Square Enix Discusses Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride’s Localization

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In just a few days Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride crosses oceans. In the beginning of the game the hero is a young boy traveling with his father. As the tale progresses players watch him grow from rescuing monsters as a youth to becoming a father. The way Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride follows one character through his life is unique and we’re going to experience the story for the first time on the Nintendo DS.


Since this is the first official release of Dragon Quest V overseas the English script is brand new. We spoke to Christopher Kennedy, Translation Director, to give us an insight on how Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride was localized. 


What do you feel the medieval text added to Dragon Quest V?


Christopher M. Kennedy, Translation Director: We spend a lot of time working to build and maintain a specific style with Dragon Quest titles. A lot of this relies on the use of British English, accents, and even some archaic language. This gives the Dragon Quest world a distinct medieval, fantasy feel without going too over the top, and remains loyal to the original Japanese.


What was the most difficult part about localizing Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride?


Apart from all the arduous hours translating, late-night teleconferences with our overseas offices, and hot debates on just how much alliteration hit the sweet spot, it was probably having to play a fun game like Dragon Quest V and thinking of it as work.


It also takes a good amount of effort to fully localize the game from Japanese but maintain the flavor of the original. Dragon Quest series creator Yuji Horii is never short of good ideas, interesting characters, or exotic locales, so it’s a challenging experience to ensure that everything gets packed in nice and neatly in all the target languages. There’s a lot of teamwork involved.


What are you most proud of?


We are proud that we were able to take such a classic Japanese game and not only bring it to new shores for the first time, but also provide an experience where players can delve into a meaningful story filled with charming, unforgettable characters—and a lot of good puns!


We’re also confident that the style we’ve been honing since Dragon Quest VIII shines through in this installment. It’s reassuring, and gives us focus for future projects.


dqi2 Was working on Dragon Quest V harder than Dragon Quest IV since this is the first international release of Dragon Quest V?


Each title presents its own unique brand of challenges. Since Dragon Quest IV had already been released as Dragon Warrior IV, there was already a translation out there, and naming that players were familiar with. So it was a careful balancing act to blend the old with the new, resulting in names like Ragnar McRyan and Torneko Taloon.


With Dragon Quest V, our challenge was to deliver one of the most beloved entries of the series to a new audience for the first time. There was a lot of hype to live up to, but we’re confident players everywhere will enjoy the experience.


Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen had regional dialects. Did you keep these in Dragon Quest V? What do you feel they add to the game?


The regional dialects in Dragon Quest IV played an integral part in underscoring the “scene changes” between each chapter and making the world feel as large as it was envisioned by its creators.


The accents are still in place in Dragon Quest V, but since this title concentrates more on the life of a single character than a group coming together from different corners of the globe, they are not as prevalent as they were in the last installment.


Nonetheless, a great amount of time was spent discussing how the accents would work, what speech patterns or “catchphrases” characters from different regions would use, or how the accents would be reflected in text. It’s a huge challenge to portray an accent solely through text, but it’s also a lot of fun.


dqi3 Is the party talk feature in the US version of Dragon Quest V?


Yes, the party talk feature is fully implemented in Dragon Quest V. And there is a whole lot of it, too! It is an excellent opportunity to chat with your fellow party members during the quest and learn more about them. It meshes in with the NPC messages and event text, providing another window into the game and delivering oodles of information about the world of Dragon Quest V.


And being that this is Dragon Quest, there is no shortage of shenanigans or want for wackiness. Be they man or beast, there is a huge amount of humor in each character’s lines.


How did you localize the monster speak in party chat?


We always have a lot of fun working on lines for monsters. A lot of time has been spent over the years thinking about and debating—probably more debating—how each type should speak based on their appearance and other characteristics. There’s not only slurping slimes and wily wax murderers, there’s also restless armours who can’t finish a sentence without their helmets—Clank!—crashing down over their faces, and metal slimes eager to show their “mettle” in battle.


Now that Dragon Quest V is almost in stores how is Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie progressing?


Things are moving along just fine. This installment is one of our favorites, and we cannot wait to share it with the world.

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