The Elder Scrolls Comes to Japan


Oblivion is the first Elder Scrolls game to ever be localized into Japanese. Japan is about to experience an open-ended RPG, the likes they’ve never seen before. The Elder Scrolls is a very different breed of RPG from Japanese RPGs, and we can’t wait to see how it does. Hopefully our initial Famitsu scores are a pretty good indicator that we’ll do well.

The Xbox 360 version ships today. It is the one we finished first originally so we decided to release its Japanese counterpart first. That said, we’re hard at work testing and wrapping up the PS3 version and that will be out in a couple months.

A couple notes:

  • Knights of the Nine is included along with the entire original game in both the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions.
  • Close to a million words were translated (including ALL the books!) and the opening and closing cutscenes were re-recorded in Japanese. The game features subtitles in Japanese, the voice remains in English.
  • The text in the game is a mix of Katakana, Hiragana and Kanji (approximately 1,200 characters), and the numbers are in Arabic numerals, like the English and European versions.
  • We spent a lot of time adjusting the interface so that translated strings would fit properly. While the overall interface did not change, you’ll find lots of tweaks everywhere.
  • Books and scrolls read left to right, unlike written Japanese, which is read vertically, right to left.
  • The persuasion wheel has been remade so that it is in Japanese.
  • Included are all the optimizations and bug fixes from the 1.2 update.
  • There is a Japanese version of the Oblivion website with more details, check it out.
  • What about downloadable content? Well, we’re looking into it. That’s all I can say about this for now.

Now I’m no industry analyst, but IMHO, Oblivion will be a breakout hit in Japan. Early feedback is that the preorders have been very good. It has the potential to drive 360 sales much like Blue Dragon did. However, the PS3 does have a larger install base in Japan, so we do have the PS3 version of Oblivion Japanese coming later this year.

In general, I think Oblivion is going to be one of the biggest RPGs of the year for the Japanese market. It is but the beginning of a beautiful friendship for us. Japan is high on my list for vacation spots – a geek like me visiting Japan is like a Catholic visiting the Vatican.

As always, nothing is ever easy – a lot of hard work went into getting our ridiculously huge game to work in Japanese. Thanks to Mark Hughes, Tony Colgan and Paddy Burns at 4J, Tetsu Takahashi at Spike and all their great testers and translators, and the following devs here: Mike Lipari, for programming help; Craig Lafferty for production help; Chris Krietz as the QA Lead, and the following testers: Aaron Mitschelen, Alex Agnew, Alexander Tran, Alexandra Souder, Ben Barreras, Christopher Steidel, Daniel Geske, Daniel Ross, Daniel Shook, Jared Angus, Jason Hammet, Jason Little, John Pisano, Kevin Kauffman, Matthew Weil, Michael McGinn, Philip Georgatos, Robert Clark, Ryan Lea and Scott Greenwell.

I hope someday to do a Chinese port of one of my games so I can see my Chinese name appear in the credits. 🙂

Reader Comments

  1. Obviously, I wasn’t here when it was released, but considering this is our first game localized into Japanese, I’m guessing it had something to do with spiked interest following the release of Oblivion.

  2. ha, there’s even a blog too. Nice.

    I hope Oblivion makes a big enough impact over there to get people more interested in Western RPGs. I mean, We’ve had to put up with a Square Enix-dominated RPG market for a while. This ought to break their ranks. 😛

  3. I asked Craig and he doesn’t remember doing Arena in Japanese. If anyone would know, it’d probably be Craig. He agreed that Oblivion was the first.

  4. Jason (DonutBringer) said he’s going to try to take some pics of the game on store shelves in Japan & send them in. I’ll forward them to you guys if he does.

  5. I checked out my scans of the Japanese Arena box: there’s one picture from a cutscene that has Japanese subtitles, but a pic of the character sheet is entirely in English.

    No idea what percentage of the game was translated, but I’d guess all of the text was left alone and only the audio (possibly only from the cutscenes) got translations.

  6. I’ve played PCver. So I won’t buy JPver’s Xbox360 or PS3 Oblivion.
    But here in Japan, [email protected] were sold out at many retailers.
    It’s really good:D I hope next Elder Scrolls will be published more sooner in Japan