By Quentin H. / April 14th, 2023
One of the best-known visual novel series comes from the Science Adventure universe that has illuminous entries such as STEINS;GATE. In the newest entry by Chiyomaru Shikura, ANONYMOUS;CODE takes place in 2037 where a digital society is at an end and Pollon Takaoka meets a mysterious girl named Momo while he is also trying to save the world.
During GDC 2023, I caught up with Yu Namba, the localization producer from Spike, Chunsoft, Inc. for their latest mainline entry. During our time together, we discussed how ANONYMOUS;CODE is being localized, how translating computer graphics and onomatopoeia are approached, and more.
You can find out more about ANONYMOUS;CODE at the game’s official website.
You can also check out other Spike Chunsoft titles at their official website, on Facebook and Instagram, on Twitter, and on YouTube.
You can wishlist ANONYMOUS;CODE now on Steam.
This interview has been edited for content and clarity.
Operation Rainfall: Hello, my name is Quentin H. with oprainfall, and you are?
Yu Namba: I am Yu Namba, localization producer from Spike Chunsoft[, Inc.]
OR: What is ANONYMOUS;CODE about, and how does it fit into the larger Science Adventure universe?
YN: It’s about this guy- a hacker- who gains the ability to ‘save his state’ in real life and later load that state, so that he can go back in time and [redo what he experienced before] for a different outcome.
OR: Let’s expand on that: at Anime Expo 2022, Chiyomaru Shikura appeared in a special video message announcing ANONYMOUS;CODE and said -in writing- that “[t]he game is full of distinguished hackers” and “[t]he system screen of your game console is no longer a safe zone!” Can you please explain a bit more about this?
YN: I mean, he is the mastermind behind pretty much the entire Science Adventure series, so it is difficult for me- just a localizer- to get his full understanding of everything he has worked on. But one aspect about this game is the protagonist’s ability to save and load. But the way how it works in the game is that the player gets to ‘nudge’ the protagonist, telling them when to make that save or do a load and whatnot. So it’s a meta, I guess, where the player intervenes with the story of the protagonist directly.
OR: Let’s get to the point: will the English localization of ANONYMOUS;CODE have all the same content as the original Japanese PlayStation 4/Nintendo Switch release?
YN: Nothing has been censored. Text-wise or graphically.
” However, I believe that visual novels have their own strengths and difficulties when localizing. There are pretty pictures and whatnot, but it’s mostly about storytelling in mainly text- with voice, of course.”
OR: How long has Spike Chunsoft been working with MAGES. and Chiyomaru Studio on the localization effort?
YN: It started back in 2021.
OR: Can you talk with us a little bit about what the localization process is like for a title such as ANONYMOUS;CODE?
YN: I can only talk about ANONYMOUS;CODE, but we went with a tagteam [of a translator] and an editor. We reached out to a gentleman by the name of Andrew Hodgson, also known as Andrew ‘Steiner’ [Hodgson], who’s done the translation of STEINS;GATE. Him having extensive knowledge of the series as a whole- we thought it would be an ideal choice as a translator for this title, since it does have references to other titles of the series.
OR: This isn’t Spike Chunsoft’s first time localizing an entry in the Science Adventure series, with the company having most recently localized Robotics;Notes DaSH. What lessons, if any, did Spike Chunsoft learn from localizing prior titles into this latest entry?
YN: If we’re talking about authenticity and integrity of the title within the series, [a big point for us was to go with a specific translator to handle the localization.] On top of that, for the integrity of the localization itself- not about the series, but the actual quality of the text and voice that’s been localized- we had other pairs of eyes take a look at everything we worked on to try to get everything correct.
OR: One of the most highly praised aspects of Spike Chunsoft’s localization of Robotics;Notes DaSH was that there were more CGs -computer graphics- that were localized into English than before. Does Spike Chunsoft intend to translate all of the CGs into English this go around? Can you also talk about the process of translating and localizing CGs, like when there are elements such as ‘handwritten notes’ that the player would encounter to keep it true to the original Japanese version?
YN: Graphic elements-wise, in ANONYMOUS;CODE, players will really quickly pick up that there are graphic overlays simulating how a person would access their AR without the use of any peripherals. This is made possible in a fictional future of 2037 where the game takes place. You can just think and contact your friends with a message or a video call or whatnot. You can access search engines and look something up really quick, and you’ll see the results in your vision.
But all those components, in the original game, are Japanese, right? So, we worked together with MAGES. to make them into English. Not just to keep the content the same, but in some places, make sure that it reads better in English than in Japanese. You know how in Japanese, some things are written vertically? English elements didn’t look good in that perspective. So, we requested that it be redesigned so it could be horizontal. Most of the things- they were really happy to oblige. I think people would have small, if not no, issues while looking at the graphical representations in the game.
OR: How are y’all approaching onomatopoeia sounds within the game?
YN: There are [scenes where the game progresses in] a comic book-style. It was actually the translator, Andrew Hodgson, that suggested that the onomatopoeia within those scenes be localized as well. We approached MAGES. with the idea, and they said that they would see what they could do. And the end result, as you can see a little bit in the trailer already, looks awesome.
OR: Spike Chunsoft has localized a bunch of titles in the past ranging from visual novels [such as] 428: Shibuya Scramble, YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World, and ANONYMOUS;CODE. How is it different localizing an adventure video game such as the recently published AI: The Somnium Files – Nirvana Initiative versus a visual novel such as ANONYMOUS;CODE?
YN: That is hard, only because I only joined the company recently. I don’t have previous experience with any of the [other] Spike Chunsoft titles from the localization standpoint. However, I believe that visual novels have their own strengths and difficulties when localizing. There are pretty pictures and whatnot, but it’s mostly about storytelling in mainly text- with voice, of course. So, you really have to depend on how good that story text is localized for people to not veer off from their attention- like, [while] reading the story. There’s a lot that can happen for people to go that way, and certain phrases that may be awkward or things that may not translate well if directly translated from Japanese to English when a Western audience reads those. So we took extra caution to have the language as palatable to the Western audience as possible.
OR: When should players expect ANONYMOUS;CODE to be released?
YN: We are going to have the game out on September 8th, so not too far away. Half a year from now?
OR: On what platforms will it be released on?
YN: We will have it on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and also on Steam.
OR: To someone who may not have played any prior games in the Science Adventure universe, can they pick up ANONYMOUS;CODE and enjoy it, or would they be better off playing prior entries first?
YN: For myself, this was the very first time I’ve played a Science Adventure game from start to finish. I did have a little knowledge about STEINS;GATE, but that was it. I really enjoyed the game, and it also made me want to know more about the other titles in the series. I strongly recommend people to pick up this title- especially since it has English voice! And if you guys like this title, then I would love for everybody to pick up other games as well.
OR: Thank you very much!
Have you played any game in the Science Adventure Universe? If so, what is your favorite entry so far?
Let us know in the comments below!
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