I've been meaning to write this for a while, but I tried twice with my tablet last night and Kinja decided to lose its mind on both occasions and ruin my work. I can't include an image from my phone, so I ask that someone create an image of a Blastoise wearing a beret and holding a croissant and ask Steve Boring or GBD or someone to edit it in as the banner image. Anyway.
Language is a bit of a strange thing with me. Being a grandchild of immigrants, I grew up with relatives that spoke Canadian English, Macedonian, and indecipherable Lancashire English. When I was a kid, I got really big into that there anime, as well as Japanese games. My first exposure to any spoken Japanese laguage - aside from small sounds clips - was in Mega Man X6. It sounded really damned cool to tiny me, and it went from there. In high school, I dated a girl from Newfoundland, and discovered that English can be spoken very differently, even in the same country. My fiance is Australian, hailing from the hilariously Australian-sounding city of Toowoomba. Today, I live in a predominantly-Indian suburb of Toronto where Punjabi and Gujarti are commonly spoken.
Because I've been around a mix of languages and dialects all my life, I've become accustomed to some of the differences between languages... For example, Newfoundland English can stay audibly clear when shouting or crying where mainland Canadian English can't. Many languages use puns and play-on-words that don't translate well but are hilarious. Some languages can assign a much more abrasive tone to words that may not be in English.
I say all this because gaming has changed. Thanks to changes in storage capacity, games now often come with a multitude of languages. Prefer the authenticity of Japanese audio in an Atlus game? You can have that. Think Renaissance Italy as portrayed in Ass Creed 2 works better with Italian audio? You have that option.
But now that we have these options, is there a right or wrong way to play a game? I recently played through Resident Evil Revelations, and I was conflicted - do I keep the English audio to fit the western setting, or do I go with Japanese audio to maintain the emotional prose of the language spoken by the game's creative personalities?
We have come a long way from the spoony bards and "that guy are sick"s of days gone by... Generally speaking, English translations are high quality and the original intent of dialogue is rarely changed significantly, if at all. But is that always a great thing?
One of the best things of the late 90's was a little company called Working Designs. They brought a litany of otherwise obscure Japanese titles west, arguably some of the best of the era. Their localizations were high quality, but not 100% accurate. Their localization staff kept the core meaning of what was being said, but added some humour that, ever today, makes me laugh out loud. By doing this, they took what could have otherwise been standard fare dialogue and made it something special.
So what do you think, TAY? Is there a right way to play a game? Is authenticity of language or precise translation important to you? Tell me in the comments. I'd love to hear your stories! Thanks.