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Nintendo's Bill Trinen Discusses Localising Tomodachi Life

Posted by Jake Shapiro

"It's not really a simulation. You could hardly even really call it a game"

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?


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User Comments (32)



Kaze_Memaryu said:

Wow, the things these guys do for us!

... and Capcom cancelled the localization of E.X. Troopers because of pictures for text.



gurtifus said:

It's a lot of work so good luck to localize it to french, german, spanish, italian, etc... !



luke88 said:

With regards to the voices: they were the one thing from the trailer I wasn't that keen on. Did anyone else just think they all sounded like robots?



RainbowGazelle said:

Nintendo of Europe are definitely getting better with localisations. I'm glad to see that Tomodachi Life is getting a UK localisation after they didn't bother with Animal Crossing.



NintyMan said:

It's still impressive the game is coming so soon even with this added localization challenge.



Snobunni426 said:

geez Nintendo, opens wallet take all my money. So many games coming out this year I want lol!



mystman12 said:

I'm really looking forward to this! I've always loved games that use your Miis in weird ways, so this is perfect for me!



rjejr said:

THAT GUY is the Director of Product Marketing? Well that explains why Nintnedo's marketing is so lame. They should fire him and just hire his Mii, it has a whole lot more personality. OK, maybe not fire him, I'm sure he has an MBA from a good school and has the brains, but he should never be allowed on camera. There is a reason companies hire celebrities to advertise there stuff, and it's not just b/c they are famous, it's because they can present a presence that makes you want to buy stuff. This guy is the capital Z in Zzzzzzz.

I hope some of that 3DS voice creation they are working on makes it's way to the Wii U. it's 2014, the time for fake languages is long gone. Really, it is.



plunkettmonster said:

I am excited about this release after watching the Nintendo Direct. I am going to pre-order this title just so I know I have it on release day, which is astounding considering I am not a big fan of SIM based games or wasn't until Animal Crossing New Leaf sucked away all my free time. I am ready for a change of pace with my SIM based gaming so bring it on Nintendo, too bad I have to wait until June.



Moshugan said:

I'd like to hear more about the actual gameplay elements. What is the player involvement? Trinen makes it sound like the Miis mostly act on their own.



FritzFrapp said:

@rjejr said of Bill Trinen, "They should fire him and just hire his Mii, it has a whole lot more personality."

I'll admit it. I laughed a little too much at this.



NImH said:

I hope there's more player involvement than just feeding the Miis when they're hungry.



sinalefa said:


This guy is Miyamoto's translator at official events, so he won't be fired anytime soon.

I know you are not a fan, but I actually liked his "acting" during this Direct. He seemed so serious while presenting such a goofy subject matter. And it is not like we see him everyday either.

I still get your point, and that is why I hated Jack Tretton and even nicknamed him Droopy. He sounded so bored during those E3 events.

Regarding this game, it seems he is right. It barely looks like a game and it is more of a TV show, where you see what happens. I will definitely pass then.



rjejr said:

@Arcamenel - OK, so it isn't just me. I was beginning to think it was.

@sinalefa - "I still get your point, and that is why I hated Jack Tretton and even nicknamed him Droopy. He sounded so bored during those E3 events."

Tretton always just struck me as a a white guy in a tie. Even when he isn't wearing a tie he is. I'm a white guy who sometimes in a tie, I'm not racist, I'm Marxist. Bourgeoisie is hard to spell though.

I don't want Trinen fired, just off camera. If he's a translator he's probably trained himself to be that stiff so as not to convey any unwarranted emotion to other peoples words. Has to be a difficult job being not just a translator but a mouthpiece.



AkinaChan said:

@Kaze_Memaryu At this point, I think Capcom just picks a day out of every month, and calls it "Cancel a Game People are Excited For, Preferably Megaman, Day!" (; ̄O ̄)

But yeah, this game has TON of references only the Japanese audience would pick up on. Localizing this probably took a lot of work '(゚▽゚)'



AkinaChan said:

I really excited to see what they change all the Japanese cultural references into. like, the guy at the restaurant who wears that black Kabuki mask... I think something like this needs to be carefully done so they dont pull a 4Kids on everyone and make everything over-westernized, and delete things that dont need to be taken out and junk (~_~;

Lol, but seriously, I trust that Nintendo will do a good job preparing this for western audiences :3 I'm gonna start making Miis for this version of the game. In the Japanese version I made a bunch of popular Japanese Singers and Talents, but once the English version is out, I think I'm gonna make a bunch of anime characters I've always wanted to make a Saeba Ryo Mii :3



AkinaChan said:

@NImH There's a bit more too it than that :3 It's not like you're just staring at the Miis and not doing anything as there's a lot of ways to get involved with this game :3

Btw I like your avatar (^∇^)Tezuka Osamu FTW!



AshFoxX said:

I just really hope they fix the issue I had with my import of Tomodachi Collection for DS, which was the fact that even though I explicitly recall setting my sister's Mii as a sibling, she wants to be romantic with my Mii.

It's akward now... In a surprising twist though, the love mjeter says me and my wife are 88% compatible, and my parents were 100% perfect couple ^_^

edit After reading a few comments above, I just want to make it clear to you all that this game really does add up to an awesome version of a digital pet/Tamogatchi type game with you and your friends/family/celebrities/aliens/etc. living together on an island. You feed them when they are hungry, dress them, give them interior decorations, give them advice, and shape them to go wild and get into crazy adventures with your other Mii's you have registered. Granted I have only played the DS version for a few days with a simple english patch, but I was in the same boat not knowing what this was all about.

It's simple and extremely addicting, even if it does share that Animal Crossing issue of only having so much you can do and then having to wait for more stuff to happen. The 3DS version now has me drooling as I can actually name my Mii's something other than a close translation of what I want to call them (SU-KU-I for Skye) and they will actually talk in English instead of seeming like I'm watching a subbed anime on Hulu. (not too bad, but I would like actual speech in my language.) They also seemed to have added quite a few new interesting things to do. Can't wait!



Marioman64 said:

you know, even though i have no interest in this game I'm going to get it anyway, it's getting enough hype that i'm certain it'll be more fun than I expect (of which I am expecting something akin to a fishtank)



HandheldGuru97 said:

I'm just glad they're bringing it here at this point!!!!! Glad to see though that an honest effort was put in, should mean the games will be fantastic!!!!!!



Finntendo said:

I watched the 11min direct and what did I just see! Damn I had to laugh... very japanese I must say.

Anyways, fun to live in small country with strange language. Have to play in English (the way it's always been). Being 6 and playing videogames without understanding a world - still played thru those. Of course back in the NES/SNES days, instructions were in Finnish, so you'd know what buttons to push.



Snobunni426 said:

now my dilemma is do I want to download or get physical scared about downloading games then my luck my system gets screwed and I have to rebuy lol

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