Everyone expects a certain level of PR hype from a blog post like this, right? After all, editing the translation for this game has been my job for close to a year now — I have a pretty significant professional investment in getting people excited for it.
But here’s why you should believe my sincerity when I tell you that it was an absolute delight to be one of the people bringing the story of Ema, Miki, and Saito to an English-speaking audience:
That’s a picture of some buttons I bought to stick on my bag.
Or here’s some more evidence:
That’s a couple of the magazines I bought because of the great Little Miss Lonesome art in them.
What I’m trying to say is, I always love my job, but sometimes I really LOVE my job, you know? And working on this game has been one of those times.
The script is a fantastic balance between a lot of very Japanese wordplay and contextual jokes, and a sense of humour that transcends the specifics of language and location to hit at a much more universal kind of fun.
That combination is an absolute joy for translators and editors, because it means we get to be entertained by the original, and then challenged as we carry the heart and meaning over into its new form.
Verde, Little Miss Lonesome’s translator, is passionate about good game localisation — as regular readers of Polygon would have seen in her guest article there earlier this year. While we were working on Little Miss Lonesome together I occasionally complained to her that she made my job too easy, because she’d put so much work and care into delivering the best, most faithful localisation possible that I often felt like my main contribution was helping her think of how to translate a joke into a local equivalent, or making sure all the commas wound up in the right place.
The most endearing thing, for me, about this game is that Ema, Miki, and Saito are hilarious, loveable, ridiculous main characters, exactly the kind of you’d expect to find in a top-tier romcom (if top-tier romcoms featured gloriously smutty sex scenes). These three leads are weirdos, for sure, but they’re also vulnerable and good-hearted and complicated.
Depending on how your choices make the story unfold, their schemes and actions will make you laugh or… uh, laugh, or… yeah, I guess you’re going to laugh no matter what, because this story really is one of the funniest visual novels I’ve played, without sacrificing any of its narrative momentum or playability. Writing comedy is hard, and writing good comedy is almost impossible, but this game makes it seem effortless.
One last thing I’ll talk about briefly is (fittingly enough) endings. It’s hard for any game in the visual novel field to make itself truly stand out when it comes to endings, because there are already games so notorious for theirs that new versions will boast at having added six new bad ones, or whole companies whose raison d’etre is to provide the darkest and most traumatic ends possible as punishment for making the wrong choice.
Now, me? I LIVE for this stuff. It screws me up so badly! I’m still traumatised from some games’ bad ends from half a decade ago, I swear. I’m overjoyed by how devastated even the lightest games can make me.
(It’s probably becoming obvious at this point why my user icon in MangaGamer’s internal chat is of Miki the Masochist, huh?)
Little Miss Lonesome’s endings might not qualify as the most emotionally wrenching that a dating game has ever delivered, but they’re certainly some of the most entertaining, creative, and varied that I’ve had the pleasure of discovering.
As both a member of the localisation team and as a player, I really can’t speak highly enough of this game. It is an absolute delight, and I’m so excited to share it with all of you.