Dismantling and rebuilding someone else's work
May 21, 2014 11:58 PM   Subscribe

Starting up fan localization projects feels much like amassing the cast of your typical role-playing game: a group of random strangers rally around a common cause before embarking on their journey together. In was in this way that Mandelin and Erbrecht found each other — stumbling to create something beautiful and meaningful, and realizing they could make that beautiful and meaningful thing better by working together. — For Polygon, Alexa Ray Corriea dives into the underground world of fan-translated games.
posted by MartinWisse (7 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Can't wait for them to finish translating Ace Attorney Investigations 2.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:46 AM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

Hah! I was part of the Mother 3 translation, too, kind of. The internal mailing list is still active and I got messages between them about this thing.

Not trying to steal credit or anything — they were by far the most valuable members.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:46 AM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Nice article, too, incidentally. It does a pretty good job of laying bare the difficulties of the work.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:24 AM on May 22, 2014

Ahh... the days of my youth... like the scent of fresh lemon. I still associate Tomato (Clyde Mandelin) with Bahamut Lagoon, Star Ocean and the DeJap translation group who released Tales of Phantasia and the Dragon Quest games, which got excellent official localisations years later when they were remade. I still think an article about fan translation ought to mention Seiken Densetsu 3 (the sequel to Secret of Mana), which was a big deal back then. I used to talk online to Cidolfas, who did some work on Live a Live, Tales of Phantasia (though DeJap beat them to it) and Star Ocean with DeJap. Good times and good FPP.

Can't wait for them to finish translating Ace Attorney Investigations 2.

Amen to that.

PS The Wasteland 2 team is using its backers for localisation, which will be passed on to professionals.
posted by ersatz at 4:57 AM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Fan translations of Japanese video games are on the rise.

Was this article written sixteen years ago or something?

I've always felt the scene has been in decline since around 2005, not that it's "burgeoning". Sure, we still see the occasional "major" release (7th Dragon, for example), but not nearly as frequently as we did during the golden age (1998-2004 is how I define it). Of course, there's plenty of games that can be translated since the primary focus back then was the Super Nintendo, but a lot of them are disc-based, and the scene never seemed very comfortable working on those types of games (complexity, size, et cetera). Would love to see progress in games like Linda Cube and Moon, though. (I know the article mentions a few disc games, and then we had stuff like Innocent Sin and more recently, the Suikogaiden games, but I haven't seen very many active disc-based projects).

The fan translation and ROM hacking scene were a large part of my youth. I spent a lot of time in the chat rooms and hanging out on the Whirlpool. I think the last time I was genuinely excited was when Shin Megami Tensei was translated and released in 2002. Good times.
posted by Redfield at 11:31 AM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I think the bigger issue is that the low-hanging fruit of famous NES/FC and SNES/SFC games pretty much all got taken care of a decade ago and it became much more involved from there. Hell, I still remember how exciting it was that Adventure Island 4 got a translation that even included the title screen.

You compare script lengths of things like even the SNES RPGs and the complexity of hacking them to what would be involved now, and it's almost shocking that you have things like the DS SaGa 2 remake getting a fan translation (which I should obviously play, having grown up on the original, though I will almost certainly never wind up doing so).
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:16 PM on May 22, 2014

For future reference, here is the Hardcore Gaming 101 article.
posted by ersatz at 4:03 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

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