Sunday, September 03, 2006

Looking for a Translator

I'm back to the blog and country. I think I'll leave the play by play of the trip to 100littledolls, I just wanted to bring up some small observations. This was my second opportunity to visit Japan, so I was a little more prepared this time. Meaning, I brought a handkerchief to wipe all the drool off my face every time I walked into a store and saw all the wonderful games that I'll never be able to play. RPGs, Pokemon, strategy games, survival horrors and a remake of Dragon Quest V that looked so yummy. They had their share of stinkers over there, but I was genuinely excited for most games I saw. It was a strange experience. One that happens less and less in the States. I'm not to fond of the FPS GTA clone combo that fill the shelves here in America. It was nice to know that somewhere in the world there are still plenty of games that I would enjoy. (Although I can't play them unless I learn the language or a company brings them over.)

I complain, but I do enjoy and respect many games made in the western hemisphere. And I was shocked that my favorites were no where to be seen. Example: I went to the electronics districts in three major cities, Terimachi Street in Kyoto, Den Den Town in Osaka, and Akihabara in Tokyo, and I did not see one copy of Oblivion. Now I understand that the 360 is doing terrible in Japan, but I thought this game would have at least been pushed more. I mean, its a pretty impressive game. It might not have come out yet, but there weren't any advertisements. I found it weird and kind of sad that even the quality games don't seem to make it tp Japan. The PC sections did have a bunch of the hits from America translated into Japanese, but the consoles were lacking. The imported game section that I did find proudly displayed Tiger Woods, NBA Live, and American versions of Nintendogs. No wonder American game products are seen as lacking if this is all that is seen.

Oh well, I really never thought I would be defending Western games, but I guess its just an extension of the sadness I feel when I know I will never play all those juicy Japanese RPGs. I just wish that there was a better exchange of games between our two countries. Lately I've felt that the two markets have been growing farther and farther apart. I just hope that in the next generation, there will be less polarization, and more of a coutinuaty in the games that are released. (I want more RPGs!) I believe that the Nintendo Wii has the best chance of this in it's early attempt of trying to appeal to everyone. Maybe it'll create more of a cohesive video game world in the process.


tekanji said...

One thing I noticed about some games that were brought over (Jack and Daxter 2, Perfect Dark, and some soccer game) was that in most cases there was very little effort put in to translating the interface.

Jack and Daxter had the options of Japanese subtitles and Japanese menus. I'm pretty sure Japanese language wasn't an option.

Perfect Dark was all in English, but I'm pretty sure there was at least a Japanese menu function that we didn't use.

The soccer game, I think, had a Japanese menu function, but the default was definitely English.

I agree with you that the widening gap between the markets is frustrating, especially since I know of more than a few games that I think would benefit the other culture.

Part of the reason, I think, is that the idea of what the market wants is very different in America than it is in Japan. I would argue that Japan is a step ahead of us in that -- it has a broader sense of who plays and what kinds of games (or non-games, such as my beloved dictionary) they'd like to play. Although, not speaking Japanese well enough yet, I'm not sure what kinds of stereotypes they use to claim their market.

I'm glad you had fun, though :) Too bad you were all the way in Tokyo, 'cause otherwise I would have pesterd you to meet up.

Shions_Glasses said...

Thanks, we did have a great time, sorry we missed you. That's really strange that those games aren't translated. Why would someone buy a game that they cant understand? Western games didn't feel very accessible.
I agree with you about a wider audience being reached. From my very limited experience, I saw an effort to appeal to lots of different people. (ie the Cook book DS game advertised at the check out of a super market) It was a common site to see women, men, children, adults, whoever, in a smoky arcade or playing a DS on the train. I didn't feel the taboo or stigma that I feel in the states. It felt as common as watching a movie or TV.