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By Spencer . May 9, 2014 . 10:01am
Starting with Wild ARMs 4, Xseed has localized dozens of Japanese games and Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed takes the prize for the most voiceover lines. The action game set in Akihabara has almost 10,000 recorded English lines and took 16 days of voiceover sessions. As a comparison, Ys: The Oath in Felghana only took four days.
“This is the biggest voiceover project ever at Xseed. Part of the reason we’re doing it is we feel this game can appeal to more of a mainstream audience and just not otakus,” said Executive Vice President Ken Berry. “This project would be very easy to just put in English subtitles, but we all feel this game is a lot of fun to play and we want to make it as accessible as possible.”
“We figured putting in English voiceovers was the best way to do that. We consider it a long term investment. Hopefully, it will pay off with more sales in the long term.”
Nana (Japanese on the left, English on the right)
I visited Cup of Tea Productions on the last day where Cindy Robinson was recording for Nana, the protagonist—or should I say “brotagonist’s”—little sister. If you’ve ever wondered how the process works, the voice actor or actress sits in a soundproof booth with a window facing everyone else in the session. Through an intercom, the director says what line they are recording and the actor plays it, like, “Cheer up brotag!” (The game has a lot of “bro” puns including calling the protagonist “brotector” and “brozen one.”)
If necessary, the director paints a picture of the emotion that goes along with the line or adds context from the game to explain what’s going on.
Meanwhile, a sound engineer copies the English line and matches it to the Japanese counterpart. For battle sounds, the two waveforms have to be around the same length to fit the animations. Xseed’s team was there, too, just in case a line needed to be changed on the fly. “According to keikaku,” an Internet meme from Death Note, was supposed to be one of the lines in Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed, but the recording was too long. Everyone in the room started throwing out suggestions like “Just as keikaku” and after around five options “According to plan” with a jokingly serious tone was chosen.
Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed plays on the older brother/younger sister anime trope and I sat in on one scene where the older brother may have gotten too close to Nana. There were a lot of laughs during this section. Robinson also recorded voiceovers for generic characters like a police officer since players can earn the ability to swap different character’s voices.
If you prefer exploring Akihabara in Japanese, Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed has an option for Japanese voiceovers. The English version will ship with dual audio including on Vita since the game is stored on an 4 GB cart. (*Correction: The cart is 4 GB and not 8 GB as written earlier.)
From the opening of Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed
From the parts I’ve seen so far, Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed reminded me of Excel Saga, since it pokes fun at anime culture. The protagonist starts the game strapped down and captured by Synthisters, vampire-like creatures that lure you in with the promise of collectable figures. While you can plead for your life, you can also demand that the Synthisters give you the figures you came for in the first place.
“We found so many Gundam references [Hatsune] Miku references, everything you can think of that Acquire themselves put in,” said Tom Lipschultz, Localization Specialist. “The whole game itself is making fun of Internet culture, Akihabara culture, Japanese pop culture, and basically nerd culture altogether. It seemed like thematically it was appropriate to basically localize it in the same manner. We kept pretty much all of the original references in the game and snuck in a few of our own.”
Xseed’s script includes a Star Trek joke where one of the nerd characters in the game yells “Shaka, when the walls fell.”
From the opening of Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed
Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed has crossovers like advertisements for Disgaea 4 on Vita, Conception II, and Square Enix’s Asia-only Million Arthur series as one of the loading screens. All of the loading screens are intact in the English version with the Japanese text. “The only thing we couldn’t do is when you’re viewing flyers in the game they are accompanied by their [store] hours and address and stuff like that. We weren’t allowed to actually feature that and had to remove the text, but the flyers themselves are still there,” Lipschultz explained.
Xseed was able to keep all of the actual landmarks and buildings in Akihabara, since Acquire got the rights to them. Players will be able to walk by retro game haven Super Potato and Sega’s Akihabara arcade. There are some differences like Mister Donut is Sister Donut and for some reason Acquire’s office is a shrine, but otherwise Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed is a detailed recreation of Akihabara. Well, with vampire like creatures you fight. The battle system is easy to pick up and plays like a beat ‘em up. The main difference is you need to use strip actions to finish off an enemy by whittling different articles of clothing down to 0 HP.
Speaking of strip action, Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed has some brand new content for the West. The game has unlockable strip portraits which you can use as wallpaper for the game’s menu, which is designed like a cell phone. The Japanese version only had female strip portraits, but Xseed’s release includes brand new strip portraits for male characters.
Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed is slated for release this summer on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.