Last month, we put out a call for reader questions from our community for Fate/Extra. Once we had a large number of questions in place, we picked some of the most interesting ones and sent them to Aksys to answer. Fate/Extra localization editor, Mike Engler, took the time to address them.
The entire Q&A is a little long, so we’ve split it into two parts. This post contains part 1, and we’ll publish part 2 tomorrow.
Will Fate/Extra be released in Europe either via retail or the PlayStation Network?
Unfortunately I can’t answer this one, as those of us who toil endlessly in the localization salt mines aren’t privy to the business side of things. However, I’d personally love for Fate/Extra to be available on all platforms in every country. Anyone up for a Wang or Vectrex version?
How connected is the game’s story to the original Fate/Stay Night, and how does it explain what’s going on to people that aren’t familiar with the original series?
Although many of the basic concepts found in the original game (and the Nasuverse in general) are present in Fate/Extra, the game’s story is pretty much self contained, with explanations and exposition given as the game progresses. While no knowledge of the Fate world is required to play or understand the game, knowing a bit about the original game as well as some of the other TYPE-MOON properties will definitely add to the experience. There are a number of nods to long-time fans, which required a great deal of on the clock “research” (read: getting paid to read the Tsukihime manga and watch the Fate anime at work).
Aside from familiar-looking characters and the setting, what other references does the game have to the original Fate/Stay Night? (For example; music)
The references present in the game are for the most part fairly subtle and don’t intrude on the main storyline. In addition, the characters from the first game that make an appearance, though they do maintain their natural personalities, have radically different motivations in the Extra universe than they do in Fate/stay night. There are also a number of references to the other series in the TYPE-MOON universe which took a lot of digging/asking PR guy James (who is a 10th degree black belt in Tae Kwon TYPE-MOON) to get right.
As for music, settings, and what not; I must admit that I’ve never played the original game so I couldn’t say for sure if any music or places from the original made it into Fate/Extra. I will say that Extra does have a cool soundtrack and I listened to it a lot during the editing process.
Were there any major difficulties related to Nasu’s unique writing style and use of kanji? Also, how much did Aksys cooperate with both Imageepoch and Type-moon when localizing this game?
Ah, difficulties. Yes, there was one (well, three actually, but the others are stories for another day…) and it was a doozy. First a quick Japanese lesson: to help younger readers grasp kanji, the reading(s) for particularly difficult kanji is written in above it/them in either hiragana or katakana. The technical term for this furigana, and Fate/Extra used A LOT of furigana. However, instead of simply using it to indicate the reading for a given Japanese character, the furigana was used to piggy-back an additional idea onto another sentence.
For example (the furigana is in italics):
hobby cat juggling
My name is Mike02.
Although sometimes the additional information could be discarded or shifted to another part of a conversation, there were many instances when all of the information was equally important and needed to somehow shoehorned into the available space. We managed to pull it off, but it did cause a number of headaches, audible curses, and repeated cries to Cthulhu to destroy the world as we know it and bring about The Void™ (or bring pizza and beer to the office; my memory is a little fuzzy on that point).
As for contact between us and Imageepoch and TYPE-MOON, we editors didn’t have any. Then again, localization tends to operate in a weird vacuum, isolated and alone in an alternate reality created wholly out of Excel spreadsheets covered in Japanese and terrifying deadlines, where sanity is not only absent, but frequently asked pointedly to stay away.
How different will the story be for each of the servants? Specifically, will there be any changes like different bosses if I chose Caster instead of Saber, or something like that?
The main storyline is consistent between all of the Master/Servant combinations. That is to say that the beginning, the main plot twist, and the main ending will all be the same. However, depending on your choices and how you choose to interact with certain NPCs as well as you chosen Servant will affect the dialog as well as which enemy Masters you’ll be required to fight to get to the end of the game. While the game has a well-defined beginning, middle, and end; there are several different paths that will lead you to each of those points in the story.
To use forum speak: tl;dr, the game has definite replay value.
Do the Male and Female Protagonists have any noticeable difference from each other in terms of story and gameplay?
The gender of your character doesn’t really affect the core battle mechanics, but it will definitely have an effect on the dialog, especially when interacting with your Servant and certain NPCs. Some of the differences aren’t too major, but others are… boffo entertainment. I recommend at least playing through the game twice, alternating between male and female protagonists.
How much of a romance element is there in Fate/Extra, if any?
There is a definite affection element in the game and depending on certain conversation choices, your relationship with your Servant and certain NPCs will change for the better (or worse). Also, there is a safe for work nod to the game’s NSFW origins. I won’t spoil how it happens, but it’s not too hard to find if you’re paying attention. This is one game where blithely skipping the text and conversation options is not in your best interest.
What is your favorite piece of flavor text in the game?
Flavor text? All of the text is flavorful; a robust combination of rainbows, happiness, and jam. But in all seriousness, the conversations that you can have with your Servant (especially once they like you) are various shades of brilliant. The occasional banter between your Servant and your opponent’s Servant has its moments as well.
Could you elaborate on the challenges that come with publishing anime/manga games as a niche publisher, and on the licensing process when there are multiple Japanese publishers of the media involved?
Not really, but only because it varies wildly depending on the property and the companies involved. A lot of the process is dreadfully boring and consists of a lot of meetings, e-mails, and fighting vampiric ligers with weapons wrought of the finest bronze in a long-forgotten gladiator arena located along the remnants of the Silk Road.
Afterwards, all the parties involved get together and drink mead and sing songs boasting of their hunting prowess. There are also ponies involved, but now I’m getting close to stuff covered by various NDAs…
Look forward to reading part 2 tomorrow!