Ace plays Final Fantasy VII: The Translation

Final Fantasy VII is considered by many to be a classic, and though some of the previous installments had varying degrees of success, VII has the honor of being the Final Fantasy game that made Final Fantasy popular in America. It came out all the way back in 1997 and was the first in the franchise to utilize polygon graphics and to be developed for the PlayStation. Furthermore, it was also the first game of the series to be ported to Windows. At the time of its release, it had some of the best graphics ever seen in a video game.

Though they suck by today’s standards.

Though they suck by today’s standards.

This was also the first Final Fantasy game to take place in a more modernized setting. On the whole, it was the first Final Fantasy to do a lot of new things. This game was pretty groundbreaking, and has thus far been one of the most successful games ever. Certainly, VII has a lot going for it. Not only was it different in terms of technology, it also features a lot of well-written characters and a good story. That’s not to say that there aren’t any problems in the game. There are problems all over the place.

The biggest issue I noticed right away is how this game was edited. Everything involved with it is a graphic designer’s nightmare. And I don’t just mean the game. Everything from the box to the strategy guide has problems. The translations are terrible, and they mar what could otherwise have been a great story. It’s not a good sign when even the game box has noticeable, easily fixable mistakes. I cannot actually take a picture of my game box for you guys, because the text would be too small to read, so I recreated the image instead.

Well, I will agree that that is a very creative way to spell “masterpiece” and I’ve never seen it done that way before.

Well, I will agree that that is a very creative way to spell “masterpiece” and I’ve never seen it done that way before.

When I say that the editing for this game is awful, I mean it’s really awful. Like, either on par with or worse than Twilight awful. These are mistakes that should have been caught before publication. There’s so many of them and they’re so obvious. Sometimes, it’s so bad, it almost feels like a rough draft. I’m quite certain that the concept of editing was not an invention of the turn of the millennium. We had editors back in 1997. All I can conclude from this is that no one gave a shit and put it on the shelf with the bare minimum effort. And considering that this is 1997 we’re talking about, I totally believe that no one cared enough to go back through the game and make sure there wasn’t something like this:

I mean, they were only getting paid to translate this thing. Why on earth would they want to be decent at English?

I mean, they were only getting paid to translate this thing. Why on earth would they want to be decent at English?

I’m one of those players who always buys the strategy guide, regardless of the internet. Back when VII was released, the internet wasn’t even an option, but until I had access to it, there were a lot of items I couldn’t acquire because of my guide. It’s actually the strategy guide for this game that made me realize how terrible the translations and editing are. A lot of times production of the guide and game are separate and don’t really impact each other, and regardless of whether or not that’s true here, the same amount of effort went into both. It’s either that or somehow a misprinted book managed to be shipped off to the shelves with the non-misprints and I was the one unfortunate person to buy it.

I learned very early on to take everything this book throws at me with a grain of salt. It misleads me all over the place. The grammar is atrocious, “poison” is now an adequate spelling for “potion”, so on and so forth. It also doesn’t help that it reads less like a strategy guide and more like a summarization of the game that I might find on Wikipedia. That, or it’s a shitty children’s picture book, with more snapshots than useful substance.

As much as he tries to stop himself, Cloud hands the Materia over and turns on his own team. This is quickly stopped, but what does it all mean? Why would Cloud do such a thing?—pg. 120

Well, I don’t know, Mr. Narrator, but thank you for raising those questions. I totally wouldn’t have thought of those if you hadn’t said anything.

Aeris is in the middle of the city, completely silent and locked in prayer. Cloud approaches her and immediately begins to freak out. There’s nothing you can do here, because every action threatens Aeris’ (sic) life. Sephiroth once again demonstrates his ability to manipulate Cloud. Your other party members can stop him from killing Aeris, but Sephiroth is more than willing to do his own dirty work.—pg. 124

This was, at the time, the most traumatizing thing I have ever read. And it comes complete with pictures.

