Note: This blog post will be focusing on the current up and running Final Fantasy XIV, there will be no information regarding the original 1.0 release.
Final Fantasy XIV is a online subscription-based MMORPG developed by Square Enix and made for PC, PS3 and PS4. Since it is an MMORPG there is no established rating in any versions of Final Fantasy XIV. There are 5 versions of the game and they are Japanese, European, North American, South Korean and Chinese.
The release dates for each version are as follows:
- Japan: August 27, 2013
- North America: August 27, 2013
- Europe: August 27, 2013
- South Korea: August 14, 2015
- China: August 20, 2014
As mentioned in the Rusty Hearts Region-Lock post, there’s quite a bit of leeway when it comes to localizing an MMO. Catering to each server’s needs and tastes is absolutely necessary, especially for a subscription-based MMORPG. So, what’s different? Here’s a simple clip to start off:
Context: At a fan festival, the most talked about question was regarding the name of a Player vs Player arena in Final Fantasy XIV
To put it simply, Final Fantasy XIV has multiple nuances in each translation. The international version (European, North American and Japanese versions fall under international) alone supports English, French, German and Japanese, both in text and voice dub. To keep the blog post brief, only notable differences will be covered between English and Japanese (As I have no understanding of French, German, Chinese or Korean languages, therefore I cannot comment on those translations).
The Final Fantasy series for the most part has been translated into English. Magic spells such as Fire have a special progression in their names to indicate stronger power. For example, Fire becomes Fira and then Firaga is fire in it’s strongest form. This is how it’s been for a huge majority of Final Fantasy games, both in Japanese and English versions. However strangely this was changed in the English translation of Final Fantasy XIV, yet still kept intact in the Japanese version.
Spell progression in English translation are as follows:
- Fire I > Fire II > Fire III > Fire IV
- Blizzard I > Blizzard II > Blizzard III > Blizzard IV
The same goes for Materia which are special stones that can be added to weapons and gear to add stats. Despite using this naming convention for years, it was suddenly dropped in Final Fantasy XIV. It is unknown as to why.
When looking at the differences between the Japanese and English localization, it’s interesting to note how direct the names for Japanese abilities are when translated into English VS English localization Here are a few examples:
(Format is English Localization – Japanese – Japanese to English translation)
- Cleric Stance – クルセードスタンス – Crusade Stance
- Hallowed Ground – インビンシブル – Invincible
- Lustrate – 生命活性法 (Seimeikasseihou) – Life Activation
- Phlebotomize – 二段突き (Nidantsuki) – Two-step Thrust
- Chaos Thrust – 桜華狂咲 (Oukakyoushou) – Blooming Sakura Blossoms (Note: Chaos Thrust is a two swing, one pierce attack with cherry blossoms blooming on the final attack which is confusing if you only know of the English localized name)
Another interesting thing to note is that the Monk class’ Eastern influences stronger in the Japanese version where all Monk abilities are heavy with kanji (Chinese characters).
One major difference between the Japanese and English localization is the dialogue itself. They generally convey the same message for the most part, however how they go about it is completely different. The English localization uses the standard “Ye Olde” language which is a standard for European-based Fantasy. The Japanese language kind of does have an old dialect that they could’ve used but it’s so rarely used, it would’ve confused Japanese players. Also the dialogue used for Midgardsormr is still quite old but not on the same level as the English localization. A great example of this difference is the cutscene where Midgardsormr appears before the player.
Again it should be noted how direct the Japanese dialogue is. There is very little room for interpretation in Midgardsormr’s dialogue. The whole reason why this change for Midgardsormr’s dialogue is here. It’s a bit of a read but if you want a summarized version, basically: Midgardsormr is not speaking his native tongue but the language of the Player Character, which in the English localization is the “Ye Olde” English language.
It’s not just for this cutscene in the game either. This kind of dialogue spreads throughout the entire game. Heck, even the title of FFXIV and the Heavensward expansion is less direct than it’s Japanese counterpart
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn VS Final Fantasy XIV: Eorzea Reborn and Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward VS Final Fantasy XIV Blue skies of Ishgard.
There are even character traits shown through the Japanese dialogue but are not present in the English localization. For example, a character named Haurchefant is quite different in the Japanese version. The character was much more active and energetic not just in dialogue but actions as well. Take note of not only his speech but his actions (Especially at 30 seconds into the video):
Haurchefant is one of the more significant character changes but another character, Raubahn always refers to people as 貴様 (Read as Kisama) which is a rude way to refer to someone. The only person who is exempt from this is his queen, Nanamo, who he always refers to as Nanamo-sama. In Japanese adding the honorific 様/Sama means you respect them, they have higher social status than you. While very subtle and minor, it conveys the respect Raubahn had for Nanamo while he put down everyone else. This was not present in the English localization.
With all of this said, while some changes are minor and others are major, both versions give vastly different experiences. However this is not to say that the English localization is bad. That is not the case. The localization team have reasons for why they did what they did. This is only to encourage people to look into various versions of the game if possible. You may learn a new thing or two about a game you loved.