"Leaving the task of translation to the end is going to put the rest of the localization behind schedule," she says. "Once you receive the translated text, you need to get it integrated back into the game. You also have to schedule time for recording localized voiceovers - which means time for auditioning and casting actors, recording the lines, putting them in the game. Then you need to spend several weeks linguistically testing the game."

The localization process is complicated even further by the need to work across different platforms and several different languages, all for simultaneous release.

"Releasing simultaneous localizations can be very challenging," says Chandler. "Each language requires a team of translators, voiceover actors and testers. Some companies are now working on up to 10 simultaneous localizations. When you add in multi-platform releases, this greatly increases the workload."

The process of videogame localization is far more technically complex than a movie or TV show.

"Videogames are, by nature, interactive, allowing for player variables to fit in the predetermined text strings," says O'Hagan. "Many games allow players to make up the name of a character. Then, the name has to appear every time it is mentioned and may be embedded in a phrase or a sentence. Similarly, the player may choose to go down a particular path by inputting their selection, which needs to be understood by the game software, in turn affecting the translation of the predetermined text strings. This can be particularly challenging with highly inflected Roman languages with gender distinctions and gender agreements of nouns and verbs."

Highs and Lows
For a translation master class, check out Phoenix Wright on the DS, which features the work of one of the industry's foremost translators, Alex Smith. With the ability to switch between Japanese and English, the Japanese versions offer a rare insight into the localizer's craft.

"Phoenix Wright was a fantastic and utterly frightening game to work on, because let's face it, Phoenix Wright is all about the text," says Judd, who worked on the game. "Fortunately, they allowed us ample time to determine different speaking styles for the characters, names and even touch up some of the graphics to fit the U.S. Alex Smith, genius that he is, offered us many great suggestions. Of course, Takumi Shu's base text was also exceptional - it never hurts to have quality base text to work off of."

But as a brief look at the wonderful Audio Atrocities makes clear, even high-profile titles still slip through the net.

"I guess the bar on quality has increased over the past few years so there really aren't as many examples as before," says Judd. "Of course, Resident Evil 1 will live in infamy for its poor voice acting and awkward sentences. I have to admit the 'Don't come' [Japanese: Kuru na] voice in Sega's House of the Dead 2 still cracks me up to this day."

"The translation of Final Fantasy VII into European languages is notorious for the bad quality of its translation," says Mangiron. "One example commonly quoted is that 'party,' which refers to the group, was localized as 'fiesta' in Spanish."

Localization, Localization, Localization
While the slip-ups are still funny, the days when bad translations were something to be expected are thankfully behind us.

And while it's the producers that get the high-profile interviews and the artists that get fans salivating, it is the localizers we have to thank for bringing us the games we need - and for that, localizers, we salute you.

A hero is them.

Gearoid Reidy is a journalist working in Asia. His website is www.gearoidreidy.com - but don't come! Don't come!

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