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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:


    11 responses to “Adventures in localization, MW2 edition” RSS icon

    • Doesn’t seem such a big deal when most of the dialogue is just transliterated English anyway.

    • The voice acting sounds like it’s some guys from around the office.

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