Localization is really, really tricky.
I have played through games that have been localized poorly, don’t get me wrong. The original translation for Final Fantasy Tactics appears to have been made by a group of people for whom neither English nor Japanese was a native language; the same character or place will be referred to by two different names within the same dialogue. I played through all of Lunar: Silver Star Story despite the fact that it was laden with pop culture references that seemed dated ten minutes after launch. And I’m willing to bet good money that some parts of Transistor got mistranslated from whatever divine language the Supergiant folks speak.
But there’s a lot more to localization than just running a quick Google Translate on all of the words and typing out the resulting dialogue. Translation is hard enough on its own, but localization is both necessary to make sure you aren’t vomiting out incoherent word soup and a form of editing by necessity. Because there’s no such thing as a perfect translation of anything from one language to another. Hence why fan translations earn a bit of a raised eyebrow from me.
Remember how I said two weeks ago that if you put out a demo for your game, it should include a tutorial? Apparently that advice was taken to heart by the makers of Croixleur Sigma in the worst possible way. Because they included one that is entirely non-interactive, thus invalidating the benefit of having a tutorial by preventing you from putting your hands on the controls and actually feeling how the game controls. Then again, considering the game was already going out of its way to make sure it didn’t actually recognize my gamepad mappings, perhaps that’s a… understandable thing?
Croixleur Sigma is one of the various Japanese indie games that’s popped up on Steam, and like so many of them it’s kind of a thin offering. By no means is it one of the worst games I’ve played here, but it manages to commit the worst of all sins. Not by failing to last 15 minutes (although it does that, too), but by making slashing my way through a whole pile of monsters feel boring.
Being a fan of Transformers insulated me pretty well. I don’t mean a casual fan that didn’t realize the franchise had run pretty much continuously in one form or another since 1984, the generation that played with the toys as kids and then realized that Michael Bay was making a movie based on that franchise. I mean that I was a fan as soon as I was old enough to understand what the show was. I wrote a long string of fanfics about stuff during Beast Wars. I was a big fan.
So I sure as hell was disappointed when the film turned out to be a terrible cluster of explosions and bland, ignorable characters. But I also knew the difference between that and childhood ruination, which would be impossible without the aid of a multi-directional time machine.
I’m not saying that this franchise and the characters it contained were not childhood icons, because they totally were. I’m saying that the internet is full of people who have either never ended their childhoods or have some really weird ideas about how things happening now would affect their younger selves. If your childhood is being ruined by a modern remake of something you enjoyed when you were younger? Your childhood is way too fragile.
I’m going to be totally honest here and say that as much as it’s supposedly a part of the subculture, I’ve never much cared for Lord of the Rings. This isn’t a case like Star Wars, where I think the thing as a whole is undeserving of praise; J.R.R. Tolkien seems to have been a fantastic guy, he wrote one of my all-time favorite fantasy novels (The Hobbit), and he did sort of kick of an entire genre. It’s not his fault that later fantasy writers have resorted to making thin pastiches of his original work, and while it is his fault that he found heroic sagas way more interesting than I do, that’s… not really a “fault” thing.
But it’s really, really difficult to make a game set in that universe, despite its popularity. We’ve gotten a lot of magnificent games in the universe already, sure, but this is a unique project insofar as every successful one makes each subsequent one that much harder. We should be thankful for what we have so far, but it’s getting harder to fit in more stuff.