Tag Archives: polygon

Upcoming Lego sets featuring Avengers, Star Wars and Overwatch are revealed at SDCC

Lego fans headed to Comic-Con International this weekend will get an exclusive first look at the company’s upcoming building sets on display on the show floor. The new sets expand on Lego’s partnerships with three beloved franchises, The Avengers, Star Wars, and Overwatch, and are due to be released in the coming months.

In June, The Lego Group announced two additions to its Overwatch line, featuring Junkertown’s favorite sons, Wrecking Ball, Junkrat and Roadhog. The 227-piece Wrecking Ball set will retail for $29.99 and comes complete with a Hammond minifigure, which can be ejected from his mech with the turn of a handle. And in the 380-piece Junkrat and Roadhog set ($49.99), the buddies park their signature chopper atop a Junkertown road sign. Both sets will hit shelves on Oct. 1.

Product photo of Wrecking Ball Lego set Lego

Then on Nov. 25, Hulk bursts onto the scene in a “Hulk Helicopter Drop” building set. The $59.99 set includes both Hulk and Black Widow in their Time Heist suits, fighting the airborne Chitauri via helicopter. Lego appears to be getting creative with timelines here since Hulk wore the Infinity Gauntlet very briefly and, ya know, Natasha…wasn’t…present during that final fight.

Lego figures of the Hulk, Black Widow, Chitauri warriors, and an Avengers helicopter The Lego Group

Finally, two scenes from Star Wars: A New Hope will get the Lego treatment early next year. The first is Obi Wan’s hut where the Jedi master introduces the young Skywalker to both The Force and lightsabers. The second is a new model of Luke’s Landspeeder, complete with Luke, C-3PO, and a Jawa hiding out in a cave. They’ll each retail for $29.99.

Obi Wan Kenobi’s hut from Star Wars: A New Hope, recreated in Lego The Lego Group
A Lego model of Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder from Star Wars: A New Hope The Lego Group

The new sets aren’t yet listed on Lego’s website, but Lego VIPs will likely be invited to pre-order in the next few weeks.

The Lego booth is also showcasing San Diego Comic-Con exclusive sets this weekend: a Batman 80th Anniversary diorama, a model of Captain Marvel and her ship, and a bust of the new Sith Trooper helmet from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The Lego Group is hosting giveaways for two new exclusive minifigures as well: Spider-Man in his Advance Suit from the PS4 game, and Zebra Batman from the 1960s comic.

San Diego Comic-Con runs from July 18-21. Find more information about the show, including big announcements and new trailers, in the storystream below.

Source: Polygon.com

Old Lady Catwoman could have been the villain of a second Batman Beyond movie

The folks behind beloved cartoon series Batman Beyond had a big announcement for fans at the show’s 20th Anniversary panel at San Diego Comic-Con this year: An HD remaster of the full series, including the feature length film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.

But they also had a fun insight for fans of Justice League Unlimited, specifically the infamous episode “Epilogue,” which has the stunning revelation that Terry McGinnis, the teenage lead of Batman Beyond, is — unbeknownst to either party— Bruce Wayne’s son.

“Epilogue,” which aired in 2005, explained that in her later career, the superhero-despising Amanda Waller realized that the presence of Batman — a baseline human — in the superhero community, was a vital force for keeping the Justice League grounded in mortal concerns. So, she set out to make sure there would always be a Batman, by *looks at notes* secretly stealing his DNA, secretly putting it in the sperm of a young Gotham newlywed, waiting until he had a son who was biologically Batman’s, and then trying to kill the son’s parents.

It’s… a weird plan.

According to producer Bruce Timm the idea of 2005’s “Epilogue” was in the making of Return of the Joker five years earlier. Timm and colleagues spent some time brainstorming further Batman Beyond movies, prepping for the possibility that the straight-to-video TV feature would sell well enough to garner a second. The most prominent of those ideas also involved the return of a classic villain, like Joker, and the reveal that, due to some secret genetic tampering, Bruce was Terry’s biological father.

Unfortunately, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker didn’t make a lot of money, and Timm and Co. were never able to produce their idea: The first appearance of the Catwoman of the Batman Beyond setting. Timm told the audience that they’d envisioned quite the grand old lady, as if “Anne Bancroft was Catwoman in her prime.”

