The charm from the Mario & Luigi series doesn't just come from the RPG mechanics. A lot of it comes from the series' recognizable brand of humor, which remains true in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. However, not all of that humor is universal. There's a lot of dialogue that goes with the pratfalls and slapstick and it's up to Treehouse, Nintendo's localization team, to make sure it winds up funny.
"We tackled Dream Team the same way we tackled the rest of the series -- essentially, we took what was already an incredibly funny script in Japanese and gave it a couple of tweaks to make it fit better with our market," localization manager Nate Bihldorff told Siliconera. "Luckily a lot of the comedy came from the way scenes are blocked and the wonderful animation work that Alpha Dream has done, so we were basically just putting frosting on a cake."
Not all of that frosting tastes great the first time, though. Bihldorff reels off the example of a particular Mario & Luigi character, whose jokes are based entirely on Japanese puns. Since those jokes didn't translate well, Treehouse found themselves going back to the drawing board.
This is why Bilhdorff says good localized humor comes from a sense of timelessness. "We tend to avoid directly referencing anything topical or fleeting," he added. "I want games to be memorable on their own creative merits, not because they remind people of whatever lolcat meme is currently popular."
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team arrives this Sunday, August 11 in North America.