Nintendo Treehouse on localising Jump Up, Super Star! for Super Mario Odyssey
The folks at Nintendo Treehouse have posted a new blog entry about their time localising “Jump Up, Super Star!” from Super Mario Odyssey, which as you know is a song – not the usual thing they’d be translating.
Localisation of the music started all the way back in January, the music was done at that point but making the lyrics makes sense in English was a bit of a trip.
When I became involved, the song that would eventually become “Jump Up, Super Star!” was basically done, at least as far as the music was concerned. The song was already going to be a hit in my mind, no matter what the lyrics ended up being, and at that time, the first section already had Japanese lyrics, written by Nobuyoshi Suzuki at NCL. I translated them thusly:
The symbol of a voyage, let’s start to raise the sails
A tailwind dances at our backs
Flip a coin, the goddess who’ll tell our fortune
Blows a kiss
Let’s sing our love as brightly as
All the lights in all the world
Then jump! (JUMP SE)
And grab! (COIN SE)
Say yeah!!! (yeah!!!)
Let’s dream together
If we walk with our eyes to the sky
Once all our tears have fallen
We’ll get a 1UP
Jump up high and high five
Tap and dance
I’m a superstar lighting up the world
Switching you on to happiness
So, let’s dance the Odyssey!!!
Odyssey, ya see! etc.
Obviously, directly translating song lyrics leaves you with…well, something that won’t actually work as lyrics in the target language. But it’s clear that Suzuki-san and the team wanted something big and romantic. A love song of sorts. I listened to the song a few more times and set about creating a first draft of the English lyrics, taking the ideas from the above and fleshing them out so there would be enough syllables to match the rhythm and melody of the song.
After a number iterations, NCL then gave some further feedback, the song leaned too heavily on Mario references.
Through conversations with Suzuki-san, Naoto Kubo (the composer), and Shigetoshi Gohara (the overall sound producer), we learned more about their vision for the song: that it should be a fun, bombastic jazz number you could enjoy even if you had no connection or familiarity with Mario, but that would reward you even more, with little allusions to the Mario universe, if you were a Mario fan.
The full blog post goes on the journey a lot more and is fully worth a read. There’s even an early localisation demo which we’ve included below.