You see that there?! Those binders are an infamous image showing the sheer size of Dragon Quest VII’s script! For three and a half years, fans wondered if Square Enix and Nintendo would take the chance to translate that entire tome for the second time and re-release the Nintendo 3DS remake, and whenever we were in doubt, this image would loom over us like a nightmare of reality.
Luckily, the companies did translate it, even after the horror stories of it all from the first translation back in the PlayStation days, and now those behind it are starting to share their year-long experience. Speaking with Nintendo UK, Oli Chance from localization company Shloc Ltd. offered just how complicated the game is, even compared to other Dragon Quest games.
All in all, from start to finish, including familiarisation (playing the game to get to know it – no small task in this case), glossary creation (naming all the characters, places, monsters, items etc. etc.), translation/editing and QA, we were working pretty much flat out for just over a year.
One of the hardest things was to put enough time in the schedule for the editor of each language to see all the text, which in our experience is the only way to ensure consistency and quality throughout. You can throw a lot of translators at a job, but if there’s no one making sure they’re all working to spec and that quality is as high as it can be across the board, then things can easily go awry.
Nothing quite compares to DQVII. It’s one thing to contemplate taking on a job this size, and quite another to be four months in, knowing there are months left to go, and that if your pace falters, you could send the entire project off-schedule in five languages.
In Japanese, Dragon Quest is infamous for its varying dialects in different areas of the world, something that the team has to account for in English as well. Editors not only have to make sure the translations are correct, but they also need to be familiar with terms from different English-speaking nations and their sub-areas.
With this specific DRAGON QUEST—the biggest and most famously complex of them all—the key concern for us was to make such a massive, involved, multi-threaded story work as a coherent whole, and to keep things alive over such a long timeframe, as the Japanese does so skilfully.
There’s a grandeur to the original, and a sense of what you might call the golden age of JRPGs, where creators were really revelling in the possibilities of being able to tell stories on a hitherto unheard-of scale. We felt pretty keenly that the key to doing this right would lie in capturing that excitement and sense of endless possibility.
Whether we did or not is up to the player to judge, but hopefully at least some of the ‘There’s No Such Thing As Too Big’ feel that the original revelled in back when it was first released will come across.
Why it Matters
These guys took a year to translate one of the largest, most complex gaming scripts of all time! If you’re a fan of JRPGs or just happen to own a Nintendo 3DS, why not throw them a bone and try out Dragon Quest VII. I can promise, it’s a game that will have you entertained until next spring!
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past is available now for the Nintendo 3DS.