Arc Rise Fantasia Brought Down By Subpar Localization

By Shawn Collier on May 12, 2010, 6:33PM EDT

After being released last year in Japan and switching between two publishers in North America, Arc Rise Fantasia is set to be released on the Wii this Summer by Ignition Entertainment. The publisher, who is mostly known for a noticeable lack of attention to detail in their translations, made many people wonder how the game would turn out after they announced they would be taking over publishing duties for the title from XSEED Games. Earlier this month the publisher released the first gameplay videos with English voice actors after announcing a few weeks earlier that the game would only include an English dub instead of being a dual-language release. As many expected, the results didn't stray far from their expectations for the title.

The first trailer, which shows the first CG cutscene that plays in the game shortly after L'Arc falls off the ship from his fight with a dragon and meets Ryfia, features two voice actors whose roles feel incredibly hollow. Both characters feel as if they are reading straight from the script with no direction at all as to what the scene is they are voicing. For those who played Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, the voice acting is incredibly similar here, but at least in Baten Kaitos' case the game's script was incredibly well-crafted. Arc Rise Fantasia's dub sounds as if Ignition rushed through the translation, only getting the most general gist of the original Japanese text across, much like Muramasa's translation which shortened many parts of the text into short sentences that held only a basic meaning of the original, if that at all. Part of the charm and why people enjoy RPGs is being immersed in a fantasy world that takes them away from their own. In modern RPGs voice actors play a big role in this, sometimes even taking away from some of the game's flaws, as those who have played games such as Final Fantasy XIII and Tales of Vesperia can attest to, both games who had their flaws but were backed up by voice talent that truly brought the game and its world to life. The voice acting from what we've seen so far in Arc Rise Fantasia, while being comical in a early-PlayStation era vibe, detracts severely from the experience the game could have had. The video also suffers majorly from a lack of lipsyncing the voices to the characters, with many times having the characters talking after the voice overs have ended.

This problem is compounded even more in this snippet of the game's first battle tutorial. While the voices are markedly better compared to the prior video, there's numerous times where the voices deviate from the text on the screen, even though they both summarize the same thing. Most publishers will translate the game first then voice the scenes or finalize parts of the text for voice acting and do it in chunks. It's clear from the video that either Ignition was editing text after the voice acting or their translators and the voice directors aren't working together like they should. Whatever the case is, this lack of quality control is inexcusable in modern games today, and with other smaller publishers like NIS America and Atlus USA putting out localizations that are leaps and bounds ahead in quality over what has been seen in Ignition's handling in Arc Rise Fantasia.

Ignition needs to realize that they are a smaller publisher and lackluster localizations like Arc Rise Fantasia's will only turn away the smaller fanbases that are interested in these sorts of titles. Part of the reason publishers like Atlus USA and NIS America have such cult followings is their ability to produce localizations that don't feel like mere translations of the original Japanese text, but instead tweak the script where need be, such as when the meaning of a phrase might not come across correctly when translated to English. The opposite was the case in Muramasa, where it felt many of times where lines were cut entirely or over-simplified instead of being properly translated for an English audience. The public outcry to these videos might only be a segment of the group that will buy the game, but when your group is as small as it is, losing even a meager amount of possible sales can deal a hard blow to a smaller publisher.

There's no way of knowing when these videos were created, so it may be that Ignition has rectified some of the translation issues present in the two videos or synced the lip flaps of the characters to their voices. Showing these videos, which had so many polishing issues, only hurts their reputation. If Ignition wants to become one of the leading groups in the niche publishing market, half-done attempts like this are inexcusable. Arc Rise Fantasia deserves better than this.

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