One of NIS America’s most recent successes is the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. The first game garnered so much demand that a reprint was issued and early next year it comes back to the PS3 with the third installment, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory. Neptune, CPU goddess of Planeptune in the previous two games, ends up going back in time and must not only try to return to her own time and dimension, but also must help fix up the one she’s in before she goes. To help everyone prepare, GamerTell talked with NIS America Editor Nick Doerr and Translator Alan Costa to see what NIS America and Neptune have gotten themselves into this time.
So, let’s here what NIS America has to say about Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory!
GamerTell: Each of the Hyperdimension Neptunia games tackles and parodies a different aspect or era of gaming. Hyperdimension Neptunia was the modern day, Hyperdimension Neptunia: MK2 focused on handhelds, and now Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory goes into the past. How does this come about and how are classic gaming consoles and companies represented?
Nick Doerr: Neptune gets sucked into an alternate dimension that also happens to be a few decades in the past. Similar to mk2, a lot of the parody humor is more visual than dialogue-based. You’ll get a lot of unique areas like the PC Continent, where you’ll see an image of the classic white PC from the 80s and early 90s. Stuff like that. You’ll see a few nods in the form of NPCs in towns, maybe a few off-hand comments by Nep in some scenes (“Well, blow my cartridge and call me a 64-pin connector!” is among my favorites). Classic consoles and companies will appear as other humanoids like Compa and IF, but I’d hate to spoil anything more than that.
GamerTell: Neptune, Nepgear, Noire, Vert and Blanc are omnipresent in the Hyperdimension Neptunia games. Are their roles and personalities the same in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, or have they changed due to the timeskip?
Doerr: Neptune and Nepgear are the same as ever, but the other goddesses are a little different. Noire has the most interesting change. In previous games, she was pretty snooty and very stubborn. In Victory, she’s a bit younger and not yet a CPU. So her personality is also pre-snooty and pre-stubborn to match, which means she comes across as more defensive and insecure (softer iterations of the same general personality quirks). It actually makes her a lot cuter, in my opinion.
Vert is Vert, so she’s roughly the same. Except now, she is a lot more proud of her “womanhood” and really enjoys upsetting Blanc with “them.”
Blanc doesn’t seem to have changed, because even with the timeskip, she’s the same CPU of Lowee since Nintendo was already a powerhouse in the 80’s.
Doerr: Gladly. Plutia became the CPU of Planeptune by accident. In this parallel Gamindustri, the girls become CPUs by using something called a CPU Memory, spawned from a CPU Core. She mistook a CPU Memory for something in her picnic basket and ate it… and Iris Heart was born, much to Histoire’s dismay. She and Noire are good friends, and when Neptune arrives, they become good friends as well. She’s a very carefree, relaxed girl who loves to nap and hates to work. Sounds like Neptune, huh? Maybe that’s why they get along so well.
Except… Plutia has one interesting quirk. Since her CPU form is very different, personality-wise, it’s fun to read her normal lines two different ways: once as an innocent, playful, and gullible girl, and then again channeling Iris Heart’s acerbic tongue. For example, “You’re soooo smart, Noire!” can be both a compliment and an insult. It’s a fun dichotomy, so her dialogue was a treat to work with.
GamerTell:In the previous Hyperdimension Neptunia games, fighting piracy (Arfoire) was the main focus. Are there similar themes in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory or has a new menace stepped forward?
Doerr: Surprisingly, there are very few ham-fisted, anti-piracy spiels in Victory. The series is slowly becoming its own thing, and since those themes were previously established, they can focus on making more subtle jabs and original villains. While some familiar faces will reappear in this alternate dimension, they won’t have the memories from mk2 or the original Neptunia.
The menace in Victory is the Seven Sages, a group of people bent on removing CPUs from the world. They think Gamindustri will be better off without them. Their numbers include references to certain people, ideas, and piracy concepts. Some more recent happenings in the actual game industry are discussed, as well.
