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This is a topic dedicated to those games with charmingly bad localizations. I expect most of our picks will come from the PS1 era and involve bad voice-acting in some way, but if you’ve got something different, go for it.

 

Ishaan wrote:

Mine is Tenchu on the original PlayStation. I think one of the coolest parts of the game was how Activision (or whoever did the actual localizing) embraced that “old Chinese / Japanese movie” feel, where you have English voices for the Asian actors, except they all sound like heavily-accented Asian dudes talking in English. There’s no way in hell this would fly today, but personally, I love it.

 

The dialogue was awesomely cheesy, too. I still remember hearing “Lord Gohda expect much obu yew…yew must twain hard and twain WELL!” and loving it. Yeah, nothing beats Tenchu for me in this regard. In retrospect, perhaps calling it a “terrible” localization is the wrong choice of words. It’s just a product of its time that doesn’t hold up by current standards…but during its prime, it worked great.

 

Matty wrote:

There are probably better examples of changing things for localizations for no reason, but this kind of makes sense. Clock Tower: The Struggle Within, or known in Japan as Clock Tower: Ghost Head. Unlike the other CT games, Ghost Head took place in Japan and did not relate or connect to the other games in any way. I guess when Human Entertainment brought it over they might have wanted to connect it with western gamers or something, I don’t know, but they set it in California. Here’s the Japanese intro.

 

It kind of made sense. See, many people pointed out that the house and such are obviously set in Japan, but where I live in SoCal there are areas/communities like this with more-or-less similar design, inside and outside homes. This was way back when I was an itty bitty matty, but I just made that connection with the game and thought, “Wow, okay. Maybe this place is off Puente Hills” or something. Even the house I’m living in now had the same design in mind; there’s a wall in the living room with a painted tree…gosh I forgot what it’s called but it looks like this tree, and the furniture and garden in the back had some influence like that as well.

 

Maybe I’m giving Human Entertainment too much credit and they slapped on the “made in USA” sticker for the heck of it (one flaw we both missed at the time is the train station, or looked like one. I see a lot of train tracks here, but no apparent close by stations), but regardless of the concept, they kind of showed a part of city-life that I don’t think is shown in many games or even TV and film.

 

Have any oddly-localized games that you want to shed the spotlight on? Fire away!

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and a contributing writer at GamesIndustry.biz. He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.

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