And in this hypothetical Batman Beyond: Return of Catwoman, it’s Selina Kyle who would have orchestrated Terry’s conception, not Amanda Waller. Which, given her long romantic link with Bruce Wayne, feels a little less weird than Amanda Waller doing it.

Or is it more weird? Who knows. But I think we can all agree that a Batman Beyond Catwoman based on Anne Bancroft sounds awesome.

Source: Polygon.com

Batman Beyond is getting remastered in HD

Batman Beyond, the futuristic animated series, will be remastered for a Blu-ray release that is scheduled to hit store shelves on Oct. 29, cast members and creators revealed at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday.

The folks behind Batman Beyond, including producer Bruce Timm, casting director Andrea Romano, and voice actors Kevin Conroy and Will Friedle, were in Hall H to celebrate the animated series’ 20th anniversary, and shared the announcement with excited fans. The remaster will follow last year’s Blu-ray re-release of Batman: The Animated Series.

The new limited edition set will include the complete series, as well as a chromed Batman Beyond Funko Pop, new featurettes, the Return of the Joker animated movie, and lenticular art cards. All 52 episodes of the series are included, but only 41 are fully remastered; the other 11 were irreparably damaged in the intervening decades, and had to be “uprezzed” from older files.

In addition to the Blu-ray release, season 1 of Batman Beyond will arrive on the DC Universe streaming service soon.

Batman Beyond premiered in 1999, spinning out of the already legendary Batman: The Animated Series. But rather than being another show about an established setting in the DC Comics universe, like Superman: The Animated Series or the later Justice League: Unlimited, Beyond was set decades after the events of those shows. Bruce Wayne was shifted into a mentor role for a new, teenage Batman, Terry McGinnis, who wore a suit that amplified his strength and could even fly.

And yet, despite many of the details that make Batman, Batman, Batman Beyond is still a beloved series 20 years on — which might explain the demand for a release in a modern format.

Source: Polygon.com

Tom Cruise surprises Comic-Con with first footage from Top Gun 2

What does the need for speed feel like in 2019?

In a surprise appearance, Tom Cruise took the stage at Paramount Pictures’ Thursday morning Comic-Con panel to introduce footage from Top Gun: Maverick, his long-awaited follow-up to Top Gun. Regularly cited along with Jaws and Star Wars as one of the films that terraformed Hollywood into a blockbuster factory, the original Top Gun was a high-octane aerial drama that channeled Cruise’s stunt obsessions directly on screen. While a Top Gun 2 floated in Development Hell after director Tony Scott passed in 2012, Cruise handpicked Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion) to punch the sequel to mach 5. With a 2020 release date locked and loaded, a flight many doubted would ever happen will finally take off.

But in the wake of superhero bombast, fast and furious stunt shows, and Cruise’s own Mission: Impossible series (which Paramount commissioned back-to-back sequels for, after the success of Fallout), what kind of thrills can Top Gun: Maverick offer? The first trailer for the movie, which premiered at the panel, offers a little insight into Cruise and Joseph Kosinski’s vision.

Top Gun: Maverick poster, with a shot of Tom Cruise from behind wearing a jacket covered in military insignia
The teaser poster for Top Gun: Maverick.
Paramount Pictures

“Everything you see in this film is real. We’re working with the Navy. I wanted to give you an experience of being inside that aircraft.”

The trailer is pure nostalgia peppered with plane stunts. The spot opens on a desert, with a jet test flying across a desert. Ed Harris’ voice-over kicks in, skewering Cruise’s Maverick for still doing his thing after 30 years. “You won’t retire. You refuse to die.”

“It’s one of life’s mysteries, sir.”

From there, the trailer takes off with the classic Top Gun score, and plenty of throwback moments. We see Maverick in the cockpit, taking off from an aircraft carrier, an angle you can only get if the actor is the one actually flying the damn thing. There’s Maverick motorcycling by planes in the sunset. There are Navy pilots drinking up a storm, then playing beach volleyball. The trailer checks all the boxes.

We also see Maverick attending a Navy funeral. With rumors that Goose may die off in this sequel, it could very well be his emotional send-off.

Then it’s just more plane stunts. We see another wild sequence in which a trio of planes fly through a snowy mountain range. There’s something elegic about the footage, even as it serves to thrill the senses. Cruise has been in this business for a long time — but now he’s competing with the young folks. That’s built into the narrative.

