Fri, 16 February 2007
If you didn't get a chance to listen to it yet, we interviewed Ted Woolsey (translator for many of Square's 16-bit hits including Final Fantasy VI) in Episode 16. Get it--Episode 16, 16-bit Final Fantasy? Yes? No? We totally planned it that way.
Now you can read the full transcript of the interview here. In it Ted reveals such things as the genesis of the US-flavored Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, the original intention to release Final Fantasy V on the SNES in North America, and he speculates on why the spell "Holy" might've been changed to "Pearl." Plus he talks about the difficulties of fitting a coherent English translation into the size constraints of a cartridge and the time constraints of the manufacturing process. Here's a taste:
Ted Woolsey: I think one of my favorite games was Final Fantasy V, which I had almost all translated, but which they opted not to ship because they didn't feel the US market was ready for a second flagship RPG. They'd shipped FFII and they felt in Tokyo that they needed something else to get people trained up on that style of gaming, and that became a game called Mystic Quest. It was a little 4 MB game, which is basically a Game Boy game that was put out on the SNES.
When that one came about, we were in a board meeting and Sakaguchi-san and [Square founder Masafumi] Miyamoto-san and some other folks kind of immediately said they had to fix this. They called the guy who was waiting around the corner outside the office to come in. It turns out he was the new head of the Osaka development team, and they said, 'You will make a game for America.' He’s like, 'OK, I'm doing it! Great'
So I was a little bit more involved in the writing of the story on that one, just to try to shape it better but as a 4MB ROM, there was just an excruciatingly small amount of space there to spin a yarn as it were.
Chris: Was it a matter of sales from the previous Final Fantasies that they thought maybe the games needed to be easier to reach a wider audience?
Ted: Yeah. They wanted a million units. That was their number and they were starting to get that in Tokyo with every release of Final Fantasy, and of course Enix would always outdo them with its release of its next game so there was big competition that way.
In North America, FFII, the first RPG for SNES I think, did well in the early days of Super NES because the installed base was small and the percentage of users that were buying the game was relatively small. Yeah, it did not play out as they had hoped. I think Nintendo said hey you guys will be out there as one of the best games. You're going to sell a ton of software. I think that they [Square] just felt that the game was too complicated and not mainstream enough. So that was the reason that Mystic Quest came to be.
I thought FFV was spine-tingling with the sound of the wind and bells in the background and dragons to ride on. That was where I really got hit deep into this style of RPG.
Greg: So going back to something you said in one of your earlier answers you said that one of the scenes that you liked in Final Fantasy III had to do with suicide, but you couldn't translate it as such. There has been a lot of venom on the Internet about things like this fellow named Holy being changed to Pearl and that sort of thing.
Greg: What was the reasoning behind all that?
Ted: Well there definitely was a sheet that was distributed by Nintendo that as a licensee there were certain things you absolutely could not put in games, you could not say in games. Religious terminology was definitely one thing, as were iconographic things that were sometimes built into these games that had to be removed before they were shipped to North America. I think a lot of people haven't really even seen the difference in some of the games that were shipped here.
But so, I can't remember specifically why I changed that to Pearl. It actually could have been a boo boo on my part. But at any rate...
More at the jump...
Category:general -- posted at: 1:50am EDT