Toko Mirage Sessions #FE is a big JRPG project co-developed by Nintendo and Atlus, with the later being famous for its SMT and Persona franchises. To celebrate the games launch in the west, GameSpot interviewed developers behind the game and asked them about the games localization challenges, the games pop genre influence and more. The full interview is at the source link but some choice quotes will be listed below.
Westerners are increasingly becoming more interested in Japanese video game series. One of the apparent themes in TMS#FE is pop music performances, with a distinctly Japanese flair. How do you think this will translate to fans in the west?
Takata: We had the cooperation of the Avex Group, who are making a large number of hit songs. So we were able to not only do songs, but also go all the way with no compromises, and incorporate dances. The producer who is in charge of many popular artists created the music by using songwriters who are actively writing hit songs in Japan. So this is real pop music. I think you will like it.
A portion of the Western audience that appreciates Japanese games become very upset when any content in a game is altered during the localization process, regardless of how big or small the detail may be. When adapting a game for Western markets, does that affect how you go about designing some elements? Or do you ever feel like you have to strip away things that are central to the game’s identity or purpose, just to make it a viable product outside of Japan?
Hitoshi Yamagami: Each country has its unique culture and taste. There are times when common sense in one country can be thoughtlessness in another. However, if we create a game with only that common sense that causes no problems in any of the countries, it can be a very boring game.
“…It is true that as we build up the settings and characters, we are sometimes obliged to change something in part of the game. This optimization does not destroy the identity of what we as developers want to convey.” – Yamagami
From among the various complex tastes of people worldwide, the developer selects settings and characters that appeal to as many people as possible. That being said, it is true that as we build up the settings and characters, we are sometimes obliged to change something in part of the game. This optimization does not destroy the identity of what we as developers want to convey. Developers would not accept such drastic changes. The changes made during localization are optimizations intended to bring to as many customers as possible the things that we want to convey. No major changes are made that would change what we want to convey.
Nintendo tends to be very hands-on with the projects they help out with, but what drove the decision for Atlus to handle the localization and not Treehouse?
Yamagami: The games that Atlus translates bring out the atmosphere of Atlus very well. The games that Nintendo translates bring out the atmosphere of Nintendo. With the text of this title, we wanted to bring out the atmosphere of the games that Atlus creates, as much as possible. That is why we asked Atlus to do the work of translating the text. The Development Team is convinced that fans in the English-speaking world will find the game full of expressions typical of Atlus games.