Ed Harris’ commander returns to the screen. “Your kind is headed for extinction, Maverick.” He’s probably talking about drones, but could be talking about the movie star himself.

“But not today,” Maverick says.

Top Gun: Maverick, which stars Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, Val Kilmer, Ed Harris, Jon Hamm, Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Manny Jacinto, and Monica Barbaro, is out on June 26, 2020.

Update: We’ve added the teaser poster for Top Gun: Maverick to the article.

Source: Polygon.com

Why Terminator: Dark Fate had to be rated R

“The DNA of Terminator is an R-rated, fucking movie.”

Deadpool director Tim Miller took the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con Hall H stage on Thursday morning with surprising confidence for a man sequelizing one of the greatest action movies of all time. Miller’s Terminator: Dark Fate, due out Nov. 1, recasts Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Sarah Connor and the T-800 robot in a continuation to the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. And according to the filmmaker, there was only one way to do it justice: Go R. Hard R. Violence. Swear words. R. R. R.

The style is natural for Miller, who admitted he made a bet with Schwarzenegger to see if he could keep his f-bombs to under five. A sizzle reel of behind-the-scenes footage reveals crowbar fights, massive street explosions, and plenty of bloodshed. There are also plenty of shots of Miller acting as giddy as a five-year-old (who’s allowed to scream profanity). After cutting on one underwater action sequence, Miller turned to camera to declare, “Holy fuck, I’m making a Terminator movie!”

Miller isn’t completely brazen. When it comes to Terminator’s time-travel logic, he’s particularly interested in course correcting, and exploring what happened to Sarah Connor after she blew up Cyberdyne, 27 years later.

“Look, I loved [Avengers:] Endgame,” he said at the panel, “however, I feel like time travel with multiple realities loses some stakes. If you can change anything … you lose a little bit of the dramatic stakes.”

During the behind-the-scenes reel, producer James Cameron describes Miller’s vision as a true throwback to his first two, R-rated films. According to Cameron, Dark Fate summons “that same adrenaline-rush feeling. That sense of terror.” That meant staging larger-than-life action, but also wringing every ounce of charisma from the stars. Miller says he made Linda Hamilton to do take after take of profanity-laden one-liners. He couldn’t help himself, and neither could Hamilton, who was happy to return to the raw and relentless franchise.

“The character is the same but time changes everything,” Hamilton said of her character. “[And now] I am so much more than I was […] People will talk about the training and the body, but the work I did was the deep exploration of a woman who is an outsider, whose life hasn’t worked out well, and who has lost so much.”

But for all those looking for an off-the-leash Terminator epic, Miller wants to make one thing clear: Arnold wouldn’t say “fuck.”

“Robots don’t curse.”

Source: Polygon.com

Terminator: Dark Fate will bring back Edward Furlong as John Connor

Edward Furlong will reprise his role as futuristic freedom fighter John Connor in Terminator: Dark Fate, this year’s Terminator sequel that picks up after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day and ignores the other films’ canon.

James Cameron, who’s producing the new Terminator and directed the first two films, announced Furlong’s return to the role at a panel at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day was Furlong’s first movie role. He portrayed John Connor, the son of Sarah Connor, as a young teen living in foster care and being pursued by a new breed of Terminator, the T-1000. Furlong did not reprise the role in the 2003 sequel, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines; Nick Stahl played an older John Connor in that film. Christian Bale assumed the role in 2009’s Terminator Salvation. Jason Clarke took over as John Connor in 2015’s Terminator Genisys.

Terminator: Dark Fate will also see the return of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the T-800. The film also stars Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, and Gabriel Luna as a new model of Terminator. Tim Miller (Deadpool) is directing. Terminator: Dark Fate will hit theaters Nov. 1.

Source: Polygon.com

My Hero Academia season 4 gets English dub trailer at SDCC 2019

Funimation released an English dub trailer for the fourth season of My Hero Academia during the anime series’ panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. The new season will be simultaneously released on FunimationNow as it airs in Japan this fall.

The first trailer for the new season gave us brief glimpses of the new cast of characters joining this season, and this trailer brings the English voice cast into the action. Season 4 takes place during the “Shie Hassaikai” arc of the manga, which situates Overhaul, a germaphobic villain hellbent on eradicating quirks from existence, as the primary antagonist.

