Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate localization director on bringing the game west, leaving out memes
During GDC 2016 today, Capcom localization director Andrew Alfonso delivered a talk on adapting games for worldwide audiences. A portion of his presentation was about bringing Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate west. He spoke about the ways in which he and the team approached the English version – including staying away from memes.
“I started thinking that I don’t want people picking up my games on release saying, ‘I like these in-style meme references,’ and then another player picking up the games four years later and thinking, ‘They referenced 300 — that sucks!'”
Other ideas were considered to help Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate become a success in a west. For one thing, an entertaining script and localization tweaks were key. As reported by Polygon, he also thought about overhauling loading screens so that players would be shown hints rather than bland data, cutting down on the tutorial quests, and providing a demo to help introduce new users to Monster Hunter’s complicated weapon set.
Capcom’s higher-ups in Japan didn’t follow through on all of Alfonso’s ideas, and Polygon says the company “emphasized the importance of staying on schedule and under budget.” However, Alfonso conducted research to better understand “the differences in business practices and communication between Western and Eastern companies.” In the process, he learned that the Japanese Monster Hunter demographic is quite a bit younger compared to fans in America.
Alfonso’s research did actually lead to several localization changes. The script was tightened as the dialogue was cut down, and beginner tutorials can be skipped. New optional text to guide beginners without disrupting veteran players was accepted by Capcom’s leaders in Japan, which was even added to the Japanese version.