We don't always like being nonplussed

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Flail it Yourself Lesson 4: Arrrr (or possibly Ellll), matey

Here we come to a potentially sensitive subject: how the Japanese language handles Ls and Rs in loanwords. There's a couple tricky things that can pop up. First is when a word ends in an R sound, like Armor. In those cases an A sound is used- think the stereotypical Boston accent. Behold an example from Tactics Ogre!

"Leather" begins with the "Re" sound, because as is well known Japanese has no Ls, and the Rs are rolled as in Spanish, making it the closest sound to an L. (Which has led us to wonderful errors like the NES Ghostbusters game offering you "Conglaturation" when you beat it. One day I'll have to write something in Japanese- a two-way exchange of language-fumbling amusement just seems more fair.)

One last note- and I have no idea why this is -while other consonant-vowel combos usually end in 'silent' Us, T and D don't. So any words that end in T or D usually end in "To" or "Do."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Favorite Flails: Dissidia

So there I was... palms sweaty with anticipation. I had been a bad bad girl. It was neither the import, nor the US release... but a download on a cracked PSP. I didn't care about the ramifications, because I FINALLY had Final Fantasy Dissidia, the game I thought would answer all my prayers. It was a fighting game, it was a Final Fantasy, and it had what I wanted... a shit load of characters from all the series to interact together. So it was in Japanese? Big woop, it was a fighting game, right? Everyone knows you don't need to actually READ anything in a fighting game, you just hit combos and button mash. Well alright, I wouldn't understand any of the cut scenes, but so what? Most of the voice actors were excellent, and I knew them from other series, so it was fine, and besides, I had the internet. I could look up the cut scene translations. It would be great, right? Right!

... Not so much. Anyone that's played Dissidia will tell you that there's a lot more to the game than just face stabbing and magic slinging... and the set up is confusing enough in English. Imagine if you will attempting to face the gauntlet of instructions made entirely out of indecipherable archaic runes, the secrets of which you've never been able to unlock. On top of that, there was the equip screen... full of mysterious symbols, the purpose of which you never fully understand. Well, obviously they're related to the weapons and armor... probably... maybe... WHAT THE HELL AM I PUTTING ON YOUR PEOPLE?! WHAT DOES IT DO?!?!

*Ahem* There's also the after stage screen, with it's numbers. What do you mean, little numbers? What is your purpose in life, other than to confuse and confound we mere English-speaking mortals?

The game of course had it's good points as well. It was certainly very pretty, and as previously mentioned, the voice acting was stellar. There was something oddly wonderful about hearing Sanzo from Saiyuki (Toshihiko Seki) talking calmly and rationally for a change as the Warrior of Light, instead of shouting death threats every two seconds, and there's a surreal quality to hearing Chairman Kaga from the original Iron Chef (Takeshi Kaga), playing the much more serious role of Golbez, and doing it well. Lastly, I DEFY you NOT to laugh when hearing Edward Elric from Full Metal Alchemist (Romi Park), scream "BUTTZU!" with such anguish as Zidane. It's impossible not to spend the rest of the day giggling, no matter your age. There are, of course, many more anime mainstays in the game, but those are the ones that have stuck with me through the years since I played... and at the risk of sounding like ninety percent of fanatical, hardcore anime fans, the Japanese voice cast was MUCH better than the American. It's true, listen to it, deal with it.

I did eventually buy the game, as I had always intended to do when it was released in the US... and it was all around a let down. To be honest, the frustrating mystery of the screens full of ancient and mysterious writings gave the game some depth, and while my lack of comprehension barred me from many aspects of the game... so what? When I had no idea what was going on, it was a little easier to have the face stabbing, magic slinging experience for which I had been hoping. Ah such is life, I suppose.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Picking up speed

We've got some stuff percolating to keep you entertained until Pokemon Black gets here! Soon, Angelique Daemon will be reminiscing about her time with an import copy of Dissidia: Final Fantasy, and That Guy is preparing to undertake an Epic Flail of Jump Superstars. In the grand Flailthrough tradition, he'll be playing through totally blind, without looking anything up, just as we did in our pre-internet importing days. Should be fun!

