Fan translations and other contributions that feel essential

I got this idea because of the brief exchange about the Working designs localization of Exile 3 and decided to do a thread following up on that. Un-worked designs is a fan project attempting to undo all the unjustified and absurd “balancing” Working Designs did for their western releases which translated almost always in a hot mess disrupting the pace and flow of the game, when not directly breaking it. The project is better explained by the person doing it.


But I also thought it would be very cool to talk about other fan made stuff, with special attention to localizations made by fans that feel essential to you. Like for example, I've been hoping to play Mizzurna Falls for the longest time and that was thankfully made possible not that long ago! (strangely enough this one was completed in spanish before than in english).


Others that feel super relevant are the Japanese version of Ace Combat 3 (my favorite Namco saga), Shin Megami Tensei of course, and the multi RPG Live-A-Live. The recent localization of moon feels like belongs here even if that was made officially. Which ones do you feel are important too? Patches and mods count too so feel free to comment on those too.

And btw I'm purposefully avoiding Mother 3 because that is the most obviously important one, but deserves a mention too.

Speaking of wishes, I'd love to be able to play Cyber Doll, that game looks rad.

EDIT: added some photos and tidied up a bit. I should say I wrote the whole post yesterday on my bed from a tablet and: never doing that again thanks!!

I was gonna mention Mother 3, because just the other day a translation for the GBA version of Mother 1 and 2 came out and seems to run fine. Excited to maybe finally work my way through Mother 2.

I brought up in the communication game thread how I want to translate Yuuyami Doori Tankentai, but I actually did fan translate the script for Magic School Lunar. I made an effort to avoid a literal translation, because that was what was relevant in fan translation circles back in 2018 when I joined the project, and the results are always incredibly stiff and unsatisfying. Unfortunately, I definitely overdid it and shot straight into Working Designs territory in areas. I am simply too impulsive to be trusted with projects like this (plus this was my first time actually working on a fan translation). Right now, I'm waiting for editing to start so we can hopefully fix these problems.

I think for me the Sylvan Tale translation was important because it‘s the only thing that got people to play that game, which now has something of a cult following. Sylvan tale got translated rather early for a game gear game I would say, and for most folks the first encounter they’d have with it was the english patched rom, so I think the translation did a huge amount for the game's current acclaim.

Also a while back insert credit co-founder Vince found the Asuka 120% Limit Over patch for Saturn, but it was in an old format, tied to old burning software, the compression was obtuse, etc. I commissioned someone to get the patch up and running, and that's the reason folks can play it today (his work, not mine).

I remember the FFV fan translation being a big deal. As I recall it coincided with emulation taking off, and the fact of a old/new/pretty different from US II and III FF + the experience of bouncing around huge romsets was formative to my age cohort at least in making VGs seem more like a culture/art thing than just a toy/product

Speaking of Game Gear (and also MegaDrive) a recent one that I think deserves a mention is Madou Monogatari. Earlier this year a bunch of translations for the Game Gear remakes of the MSX originals were released, also made by Supper, the person doing the unworking design stuff cited above. Very prolific developer it seems :thinking:


There were already a bunch of translations available for the first game of the franchise, but now we finally can enjoy the complete original trilogy. The cool thing about this one that apparently a lot of people doesn't know is that Arle, the mascot character from Puyo Puyo was actually born from these games, Madou was actually her first adventure and Puyo Puyo, which ultimately has become a lot more popular, particularly in the west, was actually a "minor" spin-off originated from Madou Monogatari. An interesting turn of events that we get to unravel now with these translations.

@Video_Game_King#8899 I knew we had at least one translator around!

@exodus#8900 So I guess we could say this mysterious person was 100% responsible of the patch and the remaining 20% is yours, right? Seems like solid math to me.

anyone checked out the LSD: Dream Emulator translation that popped up a few months ago? is it good?

A few more examples I just remembered:

  • - Seiken Densetsu 3 was seen as the height of what fan translations could accomplish in its day for how technically complex the game was.
  • - Speaking of technically complex fan translations: _Treasures of the Rudras_. To explain, battles in this game are built around a system wherein you create your own spells by typing them out: Fire casts a fire spell, Thunder a thunder spell, etc. Needless to say, this is a nightmare to translate into any other language ([to say nothing of how Japanese as a language complicates this task]( I think a French fan translation laid a lot of the groundwork that made the English translation possible.
  • - _Thracia 776_ was the last of the early _Fire Emblem_ games to get a fan translation, if I remember correctly. Also for me personally, it was the game that introduced me to WinRAR because that was the only way I could open the 7Z file the patch came in.
  • - _Tear Ring Saga_ is an interesting story as far as fan translations go. Back in the day, there were actually two fan translations running in parallel: one was a private effort that didn't get updated much, and the other was a collaborative effort anybody could contribute to. There was a rule that you couldn't just Google Translate the script...but it was pretty clear that people were Google Translating the script. Anyway, the private translation got released first, but I think it plagiarized from the community effort because it had many of the same Google Translate errors as that one did.
  • @Video_Game_King#8919 This is a very good selection! Fire Emblem in particular is a phenomenal example of a very popular franchise that if it wasn‘t for the work made by fans would have been inaccesible for a good amount of its entries. And yeah I’m totally including the Thracia and Tear Ring stuff here, since they are all works from Shouzou Kaga.

