Great article at from the Head of Localization on what sort of issues and workarounds people come up with in translating and localizing games for different audiences. Here he talks about things encountered in translating the Etrian Odyssey games. Hard limits on character names prove fantastic linguistic challenges from long and complex names in kanji over to good ole phonetic English!

“…. we had a hard limit of 8 characters for player skills, enemy skills, and enemy names, and a generous 10 for item and equipment names. The hard part is that 8 characters in Japanese can give you enemy names like ??????, which romanizes as “Fundo No Gankou-Nushi” and translates as the even lengthier “Owner of the Malicious Glare.”

That’s a lot to pack into 8 English letters. So in this case, we jettisoned the word “Owner” as being the least meaningful word in the name, and were left with “Malicious Glare.” Casting about for some shorter synonyms for “malicious” gives us words like “evil” and “bad,” which are both short enough to fit. But Evilglare and Badglare have that slightly clumsy air that went hand-in-hand with the old NES days, and we try to produce localizations more natural than that, even with character limits as tough as these.

Read more of the article for weapons workarounds and maintaining historical authenticity! Sigh – I so wish this was my job…