How soon they forget.

Interesting article on Kotaku about the origins of the Playstation face-button symbols. This is something that has always bugged me: I didn't find out about the O= Yes, X=No aspect of it until much later, but I've always enjoyed that configuration in Japanese PS games because it feels far more natural to me.

I've always been annoyed that US Playstation games use X as the confirmation button. It's easy to say that Western gamers consider the bottom button the main one now, since the Playstation consoles and Xboxes all used that configuration. But when the PS1 was first released in the `90s, Circle would've been much more natural because it's in the same position as the Super NES' A button, which I was pretty well used to at that point. The DS, whose controls (like all modern non-Wii controllers) are descended from the SNES pad, still uses this configuration. So I sincerely doubt that "gamers are used to this" was the justification used when this decision was made long ago. If I had to guess, I'd guess that Sony wanted to distance themselves from Nintendo despite the fact that the original pre-analog Playstation controller was a Super Nintendo pad with grips and two extra buttons. The Playstation did start its development life as a SNES addon, and hewing too close to the Nintendo model here in the more litigious US might've been a problem.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Super Robot Wars announced

Not a lot to say today, but this caught my attention: New Super Robot Wars for DS! It really is a disappointment that Gurren Lagann isn't involved, but maybe they're saving the big debut for the next console SRW. That is definitely something that you'll need full voice and lots of animation to get the most out of. (Or maybe, as has been suggested, Konami's stake in GL is holding things up. Is Konami still aligned with Bandai's rival Takara? not sure about that.)

I'm doing my best to keep interesting posts flowing here until That Guy can begin our first Epic Flail in late September when Pokemon Black comes out. Seeing as that's still about a month away, that leaves a lot of space. I have to think on this a while.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Flail it Yourself Lesson 3: Gearing Up

Time for more common Katakana commands! (I wanted to type "common" and "commands" with Ks because I thought it'd look neat, but it could easily give a very wrong impression. Way to ruin snappy abbreviations for the rest of us, guys.)

Anyway, here's some more Katakana, courtesy of Final Fantasy VI.

There's another common command here besides the ones I labelled: the Squaresoft Finger is pointing to is "Soubi," (SOH-bee) which means "Equip." It's written in Hiragana, the other syllabary in the Japanese language. Hiragana is often used to represent native Japanese words in place of Kanji, particularly in earlier video games where memory space was a concern, and games aimed at younger audiences who don't have a lot of Kanji down yet. Unsurprisingly, "soubi" is also written in Kanji, especially in more recent games; when I find a decent example I'll post it here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Flailproof: And then sometimes the katakana just isn't there.

Part One in what will probably be a series on games I will never attempt a Flailthrough of:

Crap, Romance of the Three Kingdoms is intricate enough in English.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Marvel and Capcom (and Hangul) vs Me

Pretty much every game I own is either in English or Japanese. With English of course it's no problem, and once you've got a handy chart of katakana there's usually enough English in the Japanese that I can get by.

There's one game that falls into neither of these categories, though: my copy of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is Korean. If it were anything even slightly more complex than a Capcom fighter, which I can pretty much play in my sleep by now, I'd have been completely lost. (Talking language-wise here; Capcom fighters are chock full o' intricacy but they don't tax your reading comprehension much.)

 I will totally leave it to you, Cable, since I have no idea what anything says!

The sad part is that, thinking about it, I'd be equally lost with any other language that has no English words in it. Korean has the added disadvantage of using a completely unique written language I have no knowledge of at all, but on the few occasions I've looked at games in Spanish or French I've had no luck either. And playing those would probably be slow going because I'd want to stop and look things up on Babelfish every five minutes. In some strange way, not knowing how to type things in Japanese is a bonus, since I accept that I'm not going to understand anything!