Today is a big day for otome and visual novel fans. Amnesia: Memories, Idea Factory International’s first otome localization, is out today on both the Vita and PC! We liked it so much, we had to find out more about what went into the game. So, we got in touch with Allison Hale and Justina Lange, Translator and Localization Coordinators with IFI, to ask a few questions.
Michibiku: How much experience did you have working on visual novels and otome games prior to Amnesia: Memories? Does the experience differ greatly from more traditional game translation?
Allison Hale: There isn’t much difference between localizing a visual novel game versus RPGs aside from the massive amount of text. It helps to enjoy otome games outside of work, which both Justina and I do. Because the text is so integral to the game itself, and because Japanese as a language can be very vague, it’s important to pay specific attention to the dialogue during debug to make sure what they’re saying matches the backgrounds and the situations they’re in, which can be challenging to do in a limited amount of time.
Justina Lange: This is IFI’s first otome game, so there was no previous experience, but there wasn’t too much different in regards to translation as compared to any other game. What was most important was to translate the text and the characters faithfully.
Michibiku: About how long did it take to completely translate and edit a route in Amnesia: Memories?
Hale: Translation and editing occur on top of each other in most cases, with the edit being staggered slightly behind. To localize Amnesia: Memories, it took approximately four months, including both translating and editing, and each route took a couple of weeks. There was also extra text outside of the main routes that took up some time as well.
Michibiku: Did you enjoy the translation and localization of routes of characters you liked more than others?
Hale: I enjoyed them all equally. No favorites. Each route I worked on became my new favorite until the next route, which then became my new favorite.
Lange: I don’t think I had any real favorites! They were all really interesting to translate for.
Michibiku: Do you consider Orion as sympathetic a character as Amnesia: Memories’ heroine, since he’s also put out by the situation at hand?
Hale: If anything, he’s probably more sympathetic of a character since he’s bothered by the entire situation, whereas the heroine is just accepting of everything that happens (at least at the beginning). Orion tries his best to lead her and keep their whole mission on track, so if you can imagine being responsible for another person’s life, it’s definitely stressful. He has the option of breaking his sensory connection to you (especially when you have special “moments” with your boyfriends), but outside of those instances, he chooses to be able to feel your pain, fatigue, anxiety, etc. so he can understand you better as a person and show his support for you.
Michibiku: Were there any romantic customs or situations that were difficult to localize in Amnesia: Memories, due to cultural differences?
Hale: There were some events and holidays, like summer festivals and Obon, where there’s no “Western” equivalent since all countries are different (buying a yukata for a festival = shopping for outfits for Coachella?), so with those it was a straight translation since the setting is modern-day Tokyo. As for romantic customs, aside for some of the more supernatural events, the main themes of each route and the dating situations the protagonist faces are universal.
Culturally, though, the idea of social distance being created between peers is something that is less relevant in Western culture. People who are familiar with Japanese culture are more able to understand, but for players who aren’t as familiar with the specific levels and tiers of honorifics, the scope of their social impact might be lost on them and take them out of the experience a little bit. So while we kept the location names and character names intact, we made it so that people could play it as seamlessly as if they were the ones speaking those words and making those choices.
Lange: Romance-wise, most of what needed to be translated was pretty universal; the only cultural differences might have been place names and honorifics. The emotions and situations the heroine goes through are relatable to anyone, so in that sense there wasn’t anything that was too difficult to localize for western audiences.
Michibiku: What was one of your favorite moments in Amnesia: Memories?
Hale: Shin in Ikki’s and Ukyo’s routes can be really funny. Since he isn’t weighed down by the heroine’s memory retrieval, he is free to be his snarky self.
You can find Amnesia: Memories on the PlayStation Store for your Vita and on Steam for your PC. Eventually, it’ll come to iTunes and Google Play for iOS and Android devices too. Love is in the air!