The Episode that Put Pokemon Fans in the Hospital

Here’s a little blast from the past. In this February 1998 issue of UK magazine Computer and Video Games, I found an article about that Porygon episode of Pokemon that caused some kids in Japan to have seizures. We know now that it was caused by rapid flashes of red and blue lights from one of Pikachu’s attacks (read more here), but this article was written before they knew what sent so many kids to the hospital.

It’s interesting because Japanese TV networks started banning the show in response, and Tokyo TV threatened to cancel it outright if the cause wasn’t determined. Imagine a world where the Pokemon anime ended in the middle of its first season and never came back!

At the Movies

Yesterday was a busy day! I spent a lot of it at the Fangamer office, doing some heavy duty meetings for upcoming projects and upcoming prospects. Legends of Localization is doing super well and I think everyone involved is excited for all the things coming up.

Then Poe and I had to rush home, eat, and then rush back to the movie theater – my latest movie translation premiered yesterday! It’s always a treat to be able to watch my stuff on the big screen and see how audiences react to my writing, the jokes I struggle to translate, lines that are meant to be emotional, etc. Although I’m obviously not the creator of the things I translate, it’s a great feeling when people enjoy something I translated, even if they don’t even think about the translator or the translation process. It’s a weird side effect of trying to translate as transparently as possible ūüėõ

Also, super secret translator tip: I’ve learned from these movie releases that the way you watch/play something can greatly enhance your creativity when translating, so if you feel like something you’re working could be improved a bit, try looking at it differently. If you’re working on a text document, try changing the font and font size to something crazy. If you’re working on a show or movie or whatever, try watching it on screens of different sizes. Of course, time plays a big factor too, so if you can manage it, try setting aside a translation and then come back to it after a good amount of time has passed.

Anyway, some more cool stuff happened yesterday but that’s a story for another time!

Mario RPG 2 for the 64DD

Here’s another article from the January 1998 issue of Consoles, a French gaming magazine. Looks like at Space World 1997,¬†Paper Mario was announced as Mario RPG 2. And it looks like it was originally slated to be released on the N64DD!

It was a good thing they changed the name to Paper Mario, as I expect a lot of fans would have been upset that it wasn’t a direct sequel to¬†Super Mario RPG by Square.

Ocarina of Time Beta Screens from French Magazine

We recently picked up a copy of the January 1998 issue of the French gaming magazine called Consoles. It covers Space World 1997, and boyyyyyy there’s a lot of neat stuff in it! First I want to share this spread on Ocarina of Time, where you can see some beta screenshots of the game:


That house-looking building in the market town was later changed to the Happy Mask Shop, and I’m pretty sure that blonde Kokiri in the corner didn’t look like that in the finished game.

These screenshots are probably old news to hardcore Zelda fans, but it’s always really cool to find beta stuff in a tangible thing rather than on the internet. Can you spot any other differences in the screenshots above to the finished game?

Review: Detention, A Horrifying Trip to 1960s Taiwan

I originally became interested in Detention from an article I read on Gamasutra about the game’s localization. In that article I saw ghosts and monsters, a neat art style, and a chance to learn about the spooks and spirits of Taiwan.

I thought it was going to be a game about escaping a haunted school. What I got was a heartbreaking story about the terrifying reality the Taiwanese people had to live through during martial law.

Before I really get started, I want to suggest that anyone reading this go into the game knowing as little as possible. It’s $12 on Steam, the store page is here. If you like point-and-clicks, good stories, some jump scares (yeah, yeah), and neat game mechanics, Detention¬†is definitely worth your time.

The game takes place in a school in rural Taiwan in the 1960s. Wei, your character, falls asleep in class and wakes up to find the entire school empty. There’s a typhoon warning on the chalkboard, so he tries to get home before the storm hits. On his way out of the school, he meets a girl named Ray. Something¬†happens, and you take control of Ray for the rest of the game.