    Same thing with Seiken Densetsu, another franchise that has some traction and popularity on the west that lacked localizations for very relevant games.

    @tombo#8916 Ah, I have, though I haven‘t gone through a lot of it yet. The one significant thing it adds are the plain text dream diary translations which adds a lot to the game, I feel. It’s almost like the manga Invitation from a Crab where in between the visual manga parts, there are just plain text descriptions of dream-like things the author thought about (or dreamt). It's worth it for that additional context and atmosphere.

    I‘m a big fan of the Mother 25th Anniversary hack that feels like a bonafide rerelease of the original game. It’s got a lot of nice little changes to the difficulty that make it a bit more pleasant of an experience if you're not usually into JRPGs that are as old school as Mother is. Some people might not be into the graphical overhaul though.

    Also Star Wars Movie Battles 2 is probably the most interesting Star Wars game ever made, in the form of a mod for Jedi Academy. It's both the "everyone is here" experience that fans probably want and the actually good video game that people like me want. It rocks.

    Cave Story for me for sure. I can't remember how I stumbled on it but I had to download a fan patch to play it in English, and even the very limited troubleshooting I had to do to get it running felt like I was hacking lol

    I suspect it did this for a lot of people, but it was the first "indie" game I remember being exposed to and afterward I started gravitating toward games that were made by one person or very small teams to try to find something that was as cohesive and focused as Cave Story was (and probably still is)

    @tapevulture#8936 It never occurred to me that Cave Story wasn‘t in English the whole time as I first played it in like 2004. That’s kind of amazing to think about.

    @robinhoodie#8937 yeah that's…weird! i would have noticed that haha

    @tapevulture#8936 This is very true, Cave Story was one of the first games that exposed me to indies and what they could bring into the table. And an amazing game in its own right, for sure.

    I just found out there was a genesis port of Cave Story, so I'm gonna try that!

    I don‘t know exactly why NES doesn’t get discussed as much in terms of fan translations but there is some good stuff there too. Mother 25th Anniversary above mentioned is a great example (although I prefer the GBA port for a first playthrough, but it's great for revisiting the game).

    Another game that I consider fundamental is, of course, Portopia Serial Murder Case. An essential game in terms of cultural relevance in Japan, as far as I know, but also super influential in the fate of the japanese graphic adventure and the visual novel subgenre. Written by Yuji Horii and frequently discussed by very prominent developers as one of their influences.


    Sweet Home, as discussed in the Halloween special is a very relevant game too, one of the first horror games ever and unaccesible if it wasn't thanks to the work of fans.


    Finally I want to give a shoutout to a couple of lesser known titles that deserve some love, Metal Slader Glory, a game that got released on NES well into the SNES cycle by none other than HAL Laboratory, of Kirby's fame. Sadly it didn't get much atention because being released in a old system, but it is probably the most impressive game from a technical standpoint released on the platform. Incredible sprites and super detailed animations and an insane amount of detail for a NES game across the board.



    And finally, Idol Hakkenden, another visual novel, this one very quirky and funny with lots of humor and a very lovable style and main cast of characters. Good vibes in this one, ideal for one of those weekends when you're feeling a little down and need something to lift you up.

    Do unreleased games count?

    That Pokemon Picross for GBC that was leaked is a real cool almost entirely finished game. There is a good not-quite-but-practically complete english translation which is nice too

    I forgot the infinitely better answer actually Napple Tale

    They seriously went above and beyond with the translation imo even translating the lyrics to the full music video
    (Sorry for bad video quality but skip to about 21:58 to see the intro song with the wonderful translation)
    Also the game just overall is wonderful and probably the closest we've gotten to a good 90s shoujo 3d platformer

    Look at that. Somebody managed to translate America Daitouryou Senkyo, the Japan-only simulation of the 1988 US presidential election. It was made by a political scientist/journalist who was interested in these sorts of things, but I don't remember his name off the top of my head.

    @Video_Game_King#9006 The timing couldn't be more perfect!

    The link seems to be broken, tho.