Much credit does not usually go to translators and localizers in the game industry, but I feel they are sometimes deserving of special praise, especially those who can not only convey the meaning of the original but also its essence and sometimes its greatness. Final Fantasy XII is a demonstration of Square’s localization prowess and continues a tradition of great translations. The voice actors well-cast and directed, and the words themselves are crafted at a level above that of the average game. But for how well the main story is brought into English, something else steals the show– the encyclopedic Bestiary.

Accessible at any time through an in-game menu, the Bestiary brims with fanciful details about all of the game’s monsters thus far encountered, described in an expansive vocabulary and sometimes with a sprinkling of accurately-used archaisms. It easily stands on its own as entertaining reading, and one could lose the better part of an evening simply rifling through its numerous pages. The Bestiary also contains motes of other entries, on cities and cultures and the history of the lands through which the player travels, all of them well-written and so expansive that one wonders if it was not simply for the sheer joy of creation that they were originally written.

Nobody else seems to have made mention of this Bestiary, and thus I wanted to tip my hat to the ones responsible for it. No simple rote act of translation could have made it what it is, which is secretly the best part of the game and is easily the best large body of text I have encountered in a game since I can remember.

“Happy Bunny: Being a fiendish creature taking the form of an adorable bunny (for which, indeed, it is all the more fiendish)…”

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