Words, words, words

Localization is important. Ivalice will tell you. Whereas Final Fantasy XII and Vagrant Story recieved stunning localizations by Alexander O. Smith that added a whole new texture to the political and religious drama, Final Fantasy Tactics rendered that same drama almost incomprehensible. Breath is mistranslated as bracelet the whole way through, 'truth' is obsucred by 'quotation' marks, you can summon a fiendish undead enemy known to D&D players everywhere as Rich...oh wait. I love Final Fantasy Tactics, but one of the reasons people need multiple playthroughs to understand what the heck is going on is because the translation is pretty crappy.

Final Fantasy VI was actually one of the first games to recieve a "modern" localization effort. Whatever fanboys might say about him, before the advent of Ted Woolsey, most games were translated by non-native speakers. (Final Fantasy IV fans can speak volumes about their favorite spoony bard.) Ted Woolsey translated some of the best-known RPGs of the SNES era, including Breath of Fire, Secret of Mana, and Chrono Trigger, but perhaps because of my own predilictions, he's most famous for localizing Final Fantasy VI.

Now, I like the original Final Fantasy VI translation. While I quote from many different translations on this site, it's the original that worked its way into my head and stayed there for over a decade. The original English script is hokey and not without its faults, but the characters still have a kind of spark to them, which I think must be the easiest thing to lose in translation.

This said, the translation of Final Fantasy VI was hampered by several factors. For one thing, the game in English is just too large to fit on the SNES console. Furthermore, Nintendo tried very hard to keep games clean and kiddy-friendly. Religious references were a special target: Holy is translated as Pearl. Certain espers were modified to be less naked, some of the dialogue was cleaned up, and so on. But when the game was rereleased on the PlayStation platform with no change to the translation, it was rated T. Go figure.

Still, there are some things that are just plain wrong in the original translation. A "heart as pure as snow," my foot! Many of these have been corrected in the GameBoy Advance translation, which also changed spell and item names so that they reflected the rest of the series. I really like the new translation, it adds some clarity and accuracy to the original, but it still feels like Final Fantasy VI. Although, some of the more famous lines in the game were changed.

Hey! Call me a treasure hunter or I'll rip your lungs out! Original Translation
Oh, now that was just plain rude. I'm a treasure hunter...and don't you forget it! GBA Translation

In addition to the two official localizations, there have been quite a few fan translations of the game. The best is probably Lina's, which offers commentary in additon to the wonderful translation work. Sky Render's is the translation that's been feature in "uncensored" Final Fantasy VI ROMs.

In this shrine I use whatever translation proves my point best. I'm really not partial. If I was bent on hyperaccuracy to the Japanese, this'd be a shrine to Lock, but at the same time, there are some things I think the original translation just got wrong. I'm pretty specific about what version of the script I'm quoting. If a quote is lying about all unspecified, you can assume it's from the Woolsey script, because this site predates the Gameboy Advance release by a few years. (Otherwise, I'd be more inclined to use that, being more recent and overall better in my opinion.)

To the motherland!

This is just for kicks, but there's a bootlegged Russian edition of Final Fantasy VI with a translation so horrible it had to be shared. Here are some excerpts.

TERRA: A manf said my memory could get back into me
LOCKE: Give it hours. You're locked in with me! I bequeath you my vocabulary!
TERRA: ???
LOCKE: I won't leave your dance you until your moory returns!!
MAN: How happy of me to rotate my rear one to a lady!
LOCKE: Orate to you later!
EDGAR: It's not in my brood to slaughter em the ladyy.
TERRA: Look, are you helping me?
Is it because of mi maggiccian?
EDGAR: I'll give you 3 reasons:
your pretty has bondaged me!
SecondI'm commiting suicide to know if I'm your special unit
EDGAR: Assumes my technique's getting a bit decrepit. Come find me when feel me rested.
TERRA: Feel free to wonder my hulking. God Crab me the king
LOCKE: Beneth the pudding, he's collaborating with the Returners, an society opposed to the Empire. I he toutches me privately for that group. The old man you shared housed in Narshe is touchning me too.
KEFKA: This makes me not the gay!

I thought that was an appropriate note to end on.