We spoke with D3 Publisher Associate Producer Joe Fletcher about his work on Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow. Mistwalker and Namco Bandai took the series and made another Nintendo DS game out of it. This game, unlike Blue Dragon Plus, is a direct sequel to the Xbox 360 game where the world has been broken up into cubes and you’re the main character.
How did you go about localizing Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow?
Joe Fletcher, Associate Producer: We went through and we localized the game opposed to just translating it. There is a little semantic difference there, but there is a difference in how it comes across to gamers. A translation has very straight – this is how it was in Japanese, we’re trying to keep the exact meaning. Especially with Blue Dragon, there are kitschy things in the game, a lot of laughing at itself, the kind of self deprecating humor that kind of pervades the whole Blue Dragon franchise.
We were really lucky with Mistwalker saying, ‘Hey you know what? Here is a list of terms and everything you have to go along with, make sure you keep the characters together. After that, have fun with it. Make sure it fits the audience and get it done.’ We were really lucky to have the license holder, Mistwalker, say carte blanche go at it.
Do you think it’s rare for a developer or license holder like Mistwalker to give you so much freedom?
It’s not rare, but it’s not common. [Laughs.]
There were in-jokes like this one cube in the game called the Poopie Cube, originally in Japanese version it’s still the Poopie Cube and everything, it’s whimsical, but told with in a straight-laced, this-is-the-way-it-is sense of humor. It worked out fairly well in Japanese, just reading over the original script, but when you try to bring that across and bring the dry humor it didn’t really resonate with anyone. We originally wrote the script to try to keep the dry humor and it didn’t do anything for you. So, we went through and made it a little more comical. It’s still, yeah you’re doing quests and helping out, but it’s more comical. You have Poo Snakes you’re running around fighting. Obviously, it’s something not serious. We were able to take that portion of the game and ‘go the game is still there, the game play is still there, but the overall feel of the quests is light hearted.’
You’re getting the jump on Dragon Quest IX. How do you feel about that?
Pretty happy about that. When we started development on the English version, Dragon Quest IX, of course, was out in Japan, but it hadn’t even been announced in the US. We are, of course, happy about Dragon Quest coming to the US. Competition is always good. But, we are happy we are going to be out to market a little bit earlier.
We’re also happy that Blue Dragon itself has multiplayer. Dragon Quest has a multiplayer component and we’re happy that Blue Dragon has something to keep people playing with one another.
[Editor’s note: Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow is scheduled for May 18, Dragon Quest IX is slated for summer.]
But, your game has Nintendo Wi-Fi support. Dragon Quest IX is only local multiplayer.
Well, who knows they may add it in the English version. I couldn’t say anything there, but currently that’s the case. Wouldn’t be the first time Square went back to do after work. But, yeah we definitely got that over them now.
We’re lucky that the first Blue Dragon, I mean it didn’t sell gangbusters five million or anything, but it has a pretty strong user base originally. When we’re bringing this game out there are people who know the Blue Dragon franchise and are going to pick it up immediately. We’re also bringing it out to the RPG gamers who are going to be interested in RPG games in general.
Honestly, it sounds a little self serving, but it’s a game that sells itself, especially with the market the way it is. You have Monster Hunter out there so you let people know, ‘hey this game has those kinds of features in there, give it a shot.’ You have Final Fantasy XIII that just came out so there is a lot of interest in RPGs. Right now, it’s a case of let people know about it and people get interested. I mean it’s a great game itself, however with the market the way it is really working out for us, letting people know about it.
I see. On one hand that may be true, but RPGs are long games. You can’t blow through these games in one sitting. We’re talking about 40 to 60 hours of gameplay per RPG. Don’t you think there is a potential over saturation problem issue?
I think there is always an element to that, especially with RPGs. I mean, it’s a niche market. When you bring out more and more games into that market there is definitely a feeling of that. But with this game in particular, having different features to it and having the critical path – it’s 20 hours to go through and do that. It’s something someone could play over the course of a week and a little more. Plus being on the DS you can play it on the go.
It’s interesting you say that it’s a niche. In the past it felt like RPGs were a sizable and growing genre.
I wouldn’t say it’s quite as mass market as it was. When Final Fantasy VII came out, that is what made the market what it was for RPGs. It hasn’t gone back to being like you know the dating game niche, it’s not that small by any means. But, it’s more of the it’s the type of players these games play other games of that sort.
So, what do you think you can do to expand the market?
I think it’s something like Monster Hunter did and what we brought into this game. Sure there are RPG elements and it’s definitely good for RPG players, but it also brings in the social aspects of going out and helping your friends and bringing in more players from social networks. Not Facebook social networking or anything, through actually talking and playing with your friends – getting the word out and playing together.
Out of all of Namco Bandai’s franchises which series would you like to work with the most?
Well, any series I’d like to work on like Katamari Damacy, Noby Noby Boy, those type of little bit out there games. But, actual full on franchise? I’d say Soulcalibur.
The opportunity is definitely there with Namco. They’ve come to us quite a few times and said, ‘hey our bandwidth is a little bit tight right now. We want to get this game out are you guys interested in like, you know, working on it?’ Like God Eater, which we announced.
That’s exactly the kind of opportunity. It’s not something they said ‘you know were not going to bring it out over here.’ It was more, ‘hey, here’s an opportunity for you guys, we’re kind of tapped on our QA so if you guys want to do it here you go.’
That’s an interesting point about God Eater. Namco Bandai seems to be focusing on specific franchises like Dragon Ball and internally developed games. Do you feel like D3 USA is their next resource?
I don’t know if we are their next resource, but we are a definite resource. I get that feeling. Who knows, again biz dev side of things how it works in the nitty gritty, but in the basics.
What about core D3 titles like Exorsister. Do you think more of those games will come over?
Couldn’t say. I can say we brought over Simple Series in the past, but again you’re getting into biz dev and what kind of titles are good in the market. I’m more after the fact where they say ‘We’re doing this, you work on it!’