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  • Adventures in localization, MW2 edition

    Posted on December 1st, 2009 keving 27 comments


    Hey! Remember this stirring scene from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a game you may’ve heard a thing or two about over the past month or so?

    In the English original, Vladimir Makarov (far left; one of MW2’s chief villains) is telling you “Remember, no Russian” — i.e., “Don’t speak Russian during this topical Fox News-bait sequence we’re about to commit.” In the Japanese version that Square Enix is releasing next week, however, the trademark phrase — according to the above screenshot, anyway — has become “Korose, Roshia-jin da,” “Kill them; they are Russians.”

    Maybe it’s a matter of matching with Makarov’s lip flaps, but isn’t that straying a pretty decent distance away from the original intent? As one 2ch commenter rather rudely put it: “It’s meaningless as Japanese already, but how does ‘No Russian’ translate as this? Is this just some college student using Excite [machine translation], or what?”

    Square Enix came under fire last year for their Japanese localization of the original Modern Warfare, a game whose translation was questionable enough that even Famitsu and other publisher-friendly review sites brought it up as a fault. In addition to a slew of typos and instances where text got corrupted when it was imported into the game, a great deal of military vocabulary was simply mistranslated for the Japanese version. The most noted example in Japan reviews: The word “Marine” (officially kaiheitai (海兵隊) in Japanese) is repeatedly translated as kaigunhei (海軍兵), a term which literally translates to “naval soldier” that doesn’t actually exist in standard Japanese.

    “It’d be one thing if these were obscure details,” Game Watch wrote in their Modern Warfare review, “but considering these things show up within the first 30 minutes of play, I really wish it was possible for QA to cover them more thoroughly. This is something that we could say to all overseas game publishers these days. These are not budget games, but full-price titles you’re expecting people to pay for, and especially with a big-name title like COD4, I wish they could’ve avoided disappointing gamers with issues that aren’t the fault of the game itself.”

    Famitsu gave MW2 39 out of 40 points in its review this week, but news that the game is available only with Japanese voices has touched off nerd rage across the Internet over there, with dozens of gamers swearing they’ll only buy the English-language Asian version instead. We’ll see how the game fares next week. (Between the PS3 and 360, the original Modern Warfare sold about 250,000 copies in Japan.)

    In case you’re curious, here is how MW2 sounds in Japanese:

  • Nightmare Circus (Sega/Funcom, 1996)

    Posted on December 1st, 2009 keving 11 comments

    After nearly 14 years, someone (a Brazilian dude, of course) has finally figured out how to finish Nightmare Circus without cheats and posted the results online. You can probably click on the video to find the remaining parts.

    Serious Genesis collectors probably know about this one. Announced in 1995, the side-scrolling action game (starring a guy who looks a little like John Redcorn) received perfunctory previews in US game magazines but ultimately found official release only from Tec Toy in Brazil. It was reportedly on the Sega Channel for a short time, too, before that service ended in 1998.

    The game, as Tec Toy released it, seems about 95% complete by my estimate. Full debug controls are easily available, there’s no story element or ending (besides the credit roll), and actually trying to work your way through the title is a long trial-and-error process. For most players tooling around with the ROM on an emulator, it takes a while even to figure out the controls — Nightmare Circus is meant to be played with a six-button pad, and Mr. Redcorn moves a lot like he’s a Street Fighter II character, right down to the strong/weak melee moves.

    There are a lot of good things to say about this game — some of the setpieces are pretty, some of the music atmospheric — but it plainly needed another couple months. As is, it’s a depressing journey into the depressed minds of some depressed Scandinavian programmers. And yet I watched the entire walkthrough anyway. I’m incorrigible.

  • [I ♥ The PC Engine] Kyūkyoku Tiger

    Posted on December 1st, 2009 keving 7 comments

    Kyūkyoku Tiger

    Maker: Taito
    Release Date: 3/31/89
    5500 yen
    HuCard (2 Mbit)
    Genre: Shooting
    PC Engine FAN Score: 24.37 / 30.00
    Kōgien: “An arcade port. The screen orientation has changed from vertical to horizontal, but the game is still well balanced. The smart bombs, and the trademark way the enemies take lots of hits to kill, are faithful to the original. The slow speed of your fighter makes things difficult for people who have problems dodging shots.”

    You can tell a Toaplan (東亜プラン)-developed shooter pretty quickly. It doesn’t require a particularly well-trained eye. All you need to look for are slowly-scrolling military landscapes, an enormous, pokey-moving aircraft at your command, and enemies that seem adept at placing bullets exactly where you don’t want them.

    Kyūkyoku Tiger, alongside Flying Shark (both released 1987 in arcades), was the game that put the tiny Tokyo-based developer on the map. Both titles established the direction Japanese shooters would take in the years and decades to come, mixing a robust color-coded powerup system with a worrying large number of enemies flinging themselves upon you every millisecond. Toaplan was a pioneer, for better or for worse, when it came to giving shooters a reputation for being fiendishly difficult — even the aircraft that drop power-ups can be extremely tough to kill, especially when you’ve just died.

    Romstar distributed the arcade original under the name Twin Cobra, and the US version had a few key differences:

    • Two-player simultaneous play instead of turn-taking; another player can join at any time
    • After death, you restart right where you died instead of at an earlier checkpoint (if you and a boss finish each other off simultaneously, you continue straight to the next level, skipping the landing sequence)
    • Your ship’s a little quicker, but you can have only three shots on screen at once (four in the Japanese original)

    These additions largely serve to make the game easier, and Taito’s PCE port of Kyūkyoku Tiger goes a step further by including a few secret codes — you can optionally score guided missiles with the yellow power-up, and if you go to the lower left corner immediately after game start and fire a bomb, you’re rewarded with three extra lives.

    In terms of faithfulness, Taito did an incredible job with this port, easily outclassing the job Namco managed with Dragon Spirit a little while back. There’s next to nothing substantial lost in this port, despite fitting in only two megabits, and the music (ported by Tsukasa Masuko, who we last saw in Dungeon Explorer) actually sounds a little better and less oldschool-FM “tinny” to my ears.

    It’s hard, though. Very hard. There’s a total of ten levels, and I don’t have any hope at all of conquering them. Few shooters demand your constant, unwavering attention as much as Toaplan’s did, and that bit was ported all too well, you know?