You may recall the interview we conducted with the FFVII REMAKE localization team earlier, but now it's time for part two! In this installment, we'll touch upon more in-depth topics such as specific lines, characters names, and more!
- Ben Sabin (English Translator)
- Laurent Sautière (French Translator)
- Diana Kawamata (German Translator)
- Noriko Ueda (Localization Project Manager)
● There are many lines from the original FINAL FANTASY VII that are fondly remembered by fans. Was that something the localization team kept in mind during this project or was it more like approaching something entirely new?
Ben Sabin (English Translator):
Due to this game being voiced and the original not, plus some scenes being structured differently, we obviously could not preserve every line even if we wanted to. There were certain iconic lines or references we did preserve, however, such as Barret referring to the plate as a rotten pizza and the protagonists' lines when they threaten Corneo in his bedroom. Additionally, I believe Cloud says "Hoo boy" in REMAKE too.
Laurent Sautière (French Translator):
Unfortunately, the French version of the original game isn't renowned for its quality, so even though we wanted to stay as true as possible to the original, we had to make a lot of changes. We did sometimes think about including some weird lines from the original French version as Easter eggs, but it's not an easy task, as things have to make sense for people who never played the game before.
Diana Kawamata (German Translator):
While we definitely kept the original lines in mind and tried to incorporate them where we could, this was not always possible, given the restrictions we had for our voice-over. Our main priority was ensuring that the voiced lines sounded natural in German when spoken by the voice actors.
● Please tell us if there are any particular lines or text that you are especially proud of as a translator.
I think one of the best lines our team came up with was Cloud's "Nailed it, I know. Thank you. Moving on," said in response to Tifa's question about his appearance in Don Corneo's mansion. It captures the character's emotions in the moment so well and Cody Christian did an awesome job with voicing the line—Cloud tries to play it cool, but still feels a bit out of his element. It helps that the whole Corneo storyline is full of comedic moments and unique personalities, too. I also personally like Reno's introductory line of "I'll see myself in, thanks," as I believe it speaks to his character.
It's hard to pick a line that we could feel particularly proud of, but there is one translation choice that seems to have stuck in the minds of a lot of players: when talking about those weird flying things that come to be known as the "whispers" in the English version, some characters in the Japanese version use the term "uja-uja" (one of those very typical onomatopoeias) that basically means "swarming", but in the French version, we decided to have Barret call them "serpillières" (floor cloth), which seemed even more descriptive and fitting. It was also funny because the French voice actor of Barret, Frédéric Souterelle, really wanted to pronounce that word in a "correct albeit obsolete" way, which lead to some memorable playful banter in the recording studio. In the end though, we had him pronounce it the way pretty much everybody does.
I personally really like the interactions between Marle and Cloud. Of course the voice acting plays a large part in that, but I also feel the dialogue itself captures how protective she feels of Tifa and how willing she is to go on the offensive against Cloud. The fact she's unimpressed with him being a former SOLDIER—particularly in comparison to the other characters—and unfazed by his cockiness comes through especially well.
● Localizing for a culture with a different sense of humor from the original work’s place of origin can be challenging. In that sense, were there any specific lines that you felt really did a good job of capturing the nuance of the Japanese dialogue’s humor?
I think the scenes with Beck's Badasses did an exceptional job conveying those characters' personalities and keeping fans immersed in the moment. Word play can be an incredibly challenging exercise in translation, but I feel all of the Badasses' flubs regarding "due recompense" and "compensatory damages" worked well in context and as a catalyst for the characters' animations—I particularly like "It's like compensation...for damages" as Beck's failed attempt to elucidate his point. "Lookie here, boys! Caught us some burglars" with "Comin' into our homes and stealin' our shit─doin' crimes" also—to me, at least—feels like something less-than-intelligent criminals would give as an excuse to mug someone who entered their territory. But all of our translations would have fallen flat if not acted well, and I think the English actors for those three characters did an amazing job considering all the tiny animations, close proximity of lines, and general ridiculousness of the characters they had to take into account to keep the humor of the Japanese. Finally, I think Red XIII's "Says the three hundred pound sack of it" in response to Barrett's "You see the piece of shit we're driving here!?" late in the game does one of the few digs Red gets in the game justice.
One of Madam M’s lines was almost completely beeped in the Japanese version, more for comedic effect than for rating purposes. We believe it would have seemed very weird to a French audience, so we decided to let Madam M have her moment completely uncensored in the localized version. Excuse her French! It kind of reminded us of a famous scene with Lambert Wilson in The Matrix Reloaded...
I think Johnny is a character that embodies a very Japanese sense of humor, but I also think we did a good job translating that humor into German. He has a general ridiculousness to him that our voice actor portrayed astoundingly well.
● Now, we’d like to move on to some questions about specific lines and translation choices we were curious about.
The English battle enemy states “Pressured” and “Staggered” are respectively called “HEAT” and “BURST” in the Japanese version. Can you give us any insight into how they were translated in other languages?
In the French version, "Pressured" was translated "Fragilité" (Fragility). "Staggered" was translated "Choc" (Shock), just like in FFXIII that features a similar system.
● Wedge introduces three of the cats in the neighborhood – Biggums, Reggie and Smalls. Obviously pet naming conventions vary wildly based on language and culture, and the cats’ English names are entirely different from in the Japanese release. Can you tell us a little bit about how their names were translated in other languages?
The names in the French version are basically the same as the Japanese version: "Flaugnarde", "Gibanica" and "Pâtisserie" ("Floflo", "Giba" and "Patty" for the short versions) which are all food-related names.
German Wedge’s cat names: Sir Maunzelot, Madame Bunnybun, and Pashadora (Maunzi, Bunny and Pasha for short)
Wedge's cats are known by two names: their full names and their nicknames. We took the Japanese phonetics of the shorter nicknames and played around with them until we had something cute that felt like real pet names and fit the world setting. We then brainstormed what longer counterparts these nicknames could be based on. The Japanese names are food-themed, as is common for a lot of Japanese pets, but we tried to find names that were mainly funny and creative, mirroring German naming conventions.
● Reno has an unusual way of speaking in the Japanese dialogue. Was that included at all in any of the translations?
The French language has no equivalent to the "zotto" Reno often says at the end of his lines in Japanese, and it would feel very repetitive and unnatural to try and match that with a specific word. Instead, his personality is reflected in the French version by his rather colloquial tone and vocabulary, like the use of the word "mec" (dude) for example.
● Lastly, could you please let us hear your feelings about the reception FFVII REMAKE has received post-release or any words you have for the fans?
We're honored to have been able to work on a game that fans have awaited for many years. It's been a crazy ride, and we're happy to see the team's hard work has paid off in the form of positive feedback—not just for the translations themselves, but for the voice-overs as well, as so many people gave it their all for the foreign versions to be what they are. Obviously though, nothing is perfect, and we'll aim to apply some of the constructive criticism we've received to future installments.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions!
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