When you play a game from a country boasting a different native language from your own, do you prefer subtitles or a dubbed audio track? When the Japanese action/investigation game, Judgment, arrives on the PlayStation 4 June 25, it’s going to include both. What’s unique about Judgment, though, is that it will actually include two English subtitle localizations depending on where the player wants to put the focus.
For folks who don’t worry too much about sub/dub culture, this might not seem like a very big deal. But while offering two types of English subtitles has actually been done in other mediums such as anime, Judgment might be the first video game to pull it off.
According to a recent post on the PlayStation Blog from Sega Localization Producer, Scott Strichart, that’s actually because a video game typically includes a hell of a lot more dialogue to get through, so offering two subtitles options is a lot of extra work. His reasoning? It was the right thing to do.
Judgment is actually a spinoff game from the popular Yakuza series, swapping out many of that series’ mechanics for activities that will see the player tracking down suspects, listening in on conversations, collecting evidence and solving cases. Since this game is going in a new direction, the team decided to do an English dub for the first time in 13 years. But knowing how particular fans can get, they decided to create two sets of English subtitles to go along with it.
Due to cultural differences, sentence structure and performance requirements, it’s not uncommon for an English dub to go off the script from the original language. American audiences might not get a joke about a specific Japanese profession, for instance, so a line of dialogue might be changed so that the joke still lands for an English audience. Similarly, a sentence in Japanese might require an animation that is way too short or long to get the same sentence across in English. In those cases, the script or performance might be tweaked to get the same message across but in a way that actually matches the animation.
My go-to example of this kind of disparity comes from the live-action movie, The Last Samurai. In it, Tom Cruise’s character says something along the lines of, “Ikimasu,” which translates simply to “I’m leaving.” The subtitle for the line, though, read something extra flowery like, “I must leave you now.”
While some folks could not care less about those differences, some fans take localization very seriously. To that end, Judgment will boast two English subtitle tracks. The first will match the original Japanese dialogue while the second will feature the dialogue that’s been redone for English-speaking audiences.
No matter which version you select, though, the game looks rad as hell.