Deku, working under All-Might’s former sidekick Sir Nighteye, investigates the gang that Overhaul leads. The fourth season will also give more time to fan favorite characters like the “Big Three,” UA High School’s most promising hero candidates, and Eijiro Kirishima, one of the members of Class 1-A.

My Hero Academia’s third season was one of the best anime of 2018, and season 4 looks likely to follow in its footsteps. While Crunchyroll hasn’t yet announced a simultaneous broadcast of the series, it’s likely given that the previous seasons were previously released on Cruncyroll in tandem with their airing in Japan.

My Hero Academia season 4 premieres on Oct. 12.

Source: Polygon.com

The bizarre, true story of Metal Gear Solid’s English translation

The last time I saw Hideo Kojima, we were both naked.

It was at a traditional Japanese ryokan’s rotenburo (outdoor bath), on a Konami company vacation near Mount Fuji. He was a lot thinner then, before he started pumping iron. He looked more like Psycho Mantis at the time. He’s going for a Snake thing these days. Good for him.

Although it’s hard to believe now, Hideo Kojima was unknown in the West at that point in the early to mid-’90s. I first met him when I worked at Konami’s HQ in Toranomon, Tokyo, from about September 1993 to March 1995. That one-and-a-half-year span felt like at least five years due to the high-pressure environment of being the only foreigner in the office, and the horrible Tokyo rush-hour train commute. I would later translate Metal Gear Solid for the PlayStation, a job that might have been much too big for one person.

This is how it all happened.

Background briefing

I worked in the international business department at Konami Japan, a group of about 15 or so employees who sat uncomfortably between the sales division and the law division in neat rows in a single well-lit, bustling office room. These were the 16-bit days, before the use of email was common. So we shuffled papers all day, passing them down the line to be stamped by our bosses in starched shirts. We did this while watching the clock, killing time by smoking cigarettes in the lounge.

I had come to Konami after a one-year stint as a teacher at a mass-produced eikaiwa (English-language school) called Aeon. After that, I was lucky enough to get an interview with Konami, courtesy of my twin brother who was working at Konami Chicago at the time. I nailed the interview due to my skill at both Japanese and English, along with my fond memories of playing Contra. Those brought a tear to the eyes of Mr. Arakawa, who was then the head of the international business department.

But the smoking lounge at Konami was where the real work was done, because that was when you’d meet people from different departments and could actually talk to your superiors. This was a cultural quirk of working in Japan, where members of each department sit in their own area. It’s an unspoken rule that you don’t just go chatting people up at their desks unless you have some kind of directive to do so, or a specific task.

As a result, there was no synergy in the office itself. Breakthroughs happened while relaxing over a cigarette, where everyone felt more or less equal and let their guard down. We would also sometimes be asked to play some of the company’s games and give our thoughts on them.

Mostly what we did was send two daily faxes to the U.S. and Europe, communicating with them about shipping numbers and their wishes for how games could be tweaked to suit their respective markets. It was a boring job, but the research and development division began to ask me to offer opinions on games, and to translate or even write original text for a few titles, since I was the only foreigner in the department.

I wrote all the text for Animaniacs, Batman and Robin, and Sparkster for the Sega Genesis. I translated things like Biker Mice From Mars and Tiny Toon Adventures, and I directed the primitive voice-overs for Contra: Hard Corps. But things got real when I was called into the R&D 6 (Sega) building in Jinbocho and asked what I thought of Hideo Kojima’s Snatcher.

I ended up working on the Sega CD version of Snatcher for two months, and it was some of my favorite work. I supervised the translation done by Scott Hards, added some of my own stuff, and went to Chicago to direct the voice-over sessions.

Kojima wasn’t involved in that port, but my work on it was how he and I became connected before I quit Konami to become a dedicated dad.

Learning what Metal Gear Solid would be

In March 1997, I was living in a rented house in the snowy hills of western Massachusetts with a wife and two small children. We had a wood stove and not much money. I had already translated Vandal Hearts and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, but that was it.

Seeing all the memes and jokes that have since come out of the English translation of Symphony of the Night was strange for me, but it also taught me an important lesson: Translation is writing. It’s an artistic process as much as a mechanical one, and no two people are ever likely to translate the same work the same way. We’ll get to that idea, and how it blew it up in my face, later in this story.

