The Great Ace Attorney has had a long and complicated road to western shores. Originally released in Japan in 2015, the 19th-century spinoff of the Ace Attorney franchise presented a massive localization challenge, given its huge reliance on Meiji-era Japanese culture.
In an extensive interview with Polygon, Capcom localization director Janet Hsu detailed the numerous hurdles she and fellow localization team members have had to overcome to The Great Ace Attorney in American hands.
For Hsu, one of the biggest localization challenges was somewhat self-imposed.
“Back when I was working on the Japanese version of the second title, The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve, I had dreamed of localizing the duology into Victorian British English, as I wanted the game to feel like something of that era,” Hsu told Polygon.
“To that end, I’d collected a number of dictionaries from the late 19th century, namely the OED from 1888 and a different Oxford dictionary from 1912. So perhaps this was more of a hurdle I created for myself. However, the Japanese is written in a sort of “faux-Meiji Era” style, so I felt it was my duty to at least bring an equally “faux-Victorian” flavor to the English localization.”
Sticking to words that existed exclusively to 19th century Japan or England proved difficult, with Hsu citing “backstab” as an example of a word that had yet to be added to any Victorian dictionaries.
Cultural attachments factored in, too. Real-life Japanese author Soseki Natsume is included as a character in The Great Ace Attorney, and while Japanese audiences have a wide familiarity with him (he’s often required reading for students and was once on the 1,000 yen bill), American audiences obviously wouldn’t.
“Authentic, yet accessible” was my mantra during this project, and keeping to that was very hard at times,” Hsu said. “However, it was also a large part of how I kept the text going down the right track. Translating things too authentically sometimes can lead to the text becoming inaccessible in some cases. This applies not just to Japanese cultural elements, but also things like using more obscure Victorian Era words or even hardcore Britishisms that, while authentic, would’ve been completely confusing to people unfamiliar with those words and phrases. So while we stuck to natural British English dialogue writing, we never did it in a way that would cause a player to get stuck or make a puzzle unsolvable due to a cultural or grammatical misunderstanding.”
Other challenges included getting character animations to line up with English dialogue, since a Japanese speaker may communicate something faster or slower depending on which words are being used. Hsu also encountered the problem of having to record English voiceover actors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Something a lot of the games industry and animation industry contended with this past year.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, a collection of both 2015’s original and 2017’s sequel, is releasing on July 27, 2021, for PS4, Switch, and PC via Steam. The game stars Phoenix Wright’s ancestor, Ryunosuke Naruhodo, as he works to exonerate victims in court alongside investigator Herlock Sholmes (yup) and Iris Wilson.
Joseph Knoop is a writer/producer/sleuth for IGN.
Read original article here