Monday, October 17, 2016

Lost in Translation(s)

So hey, good news! Although the Playstation 3 repair was a bust, I did manage to install Arm9LoaderHax on my 3DS! That means instant access to homebrews and emulators, without the annoyance of starting Ocarina of Time 3D first! I can even inject ROMs into Virtual Console with some handy software I found on GBATemp. That's good! But some of the games I'd like to play are in Japanese and don't currently have translations available... which is less good.

Take for instance the Game Gear version of Mappy. It's a solid port of the Namco(t) arcade game, with the addition of a brand new quest mode. The game's new stages scroll in four directions, and all the ill-gotten booty the Mewkies have stolen has been updated to early 1990s standards. It's a pretty nifty sequel, marred by a needlessly confusing menu screen.

Picking the first option takes you to the original Mappy, obviously, but I have no idea what the hell the second option is supposed to be. All I can tell you is that it's something of something else, because I can't read kanji worth a damn and the only thing that really stands out is the possessive () in the middle. The final option is some kind of versus mode, I guess, but with all that kanji only native Japanese speakers and advanced students will know for sure. It's just completely unnecessary in a Mappy sequel. It's not a damn RPG, after all.

So I took it upon myself to translate the game. Hey, all you have to do is change a few tiles in an emulator and you're done, right? Heh heh, no. You'd be able to get away with that on the NES, but things aren't that easy on the Game Gear. The graphics are compressed, so Sega can squeeze them onto those tiny handheld cartridges. That compression also prevents tampering, as you'll notice in the next screencap.

Changing just one tile garbled up most of the graphics on the same horizontal line. Even if you could read it before, you probably wouldn't be able to now. So that was a swing and a miss. It would help if I knew what I was doing, or if someone would at least tell me what to do, but alas, that information is tough to come by and not always complete. Let's take a look at the guide offered on the official web site for Master Tile Converter, the program I used to mangle- er, alter this game.

Okay, I've got MEKA. Hell, I've used MEKA for nearly fifteen years. I don't go back to it much anymore, because KEGA Fusion has obsoleted it, but sure, I'll fire it up one more time to get that information you wanted. Now I'll just load the cartridge and tap in the keys that export the palette. Oh, there ARE no keys that export the palette! Wait, is there an option in the drop-down menu? No, no there isn't. Wait, maybe the documentation will tell me what to do! Nope, it sure doesn't! And this goes on and on until I'm tired of getting crushed by the boulder I'm trying to roll up a hill. Nuts to this... maybe I can find something more productive to do with my time, like demolishing a brick wall with my skull.

This kind of frustrating crap was precisely what put the breaks on my plan to translate the Super NES-exclusive sequel to Fighter's History. I thought it would be fun to do to Mizoguchi Kikkipatsu! what I'd done to Schmuck Fu years earlier, but Data East did such a wonderful job of hiding the text from hackers that it became obvious why nobody attempted a translation before. If you're going to put in that kind of effort, you might as well invest it in a game that absolutely needs English text, like the surprisingly enjoyable Gunman's Proof. (Seriously, try it sometime. Ignore the fact that it was programmed by the same guys who made Deadly Towers... you wouldn't even know that if they hadn't told you.)

Sure, you can muddle through Mizoguchi Kikkipatsu! without actually understanding it, but I still dream of what could have been. My faux-translation would have had so many fart jokes and anachronistic pop culture references! Eat your heart out, Victor Ireland!

1 comment:

  1. Hmmmmm, I'm going to have to look into this Arm9LoaderHax business...

    Also, good on you for wanting to translate that Mappy menu. I, too, love the GG port of the game, BTW. Such a curious thing to include in such a release XD