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“What a bunch of jokers!” I've heard that phrase a hundred times in Xenoblade, an epic Japanese RPG published by Nintendo, yet I can't get enough of it. Dialogue that is frequently repeated is supposed to be the bane of the video game industry, but something about this title makes formerly irritating matters a joy. Perhaps my opinion is tainted by the fact that Xenoblade is one of the best games ever released on the Wii, but I think the real answer is more subtle than that. I think Xenoblade is improved by its use of "Space British."

Xenoblade had a rough time coming to North America. You may recall Operation Rainfall, which put together an online petition to get not only Xenoblade but two other titles to be localized for release in the states (and that Canadian place). As part of Nintendo's localization effort... they didn't localize it. The translation and voice acting for England was used for the North American version. So by some sort of divine accident the game has a more foreign feel. And, honestly, it should. These are people living on a giant titan that is fighting another titan and they are maybe in space. A little change in their accents from something other than what average Joe America speaks is a great help.

Plus it's fun to listen to the British say anything, no matter what it is. Even repeated lines of corny dialogue after a monster is killed. "Let's not lose our heads though!" See, if you read that in a British accent you'd be riveted.

Space British has been an institution in films for years, and it stands to reason it's no different in video games. Take Star Wars for example. Sure, Luke Skywalker is basically an American from Kansas who probably just got into pogs, but every single member of the Empire is inexplicably British.


But the use of Space British isn't merely a tool to make your characters seem subtly foreign, it also makes them feel indescribably more dignified. I think at some point Americans realized they weren't afraid of people like Jack the Ripper because he probably sounded like James Bond or Prince Albert. Likewise, Xenoblade transports me to a JRPG world where none of the characters seem like whiny brats. I can think of a number of RPGs that would have benefited from a more refined Space British such as Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy X, and Double Dragon. Needless to say, there's a reason many RPGs are set in a faux-English fantasy world.

The mysterious use of the British accent in a world where England doesn't exist isn't the only way to punch up the dialogue in an RPG, of course. The dialogue can also be good. I'm not going to say that Xenoblade has awful writing, but I'm certainly going to point out that the average playtime seems to clock in at 130 hours without completing all the side quests. That's just too much dialogue to comb through and smooth out in any great detail. I only feel sorry for people in Britain. They probably wish Xenoblade had an exotic American twang to its speech. Perhaps Space American would make their whiled-away hours more bearable.
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