A wooly, Woolsey nerd-rage situation in the making

Hey, look, Square’s finally released Chrono Trigger DS videos. How kind of them to show us a game that looks almost exactly like the one we’ve played to death over the past decade or more. But wait. Something seems…off.

Chrono Trigger DS 'Lucca' gameplay

Such as, say, the dialogue. Hmm. Yeah, it’s subtle, but the text in this trailer doesn’t match up to the Super NES game. In fact, I feel confident in, uh, speculating that the game’s entire script has been completely revamped to make use of the additional space available on a DS ROM. Yeah, speculating. That’s the ticket.

This is bound to be entertaining, if you find schadenfreude-flavored joy in nerd rage. The original localization of the SNES version of Chrono Trigger, like that of Final Fantasy III (née VI), is the subject of a tremendous amount of debate by people who probably spend a bit too much time thinking about pragmatic changes made to very old video games by a guy working on a tight deadline and very little data space to fit complex, compressed Japanese-language concepts into. That Chrono Trigger was at all coherent is a small miracle; that it was actually pretty witty, too, seems a nigh-impossible feat. And yet! People still kvetch about it to this day. The war between weeaboos and people who use the word “animu” because they can’t get away with saying “Jap” anymore rages on through tiny, insignificant battlefields like this one.

And, no doubt, once people get their hands on the new version of the game, we’ll be hearing endless line-item vetoes from overly obsessive fanatics who hate the new localization…or else hate the people who hate the new localization. Either way, be forewarned! Gaming forums are gonna turn ugly in a couple of months.


39 thoughts on “A wooly, Woolsey nerd-rage situation in the making

  1. I mean, yeah, people take it overboard to an insane degree, but at the basic level I can understand when you love a particular line and it isn’t in the new version. It’s not enough to get worked up into a rage over, but it can be a little disappointing to go, “Oh, the people in charge of this game now didn’t love that line the way I did.”

  2. In a comparative lit class a year or two ago, I had to parse the Constance Garnett & the (at the time) brand stinking new Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translations of War & Peace, searching for the reasons each translator(s) chose to stay true to the typical Victorian drawing room style of novel writing or the much more polyglot, arrhythmic, unmannered and propelled by an almost mechanical, monochromatic repetition of verbs in particular. It actually made me like the book a whole lot more!

    Wait, did I just compare Tolstoy translations to f’ing Chrono Trigger? Oh God.

  3. I’m cool with this, as long as it doesn’t end up like that CT Retranslation project. But Square Enix isn’t that stupid, so it won’t.

  4. Oh Christ.

    I’m part of a, for the most part, intelligent Chrono Trigger forum, and yet this is the one area where the board cannot shut up or agree with.

    But that’s okay, one of my best friends (By that, I mean this was part of a face to face discussion) downright refuses to acknowledge that the original Tactics translation is actually a bad one, even to the point of insisting that “Blame yourself or God” was totally intentional.

    Believe me, it can be much worse, Parish.

  5. @Christopher: Did you end up having a preference for either translation? I loved Pevear/Volokhonsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.

    On FFT’s translation, me and a friend love it for that feeling that it was just a couple of guys with a Japanese dictionary in a room somewhere. It has a certain charm to it!

  6. While FFT does have a pretty bad translation, I’m pretty sure “Blame yourself, or God” is intentional. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s a perfectly servicable line. Being comprehensible doesn’t necessarily make it a fluke.

  7. I heard they’re bringing back Frog’s original “activous” personality.

    Thank goodness. Hopefully Melchoir’s dialogue will be properly wisdomatic, too.

  8. ‘Actually, Magus is now “Magical Emperor Magus-sama.” ‘ What? There’s only one Magical Emperor and that’s Ghaleon. Sorry Magus, you’re cool and all but you’re not even an end boss.

    “Blame yourself, or God.” I think if someone said that to me I would start punching them in the face and say to them (with each word punctuated by a another hit), “Don’t blame me for this. Blame yourself, or God. But mostly yourself.”