GamerTell:What are some of the challenges you face when translating a Hyperdimension Neptunia game? What happens when a joke comes up or a game/company that isn’t widely known outside Japan is parodied?
Alan Costa: As with most media where humor is a main element, a lot of it just doesn’t translate. Usually, the translator will try to explain the joke or at least indicate that a joke has been made. The editor then makes the decision on how to keep the humor consistent with the theme while making it understandable for an English-speaking audience.
Doerr: Everything we do is scrutinized and agreed upon by the original creators. Japanese humor plays on puns or alternate ways to read kanji a lot, and sometimes those just don’t work at all when put into English.
Here’s a fun one from Victory. Abnes enters, calls someone a specific word. Histoire responds with something like “don’t make them sound like fish” because in Japanese, as fish get older, their names can change. The word Abnes uses, “小幼女”, sounds like one such name (thanks, Alan!). They go on to say a bunch of different fish names whose kanji can be read a different way (“young lance fish” can be “little girl child”). Obviously, this makes no sense in English.
So we went with Abnes calling them “perpetrators,” which Plutia can’t understand (originally not sure why she called them a fish), and Neptune explains, “Oh, I bet she was calling us porpoise traders. Lucrative market for blubber, you guys!” The joke is completely different, but the soul (name-calling/fish confusion) is intact.
GamerTell:Compile Heart is known for rather risque games and the Hyperdimension Neptunia series embrace that notion, often with humorous results. How do you handle these situations? Are there ever segments that go too far and have to be toned down so the games can be released in North America?
Costa: We try as hard as we can to leave titles as intact as possible for their Western releases. That said, there are certain elements that sometimes need to be reworked as the types of “acceptable” humor vary between regions. While we appreciate that our core fans might want a certain element/joke to be left in a given title, there are sometimes potential legal ramifications which make that impossible. It should also be noted again that as Nick said, all changes are gone over thoroughly with the developers beforehand, and the creator’s work and intent is always respected.
Doerr: There are too many to count. Of the three games, I actually think this one is the funniest of all. Neptune has some amazing comments, and the interactions between Blanc and Noire, or Vert and Blanc, are simply awesome. I think my favorite set of in-jokes is this: over the course of the game, Neptune gives nicknames to everyone and never seems to stick to them. Some of the ones she gives to Noire are lovely. I really like Lonely Heart and Detective Noire. And although it didn’t get into the game, during voice recording, someone mistakenly called Neptune “Nepcoon” on one line. We looked at each other, and I said, “No lunch is safe when Nepcoon is on the prowl.” Maybe this concept will show up in some other form…
GamerTell:Likewise, do you have a favorite summon that you rely on in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory?
Doerr: The “creator” summons and Atranger attack. No contest. I’m also a big fan of Vert’s fighting style in general, so her attacks always look cool to me.
GamerTell:How long have you been working on the Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory translation/localization, and what steps do you go through as you prepare the game for its North American and European release?
Costa: We started this project sometime around August and are still working on it at the time of writing. Essentially the process goes translation->editing->recording of voiced scenes->receive English ROM/debug said ROM->submission to Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo/Atari (for our frequent Jaguar titles)->release. The whole process for a given title takes about eight months. The North American and European releases are worked on concurrently.
GamerTell:How difficult has it been working on Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, and would you say it is more or less challenging than other translation/localization projects you’ve worked on for NIS America?
Costa: The game’s parodies and humor were a difficult aspect of this title. However, the battle system and other systems were relatively simple. Overall, the title was about the usual level of difficulty in terms of the localization process.
Doerr: Maybe I’ve gotten comfortable with the franchise, but this was a pretty easy project for me. I know the characters like the back of my hand (one translator called Neptune my daughter), so tightening up their dialogue and getting their unique personalities to shine has almost become second nature. Plutia is unique enough that she doesn’t overlap with anyone else, too. I’m really happy with this project overall! Please look forward to it in March 2013!