guest

    This is a very interesting read. (^_^)  I’m glad Slattery was allowed to do the translation from scratch, I really enjoyed it.

  • His love for FF games is apparent and I am happy such a person was responsible for the translation. The Eidolons were ok for FF IV, but I kind of think Guardian Forces was a more adequate name for the FF XIII summons since they did guard the Lacie and XIII took a lot of influence from FF VIII. 

  • pho_Enix

    I have a lot of respect for this guy. We need more translators with the same sort of passion that for their work that he has.

    • Carpe fulgur,  atlus, xseed. these people has so much passion for games and care for the fans … it’s heart warming lol. but indeed we do need more of this type of people

  • I do think that they should be different for each game if the way they acquire the summon/w/e is different. If it is similar to the previous game with that name then it’s better this way but my opinion and I liked aeons :3.

  • finalheart9323

    I always call them summons anyway :/

  • I read that as: “Why Eidos Was Brought Back For Final Fantasy IV DS And FFXIII”. I was like what the Eidos has to do with these game. lol

  • Relytgninroht

    I think they used the DS version of the translation for the PSP collection too.

  • Clearly Mr. Slattery is a committed and hardworking guy, but with all due respect I’m not a fan of his translations. By and large I find them to be overwrought and lacking in personality, especially compared to the Woolsey translations they have replaced on several occasions (yes, I know Woolsey’s translations had plenty of problems, but straightforwardness and personality were not among them). Just because these are fantasy games doesn’t mean the characters have to talk like they came out of dime novels! If the dialogue doesn’t have any sort of fancy affect in Japanese, I don’t see the need to add one in English. Just let dialogue be dialogue. Trying for Alexander Smith style pseudo-Victorian prose really just makes the game feel silly and remote.

  • Translating would be hell lot of work. Good job.

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