Winner: Final Fantasy VII Remake
What a tremendously dizzying task it must be to sort out Final Fantasy VII Remake‘s massive amounts of texts, spoken dialogue, animated cutscenes, and complex battle lingo, but also to keep in mind fans’ impossibly high expectations and acute understanding of the franchise. To say that the localization team did a “really good job” would be an understatement. Game translation has come a long way since the original’s infamous “this guy are sick” line, and this game is one of the most seamless examples of contemporary localizations.
One particularly memorable quote: Andrea Rhodea’s deeply queer line “True beauty is an expression of the heart. A thing without shame, to which notions of gender don’t apply” is both a testament to the original writers and the localization team, a bit of powerful dialogue that begins to undo the original game’s gay-panic 1990s era humor, transforming the Honeybee Inn sequence into an ecstatic celebration.
by Nilson Carroll
Runner-Up: Yakuza: Like a Dragon
It’s never an easy job to localize a game set firmly within a real-world culture. But the Yakuza localization team has been delivering a masterclass in localization for over a decade, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon might just be their crowning achievement! After reintroducing an English dub option in Judgment (a controversial move, considering the legendarily bad dub of the original PS2 Yakuza), they absolutely hit a home run with this incredible dub of Like a Dragon. Translating over a million Japanese characters into English, they delivered a funny, touching, and engaging localization that more than lived up to the best of the Yakuza series. (To be frank, the thing that most impresses me is that they came up with an English version of Baka Mitai that satisfied Mike Sollosi!)
by Jonathan Logan