Following its release date confirmation, Polygon has published an interview with Nintendo of America director of product marketing Bill Trinen on the Western localisation of the upcoming 3DS title Tomodachi Life. The Big N devoted an 11-minute special Nintendo Direct to the Mii-centric game, which doesn't quite fit into any genre:
What's interesting about it [is] that it's not really a simulation. You could hardly even really call it a game. It's really its own living, breathing world, and it's a place where Mii characters — particularly Mii characters of your friends, your family, people you know, potentially even your favorite celebrities, if that's who you decide to put in there — come together in this living, breathing world and experience life in incredibly whimsical, amazing and unexpected ways.
Nintendo is known for its high-quality localisation work, but Tomodachi Life poses a new challenge: voices. Trinen explained that the Miis' voices are an integral part of the Tomodachi experience.
They have these quirky voices, and you can adjust the voice for any character you want. You can adjust the pitch and the tone and things like that. So the first step was actually getting that to work well in English. Japanese being a phonetic language, it works very easily. English, it took a lot of work... Being able to hear them speak is a really key point of their personality, and hearing all the different voices and accents they have is also a very key part of how they come alive.
To many fans seeing Tomodachi Life for the first time, another cute Nintendo life simulator immediately comes to mind. Trinen admits this is no coincidence.
The process is one with this game that was very similar to the original Animal Crossing localization process, where it was really taking a look at what are those key moments, and [asking,] "How do you bring them to life in a way that's relevant to the American consumer?"
It's not only limited to the U.S. market, though. Polygon confirms that Nintendo of Europe is hard at work localising Tomodachi Life to appeal to European audiences for the PAL release; the EU version of the Nintendo Direct highlighted the choices of languages while NoE President Satoru Shibata's Mii had a rather gentlemanly British accent.
Trinen closes the interview by discussing how the core of Tomodachi Life is based around your Miis' relationships with one another:
The game is really very much about creating these Mii characters, seeing how their personalities develop, seeing how they develop connections to the other people, the other Mii characters in this game world. And what's particularly fun is when you see a group of people who perhaps you all know, but who normally in your everyday life wouldn't necessarily mingle together, and you see the unexpected things that happen when you throw them all together into the same place. It's something that's very new and very different and, I think, unique in a way that only Nintendo can create.
Tomodachi Life is set to hit Western store shelves and eShops on 6th June. What do you think of Nintendo's localisation efforts over the years, and do you think its hit the mark with this one based on what you've seen so far?