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Undubbing is a type of video game hacking, which involves modifying the contents of an officially localized video game to match the audio and voice acting to its country of origin while retaining the translated text of the country in which it has been localized.

A typical candidate for an undub is a Japanese game which has been published in the U.S. with text translated, and voice acting re-dubbed in English by the localizing publisher, but without an in-game option to change the audio back to its original language due to lack of space on the media, licensing restrictions, marketing reasons or other publishing or development concerns. The process of undubbing consists of reverse-engineering the contents of both the localized and the original versions of the game, locating the audio resources within a ROM or an optical media image in the localized game, and replacing them with the audio data from the original version.

Reasons for undubbing[edit]

Voice acting is a considerably bigger business in Japan than it currently is in English-speaking countries (see also Voice acting in Japan). It is not uncommon for acclaimed TV animation voice actors to be signed by a video game publisher to provide voice acting for a high-profile game. In the United States, on the other hand, voice localization projects usually have smaller budgets and are not typically done by celebrities, although it is disputable whether that affects the quality of the acting itself. Still, due to the perceived notion that Japanese voice acting is of higher quality, many fans prefer to listen to the Japanese audio track while playing the game, even if they do not speak or understand the Japanese language. Undubbing thus caters to an audience who does not speak the original language or has not mastered it well enough to enjoy the untranslated text in an imported version of the original game, but still prefers the original audio for the reasons mentioned above. Because the localized text is left in place where present, an undubbed game usually can still be fully played by those who could not play the import.

Notable undubs[edit]

The U.S. version of Final Fantasy X-2, a 2003 PlayStation 2 game by Square (now Square Enix), was undubbed in April 2008, almost four and half years after the release of the localized version in the United States. A number of other Final Fantasy games have either already been undubbed or currently have undubbing projects in the works. Other series that have been undubbed include various Mega Man (Rockman in Japan) games, .hack, Xenogears and Xenosaga, the Megami Tensei series (including Persona 3 and Persona 4), and Namco's Tales series of RPGs, as well as many others.

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