I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a huge fan of Atlus and their localization team at Atlus USA. Sure, my infatuation with all things Atlus is a fairly recent development, spurred on by Persona 3 and 4, but that doesn’t lessen my respect for the lengths the localization team goes through to make gripping, enjoyable dialog, translated from the original Japanese into English, while still maintaining the feel of the game and the thoughts the original developers wanted to convey.
Recently, on the PlayStation Blog, Atlus USA localization team member Nich Maragos talked about three aspects of Persona PSP that they really focused their efforts on when the time came to re-localize the title and improve it from it’s original PS1 version.
1) They wanted to retain the original Japanese locations and character names. Unfortunately, I didn’t play this title 13 years ago when it was released in North America on the PS1, but apparently they “Americanized” everything back then – from the name of the town to the name of the characters. What was originally a Japanese town and setting became an American town and setting, filled with American characters, instead of Japanese.
One of the things I enjoyed about the more recent Shin Megami Tenseititles is their depiction of Japanese life and culture with in the context of the game, and it’s a shame that was done away with in the original release of this title. But, that’s not the case this time around. The localization team as reinstated the original Japanese town name and character names for the PSP release.
2) They gave greater attention to the proper name of personas and demons. Again, things were “Americanized”, if you will, the first time around. This time, they delved through mythological storybooks and probably an Internet site or two to make sure they were true to the various mythologies from which the names of the personas were originally taken. It should also be more in line with what recent Persona fans have come to expect in terms of persona names in the last two installments.
3) Finally, they tackled skill names. In the original release, the skill names were adapted to describe very specifically what the skill does, although these weren’t related to the original Japanese at all. Skill names like “Wave”, “Sonic” and “Ray” were used in an attempt to make things easier to understand. When they went back an redesigned the game for its PSP release, those names were reverted back to more Persona-esque skill names like “Zan”, “Zanma” and “Zandyne”. Don’t worry, the specifics of what the spells do are still in the game and easily accessible.
It amazes me all the trouble that the localization teams go through to improve on what was already a classic title, and trust me, it’s much appreciated. You, too, will be able to appreciate all the effort put into the re-release of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona when it invades your PSP on September 22.