How A Simultaneous Worldwide Release Affected Pokemon X And Y’s Localization

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For the first time in the history of the series, a pair of mainline Pokémon RPGs are being released worldwide at the same time next week, when Pokémon X and Pokémon Y will launch on the Nintendo 3DS. As reported in the past, both games will be playable in seven languages, in every region.


These languages are: Japanese, English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Korean. Normally, which languages are included on the cartridge depends on region, but this time, you’ll be able to swap freely between all seven languages, regardless of where you bought the game from.


The largest change as a result of this seven-in-one approach is how Pokémon X and Pokémon Y were localized, says Game Freak director Junichi Masuda, in an Iwata Asks interview.


“Up until now, we would first write the Japanese, then translate it to English, before translating it into the various languages like French and German,” Masuda said in a conversation with Nintendo’s president. “But this time, we went directly from the Japanese into all the other languages.”


Prepping the two games for a simultaneous worldwide release made things difficult for the localization team as well, Masuda reveals. “The team has particular staff members for assigning names, and practically in tears they gave it their best!” He later elaborates, adding that, “Tons of names have already been used up, so thinking up new Pokémon names is incredibly difficult.”


A simultaneous worldwide release played a role in how the games were named, too. “X” and “Y” were chosen because using single letters made their names easy to understand around the world.


Masuda explains, “While the pronunciation of the letter may change by country, the shape of the letter is the same the world over—for example, we say ‘ekkusu’ for the letter X in Japanese, but in French they say ‘ix’—so in that way too, it was an appropriate way to name these games.”


Pokémon X and Pokémon Y will be available on October 12th. Stay tuned to Siliconera for more of our ongoing coverage of the two titles.

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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". 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.