But at the time, I heard that Hideo Kojima had a project he wanted me to translate. with the weird title of Metal Gear Solid.

I flew to Tokyo to meet with him and discuss it. In his office, he talked to me about the game for a bit, and showed me a table where he had an enormous Lego version of some of the game’s environments, and how he used a tiny camera to move through the Lego tunnels to get a sense of the game’s environments in 3D. You can actually see how some of those camera movements he tried made it into the final game in the clip below.

This was exciting; 3D games were not yet common at the time. It was clear that Metal Gear Solid was something very, very special, and a big departure from both Snatcher and Policenauts. I left with three massive blue three-ring binders containing the script, art materials, and other supplemental notes.

We also reminisced about our families a bit. His wife shares a name with mine, and he asked about my daughter, Zoe, who had been born shortly after that trip to Mount Fuji, when I was still working for Konami. I believe he got the name of Z.O.E. (Zone of the Enders) from this conversation. It was an uncommon name at the time, and where else would he have gotten it? I had told everyone in the company about my new baby.

Back in Massachusetts, I was faced with the daunting task of translating Metal Gear Solid’s huge script. The first thing that was obvious to me was the massive amount of research Kojima did before building this world. There was all this military tech throughout the game, including specific gun names and details about how U.S. nuclear weapons are locked down, background on the Cold War, Alaskan Native tribes, special ops, psy-ops, you name it. And these were things that I knew nothing about when I started work on the translation.

An overwhelming job

I had six months to finish the job, the clock was ticking, and I didn’t know where to begin. I also knew that I couldn’t just jump into a translation without first getting a deep look into the world that Kojima had been swimming in for years while conceiving Metal Gear Solid.

People may have a hard time really appreciating the fact that, at the time, the internet was not the thing you know now. There was no YouTube, no Wikipedia, no Reddit, and there were no other translations of similar work to reference. The word “localization” barely existed in the business in 1997. I was all on my own, and no one was looking over my shoulder.

I ordered every book I could by an ex-Navy SEAL named Richard Marcinko, who wrote the autobiographical book Rogue Warrior along with a collection of novels. I had the sense that that’s what Kojima was going for: a gritty feeling of realism, with touches of James Bond’s gadgets and inventiveness.

So I read, re-read, and breathed those books for weeks, savoring the feel of that world and the flow of the soldiers’ conversations with each other, including the sarcastic machismo.

It was exhilarating. I was terrified.

Mission execute

I spent my time going to libraries and bookstores for research, while also watching war and spy movies to make sure I had the lingo down. I looked at the provided art from the game and imagined the characters speaking in their own voices as I breathed my English words into the script, trying to look past the Japanese words to capture the essence of each conversation. I was desperately trying to keep the feeling that Kojima was himself trying to inspire in players.

I translated the work in the linear order of the story, so the very first thing I worked on was the opening scene, as Snake swims underwater into the docking bay of the nuclear weapons disposal facility. I had a VHS copy of the Japanese cutscenes, and I knew I had to absolutely nail the translation to set up the mood of the game.

I loved what I was seeing, and I was already geeking out about what the game was doing, even in those initial scenes. I felt like I had been given a serious responsibility, and I had the sense early that I was working on something special.

There was so much to consider: The tempo of the voices was tricky, as the overall length of the dialogue had to match the length of the scene. But what was much, much worse was that Japanese word order is reversed when compared to English. I had to play with the dialogue quite a bit to match the words to the cuts and dissolves of a camera that was much more cinematic and active than in other games of the time. It’s not like I could just change how a scene was edited to make it easier to translate.

Imagine trying to rewrite dialogue in another language with completely different syntax while keeping the feeling of what was being said, without being able to change how long each line could be while spoken.

I read my script over and over as I watched that VHS, teasing it into a dramatic, seamless presentation that worked with the visuals. In the end, I was convinced I’d done good — maybe great — work on the translation.

I continued along in this manner through all the cutscenes: watching the video and imagining the voices, the emotions, the motivations, and the style of the characters. I lived and breathed it all, and the excitement of doing the cutscenes gave me the power to slog through the hundreds of pages of less exciting codec conversations. It was a massive job, the sort of thing that would be the work of an entire team today. But back then, it was just one guy in the U.S., doing his best.

