"If the burning question you’ve got is “ATLUS! How did you let this happen?” Let me try to explain. First, we’re human."
- A blog post on the Atlus website explaining how the company's latest Shin Megami Tensei game shipped in the West with some untranslated text.
Shipping games is tricky business, even more so when you go outside your home territory. It's not uncommon to see games released with glaring errors -- but it is uncommon to see developers and publishers speak candidly about why those errors slipped past them into the shipped version of a game.
That's why it's so notable that Atlus will apparently release an English-language version of its 3DS role-playing game Shin Megai Tensei IV: Apocalypse this week with two lines of text untranslated from the original Japanese: the company has published a blog post today claiming that the untranslated text made it past the SMTIV:A QA team because the testers were "too good" at the game.
"The errant Japanese text only shows up if you get to a point where the boss gives you a dialogue option WHILE your partner is KO’d," reads the "SMTIV Faux Pax-calypse" post. "Our testers, who have been with the company for quite awhile, and who are well-versed in all things SMT (I think a few of them also were QA for the original SMTIV) were so good, they never ran into the situation of having an unconscious partner during the fight, and henceforth the dialogue in question."
Whether or not that's really why the localization gaffe made it into the game doesn't matter; what matters is that Atlus appears to be acknowledging a mistake and opening up about why it happened, affording its fans a better understanding of what's involved with localizing, testing and shipping a game.
It's a good reminder to customers that game companies are staffed by real humans who sometimes goof up, and the post goes on to note that while Atlus isn't sure whether it can feasibly fix the localization error, this error has inspired it to redouble its QA efforts on other localized games (like Persona 5) that it plans to ship in the near future.