Having grown up on point-and-clicks (mostly edutainment games my mom bought for my brother and me), the gameplay was a return to a familiar style that I’ve missed. Detention has all the necessary elements required of point-and-clicks — checking every part of every room, using items to solve puzzles, and wandering around aimlessly until the solution to a difficult puzzle smacks you in the face. And since this is a horror game, it also has an atmosphere that puts you on high alert.

Most of the “horror” comes from the art style, sound effects, and music. There are jump scares, sure, but I never felt like they were cheap. They’re the kinds of things I’d expect to see in my nightmares — realistic, disturbing stuff.

You encounter some extremely spooky ghosts, but the game gives you guidance in the form of notes you can find around the school, which automatically get added to your notebook. Some of the notes teach you about the ghosts you’re about to encounter, ways to avoid them, and ways to sneak past them.

Other notes are about Taoist rituals, the knowledge of which is required to solve some of the puzzles. Some notes are clues as to what’s going on in the story, like newspaper clippings, flyers, and old photographs.

Due to the nature of point-and-clicks, I got stuck twice, with absolutely no idea what to do to progress. Both times it was because I didn’t check a room completely, so I was missing an important item. ¬†Always check every room everywhere!

Detention is broken up into four chapters, each chapter taking about an hour or less to complete. Around Chapter 3 was when I realized this game wasn’t just about escaping a haunted school. Discovering the little details of Ray’s past had me invested in the story so much more than when I was running from ghosts. And after learning the horrible truth…… I was devastated.

The devs at Red Candle Games made¬†Detention because they couldn’t find any games that they felt represented their culture. I’m excited to see what they come up with next!

(screenshots borrowed from Steam and Detention‘s official site)

A Puzzle’s Difficulty Changes in Localization

So, Breath of the Wild is a great frickin’ game. I’ve been playing the English version, and Mato recently beat the Japanese version. The writing is¬†superb, but I ran into a shrine puzzle at the beginning of the game that stumped me big time:

I found the shrine on Dueling Peaks. Since I was at the beginning of the game, I thought, “Cool, there must be another tall mountain on the other side of the world that looks like this one’s twin. I guess I’ll find it later.” Then I took a picture of the puzzle and left. It didn’t occur to me to check the¬†other peak of Dueling Peaks. I had the shrine locator turned off, so I never got any beeping hints that one was nearby.

After Mato beat the game, I asked if he solved this shrine, and he said, “Yeah, it was easy. The other shrine is on the other peak.” “On Dueling Peaks?” I asked. Mato was confused. “Is that what they call it in English? It’s called Twin Peaks in Japanese.”

Twin Memories. Twin Peaks.¬†Ohhhhhhhhh…..! Oh. It makes sense now! Perhaps I’m just a dum-dum, but I have a feeling that if they’d kept the Twin Peaks name, I would have made the Twin Memories connection a lot sooner (or at all!).

Did you run into trouble with any hints while you were playing the game?

Happy Valentine’s Day, Sukky

We received some weird snacks from Japan this week. These Pocky boxes were a special Valentine’s Day promotion. The names are really weird:

I see what they were going for with “Papa” and “Mama” in there, but what is “Sukky” ?? Maybe¬†Ś•Ĺ„Āć (suki)?

Here’s a candy with an unusual name:

I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks delicious!

And we found some funny English on a bag of garlic butter-flavored Cheetos:










Oh no, Japan discovered comic sans…


Localization Advice from Taiwanese Indie Devs

Mato showed me an article on Gamasutra about how a small indie game studio based in Taiwan localized their first game from Chinese to English. The game is called Detention and it looks like something that’s right up my alley:

It’s a point-and-click horror game set in 1960s Taiwan during the time of martial law. The indie studio, called RedCandleGames, knew from the beginning that they wanted to localize their game for English-speaking players. Because the game is filled with so many culturally specific things, this turned out to be harder than they thought at first. They had to change the level design, teach the players about religious rituals for solving puzzles without an info dump, and decide whether to transliterate a creature’s name or coin a new term entirely.

The entire article is fascinating, since they constantly kept the player in mind when they were making the game. Read the full article here!

Detention is available on Steam. Here’s the official site for more info.