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Extent of Localization


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#1 Average Gamer

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 07:52 PM

A couple of days ago on ZU, I was talking about the FSA trident for what must have been the millionth time. In response to me saying that NoA isn't supposed to utterly change the plot of a game, a member named DigificWriter posted this:

Says who? As a subsidary of the broader Nintendo company, NoA has ownership over the Zelda franchise, and is therefore within their rights to do whatever they want with a given part of said franchise; this includes making decisions in localizing a given game that change certain plot elements of said game.


Is DigificWriter correct when he says that NoA is able to alter the plots however they want via localization? I doubt it, as localization is generally meant to convey a plot rather than altering it, and altering the plots could create different timelines in every region of the world and thus ruin Nintendo's efforts to connect the games.

#2 Person

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 09:47 PM

It depends. Sometimes a localization has little to no effect on the broader story arc and is just a variation made for linguistic or cultural reasons. Sometimes localizations fix plot holes. For example, the Trilogy version of Metroid Prime uses the European version as its basis, which clears up plot holes and meshes with Prime 3 more than the original did.

However, it's highly unlikely that NoA meant to change any part of the plot of FSA significantly, and they have mistranslated several times before without the specific intent to retcon or whatever (this excludes actual retcons like the GBA version of ALTTP).

Edited by Person, 26 September 2010 - 09:48 PM.


#3 Alastair

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 04:00 AM

Is DigificWriter correct when he says that NoA is able to alter the plots however they want via localization? I doubt it, as localization is generally meant to convey a plot rather than altering it, and altering the plots could create different timelines in every region of the world and thus ruin Nintendo's efforts to connect the games.

Obviously they can (and indeed have) alter the plot through localisation, but there will always be a question mark as to whether or not this is intentional.

If someone is to argue that the NoA or NoE version is cannon then they have to be consistent, and only consider said localisations to be cannon. However, most theorists give some credance to creator quotes, in which case the original Japanese version must be considered the cannon version.

From the thread you quoted Digific Writer in I suspect that the people arguing in favour of the NoA localisation (Digific Writer and Lex), are doing so purely because it supports their timeline.

#4 MikePetersSucks

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 01:42 PM

I suppose technically they could, but all that means is that the localized version of the game is then rendered non-canonical.

#5 Showsni

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 03:06 PM

Since none of us work at Nintendo, I don't think any of us will be able to provide you with a definitive answer as to how much freedom NoA/NoE are given when localising games. We can make inferences... Judging from what we get, it seems they were allowed to take more liberties with the older games; look, for example, at the ALttP manual, which contains a fair amount of NoA invention. The most recent games seem to be closer to word for word copies of the originals. I don't know if computer games follow the same trend as anime; but there, you'll see some anime (such as the UK dub of Urusei Yatsura, or the dub of Sgt. Frog) where the dubbers are given pretty much a total free rein to write whatever they like, and others where a representative from the Japanese company has to make sure the dub is as close to the original as possible.

As for the quetion of canon... We can view two seperate "canons" if we like, the NoJ one and the NoA one. Obviously trying to make an argument for one using evidence from the other is folly. If you're going to use NoA, use NoA throughout, and accept that your timeline might be NoA accurate, but can't be compared with a NoJ canon based timeline.


#6 ganonlord6000

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 05:24 PM

NOA can alter the text for the localizations for US audiences, but that doesn't mean they're at a higher canon status than the Japanese version. They're Japanese games, so the Japanese versions are the highest order of canon.

From the thread you quoted Digific Writer in I suspect that the peoplearguing in favour of the NoA localisation (Digific Writer and Lex), aredoing so purely because it supports their timeline.


From what I heard, Lex has been like that about the translations ever since they defeated him on a trident issue. I've even seen him discrediting the translators here, and on a few other sites.

#7 Person

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 12:08 AM

If the motivation is that one disagrees with translations simply because they disprove his arguments, then it's a discussion not even worth continuing.

#8 Pinecove

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 05:04 PM

We all know Lex is just being a dingus on the Trident issue - what I want to know is whether the removal of the "first adventure" line in TMC was intentional.

#9 ganonlord6000

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 10:34 PM

We all know Lex is just being a dingus on the Trident issue - what I want to know is whether the removal of the "first adventure" line in TMC was intentional.

Considering it's the same in the European version, it probably was. I usually don't care about what the localizations say except for when there are significant differences between versions (like the trident deal in FSA).

#10 Snow

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 03:06 AM


We all know Lex is just being a dingus on the Trident issue - what I want to know is whether the removal of the "first adventure" line in TMC was intentional.

