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Subject: Persona 3: FES
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Date: 3rd October 2014 Time: 16:00 EST
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Author Topic: Revisiting FF7  (Read 8893 times)
James8BitStar
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« on: January 04, 2007, 09:37:36 AM »

[This was actually posted three days ago on another forum, but after some consideration I decided it would be good to start a topic about this here too.  Currently I'm MUCH farther into the game than the below post describes, but I'll hold off posting any further thoughts on the game itself until I've completed the first disc.

Incidentally, I'm surprised to see someone else has been replaying FF7--I'm referring to the "first few hours in Midgar" post, and I have to agree with that poster, so far the Midgar segments were probably the most fun of the entire game]

So I decided to play through FF7 again, partially due to boredom and partially because I've been meaning to go through it again for the last two years now and either never got around to it, or did but got stuck and had no will to continue.

I've just started--I'm only about fifteen or so minutes into the game, completed nothing but the first Mako Reactor and going through the subsequent dialogues up to the part where Barret pays Cloud and Cloud says he'll do another mission for 3000 gil.  Already there's annoyances and irksome things that make me think I won't think any better of FF7 this time than I did when it was new (and I've always been a critic of FF7 even before it became a pop-culture icon).

Of course, Square was starting to turn cinematic at this time, and a lot of their camera angles reflect this--they take little consideration for practicality.  In some of the distance shots, its hard to make out details sometimes, such as characters you need to talk to.  Though I do give kudos to Square for making items and chests stand out, and for implementing a feature where pressing select shows you where the exits to the current screen are (I have no idea why this feature wasn't present in later FF games, but it should've been).

The dialogue and characterization at Tifa's bar struck me as the kind of thing you would hear in a bad fanfic.  Barret asks Cloud if anyone from SOLDIER was fighting them at the Mako Reactor.  Cloud says he's positive and says that "If there was, you wouldn't be standing here."  To this Barret gets mad and accuses Cloud of thinking he's "so tough" because he was in SOLDIER, accuses him of wanting to go back to Shinra... and I was like, "okay, what the hell?"  That sounds like kind of a contrived way to establish Barret's distrust of Cloud.  In Cloud's own words, "You asked a question and I answered it."  Barret's reaction doesn't make sense.  Granted, a lot of things so far don't make sense.

The scene where Tifa reminds Cloud of his "promise" was equally bad, and sounds like something you would read in an anime fanfic written by a romance-obsessed fifteen-year-old.

I'll comment more when I've finished the first disc.  Until then, post your own thoughts/retrospectives/whatever.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2007, 11:27:08 AM »

No one will ever accuse FFVII of having good writing. And really, I think it's quite possible that FFVII's writing quality level influenced some of those bad fanfics you're talking about (along with it's general plot stucture. I'm talking about all of those OH SHOCKED! moments and minor plot twists and melodrama).

Then again, FFVII's translation/localization was rather spotty, namely in how it conveyed tone and stuff, and in all honesty I'd say that things like Xenosaga, FFT, and Persona, which are usually considered to have worse translations than FFVII, manage to capture mood and tone better than FFVII did.

And on the same line, I DO think it's unfair that people still pick on Woolsey. FFVI had name changes and some minor censorship (which, away from Nintendo, wouldn't have happened). It also had rather lively writing, a strong sense of being written by someone that knows how to write to convey particular feelings, and whatnot, though.
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James8BitStar
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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2007, 01:35:28 PM »

Yeah, guess you're right about that (the stuff you said in your first paragraph).

I have noticed many bits and pieces of spotty translation so far, not in terms of mood but rather in lines where a word was wrong or caused a line to have a meaning probably not intended.  An example is at the very first boss, the crab thing defending the Mako Reactor--when its tail goes up, Cloud says "Look out!  Attack when its tail's up.  It'll counter with its laser."  The way this is delivered in-game makes it sound like you're SUPPOSED to attack when the tail is up.

There are several observations I've made so far that I've been compiling in a document--plot points, game aspects/criticisms, and so on.  As I said, I'll post these when I've completed the first disc.  Right now I'm at Gold Saucer so I'm roughly... halfway there?  Maybe?
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solieyu
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2007, 02:51:02 PM »

ff7's translation is okay in most parts of the game but complete ass in others. i say this because the game does a piss-poor job of explaining various aspects of the plot to you. ff7 has a good storyline (albeit mad confusing), and the fact that the translation is ridiculously ambiguous and vague at times doesn't help matters. for example, all that business about cloud's past and jenova and sephiroth is convoluted as hell and never properly explained--thank god for wikipedia these days. also i can't count the number of times that two or more characters in ff7 were having a conversation and i'd be cycling through their dialogue only to say something like "huh?" to myself at the end, just because whatever the hell they were talking about was so vague and confusing.

