[Anniversary Feature] Jeff Nussbaum and Ys

Today’s feature article is written by Jeff Nussbaum, also known to the rest of the internet as Deuce. He is the translator that was behind the patches for Ys I-II Complete, Oath in Felghana, and Ys Origin. His scripts were also purchased by XSEED Games for the official releases of the Ys titles, as well. Jeff was also one of the three translators involved with XSEED Games’ release of Trails in the Sky.

In the modern day, words like “geek” and “nerd” have acquired very different meanings from what they had in my youth. I was born in 1974, and was thus a child of the 80s. I was called both of those terms, with no kindness or irony intended. They were insults, pure and simple, spoken with all of the contempt that racial slurs tend to carry.

Of course, things are different now. “Geek chic” is now a “thing.” People gleefully speak of having geek cred, and fear losing it by not being into games/books/shows that are hardcore enough. For my part, I tend to regard “nerd” as being more or less synonymous with “fanboy.”

“Geek,” however, is a self-appointed title… the sort of thing one calls oneself, when one is really into a hobby. Fact is, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone under the age of 50 who isn’t a geek about something. There are gamer geeks, sports geeks, car geeks, music geeks, fashion geeks, science geeks, etc. Embrace it. If you get called out for it, just remember, the one doing the calling is just as guilty as you.

Now, let’s move on to the main point: geek cred and Ys. Long-time fans of the series know, the older games are not the most approachable, especially from a modern gamer’s standpoint. I was fortunate enough to have been introduced to the series with the TurboGrafx-CD version, amazing music and all. I played them when the system was new, and was forever sold on the series.

Of course, the classic “bump” system can be jarring/off-putting to a lot of gamers. Not pressing a button to attack is counterintuitive to most of our instincts. Those who take the time to get used to it, however, quickly learn that it has a certain visceral charm of its own. Even so, it’s hardly surprising that Ys I & II Chronicles was the least well-received of XSEED’s Ys PSP localizations (I still hold out some hope that the PC version of Complete will come to Steam).

In the years between Ys III’s appearance in the West and Konami’s PS2 port of Ark of Napishtim, I resorted to the occasional underhanded trick to pique people’s interest in the series. If I knew someone had an interest in chiptunes or emulated game music, I would send them/point them to tracks from the first three games… usually the Famicom versions, as those were the ones I had most readily available. As the composition was and is impeccable, it would invariably grab their attention. Then I would follow up with the Turbo-CD version of whatever tracks I had originally sent.

If this was successful at making them sit up and take notice, I was generally in good shape to get them with talking more in-depth about the gameplay. For those who might be wondering, my usual choices for these tracks tended to be as follows:

Ys I: First Step Towards Wars, Palace, Holders of Power
Ys II: Noble District of Toal, Moat of Burnedbless, Termination
Ys III: Be Careful, A Searing Struggle, Valestein Castle, The Strongest Foe

Of course, it tends to be much easier, nowadays. For the most part, one needn’t worry about importing Japanese games and patching them, or muddling through a Japanese import game… thanks to XSEED and Konami, almost all of the Ys series can be played in English, either on PSP or via Steam.

I started translating games almost by accident, and it was all because I felt Ys deserved the best localization possible. My writing and translation skills have grown, and my outlook on localization itself has matured over better than a decade since the process started, and it’s gratifying to see it so well-received.

Ys is still a niche series in the west, though it is gaining popularity, thanks to fans like you. I’m happy I could be a part of it, and I hope I can continue to be in the future.

That’s code for “Go pester XSEED to hire me to translate Ys: Foliage Ocean in Celceta. And get them to let Falcom adjust that title to something less Engrishy.”

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Kirsten Miller
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The webmaster, creator, and administrator of Endless History and all the sites located on esterior.net. Web developer and designer by day, translator, Kiseki crack theorist, and game streamer by night. Also, apparently a very floofy guy.

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