Considering it's the same in the European version, it probably was. I usually don't care about what the localizations say except for when there are significant differences between versions (like the trident deal in FSA).


I'm not too sure about that. While it's true that the English version (as well as the Spanish and the Italian ones) of the European game doesn't refer to it as Link's first adventure, both the German and the French translations call it "the first adventure of Link". I think it's more likely that it was a translation error rather than a deliberate choice. Also, I'm not sure, but I think the European English version is based on the American one (since Bill Trinen and NoA's localization team are mentioned in the credits of the European version), which would mean that any potential translation errors in the American version would have carried over in the European version as well.

#11 ganonlord6000

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 05:15 PM



We all know Lex is just being a dingus on the Trident issue - what I want to know is whether the removal of the "first adventure" line in TMC was intentional.

Considering it's the same in the European version, it probably was. I usually don't care about what the localizations say except for when there are significant differences between versions (like the trident deal in FSA).


I'm not too sure about that. While it's true that the English version (as well as the Spanish and the Italian ones) of the European game doesn't refer to it as Link's first adventure, both the German and the French translations call it "the first adventure of Link". I think it's more likely that it was a translation error rather than a deliberate choice. Also, I'm not sure, but I think the European English version is based on the American one (since Bill Trinen and NoA's localization team are mentioned in the credits of the European version), which would mean that any potential translation errors in the American version would have carried over in the European version as well.


I didn't know about that. I played the European version once in English, but I never knew that some of the other languages called it the first adventure of Link. Nintendo should have have a hard time going around the "first adventure" line since it is in quite a few versions of the game, including the original Japanese version.

#12 Pinecove

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 08:21 PM

the European English version is based on the American one (since Bill Trinen and NoA's localization team are mentioned in the credits of the European version), which would mean that any potential translation errors in the American version would have carried over in the European version as well.


No that's wrong.

PGC: When you say Minish Cap went gold, did you guys do the translation for the version that's being released in Europe first?

Trinen: Yeah, that was kind of a complicated project, because Europe wanted it this year for their market because they need something strong for handheld. So we did the English translation while they were still finalizing the Japanese text. And we're seeing a lot more of that. I mean, it used to be that they would finish a Japanese game, it would go gold, we would get the text, and then start working localizing. I think Mario & Luigi was probably one of the first ones where we were working in conjunction, side by side with them. Where they're still writing the Japanese text while we're translating it. It ends up being a lot more work since there are so many changes. So we did do the English translation in the European version of Minish Cap, and then Europe, they actually, I think, were going from Japanese to their other languages. But, I would recommend waiting for the US version, because the text in the US version is going to be a lot better.

PGC: So you're actually fixing it up beyond what's going in the European version?

Trinen: Yeah, we did fix it up beyond the European version.


source: http://www.nintendow.../interview/2205

#13 Snow

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 02:08 PM

PGC: When you say Minish Cap went gold, did you guys do the translation for the version that's being released in Europe first?

Trinen: Yeah, that was kind of a complicated project, because Europe wanted it this year for their market because they need something strong for handheld. So we did the English translation while they were still finalizing the Japanese text. And we're seeing a lot more of that. I mean, it used to be that they would finish a Japanese game, it would go gold, we would get the text, and then start working localizing. I think Mario & Luigi was probably one of the first ones where we were working in conjunction, side by side with them. Where they're still writing the Japanese text while we're translating it. It ends up being a lot more work since there are so many changes. So we did do the English translation in the European version of Minish Cap, and then Europe, they actually, I think, were going from Japanese to their other languages. But, I would recommend waiting for the US version, because the text in the US version is going to be a lot better.

PGC: So you're actually fixing it up beyond what's going in the European version?

Trinen: Yeah, we did fix it up beyond the European version.


source: http://www.nintendow.../interview/2205


Ah, so NoA made both those translations. Even so, I don't think the way they worded the ending is that important. It seems that the changes in the American version were only made to make the script sound better, anyway. They didn't really alter anything story relevant to my knowledge.

Of course, that's just me.

#14 Pinecove

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 03:43 PM

Eh. It wasn't in the Spanish version of TMC either which was the latest released version of TMC - in fact, I don't think any language BUT Japanese has the "first adventure" line in it.

#15 Snow

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 04:59 PM

Eh. It wasn't in the Spanish version of TMC either which was the latest released version of TMC - in fact, I don't think any language BUT Japanese has the "first adventure" line in it.