Well…I’m not about to spoil the ending for you, so defeat Safer-Sephiroth and find out for yourself!—pg. 175

Fuck you! You spoiled everything else!

The guide spends so much time doing this and adding useless pictures that it doesn’t leave itself a lot of room to actually guide a player. When it does bother to do so, it’s very half assed.

Yes, thank you. I so totally know what those creatures’ stats are by looking at the blank, incomplete charts.

Yes, thank you. I so totally know what an Under Lizard’s stats are by looking at the blank, incomplete chart.

Other times, it gives the wrong information, such as which buttons to press and in what order you need to do so when playing the piano at Tifa’s house to get her final limit break.

Final HeavenYeah, I’m playing this on a PS2 with a PS2 controller. I don’t know what the C button does. In fact, I wasn’t aware that a C button existed. I’d assume it means circle, but since the other circle is drawn as a circle, that might not be the cause. No, as it turns out, the C and the following square are not actually part of the code you need, so I guess it means “I’m here to fuck with you.”

The actual game itself is much worse, and it’s not just the bad grammar. For starters, let’s talk about names, specifically Aerith’s name. Is it Aeris or Aerith? Aeris is her name in this game, while she’s called Aerith in the sequel. Believe it or not, but I actually don’t really care about this one, nor do I care about which name is right. In Japanese, her name is spelled エアリス, which is Romanized as Earisu. Yeah, as I said, this one doesn’t bother me that much. Since this game came out before the wide use of voice actors, the player still has the option to name the characters whatever he or she prefers anyway, so as far as I’m concerned, you can make her name whatever you want it to be.

Aerith is hardly the only character whose name was messed up, though. Reno, for instance, was Romanized as Leno in some of the data books, and from what I can figure, he might have been supposed to be named that.

What I more care about when it comes to the translations and editing is that I cannot trust the story. There are characters who die in this game only to show up in the sequel with no explanation, other than that they didn’t actually die. The one character, Rufus, has a pretty definitive death that was retconned for the sequel, but at least it was addressed, and we were given an explanation for how he survived in the novella—which was also pretty shoddy, by the way. The character in particular that I’m thinking about is Tseng, the leader of the Turks, a group of assassins who work for Shinra.

In the first disc, Sephiroth stabs him at the Temple of the Ancients, and the last we see Tseng, he’s still alive, but in a really bad way. When our characters escape from the Temple, Tseng is gone and he doesn’t reappear for the rest of the game. Aerith at one point cries over his bleeding form, and later on, Cloud has a confrontation with another Turk, Elena, who blames Cloud for what happened to Tseng.

“But you really got guts doin’ my boss in like that!”—Elena

Cloud’s genius response to this is:

“You mean Boss……Tseng?”—Cloud

Okay, what Elena says implies that Tseng dies. It really does. But nope, Tseng reappears in the sequel with no explanation at all. If he had died, it wouldn’t have been a big deal to not have him in Advent Children. He has only about four lines and we barely see him. I can’t answer whether or not Tseng was supposed to live originally. I do remember that during Advent Children’s release, there was a lot of shock going around about his character that quickly died down. But it is situations like this that make me realize that it’s very hard to trust the story that FFVII gives us. Why should I believe anything it throws at me when I’m stuck wondering if the translators did such a piss poor job that they actually killed a character who wasn’t supposed to die.

This game deals with a lot of heavy subject matter too, so that makes it all the worse. You might be in a serious situation, but all you can do is laugh because they misspelled “tough” as “touph”.

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About MadameAce

I draw, I write, I paint, and I read. I used to be really into anime and manga until college, where I fell out of a lot of my fandoms to pursue my studies. College was also the time I discovered my asexuality, and I have been fascinated by different sexualities ever since. I grew up in various parts of the world, and I've met my fair share of experiences and cultures along the way. Sure, I'm a bit socially awkward and not the easiest person to get along with, but I do hold great passion for my interests, and I can only hope that the things I have to talk about interest you as well.