You Say Tomato: A Pro on Fan-Translating Nintendo's Mother 3
December 26, 2008 Page 3 of 3
When Mandelin first started working in fan translation there was a huge array of unreleased Super Nintendo gems to work on. Ten years on, most of the classics have been excavated and released. So where next for the scene?
"Sure, most of the big-name Famicom and Super Famicom games have been released in the West, either by the fan scene of the publishers themselves. But the translation scene is slowly moving into the PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, and PlayStation 2 realms, and there are certainly plenty of treasures to be found there."
"DS games seem to be a little easier to modify too, so that may be another source of great, undiscovered games down the road. I get the feeling that things are only going to pick up from here."
We wonder if spending so much time translating from one language to another spoils the experience of other Japanese releases that he encounters in English?
"Yeah, whenever I'm playing a translation or watching something, I'm always on the lookout for new ways to translate phrases so I can improve my own translation skills. I even used to keep a notebook of neat translations for certain generic Japanese phrases."
"I also often try to imagine what the original text was by working backwards from the translation. It's a fun language game in itself. But unless I've played a game in Japanese already, I can't really say if a certain translation is good or bad."
With that in mind who are Mandelin's heroes, those translators whose work inspires him in both his amateur and professional work?
"I'm a huge fan of Alexander O. Smith's translation work (Smith often works with Square Enix and translated, amongst many other titles, Final Fantasy XII). I can only dream of ever being on his level. To this day, I can't get over how good Vagrant Story's translation/localization was."
"Of course I also greatly admire the skill of Nintendo's Treehouse. The way they're able to make text flow so smoothly is a real sight to see and often the translation is imperceptible in that players wouldn't know it was originally written in Japanese. I'm also a fan of the Disgaea series, and I liked a lot of the little localization choices Atlus made there."
"I have to mention Ted Woolsey (Squaresoft's translator during the company's Super Nintendo heyday), of course, because he really upped the bar for game translations."
"Even though people give him a lot of flak nowadays, I can still remember being amazed at how much better Final Fantasy III read than Final Fantasy II did."
[Check out Clyde's personal site, where there's a list of the games and videos he has worked on in both a professional and fan capacity. The Mother 3 development blog, which outlines all of the difficulties the team had to content with in bringing the game out in English, can be found here.]
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