Saturday, December 5, 2015
RKS Developer Diary #6 - You Got...!
RKS's Status Subscreen (also known as the Start Menu or the Weapon Subscreen) has gone through many subtle revisions over the years. Some of these changes were made because of technical limitations or not having the source material available at the time, while others were conscious changes made with the spirit and setting of the game in mind.
If you were to play "spot the differences" with the four screenshots to the right, you might be surprised to find that every single element in the official localization of the game has been altered in some way from the original Japanese. The majority of these changes are barely noticeable; very few people would notice that the silver background was repositioned or that the blue window and decorations were nudged to the side. Remember the concepts of alignment and compositional balance we went over in the second Developer Diary entry? We took those same principles to heart when "redesigning" this subscreen, relocating elements to balance the layout while minimizing the amount of wasted space, using a single font consistently throughout the design in accordance with proper design philosophy. The result is a subscreen that just "feels" right, whether or not the player actually notices that the Extra Life and Cross Tank counters are now vertically centered.
The only glaring difference in four screenshots can be found in the backgrounds for the ability graphics. There was no need to alter Lilli's graphic since it didn't contain any language-specific text, but we had to rebuild the other 11 ability graphics so that the Japanese descriptions could be replaced with their English equivalents (to not do so would make the graphics far too cluttered to be aesthetically pleasing). For the eight boss weapons, this was a piece of cake seeing as the background of each graphic was taken from the eight main stages. However, for Seelegewehr, Eins, and Zwei, the original rays-of-light-shining-through-the-clouds image was never used anywhere in the entire game. We tried to recreate the effect using the light-through-the-clouds graphics from the final stage, but the results just didn't meet our expectations. So, we decided to try something completely different that matched with the precedent set by the other ability graphics. Our first choice was to use the crosses that appear throughout the Imperial Training Grounds, and the effect just worked. We had no reservations using this new set of graphics in the main game despite knowing that purists would inevitably complain about what was for all intents and purposes an unavoidable change.
As for our actual localization decisions, let's look at the terminology before moving onto the weapons names themselves.
Magische Energie (Mana Power):
- In the first Rosenkreuzstilette, only a handful of characters wield actual weapons: Trauare carries the Chaos Spear Leviathan, Grolla inherits the Seyfarth clan's cursed Demon Sword, Grollschwert, and Sir Seyfarth himself wields the Devil Scythe Glassense. You could argue that the claws on Zorne's prosthetic arm count since she attacks you with them in Freudenstachel as well. Regardless, none of these weapons have much to do with the contents of the Start Menu; the term "Weapons Energy" is a throwback to the subscreens of Megaman 4, Megaman 5, and Megaman X, where the title characters actually had Variable Weapons Systems equipped on their arms. Story-wise, Spiritia underscores that the abilities of the Magi are not inherently destructive in nature (Eins and Zwei couldn't hurt a fly if they tried). We decided to rename the subscreen to maintain consistency with this ideal and with RKS's own terminology.
- "Leben" can literally be translated as "Life" or "Vitality". We chose to go with "Vitality" to distinguish it from "Extra Life" (otherwise known as a 1-Up). On that note: did you notice the new Extra Life icons for Spiritia and Grolla?
- Self-explanatory. The game refers to them as "Cross" (...well, "Closs", but we fixed that...), and they're obvious references to the Energy Tanks (E-Tanks / Energy Canisters) in the original Megaman series. It always bugged me that Megaman games would show "09" lives or tanks even when you were at maximum capacity. To address this, we've added a cheat code to the game that actually makes use of the tens digit of the Extra Lives counter (among a few other things). What is that cheat code, you may ask? The retro gamers among you already know the answer...
- "The Shotgun of Souls" in the fan-translated release. While the German "gewehr" can mean "gun", "shotgun", or "rifle", the Japanese 「銃」 specifically means "gun" (as in "handgun"). We chose the translation "spirit gun" over "soul gun" as a nod to Yusuke Urameshi's signature attack in Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files.
The Sting of Joy, Freudenstachel
- Literally "the thorns of joy" (as in, a rose's thorns), we liked the many layers of meaning in the word "sting". Amusingly, commentators at NeoGAF and Destructoid were quick to point out that Freudenstachel could be translated as "the prick of joy" (and not-so-amusingly dismissed the game's developers and fanbase as a bunch of perverts...).
