Atlus West PR’s talked to us about the challenges and localization changes made to the upcoming release of Persona 5 Royal.
After getting my hands on Persona 5 Royal during a preview event in Los Angeles, I was able to sit down with Arianne Advincula, the head of Atlus West PR, for a quick yet incredibly revealing interview about the updated version of the game that’s coming to the West on March 31.
We discussed the challenges faced working with a game that has already been released in Japan, changes in the English localization between Persona 5 and Royal, how streaming policies will be handled moving forward in the West, the EFIGS localization, and more.
Allisa James: What were some of the challenges working with Atlus Japan leading up to the game’s release? Were there any challenges unique to Persona 5 Royal?
Arianne Advincula: We have a couple more weeks until March 31 so maybe more things will come. [laughs] But I think the biggest challenge that I’ve encountered working at other Japanese companies, and it’s the same type of challenge, is that the Japanese game has already been released. So on the Western front, I always try to think of a new way to show content that a lot of our hardcore fans already knows about. In particular with Royal, everyone knows that Kasumi is a new character, that Maruki is a new character, and there’s all this news that fans are already aware of. So we do these preview events like these, we make new trailers. We try to highlight [the game] in ways that people haven’t quite seen. So it’s the same information, since it’s already out there, but it’s a different perspective.
So for me, it’s like, “What’s cool about Kasumi and Maruki?” and it’s these amazing English voice actors. And earlier you mentioned “challenges” but I think they’re great advantages that we get to have, that the game is already released in Japan and then we get to kind of spin it and make it more palatable for a Western audience.
AJ: This is the first Persona game to get an EFIGS (English, French, Italian, German, Spanish) localization. What kind of work went into that, and what spurred on that decision?
AA: So I wasn’t there for the first EFIGS launch with Judgment but that was very well received. So I was thinking moving forward, “Let’s do it for Persona 5,” because this is a great opportunity to pool a whole new audience in Europe who has never been able to experience P5 due to that language barrier. And we had our UK event this morning and that went great. And from the UK event, people were playing EFIGS and loved it and that’s awesome. Like, look at all the people who can play the game now.
AJ: Are there any notable changes in the English version from the original P5? Did the localization team go through the game’s whole script again for the localization process?
AA: Yeah, they definitely did because you meet Kasumi from the very beginning as this new character and essentially she’s appeared in so many parts of the game that they’ve had to rework how those scenes were. Because now she exists and now she has to react and [the team] has to react to her. And a lot of those voice actors were called back to do those extra lines or revise certain lines. It was a herculean effort – about two and a half months of new recording with a cast of about 10 to 12 people, if you include the original Phantom Thieves plus Kasumi plus Maruki. I can’t say enough how awesome they are, but it was also a lot of work from the editors, the translators, and the original developers who wrote the story.
There was so much writing and voice recording involved. And what was awesome about the voice actors is that they had already played P5 but they felt like it was a new experience. So you would have the same scene but in a Kasumi way or in a Maruki way because they don’t know what the new content is going to be and then suddenly there are these changes that are affecting the entire cast and the entire story. And that’s what we mean when we say that Persona 5 Royal is an all-new experience. It’s not Persona 5, it’s its own standalone thing.
AJ: Has the new content from Persona 5 Royal had any specific effect on the dialogue from the original version?
AA: I’m trying to think of something that’s not a spoiler. [laughs] So obviously, there’s the whole new third semester that was added and I think that in itself is completely notable because you have to build up to that point. It’s not something that’s just tacked on at the end. This was seeded throughout the narrative and then we get to this point. And it’s an amazing point in this game. I played through it myself and for me, it was very emotional. Even down to the enemy cutscenes, there was so much more added and there’s just so much more of that Persona 5 Royal-ness that people want from the game.
AJ: So with the original Persona 5 there was plenty of controversy involving the heavily restrictive streaming policy at launch. Will there be any specific changes to that policy moving forward with Persona 5 Royal?
AA: At the time I wasn’t with Atlus but I remember thinking, “Oh my god, they aren’t allowing streaming?” Because I understand how important the community response is and that as you’re live playing the game, there’s this excitement of watching somebody else playing the game, especially with the community culture we have today. We really want to focus on celebrating the community and sharing information.
So what I can say is that we’re allowing streaming until that really strong turning point in the game which is around December 24 and that’s just because it’s such a big spoiler that we don’t want out there and that the players should experience for themselves. And for those of you who played Persona 5, you know what that means. When I got there, I was emotional so I think that will be something best experienced on their own.
Basically, you’ll be able to stream everything in Persona 5 Royal up until in-game December 24, and that includes all the new content where you see these new characters, all the DLC, the new boss fights, and the new abilities. So we’re talking about 70 percent of the game that is streamable. And I think that’s amazing, that’s a great step. We want people to share how they feel about Persona. It’s such a rich game and that should be the highlight.
AJ: Anything else you would like to mention for the DualShockers’ audience?
AA: Honestly, I’m just really excited to be on the team. This is really just a dream come true. But to the DualShockers fans, people who love JRPGs, people who love Persona, this is time if you haven’t played Persona 5 — and I know it’s a 100 hours, it took me a 120 hours — but it’s worth that extra 150 hours that Persona 5 Royal is going to give you because again, this is an all-new experience. It’s so awesome and the team worked so hard and I want everyone to play it!
Persona 5 Royal is set to release in a little over a month on March 31, 2020, exclusively for PS4.