Nintendo staffer Rob Heiret and his colleagues worked on the localization of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, translating its Japanese dialogue and culture for an English-speaking audience. Well, on Sunday, in a long and insightful Twitter thread, Rob shared some thoughts about their work on the game, and the story behind its sea bass joke... which he wrote. If you're not familiar, when you catch a sea bass fishing in the game (and it's a common catch), this joke appears in a pop-up,
"I caught a sea bass! No, wait — it's at least a C+!"
Cute for a few yuks, but can grow tiresome, as he admits:
If you've played the game, you're tired of the sea bass joke. I get it. *I'M* tired of the sea bass joke, and I wrote it. But here's a secret about the sea bass joke:
It was originally "I caught a sea bass! Well...maybe a C- bass...)
He goes on to explain:
And when we were workshopping the fish jokes, someone pointed out that, as a joke people were going to see many, many times, generally along with disappointment they didn't catch something better, maybe it would be better to spin it positive. Make it a C+ instead.
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From a comedy-mechanics perspective, it's the same joke, relying on the homophones "sea" and "C" to change how you perceive the description of the animal (and, let's be honest, it would work better as a verbal joke than it does in print, but that fish has sailed).