woolsey, despite whatever idiocies he would throw into the script, at least never left me with a sense of "what the heck did these two characters just spend 20 lines of in-game dialogue talking about?"
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Parn
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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2007, 05:46:39 PM »

Final Fantasy VII's horrible writing is precisely why I have to date, never passed disc one.  It's also why I've never gotten any farther in Star Ocean 2.  And pretty much every other RPG I've tried to give a chance from the PlayStation era.
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Druff
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2007, 01:43:11 PM »

Ah, this brings back memories... I remember the first time I came to Lunar.net, FFVII had just come out and the forum was essentially just a huge free for all where people were listing a myriad of reasons why FFVII sucked donkey balls and why Lunar should rightfully be the most popular RPG in the world instead. Good times! =P

i say this because the game does a piss-poor job of explaining various aspects of the plot to you.

That actually isn't because of the translation. The original Japanese version of the script was just as vague on important things like the origin of Jenova, Sephiroth, Cloud's history, the Cetra, etc. The story is told in way where the player needs to put some effort into sifting through misinformation to find the truth. If you notice, "misinformation" is sort of a theme in the story. Almost every character believes something that turns out to be false.

Cloud believes he was in Soldier.
Aeris believes her white materia is useless.
Tifa believes Cloud wasn't in Nibelheim five years ago.
Red XIII believes his father was a coward.
Cid believes Sheila ruined his life.

Some of them are kinda iffy...

Barret believes terrorism is justified.
Yuffie believes stealing is OK.
Cait Sith believes... eh, I got nothing. =P

Anyway, this is a recurring thing in the story. Gast believed Jenova was a Cetra, and it wasn't until Ifalna set him straight that he realized that Jenova was actually an alien. Then years later, Sephiroth finds Gasts old notes which are almost pure misinformation, and he comes to believe that he himself is a Cetra too. To reach the truth, the player has to stumble across the old videos of Gast and Ifalna in Icicle Town, and not everyone finds this key information. This has lead to tons of confusion over the years. Bad decision on the part of Square? Maybe.

(BTW Another good one is that Hojo believed Cloud was the failure in the Jenova project, when actually he was the one and only success.)

Most of the shoddy translation errors occur in unimportant scenes like "So that's how I'll fool them." "So that's how you fooled them." "Do, now what?" "Off course!" etc. The translation was done by a team of people at Sony. The leader of the team translated all of the key plot exposition scenes and he did a fine job, relative to the original script.

There is one thing they did in the translation that was flat out a stupid decision; they changed "Sephiroth copy" to "Sephiroth clone." And technically, it wasn't even a "translation" issue, because the word "copy" was already an English loan word in the Japanese script. They just arbitrarily decided that they didn't like the word copy and changed it to clone, even though a clone is a very specific thing and none of the subjects in the experiment were clones in any correct sense of the word.

All in all, I think FFVII is unfairly judged on both sides of the spectrum. On one hand you have retarded fanboys who seem to honestly believe it's the best game, the best THING ever created by mankind and it can never be surpassed or equalled. On the other hand FFVII is an easy target for a lot of undue criticism from people who are irritated by FFVII's popularity and think lesser games don't get a fair shake because of it. Obviously, I happen to think FFVII is a very good game. I think a lot more work went into the writing of the story than a lot of people realize or give it credit for.

The comments about the dialogue seem pretty nit-picky to me. Personally I think the dialogue from the first hour of the game comes off as far more natural and better written than Woolsey's FFVI dialogue, which someone described it as "lively". To me it generally comes off as "Saturday morning cartoony." =P
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James8BitStar
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2007, 02:59:29 PM »

Pretty much anything related to RPG plot points or writing is gonna be nitpicky, but I find it worthwhile as part of the fight against the "RPGs are all about their story" religion. ^__^ Yeah, I'm a meaniehead.

Anyway, I'm almost done with the first disc... I think.  I just passed Nibelheim and Mt. Nibel and I don't remember there being a whole lot left after that...

So, who else likes Yuffie?
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Fadedsun
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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2007, 03:15:38 PM »

Quote from: "James8BitStar"
Pretty much anything related to RPG plot points or writing is gonna be nitpicky, but I find it worthwhile as part of the fight against the "RPGs are all about their story" religion. ^__^ Yeah, I'm a meaniehead.

Anyway, I'm almost done with the first disc... I think.  I just passed Nibelheim and Mt. Nibel and I don't remember there being a whole lot left after that...

So, who else likes Yuffie?