Deep background

I had never taken on a job of this size before. Vandal Hearts and Castlevania were tiny compared to Metal Gear Solid, and I was not experienced enough yet to know that I should have arranged a payment schedule with Konami so that I would get paid each month for hitting certain deadlines. Instead, I had no income for seven to eight months; I was to be paid the full amount when the entire job was finished.

And so we were starving poor as I worked full-time on Metal Gear Solid. The days became shorter in the Massachusetts winter, there was no money at all, and the stress was off the charts. I worked in a tiny “office” the size of a small bathroom as the two kids played and cried outside the door, three feet away. The job had me on edge to the point that I was taking diazepam — commonly known as Valium — to handle the stress.

Ironically, that’s the same drug that Snake takes in the game to keep his shooting hand from shaking. I was also smoking heavily like Snake, which is why lines like “you don’t know how good a cigarette tastes in the morning” ended up in the American release, even though it wasn’t based on text from the Japanese version of the game. It was just something that was getting me through the experience, and I imagined Snake was dealing with stress in a similar way.

a soldier aiming a gun at Solid Snake Konami Computer Entertainment Japan/Konami

This is a good time to talk for a minute about translation and the idea of originality. Many people misunderstand this topic, and it’s not surprising; there’s not much solid information about how this process works, and there definitely wasn’t during the time period I was working on Metal Gear Solid.

Translation is not a science; it is an art. One must take liberties with the text to capture the essence of the words, in an attempt to recreate the feeling of the original for a very different audience with a very different cultural background. That essence is found less in the words themselves than in the spaces between the words. It is a tone, an ever-present, unspoken attitude, and in this case it was a very confident tone. It is the mark of a single hand that often gives a work integrity and power, and I didn’t want to put my fingerprint on Metal Gear Solid. I wanted to imitate what I thought Kojima desired from the text.

I felt like I was inside his head during the project, not unlike one of those FBI guys who track serial killers. And yet it became clear that Japanese culture is not as precise, brutal, or jaded about war as we’re used to in the United States. This was true even in the years before our culture was shaken up by 9/11 and Abu Ghraib. Reading Rogue Warrior and other books helped me understand how the military speaks to itself, and I wanted to show that Snake and Col. Campbell were professional soldiers. That had to come from how they spoke to each other, and the other characters in the game.

That meant that I, too, had to learn to talk like a professional soldier.

What this meant for the script was that I had to come up with jargon to “sell” the image. I did my best. Kojima didn’t use the term “HALO” when he described jumping from high in the air and opening the chute at a low altitude to enter the site. (This was also years before the Halo series debuted.) But I found the term for a high-altitude, low-opening jump in my reading, so it went into the game.

When I read that Snake’s earpiece was just called a 無線機 (“wireless”), I tried to come up with something better for American players. I researched the problem for a significant amount of time before coming across something called a “codec” that I thought sounded cool. I had never heard the term before, but it sounded pretty official.

When Campbell told Snake that he would have to do 現地調達 (“acquire locally”) for his weapons, I knew I needed something that sounded like military jargon. The only problem is that no one in real life would ever put themselves in that situation if they could help it, so I coined the term OSP, or “on-site procurement,” which is still used to this day.

In addition to jargon, I used this opportunity to flesh out characters every chance I had. Too often, in translation, the meaning is kept but all feeling is lost. It must be added back in by the translator. So I gave Snake amusing quips that were not in the original text.

Solid Snake and Meryl aiming guns at each other, with Snake asking, ‘You’ve never shot a person, am I right?’ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan/Konami

One example would be when Campbell said, “I’m not a colonel anymore,” in Japanese. I changed it to “I’m not a colonel anymore, just a retired old warhorse.”

Why did I add that last bit when it wasn’t in the original? All I can say is that it felt right. It added flavor. We have a kind of shorthand to flesh out character archetypes in our culture, which are drawn from our shared memory of movies, TV, literature, and other forms of pop culture. That line matched what I could sense Kojima was doing in the creation of the character. It was right for the archetype, and American players would understand a bit more about who Campbell was, and how he acted. I was looking to enhance what Kojima was trying to do for the audience that would be playing his game in English, and adding these small flourishes was a good way to do so.

Here’s another example, this time from Snake. Let me ask you which option sounds better:

  • A) “I’m just a guy who can only find meaning on the battlefield.”
  • B) “I’m just a man who’s good at what he does. Killing.”

