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Final Fantasy XV director responds to localization criticisms, promises more discussion

It’s tough being a fan of Japanese video games. First, you have to hope the games you want to play get localized. Then, you have to hope that a competent company like Atlus or XSEED lands the Western publishing rights and can do a decent job with the translation.

Square Enix has the toughest job of all, first making and then localizing most of its games, all of which tend to be the biggest that the country releases. For all that it does, and all that it misses, Square Enix’s localizations generally are top-notch, as good as they come.

However, fans have some issues with what they’ve seen so far from Final Fantasy XV. They take issue with the relationship between Noctis and his brotastic bodyguard Ignis, stating that they have a very different relationship between the Japanese and English versions. I’m not altogether keen on the complaint, because their relationship in the demo is fine in a kind of “big brother servant to the King” manner. He has no legal authority over Noctis, but he definitely is higher on the ladder in their friendship, making a nice conflict in how they are supposed to be perceived and how they really are.

In the Japanese version, Ignis treats him more casually despite his royalty because they are childhood friends. YAWN!

A bit different, sure, but I think I prefer the English version’s interpretation. It’s not a kind of dynamic we get to see so often, much less so than simple “childhood friends,” the staple of every generic JRPG. Ignis was the most memorable character and my favorite because of his interactions with Noctis, and he was a highlight of the demo because of it.

It might be different than the Japanese version, but that doesn’t make it worse. Square has used localizations before in games like Vagrant Story and Chrono Trigger to actually improve the overall experience. The Japanese version of any video game isn’t always the gold standard and shouldn’t be treated as such. Sometimes, localizers just have a better grasp on the story than the actual writers themselves, and they can make a superior game out of it.

And then there is an argument I do agree with, Cidney’s name change to “Cindy.” I mean, way to totally miss the mark on this one. The whole joke is that every Final Fantasy game has a character named “Cid” in it, and this one just happens to be a lady named “Cidney.” It’s hilarious, but English speaking audiences don’t get to join in on that laugh because someone, who may or may not speak English as a first language, thought “Cindy” was easier for an English speaking audience to accept and “close enough.”

Sorry, it isn’t.

At any rate, Director Hajime Tabata caught wind of these complaints and addressed them on the official Final Fantasy XV forums.

Your point about Ignis in the English language version is a valid one. Using the intricacies of language to make the experience more fun for players is fine, but if the character’s personality changes across languages and becomes someone else, the original intent is lost.

We’ve put a lot of care into making the unique character that is Ignis, and to ensure the character is communicated as intended, I’ve seated the Localization Lead, Dan Inoue, right by me in the development area.

As to your point about Cidney/Cindy, a minor name change may not have created issues in past FF games, but it does for FF XV. I think it has to do with the fact we are targeting a simultaneous global launch.

Rest assured that we’re discussing these issues internally and working out the best way to improve things, so I hope you can look forward to what you’ll see in the final product.

There’s plenty of time to go back and make adjustments since Final Fantasy XV won’t be launching until later in 2016. Call up all those voice actors and have them say “Cidney” into a microphone and Dropbox in their recording. That should be enough, right? No?

Then localize Dragon Quest VII.


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Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...


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