  9. Going off of the PSP Translation, (Which I’m not 100% sure is accurate to the Japanese text with the added flair of faux middle language, but I have no reason to believe that it isn’t), the actual line is directed toward Ophelia (That much is 100% as it’s said in a cutscene directly to her) and he says something along the lines that it’s not because of personal desire or anything against her that he’s kidnapping her, but it’s because she’s royalty and just so happened to be born into royalty by the higher powers that be. So “Don’t blame me (for kidnapping you), Blame yourself (For being a princess) or God. (For being born a princess). Unfortunately, this doesn’t come out due to the lack of context in both the text and the visuals of the Playstation version. If my interpretation is however, wrong, please alert me because I’d rather have the straight facts on this sort of thing.

    Also, sorry for bringing this up Parish. It wasn’t supposed to start anything because I thought it was generally assumed knowledge (Specifically on this site) that the FFT translation was flubbed as opposed to Woolsey’s work with Square. I wouldn’t have even posted this if I hadn’t seen your message stating not to before I had written the damn thing. Well, live and learn.

  10. If square even thinks about changing Ozzie, Slash, and Flea’s names, so help me God, someone is getting throttled. Badly.

    Gameplay’s looking dead solid, though.

  11. Retranslating Chrono Trigger is a little like retranslating…you know, the Bible, only potentially far more offensive. I thought I’d heard that there’s an option to play the Super NES original mode or something in there, too.

  12. Quoth the Woolsey, “The game translations themselves were hard. It’s kind of like taking a dictionary… well that’s kind of a stupid example…It’s like taking a story of choice and turning it into a Reader’s Digest thing. You really don’t feel good about that. I wish there had been a way to have spent more time, to have a more faithful representation on a lot of the screen text.”

    From a transcript of a Player One podcast: http://www.playeronepodcast.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=145

  13. I thought the FF6A translation did a great job of keeping the spirit of Woolsey’s version while making every single line of dialogue twice as detailed. Hoping for another one like that.

  14. Cool on the new translation. I’ve played the original Chrono Trigger enough that I wouldn’t mind seeing another professional translators take on it. I enjoyed going through FFIV, V, and VI again on GBA for this reason. Definitely not always good, the newer ones, but hell… great change of pace.

  15. Serves those animu loving weeaboos right! I like Chrono Trigger before any of you! Final Fantasy II/IV, too! I knew Aeris/th was going to die from the moment FF7 (hallowed be they game) was released in Japan, because I looked it up on the net in my social studies class!

  16. “You…you visit 4chan?”

    If you were talking to me (which I hope you weren’t) hell no. That’s from a game. 4chan did not invent things.

  17. “I knew Aeris/th was going to die from the moment FF7 (hallowed be they game) was released in Japan, because I looked it up on the net in my social studies class!”

    Um… congrats?

  18. “You…you visit 4chan?”

    “If you were talking to me (which I hope you weren’t) hell no. That’s from a game. 4chan did not invent things.”

    He’s referring to the “weeaboo” and “animu” in the OP.

    I know these words because I have a friend who says them. Audibly.

  19. CT’s one of those funny cases where Woolsey actually admitted he hacked it to shreds, yet he still has defenders for it. I will admit the man had an interesting style (which is better suited to the likes of CT and SMRPG than FF6), but come on. The man himself said he killed a sizable chunk of the script so it’d fit. You’d think his defenders would admit that a little editing an updating is more than in order in that light.

  20. oboy this is like a dream come true I hope the honorifics aren’t limited to Magus-sama 0_o I hope you get to pour sake over the grave this time *squeeeeeeeee* ^___________^ SUGOI

  21. A new translation doesn’t obliterate the old translation. This is only a positive thing. If you like the old trans, you have it. If you hated the old trans, well maybe this one will make you happy. If you hate both, learn japanese and play the super famicom version. Or maybe there’s a fan trans patch of the the sfc version . How can anyone complain about … oh wait, yes, this is the internet I’m on right now. Whoops.

  22. But I DID learn Japanese and play the Super Famicom version.

    and guess what!

    He didn’t hack it to shreds!

  23. excuse me but Frog’s original name was Kaeru and it is insulting to know Woosley simply mis-translated it to Frog instead of preserving the pun he ruined the game and I was unable to sustain my immersion in the game

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