Building off of yesterday's news of a June 25th release date for Judgment in the West, comes word today that the game will ship with two different English subtitles to choose from. This was revealed as part of today's new media release for Judgment on the PlayStation Blog.

The Yakuza localization team already does an absolutely tremendous job, but it looks like they're trying to up the ante with Judgment. The idea to have two separate English subtitles ties in to the fact that Judgment will have English audio in addition to the original Japanese audio. Those who played the recent Yakuza releases know that there was no English voice acting in those games.

Localization producer for Sega, Scott Strichart, shares the thought process that went into this dual-dub idea.

“I want one English subtitle track that mirrors what the English actors are saying, but I want a second English subtitle track that would accompany the Japanese audio. Can we do that?” I asked a room full of Japanese developers via teleconference.

A moment of silence passed that felt like an eternity. There was clearly some confusion.

“We can probably do that, but… why?”
That is a very good question and one that I'm still confused about. What purpose is there to having two different English subtitles?

Have you ever played a game with a dub and selected the Japanese audio, only to have the English dub’s subtitles appear, despite clearly not matching the length or maybe even the intensity of the line? People call those “dubtitles,” and they happen because the English audio is generally treated as the lead language, for obvious reasons, and the Japanese audio acts as simply a bonus feature for the enthusiast crowd. But for a game as steeped in Japanese as Judgment and its Yakuza legacy is, this was not an acceptable concession to me.

So we localized the story twice. And I had to convince some people to let us do that. I brought up examples of some pretty big films that did this. Even some anime on streaming services does this. So why haven’t games? Well, the simple answer is because games have a lot more text, so I want repeat that first sentence to make sure it carries the appropriate amount of weight: We localized the story twice.

Essentially, we took a base translation and then pushed it out into two different directions for Japanese audio and English audio. The Japanese audio got our traditional “Yakuza” pass, listening intently to each line and crafting the dialog to suit it. The English script was written for actors to perform it, with more of a focus on making sure it sounded like things people would actually say in English. Sometimes, the two versions are totally the same! Others, it’s totally different.

Both languages ebb and flow differently by nature, and this allowed us to play to each one’s strengths, rather than let the English be hampered by Japanese sentence structure, or the Japanese to have dubtitles that are clearly not what the speaker is saying, even to the untrained ear.
That's actually kind of awesome. In short, one subtitle is altered from its original intent to flow and read better to those who speak English natively. The other subtitle more closely sticks to a direct translation from the original Japanese and makes for entirely different lines and tone in some cases. Neat!

Strichart provided an example of one scene that plays out a bit different because of this.
Judgment subs

It also allowed us to do scenes like this, that arrive at the same idea via different paths. In the Japanese, the previous line is “Fair warning…” whereas in English, the previous line is, “You still wanna sue?” Both versions stage the threat differently, but Yagami sounds like a bona fide badass in both versions, which is ultimately what we set out to accomplish. Watching the two trailers we’ve made, you’ll hear a few more little differences between the two as well.
He notes that the English is still a "faithful localization of the story" and that the Japanese subtitles are still "crafted with all the considerations for a good read that always goes into a Yakuza title localization." This is great news for those who are long-time Yakuza fans who want to enjoy the original Japanese voice work and for those who have never played a Yakuza game before because they were put off by the Japanese audio.

Judgment is slated to be released on June 25 for the PlayStation 4. In addition to the Japanese and English voice work, it will include the two English subtitles, and subs in French, Italian, German, and Castilian Spanish.