When localizations go awry: Conveni Dream

Does a game need a good localization to offer a satisfying experience? Are inaccuracies a red flag waving, warning you to keep away? The easy, knee-jerk answer is yes. A bad translation can indicate a lack of attention being paid to one of the most important parts of a game; the errors could inhibit enjoyment and impair play. Conveni Dream proves that such things should be investigated on a case-by-case basis. While this is clearly a contender for worst 3DS translation of 2016, the localization doesn’t taint the experience.

Conveni Dream begins its assault on the English language the moment you open your shop’s doors. Your assistant, Eri, shows up with a barrage of grammatical, spelling and syntax errors. There isn’t enough red ink in the world to call out all of these flaws. “It’s everything about purchasing goods!” We think you meant “all” there, Eri. The consistent and continual errors are cringeworthy. It’s a problem.

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But it isn’t a gameplay problem. As questionable as the script may be, context helps. Let’s look at the phrase, “Here are instructions for Marks.” Alone, it’s a nightmare sentence. In game, we know the “Marks” in question aren’t people. They’re icons that might appear on specific goods. “The clerk has been cheered!” Fatigued employees may stop for a moment; tapping them refreshes them. Concepts may not receive the most elegant explanations, but they’re adequate for our purposes. We know what Eri is trying to say, even though she isn’t saying it well.

Conveni Dream isn’t a story-intensive game, after all. This is a shop management sim. As long as product names, audiences, statistics and profits have accurate labels, we can work out the details for ourselves. Eri isn’t going to be narrating some epic saga where our mini mart wages war against a huge conglomerate. She’s going to get us through a tutorial, showing us how to keep the sidewalks clean and customers content, then leave us to our own devices. Every once in a while, she’ll pop by to give us a heads-up about a major event. It’s fine, so long as we get the gist of what’s happening.

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This may even be one of those cases in which a bad translation can enhance the experience. I looked forward to each of Eri’s appearances, despite my distaste for what she was doing to the English language. I wanted to read each of her renditions. When I shared a few pictures of the game with Graham, in particular, “It’s everything about purchasing goods,” his response was, “I hope you’re taking screenshots.” My reply? “It’s everything about taking screenshots.” This is a silly simulation; the unintentional additional injection of silliness is something that can enhance a player’s appreciation of the game.

Yes, a perfect translation is always appreciated. We like to see a certain level of care going into games; projects that appear to have been run through Google Translate feel cheap. While Conveni Dream certainly does feel machine-translated, it doesn’t ruin the game. The text is so infrequent that such instances become a silly moment when you shake your head, grasp what was meant from context and continue managing your mini-mart with minimal damage done by the poor localization.

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