The French and the German versions do. Half of the official translations don't have the line and half of them do. Seems to me that the whole "first" part is quite easy to miss.

#16 Pinecove

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 09:46 PM

In all reality, I think TMC was going to be similar to what SS is now (I mean it WAS going to feature the Master Sword)but I think the development was scrapped halfway and now TMC is not first. Especially considering the recent SS interviews.

#17 Snow

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 04:04 AM

In all reality, I think TMC was going to be similar to what SS is now (I mean it WAS going to feature the Master Sword)but I think the development was scrapped halfway and now TMC is not first. Especially considering the recent SS interviews.


I personally think TMC was intended to be first even after its release, but it's possible that SS might retcon it. I think it's too early to say whether or not it actually does, though. Hopefully, this issue will be solved when SS is released.

#18 Pinecove

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 10:12 AM

I personally think the fact that Aonuma, being so cautious with the timeline today, but ready to admit SS is before OoT and that OoT was the earliest game in the timeline up until that point, proves that TMC was only first in development.

To each his own however as you said.

#19 Snow

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 11:13 AM

Yeah. One can only hope that the release of SS will clear up that part of the timeline.

#20 Person

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 04:49 PM

The one thing that bugged me about localizations was the nonsensical "The Oocca created the Hylians" backstory that only exists because a couple of words were mistranslated in the English version. I remember thinking that something was up when I first played that part of the game.

#21 Average Gamer

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 05:11 PM

Another localization issue I see is people claiming that the English versions of the games basically serve as post-release edits. I sincerely doubt that, as Nintendo has never remotely said that foreign releases take precedence over the Japanese releases. Additionally, later Japanese versions (ex: OoT 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2) do not feature script changes to line them up with the English translation, so it's doubtful that the English releases were meant to be revisions of any sort.

#22 Pinecove

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 06:29 PM

Have TMC or FSA actually featured later versions?

#23 Pinecove

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Posted 20 December 2010 - 07:55 PM

Sorry to bring all of this up again, but we just had an extremely lengthy discussion on ZI about this.

Because Japanese has multiple meanings and can be translated to mean something that may be more literal than NoA's text, even though NoA's text still works, we have decided that Japanese translations, when possible, should match NoA's translations if they can even though another translation may be much more literal.

Does anyone have any objections?

#24 Fin

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Posted 20 December 2010 - 08:34 PM

Sorry to bring all of this up again, but we just had an extremely lengthy discussion on ZI about this.

Because Japanese has multiple meanings and can be translated to mean something that may be more literal than NoA's text, even though NoA's text still works, we have decided that Japanese translations, when possible, should match NoA's translations if they can even though another translation may be much more literal.

Does anyone have any objections?


Much better to have literal translations with linguistic footnotes. I'd rather have a fuller understanding of the original wording than a neat English phrasing.

#25 Pinecove

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Posted 20 December 2010 - 08:38 PM

You're missing the point. If Nintendo has translated (and not just in the english version, but the french version too, etc) something that is a possibility, but not as literal as the Japanese (which in all honesty doesn't matter too much as the Japanese would have multiple meanings at any rate) why would the more literal translation be taken as Canon when Nintendo has translated it to the other slightly less literal translation, across all languages?

#26 Fin

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Posted 20 December 2010 - 08:52 PM

Hence the footnotes. I want to have an idea of some of the alternate interpretations of the original text.

Edited by Finbarr, 20 December 2010 - 08:53 PM.


#27 MikePetersSucks

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 01:02 PM

I'm with Finbarr on this. The purpose of the translations we've been making isn't to uproot canon or any such thing, but to simply bring up any possible miscommunications or alternate interpretations that may be more accurate, or simply very interesting. And if we don't make literal translations...well, there's no goddamn point.

#28 Pinecove

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 09:28 AM

But you agree that even in some cases where Japanese suits English better, the NoA localization can still be right?
That's really all I'm asking, because as finbarr has figured out, footnotes will definitely be used to show all the different interpretations of Japanese texts.

That being said, thank you.

#29 MikePetersSucks

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 04:13 PM

I'm really not all that trustful of NoA, since like an anime dub, they've been known to liberally change shit. But if there's no significant changes, then sure, what the hell ever.

#30 ganonlord6000

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 11:11 AM

I'm really not all that trustful of NoA, since like an anime dub, they've been known to liberally change shit. But if there's no significant changes, then sure, what the hell ever.


Same here. NOA's translating record has been better over the last few years, but not enough to not verify what is in some of the games with the orignal text, I think that is why I am patiently waiting for a translation of ST.




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