Videogam.in, a site about videogames

Welcome to Videogam.in, a site about videogames. Read more about this site or else pay me for the door repair charge.

Not long ago, the face of the video game industry had a form far different than what we see today. During the years leading up to the current console generation, Japan ran the show, leaving Western gamers at the mercy of sluggish localizations and with no choice but to read and re-read import coverage as they waited impatiently for killer titles to trickle overseas. Even landmark, blockbuster games like Final Fantasy VII took their time in making the transition to English; nine months separated the Japanese and American releases of the franchise's 32-bit debut, an unthinkable delay today.

  • Posted by Matt
  • http://videogam.in/s2034
Sblogs / 2010 / July / 11

Found in Translation: How ROM hacking brought Japan-only games to a worldwide audience

  • 4 unread posts
  • up key  +  up key down key
  • Jump between unread posts
  1. This is a very well written article. It's nice to see how the work of a number of these innovators ended up leading them to very good jobs, despite its dubious legality.

    On a similar note: Do any of you think this sort of ROM hacking is still as relevant today as it was a decade ago?

    +
    • Reply
  2. @Nels Yes a lot of companies are happy to hire fan translators; MX Media for example views fan translators and professional translators as both having equal experience; at the end of the day it's the quality of their work that matters. Though they usually (for obvious reasons) insist these fan translators leave the scene.

    Funny this article came up actually, I was nerdily thinking it'd be nice to do some research at uni later once I've gotten further with Japanese to look at localisation in a variety of ways (when is a good time to use a literal translation, when is not) and I thought it'd be interesting to compare fan translation against professional. Especially with titles that weren't announced at all at the time or have not since been released.

    +
    • Reply
  3. Super article, really brings out the nostalgic in me for those dial-up internet days, days when I'd religiously download the latest hot ROM patches from places like Zophar's Domain to play some niche RPG gems. Seiken Densetsu 3 is one of my favorites, bar none. And Treasure of the Rudras was a really unique one that I never made much headway into, unfortunately. Loved the quality of the Radical Dreamers translation as well, it was like being back in one of those choose your own adventure books, albeit with awesome music to lead your imagination. then there's games like Live a Live which are absolutely wonky, but all the more awesome for it. So much gold that didn't make it stateside, and the hackers deserve a lot of credit for bringing these games to the fore.

    @Nels, strictly ROM hacking seems to be going pretty strong (especially in spots like Aeon Genesis), even if the audience for it seems to have waned. Which is good i suppose, since it keeps the fan translation scene looking good. It was an absolute joy to see the Mother 3 project hit completion and witness the warm afterglow of fandom for all things Earthbound in the months that followed (man, I really need to play those games.) More recently, Kojima's Policenauts got a long-deserved translation last year - the man really knows how to tell a story. There are also unbelievably good PC RPGs from Falcom, including the Ys series and Legend of Heroes series, both of which are criminally underrated because they don't get the localizations they deserve. But the fans are around, bringing that action to a place where we can dig it.

    It's a beautiful thing, really, especially that they do it out of their love of the games and nothing more. Strictly speaking this type of hacking may not be as relevant as it once was (if we're talking a decade ago it was absolutely booming), but I think there are enough people poised and ready to strike in case a super game gets stuck on Japanese shores in the future.

    +
    • Reply
  4. @Kanji I got into playing ROMs for exactly the same reason the movement took off: Final Fantasy V. My friend told me I could play it and I was hooked. Playing ROMs was exclusively about playing hacked translations for games I read about in Nintendo Power but never came over here for me to buy (or ask my parents to buy ). After my consumption had caught up with basically everything I was interested in, my interests in ROMs moved a little into playing games released in the US that I didn't have the system for. I lost interest quickly at this point. But that's where it seemed like everyone headed: to games they could buy right now and play but don't want to spend the money on because they're either cheap or broke (usually cheap, because they all ways seemed to have plenty of money for beer on the weekends). I liken my anger with this sort of emulation to the growing anger within the fansub community for continuing to sub shows that are under contract and in print outside of Japan (though I've never been too into watching fansubs, so I'm not totally sure if this is an accurate portrayal).

    It's good to see it hasn't completely fallen into corruption.

    +
    • Reply
  5. Log in to post a reply.

    Don't have an account? Register in about a minute.
Topic #2382 · Invisible to nobody · Closed to nobody older · newer
Close
Login with Facebook Login with Steam
close