The Burst of Anger, Zornesbombe
- "The Explosion of Anger" in our fan translation. We made a point of making the description of Zornesbombe a pun on Zorne's temperament; you could legitimately translate the descriptor as "Zorne's outburst". We originally went with "explosion" because of the violent image it conjures alongside Zorne's bombs, but our translator Tyler reminded us of exactly how ineffective Zorne's temper and explosives prove themselves to be...
The Harness of Sorrow, Klageharnisch
- Likely the easiest-to-mistranslate term in the entire game, both the German "Klageharnisch" and the Japanese 「なげきのよろい」 are frequently rendered as "the armor of lament". Trauare is perpetually depressed and often does not care enough to put actual effort into anything she does (barring activities that improve her mood like swimming, playing pranks, and flirting with her girlfriend Zorne). The name of her ability stems from the power she displays whenever she chooses to harness the depths of her dolor to change her circumstances instead of resigning herself to not being able to do anything. Although she comes across as one of the most mature members of the bunch, Trau is decidedly one of the most childish.
- "The Breath of Desire" in the fan translation. We admit that we made the same mistake as many people, interpreting "lust" in a sensual context. The Japanese 「快楽の息吹」 literally translates as "the breath of joy" or "the breath of delight" in addition to the usual "desire" and "pleasure" connotations; we went with "delight" since Freudia already has dibs on associations with the word "joy" (the "Freude" in her name is German for "joy"). We were tempted to go with "the wind of delight" since "atem" can also mean "wind", but ultimately went with "breath" since this interpretation was better-corroborated by the Japanese.
The Sword of Spite, Grollschwert
- After much discussion in the comments section of our last numbered Developer Diary entry, we decided against changing our translation to "The Blade of Bitterness" for a handful of reasons, including not being able to fit the bitter rendition into the subscreen graphics in a way that we were satisfied with. One commentator suggested giving the weapon and the stage different translations; we considered this option, but ultimately decided against it since Grollschwert already has two official titles (the other being, "the Cursed Demon Sword"), and we didn't want to make the list of titles any longer than necessary. We also considered "Grudge Sword" or "Grudge Blade" -- more literal renderings that could be taken as nods to the Final Fantasy XI weapons with the same names.
The Foreseen Future, Die Geplante Zukunft
- "The Projected Future" in our 2009 release, we changed "projected" to "foreseen" for both the sake of alliteration and to work Sichte's own name into the name of her ability ("sicht" is German for "sight").
- Previously "the Tempest of Love", it was a challenge to keep this descriptor accurate without also coming across as painfully cheesy. We were tempted to use "Lovely Tempest" as a subtle nod to Death's "Deadly Tempest" from Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, but we felt that the meaning strayed too far from what was intended. Our final version is a kinda-sorta nod to the subtitle of the Sonic Soldier Borgman Original Anime Video, "Lover's Rain".
The Mind Barrier, Geisterwand
- This is a descriptor I really wish we could have expanded upon in the subscreen; 「心の壁」 is a direct reference to Neon Genesis Evangelion -- specifically, Kaworu Nagisa's description of what the pseudoscientific "A. T. Field" really is (the "wall of one's mind", "a sacred barrier upon which no one may intrude"). Given Schwer's many similarities to series protagonist Shinji Ikari, I'd always had a hunch that she might be a reference to Evangelion. Unfortunately, "The Wall of One's Mind" is too long to fit in the graphic and still look presentable. Can't win 'em all, I guess...
Silverwing One & Two / Silberflügel "Eins" & "Zwei"
- Unchanged from the fan translation. Everything I've said thus far about the Seelegewehr graphics also applies to the Silberflügel graphics.
- Just "Lilli" in the fan translation. With the original graphics available to us, we could reposition and edit text at will. We felt it was only appropriate to update Lilli's graphic to match the style of the other eleven by giving her a descriptor. Before anyone asks: yes, Frost Fairy Strudel will be receiving the same treatment in the sequel.
I hinted at a new feature I'd implemented back in November that I wanted to brag about, but it seems I've run out of time for today (I open the restaurant bright and early tomorrow morning). Well, a picture's worth a thousand words, so that'll have to do for now. What do you think?