You can probably guess that B is mine, and A is how my translation was “improved” for Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.

Here’s another from Snake (to Vulcan Raven, regarding the Alaskan Olympics):

  • A) “With that strength, you must have been training in the stick pull and four-man carry.”
  • B) “Yeah, I know it. You must be a real threat in the ‘Muktuk Eating’ contest.”

In this example, I threw away the line that did nothing except inform the reader of two more events that exist in the Alaskan Olympics. Instead, I gave Snake a funnier line that establishes his character. Good choice, or unfaithful and worthy of condemnation? It’s ultimately your call, but I stand by what I did with the game.

And one more, from Psycho Mantis:

  • A) “This is the first time … I’ve ever used my power to help someone. It’s strange … such a … nostalgic feeling.”
  • B) “This is the first time … I’ve ever used my power to help someone. It’s strange … it feels … kind of … nice.”

Naturally, B is mine; I removed the word “nostalgic,” a direct translation from the Japanese, because people who are feeling nostalgic don’t normally say they are feeling nostalgic when they describe their emotions. We interpret other people as feeling nostalgic, but it’s rarely how we describe ourselves.

But both lines mean the same thing, more or less. Does it seem like I was being less faithful to the original by trying to find words that felt more natural to Western audiences?

Mission failure?

I’ve tried to explain where my mind was when I started the project, my level of enthusiasm, my efforts, and, ultimately, the decisions that led to me pissing off Kojima and not translating another game in the series.

Here’s what happened, as best I can piece it together. The voice-over work was done in Los Angeles, and, as script writer, I sat next to the director and had one of the three microphones that let us speak to the actors. The director and the sound tech had the other two.

I went home when the recording was finished, and the audio went to Japan, where Kojima heard it. It was my understanding that he loved it. He enjoyed it so much that he decided he wanted to create a release called Metal Gear Solid: Integral so players could play the Japanese audio with English subtitles, or vice versa.

That’s not a small job. Every single English line had to be “aligned” with the Japanese dialogue so everything flowed smoothly while it was being played. Whoever was assigned this job began to see the differences between the original Japanese writing and dialogue, and the work I had turned in.

I should mention how rare it is for the texts for two markets to ever be in the same game, especially at that time. Until then, North American releases were for North America, Japan’s voice acting and writing was for Japan, and so on. There was never a feeling that they needed to line up exactly, only that each had to offer a good experience for its particular market.

From what I heard at the time, Kojima began to hear that his work had been “tinkered” with. I’d argue there might have been a lack of appreciation for the needs of localization due to his not being bilingual, but he was not happy. As a result, all future Metal Gear games would be closely monitored for fidelity to the original Japanese script.

[Ed. note: Konami declined to comment when contacted about this story.]

This approach resulted in lines like: “I won’t scatter your sorrow to the heartless sea. I will always be with you. Plant your roots in me. I won’t see you end as ashes. You’re all diamonds.”

Some players find this sort of dialogue endearing, but I’d argue that it could have been massaged a bit more for English-speaking players. That’s not up to me, although I’m very proud of the work I put into Metal Gear Solid. The reviews were very positive at the time, and many mentioned the quality of the translation and voice-over work in the game.

Though the decisions I made cost me future work, I stand by my efforts and am glad that I followed what I thought to be, ultimately, the most sincere form of flattery and respect for the original — namely, to emulate the original feelings in reassembly rather than to leave them as broken bits, drained of the color that was so clear in the original Japanese writing.

Some might say that it was ego or conceit behind my choices — and yes, I did the same thing with the “What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets!” line in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, by the way.

You can now see “what is a man?” referenced as a meme all over the internet, on T-shirts, and even in other games. Naturally, this delights me for egotistical reasons. It’s ridiculous to see that my reference of an obscure line by a man named André Malraux has come to be much more well-known than the original. But I also think it illuminates a larger issue: the role (and power) of the translator.

“Fidelity to meaning alone in translation is a kind of betrayal.” —Paul Valéry

Before Twitter and its legions of armchair quarterbacks with the luxury of spending much more time reviewing translations than the original translators had in doing them, our main concern was an honest desire to make a fun and entertaining game for a local audience. To this day, I believe the best translators are writers, who take on what is an impossible task and do their best to satisfy several masters: the audience, the original author, and the marketplace.

