I was excited for the launch of the Combiner Wars subline for Transformers, because I really like giant robots that transform and I really like when those giant transforming robots themselves transform into combined robots. But I was also apprehensive, because I had a pretty strong feeling that it was going to mean a whole bunch of the same thing we see every time. And sure enough, we have another Optimus Prime, and the first two combiners are the Aerialbots and the Stunticons.
This was not altogether surprising. As we prepare for another Spider-man movie that yet again sets the clock back to the earliest stories, it’s worth asking the question of why we keep feeling the need to retell these stories until we’re all blue in the face. It’s not that there’s a problem with remaking things; I quite like when someone takes something familiar and puts a new twist on it. I am, however, less thrilled when that “new twist” is just an update in the time of release.
Reading the descriptions of anime on Netflix made me wonder why I’d ever cared about it.
It wasn’t as if I really needed to; I had just finished watching through Star Trek Voyager and needed something new to watch, so I was browsing through shows. I was glancing at anime because, hell, it’s been years since I’ve seen an anime that I genuinely enjoyed, despite the fact that anime was central to such important parts of my life like “meeting my future wife” and “starting me on my current career path.” So I was flipping through, looking at some of the shows that had gotten critical praise, and…
Crap on a stick. Was anime always just a parade of teenage breasts and shitty premises?
I still think there are loads of wonderful stories that anime has given us over the years, and I’m reluctant to say that it’s somehow modern anime that’s the problem; there have always been terrible shows designed to serve as high-velocity fanservice dispensers. The problem, in part, is me. Novelty made these things appealing enough to overlook when I was younger, but once the novelty light gets yanked away I start to see what was always there.
If I were asked to list things from my younger days that would be coming back as I pass through the early years of my 30s, The X-Files would not have been on that list. But here we are with talk about a revival floating around, which doesn’t seem like a terribly good idea but may very well be a thing that happens anyway. And that would possibly mean video games, something that the franchise has yet to pull off.
Just like compelling mythology arcs or decent feature films or spin-offs, if you want to be glib.
There were two games based on the show, and both suffered from fairly poor reviews; the first was functionally a mildly interactive movie, the second was a short shot to a Resident Evil clone that was plagued with an obtuse camera and overly complicated puzzles. But neither one is entirely to blame in this particular situation. The X-Files is a really hard show to make a decent game out of. Or a decent feature film, or comic, or sequel, or…
All right, I’m not using that joke again.
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.