Monster Hunter World is an incredible success, bringing the previously niche in the west action RPG franchise to mainstream consciousness in North America and Europe. And while it might be tempting to just say that the game did well because it was on consoles instead of handhelds this time around, that would also be ignoring the care that went into the actual development and localization process for the game.
One of the chief components of the localization process was surely the monster names—after all, since they are the stars of the show, you want their names to be resonant with all players around the world, right? The actual naming process for the monsters in Japanese appears to be fairly simple, according to Yuma Tokuda, the director for the game. Speaking to Dengeki (translated via Siliconera), Tokuda said, “We look up words from around the world that define a monster’s “behavior” and “physical characteristics,” and from there we put together ones that come together nicely, then make it into a name.”
It’s the localization process where things begin to get interesting—because there, they have to account for the fact that different sounds and words have different meanings across different languages and different cultures.
“We worked with localization teams to decide on what we can translate to local languages and what gets kept from the original languages. For example, Tobikagachi (the Japanese name of Tobi-Kadachi) comes from the word “Tobu” (to “fly” in Japanese) combined with “Kagachi,” an older way of saying snake,” Tokuda said.
“However, the localization team sent a request saying “-kaga sounds like a vulgar word in Italian, so can you change it to something else?” So when that happened, deciding “let’s change it because that word sounds like trouble” was just one of my tasks.”
It sounds like, as always, a lot of thought goes into the naming of the monsters, to make sure they sound acceptable and resonant to all players—and while many will not be willing to concede the point, I feel like good localization absolutely goes a long way towards helping a game succeed in an international market. Monster Hunter World is available now on PS4 and Xbox One.