Looking back on the whole thing, yes, there were mistakes, and bad choices as well as successful ones. But that’s art. Translation isn’t science, and after 20 years of Metal Gear Solid’s success, I think I must have done a pretty good job.

If nothing else, I was able to be at least a small part of gaming history, and how many people are able to say that?


Jeremy Blaustein is a Japanese-English game translator, Goju-ryu practitioner and pizza aficionado living in Japan. His worked on games such Metal Gear Solid, the Silent Hill series, Castlevania Symphony of the Night, Suikoden 2, Ape Escape 2, Shadow Hearts Covenant, Dragon Warrior 7, Valkyrie Profile, Dark Cloud 2, Lost Sphear and many more.

Source: Polygon.com

Overwatch is getting a new role queue system for ranked — and pro play

One of the worst experiences of Overwatch is getting into a lobby first, picking Pharah or D.Va, and then watching the rest of your team pick five more damage heroes. Blizzard is offering a new solution for this problem with a role queue system that lets you sign up as a tank, support, or damage in both quick and competitive play.

Overwatch - The new role queue select screen Blizzard Entertainment

Currently, Overwatch’s lobbies are totally lawless, only limiting players to heroes that have yet to be picked. As a result, especially at lower levels of play, hero selection can be chaos. Players jostle over who gets to play DPS, pressure each other to play Mercy, and ultimately feel frustrated if they feel forced into tanking six games in a row.

Role queue asks players to choose what role they want to play: tank, damage, or support. A 2-2-2 composition is enforced; players can only select heroes within their chosen roles. At the end of a match, players re-queue and select their role once again. If there’s a role that is limited — maybe there just aren’t very many supports on one night — then players who queue for that role will receive rewards.

This change is so sweeping that it’s even hitting the Overwatch League. Pro players will be subject to the same 2-2-2 role as of Stage 4, which begins on July 25.

Certain heroes were designed as hybrids, like the tanky healer Brigitte. There will be a sweeping set of balance changes to these heroes to ensure that they properly fit into one of the three roles. For instance, Brigitte’s kit will be updated to have less survivability and more healing.

While quick play will have a hidden per-role MMR, competitive play requires more sophisticated matchmaking and rewards. Players will have three distinct rankings, one for each role. Players will be ranked from 1 to 5,000, and organized into seven tiers: bronze, silver, gold, platinum, diamond, master, and grandmaster. All three ranks will be used to calculate end-of-season rewards, but when a player queues, their MMR is based only on the role they are playing. In order to be ranked in a role, players must complete five placement matches (up to 15, if you place on all three roles).

Overwatch - the upcoming role queue beta launch screen Blizzard Entertainment

It’s clear why Blizzard is enforcing this new rule — the potential change to lobbies and team compositions seems very pleasant for solo players.

As for pro play, the triple tank/triple support composition GOATS was both very powerful and very long-lived. Fans derided and even booed GOATS compositions, as it was frustrating to watch and often perceived as lower skill than running a more traditional team with damage. While GOATS was already starting to fade from the professional metagame, it’s possible Blizzard wants to ensure it can avoid any more creative compositions from dominating the meta.

Role queue is available on the PTR for PC players. The system will come to live servers in Patch 1.39. A “beta season” will run from Aug. 13 to Sept. 1, so players can test the new system while still earning competitive points. After the beta season, role queue should permanently kick off on Sept. 1, along with competitive season 18.

Source: Polygon.com

Here’s every life-sized stormtrooper at SDCC, including Sith Troopers

Wednesday nights at San Diego Comic-Con are preview nights, a chance to see the show floor with (very slightly) fewer people than will be there the rest of the week. It’s a great time to get up close and personal to many of the marvels on display. Among the largest was Star Wars, which set up a veritable rogues gallery of stormtroopers — including, very notably, a bright red Sith Trooper, newly-unveiled ahead of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, in the middle.

As I was taking photos of the Sith Trooper — which is the only one on display without a placard explaining its place in canon — two fully-clad Sith Trooper cosplayers popped up behind me for photo ops in front of their near-identical statue. To the left of that, a steampunk Vader was giving interviews. All that and a LEGO Star Wars Sith Trooper below.

All photography by Ross Miller

Source: Polygon.com