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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Final Fantasy Type-0 Translation Pulled--More than Meets the Eye?

Mention the name “Type-0″ to just about any fan of Square Enix’s long-running Final Fantasy series and passions will immediately run hot. Out of all entries in the troubled Fabula Nova Crystalis sub-series, Final Fantasy Type-0 won arguably the most affection from gamers worldwide…even though it never officially left Japanese shores. The PSP game didn’t hit the Japanese market until 2011—the beginning of the end for Sony’s first handheld platform—and even in the best of cases it wouldn’t arrive stateside for several more months, as is typical for western localizations of eastern games. While more than one late console release has performed just fine at retail Square Enix felt Type-0 wasn’t economically viable for the west and pulled the plug on internal localization efforts. No matter how much or how many fans pleaded for them to reconsider, the Tokyo-based company refused to reconsider, and so fans gathered together to take matters into their own hands.

For the past two years a team organized and led by Spanish game hacker and modder “SkyBladeCloud” has been hard at work reverse-engineering Type-0 for the purpose of translating it into English. On June 8 of this year the translation was released as a patch that would convert the original game into English.

It was available for mere weeks before Square Enix got through to the team and pulled the plug on the translation patch, following an announcement at E3 2014 that an official localization will be coming to PS4 and Xbox One—not the original PSP platform or even the Vita.

That much is old news. But thanks to Kotaku author Jason Schreier more details have come to light that reveal the much more complicated situation behind the scenes.

SkyBladeCloud’s Type-0 project has swiftly become the most notorious fan translation effort in gaming history. Usually these kinds of projects slip under the radar for game companies, as it’s no money lost to them if people are playing a game never released in their territory, and the patch is a hobbyist effort only ever used by hobbyists themselves. But the Type-0 project made a bit too much noise for Square Enix’s liking, and the game and its related translation are ultimately a victim of their own popularity. In fact, if the translation project’s lead developer/coordinator had kept quiet and handled things differently, the current situation could be strikingly different—so different as to see the translation go on being distributed scot-free and the PS4/Xbox One remaster never even on the cards for Square Enix.

As it turns out, Sky has long been in communications with Square Enix (or vice versa, depending on how you look at it), though a strict non-disclosure agreement has prevented either party from commenting on what occurred during the exchanges. Reports say the talks were amicable, but it’s safe to guess that Square Enix wasn’t exactly cheering Sky on. Regardless of whatever pressure he faced, Sky assured the world that he was confident enough in his position to move forward with the translation. “I’m not worried since I live in Spain and different laws apply,” he said.

Easily enough shrugged off, at the time, but perhaps the tension was thicker than anyone realized.

Back in March SkyBladeCloud released a trailer to his blog promising the patch would release on August 8, 2014, but as it turns out the rest of the translation team wasn’t entirely happy with the decision. “The patch was far from ready and we still had some videos to translate and some more text to proofread,” one member of the team told Kotaku. “We also hadn’t fully played through the game after all of our updates. Sky was the one who pushed for the August release date even though most of us felt like it was unrealistic.”

And if August was considered unrealistic, you can imagine some blood boiled when Sky decided to push the patch out the door far earlier still on June 8—the day before E3 2014. Several members of the team left the project, even more felt their hard work—and we’re talking late-night, 12-hour day sort of hard work—was being abused just to spite Square Enix for whatever went on during those secret conversations.

As it turns out, those accusations may not be without merit. While Sky denies having any knowledge of an E3 announcement for an official localization of Type-0 the timing of more than one event surrounding both the fan and official translations is a little too impeccable to be ignored. Said Sky in regards to the reveal of the PS4/Xbox One port of Type-0: “Note that it wasn’t an actual E3 announcement, but a press release. This, added to the fact that the trailer had no actual game footage (or music, for that matter), and [the Vita announcement mix-up], makes me think this was something completely improvised.”

Well, things certainly look that way when you’re talking about a multi-billion-dollar global corporation unveiling a major release with a solitary still shot overlaid with a little text. (See 2:47 in the video below)

Looking at it that way, perhaps the ‘incredible outpouring of fan support’ is a direct reference to the translation team, not would-be Type-0 fans in general. The last-minute nature of the announcement would also explain why it took Square Enix a few weeks to bring down the hammer on the fan project, rather than being ready to shut it down immediately.

It’s a convoluted tale, but in the end we could have Sky to thank, in a way, for the next-gen remake of Type-0. It’s a shame so much effort had to be made contraband (yes, it’s still out there on unofficial, possibly illegal sources) and relationships spoiled over it, but such is life. While both parties could have handled things a little better, it’s clear the removal of the Type-0 fan translation is no simple “big publisher squashes small fans” affair. Square Enix refused to release Type-0 on the PSP in the west due to that device’s decline, Sky started the fan translation project, Square Enix warned him not to go through with it, Sky ignored them and even pushed it out early, Square Enix reacted by hastily agreeing to make an official release on the cheapest, easiest possible platform (because let’s face it, that screenshot is just Final Fantasy XV assets with a Type-0 coat of paint) and make a public announcement so they have justification to put a stop to Sky’s efforts and appease the fans backing him up. Everybody loses a bit, everybody wins a bit.

For more details, check out the original post at the source link here.