The first half of what could possibly be the last game from Final Fantasy creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi launched on Apple Arcade in April much to the delight of fans of the legendary developer. The innovative title aims to reinvent the JRPG genre with unique battle mechanics and one-of-a-kind environments made entirely out of dioramas. The overall theme to the development of Fantasian is attention to detail, whether it’s the art on the walls of the local tavern, or the scales on a fish in a room players may never even visit.
Mistwalker employed the same attention to detail when it came to the English translation of the Apple Arcade title, with the team choosing an editor/manager with plenty of experience localizing text heavy titles, Jessica Chavez, to supervise the task. The former XSEED editor made a name for herself editing Trails in the Sky, a game whose script includes over 1.5 million Japanese characters and took 9 months of working 84 hours a week to complete. Of the many games and projects listed on her resume which include Half-Minute Hero, Rune Factory 4, and Xanadu Next, Jessica recently joined us to discuss her latest collaboration.
Fantasian is full of unique and innovative ideas, but one forward thinking decision in particular led to the best possible translation. “I got to play [Fantasian] while localizing. It makes it so much easier, this isn’t something you get to do as much, especially as a freelancer” says Chavez. “We had access to local builds that we could play while we were doing text”. So how much impact does having access to the game with a direct line to the developers have on the localization quality?
“I got to see a lot of development stuff while they were planning it out and that helped me plan for the English,” Chavez explains. As any localization editor will attest, trying to derive context from text files can be extremely difficult. Jessica explains one particular detail that likely would have been overlooked had she not been playing the game. “We had to give some sort of hint on how to get to Leo’s house. [the hint being that] his house has the green roof, but all these houses have green roofs”. “In Japanese, the difference between blue and green is sort of, not really there … the distinction just isn’t as sharp as it is in English” explains Chavez.
Other small details that were caught thanks to in-game context include the description of the hair colour for Cheryl. “There was a line during one of the battles and a character refers to [Cheryl] as azure haired, like blue haired” describes Chavez. “I looked at this for a while and I’m really confused, … I think this is purple.” Chavez then posted the question to the development team and confirmed that, sure it was purple. “This is what makes this process so amazing, you get to ask these strange questions”.
Even with access to both the game itself and the developers, the localization had its share of difficulty. “Because things have to be viewed on an iPhone, we often had to chop things exponentially to get things to fit.” Chavez elaborated on a specific instance that required some creative thought. “There’s a mechteria blobish monster that you fight at one point, and the actual boss name is about five kanji long.” Due to technical restrictions, the Infernal Beast of Purgatory Death Devil was renamed the Mechteria Blob in the English translation. “You get these really sort of fancy interesting sounding beast names and really have to boil them down”.
The interview with Jessica Chavez is approximately ninety minutes long and includes more localization tales and much discussion on the endearing qualities of the Sakaguchi title. No release date has yet been set for the second half of Fantasian though Mistwalker has confirmed it is expected later this year. Expect a much more quest based experience along with a skill tree reminiscent of the one featured in Final Fantasy X. The episode of The Thirsty Mage featuring Jessica Chavez can be played in all popular podcast players.
Fantasian Localization Team
- Localization Producer – Mike McNamara
- Localization Manager – Kana Hotta
- Localization Creative Supervisor – Jessica M. Chavez
- Translator – Yuji Moriya
- Editor – John Neal
- Editing Assistance – Marc Underhill, Matt Kane