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Josh Tolentino avatar 1:18 PM on 10.28.2009  (server time)
Sakura Wars is a localization hydra

I put this up on Japanator this morning, but since some of you don't go there >:(, I figured it was my duty as Dtoid's resident Sakura Wars fanboy to put it here, too.

*Plus, I haven't posted in a while so hey, why not.

Anyway, story time:

NIS-America twitter'd that the official Sakura Wars site had been updated with new character profiles. I went, and looked up the new profiles. Surprise surprise, some of the names had been changed to sound better in English. That's common (Phoenix Wright, Trauma Center), and even preferable if done well.

But then I noticed some text shadowing those new names, text that matched the original Japanese names:

At first I thought it was just bad web design, that someone at NIS forgot to check his Photoshopping copypasta, and I tweet'd my lulz appropriately:

"@NISAmerica changed the names but not the background text. Does that mean they'll change over the language discs?

Then lo and behold, I get a DM from @NISAmerica:

"Hello Josh, Japanese voice disc will have the original character names in text! Thanks!

So, yeah. Wow.

I've never seen this happen before. Sure, there are games that have both EN and JP voice/text options, but more often than not such games get "dubtitled," meaning that the localized text used to script the dub is used for the subtitles. That usually means the word-for-word translation is less accurate, and in some cases actually adds, deletes, or alters the lines and naming conventions themselves.

It happened in Valkyria Chronicles and Odin Sphere (to good effect), and it happened in Rurouni Kenshin (to catastrophic effect), but I've never seen two separate localizations used in the same release.

It might be a side effect of Sakura Wars' dual-disc setup. There's too much voice data, especially for the Japanese version, for altered conventions to let slip. Maybe they're just that serious about making the game work in the west. I'd like to think the latter.

Also, it drives home how hard it might be to keep the game from offending Americans. I know some of you folks were disgusted at Gemini Sunrise's cowgirl accent, what more for a female African-American lawyer-slash-actress practicing from the streets of Harlem, named "Sagitta Weinberg?!

Hot damn, I hope this pays off. Also pictures.

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