I liked Yuffie. My party was Cloud,Red XIII and Cait Sith. Or I'd switch one of them in for Yuffie.

I still have my save from days of yore. When did FFVII come out? That's how old the save is. lol I can't believe I haven't lost those memory cards yet. I did everything I could in that game. The timer stopped at 99:57:57, which I thought was kind of lame.
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Professor Gast
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2007, 03:19:30 PM »

You still have Rocket Town, the optinal Wutai quest, Gold Saucer, the Temple of the Ancients and the Forgotten Capital before you reach disc 2.

I don't see what is wrong about people playing RPGs mainly for the story. If you want to nitpick, try and translate a long RPG's script yourself in such a short period of time. Yes, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy VII, Xenogears and good deal of other early PlayStation RPGs suffered from translation issues, but did that make them significantly less enjoyable? I don't think so. That being said, having played both, the US version of Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VII International, the Japanese original definitely makes more sense in many cases.
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Bernhardt
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« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2007, 03:51:12 PM »

The thing about FFVII is that, Square was fighting deadlines then, especially on the U.S. release; they had to get it out quickly, so they hired a bunch of temp workers to translate and write the script.

Since these were people whose jobs weren't on the line, indeed, they'd be lanced once the project was completed; they didn't put any more effort into there than they felt was needed.

This also resulted in a lot of some of the non-politically correct jokes, stabbing at different races, homosexuals, and people of disability.

If FFVII was translated and written today, or had it been translated and written back then by proper Square employees, you'd definitely notice differences in the script. As is, the FFVII we see is kind of fansubbed, the difference being those who subbed it really weren't fans, and were probably trying to dis it to get some personal chuckles.
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Fadedsun
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« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2007, 04:42:13 PM »

So, why haven't some purists stepped in to take on the project of re-translating the Japanese version?

I figure this would have happened by now since the translation is that bad.
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Druff
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« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2007, 08:33:25 PM »

So, why haven't some purists stepped in to take on the project of re-translating the Japanese version?

Actually, there was such a project going on at RPGamer years ago. But almost immediately people noticed that the re-translation seemed like little more than a slight re-wording of the official translation, there was virtually no difference at all. So the project died.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2007, 11:56:35 PM »

Cloud reminds me of Seifer in the sense that he's a whiny jackass that likes to act like he's tought even though he's just incredibly insecure. Faux badass. That 14 year old kid you knew in highschool that played MTG and had a weird lisp and always talked about how he had a sword collection and could kick your ass at Counter Strike. The main difference is that Seifer was 17 and quite obviously written like that intentionally. Cloud's 21, should probably be over himself, and I DON'T think he was supposed to come off as a whiny jackass. This is also something I'm very likely to believe is solely the fault of the translation, given what I've been reading about Nojima's design philosophy, and that's what I'm talking about with the translators getting the tone wrong.

It's not really a matter of identifiable spelling or grammatical errors (which generally are just typos and mental lapses and not really translation errors. The latest Elder scrolls game had a helluva lot of them, and those weren't translated to English) or even botched lines. Just a series of very small and general and vague missteps that end up having a big effect.

It's not the vagueries. There's nothing wrong with stuff being vague, and a lot of the thing with FFVII there was just that the information was *hidden*. Wasn't the entire Zack thing, even, explained in some option cutscene? Anyway, yeah, the plot's well thought and good, but I think it's poorly written.

Anyway, as for people that only play RPGs for their story, I don't have a problem with it really (and I do it myself from time to time, honestly) but I do think their efforts are a little misspent 'cause in general I will say that RPGs don't really have much going on in the story department, and I get the feeling that character development and good writing are often replaced with a bunch of gee-whiz plot twists

Also, brief aside:

Anyone else think it was kind of ironic when people complained about Mark in Persona's US translation being a negative racial stereotype, and, like, nobody complained about Barret?
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Druff
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« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2007, 02:38:43 AM »

Nobody complained about Barret? Are you kidding?
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solieyu
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« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2007, 02:59:07 AM »

barret gets tons of complaints but i personally never saw him as stereotypical until i started reading about ff7 characters on the internet. the character's past, mannerisms, role as AVALANCHE leader, and even the gun on his arm are all decently explained in the game, and i think his character makes sense given the context of ff7's world. i always felt that the accusations of him being stereotypical were reading a little too deeply in between the lines. most people accusing him as such seem to cite his way of talking as a main example--but to the best of my knowledge, barret's ebonics weren't present in the original version of the game and only added by the translators in the english script. anyway, i always found him to be a cool character and one of my personal favorites in ff7. and the fact that square, a japanese company, decided to have a black main character (in an RPG, no less) is pretty impressive in of itself.
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