Janet Hsu, the localisation director responsible for bringing The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles to the west has spoken about the challenges involved.
Yes, there’s more to localising a game than just translating the language, as Hsu points out. For example, jokes that might make sense to a Japanese audience (and we’re not just talking about puns) might fall flat. Other references or elements might go entirely over the audience’s heads, undermining what a game is trying to accomplish.
Writing on Capcom Unity, Hsu detailed the ways she and her team worked to make sure that the game actually made sense. The fact the game is supposed to be set in period Japan also threw up issues, regarding language that would be outdated in the modern era.
“Due to external factors surrounding the localization itself such as the target language and culture or the era in which it’s being made…. each localization is crafted in a way that best caters to its goals and needs,” Hsu explains. She also talks about the US versions of The Office and Shameless, that they prove localisation is entirely necessary.
There’s far too much to go into here but her piece is absolutely eye-opening and, complete with examples, is well worth a proper read. You can find Hsu’s article here, on Capcom Unity, and get your hands on investigative adventure game The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles when it arrives on Playstation 4, PC and Switch this July 27th.