When dealing with Japanese games, there’s a cetain expectation for lousy localization. It’s a historical prejudice rooted in the days when games were low on text, lacked writers and translators, and were low on budget. Those days, quotes as
Congratulation. The story is happy end. Thank you. were the norm rather than the exception. The “All Your Base” meme is a perfect example of this.
Writing has drastically improved since then, but outside of the video game context — compared to other media forms — things are still relatively poor. For example, film has an expectation for quality. You anticipate good writing and, for foreign films, good translations. When that level of refinement is not met, it is very noticeable. When subtitled, it becomes very distracting. “Disterbing”, even.
Bad film translations “interrfer” with the enjoyment of the film; this, for the most part, was never a problem with games. But as budgets grow and themes mature, those expectations are slowly changing. More foreign game companies are embracing localization as am essential piece of the puzzle. Even Capcom, notorious for bad translations, is getting in on the act.
The firm’s leader acknowledged a lack of polish in previous international conversions of Capcom games, and promised a change in attitude. He said that in the future Capcom would put a lot of time, money and energy into making sure that games ported from Japan to the American and European markets would feature very high-quality localization production values.
It’s a good step for the maturation of the industry, but… *sniff* I, for one, am going to miss that irreverent dialogue. A loser is me.
Related Gamasutra article: Lost In Translation–Japanese and American Gaming’s Culture Clash