Earlier this year, Mato & I played through the entirety of Tengai Makyo: The Apocalypse IV on the Sega Saturn. He live-translated it as we played, and boyyyyy it was an adventure. How can I describe it in only a few sentences? Well, it’s set in “America” in the late 1800s, and yet there are high-tech flying machines and a crazed sentient TV man. Oh, the Alamo is a combat tank and the town of Tombstone is a fantasy food land … until it gets blown up by a laser from space.
And that’s just a tiny part of the story! If you’ve never seen this game before, go on the journey of discovery with us:
So much is going on with Legends of Localization that I wanted to give a quick status update on a bunch of it. Lots of book stuff, site stuff, and more!
The Legend of Zelda
Last November Fangamer and I released the first-ever Legends of Localization book, and it sold out quick! We had a second run printed earlier this year so there should be plenty for a while now. Fangamer has the book on a celebration sale until the end of June 2016, so if you get a copy this week you’ll save some money! There’s also been so much demand for the book to be sold on Amazon that we’ve been experimenting with Amazon’s marketplace. Amazon’s fees are pretty steep so it costs more than buying it from Fangamer, but it’s an option if you prefer Amazon.
Buy on Amazon.com ($36, feel free to spread the word with Amazon affiliate codes & earn some of the fees they charge us)
The response has been great, and it’s gone farther than I ever expected – bookstores around the world have been picking it up, it’s been mentioned in several magazines, and it’s even being used in the classroom 😯 The reviews have been a lot of fun to read too, here are a couple:
“I had no idea that I could be learning so much new information about a game that I thought I already knew everything about!”
“I can’t stress enough how vital it is for the video game industry to have people like Mandelin taking on projects like this.”
“It’s also great that he digs into the ‘why’ of things, instead of just stating ‘they translated it this way, the end.’”
“It’s such a niche topic that I’m so thankful it got released. I hesitate to give it a rating because there’s nothing else quite like this out there.”
“Excellent offering and even got trolled in a pretty epic way. Highly recommend.”
“The Legend of Zelda seemed to have no secrets and my impression was that whatever an overzealous translator could nitpick out of the differences would lack much substance. […] I not only stand corrected by this excellent book but also excited to see that if so much content and information few of us were aware of can come of this title, what about others (games and authors)?”
These past few months I’ve been hard at work on the next Legends of Localization book: EarthBound. It’s finally nearing completion and should hopefully be out sometime this autumn. I’ve rewritten everything from scratch, done all-new research, and made sure that every page has something new or interesting that I never knew about before. Even better, the team has been in touch with the game’s head localizer, the game’s creator, and the game’s head marketer. This book is going to be epic.
Oh yeah, we’re trying to get scratch-n-sniff things included too.
Sign up here to get notified as soon as the book is available. We’re also planning an EarthBound “passport” similar to the Zelda passport, but it’s still in the planning phase.
The book team and I have been prepping for some Zelda II stuff, but nothing’s set in stone yet. It’s one of the most-bashed Zelda games, but in terms of localization it’s even more fascinating than the first game in many ways. In my sparse spare time I’ve been trying to master the game semi-speedrun style… but the English and Japanese versions are different enough that I’ll probably need to master them both separately. If you can think of any interesting tips or topics I should cover or whatever else, let me know.
Thanks to the success of the books I’ve been able to focus on Legends of Localization a little more than last year. I’ve been trying to post articles a little more frequently when I can. I want to get a few Final Fantasy IV comparison updates out this year too. I’m also considering some changes to the site and the site’s design. Having guest-written articles is another idea I’ve been toying with but haven’t put too much thought into yet.
A lot of the work I do for the site and for the books requires me to play games for weird, specific reasons. I realized it might be interesting to stream these kinds of things, so I’ve been doing some test streams on Twitch, separate from my usual Poemato CX streams. I’ve been archiving them on YouTube too if you can’t make it live:
My hope is that I can do these more often and regularly as a way to level up my game knowledge, get screenshots, and get outside advice on topics. It’s also been a nice way to show off our latest progress and the latest goodies we’ve acquired for book and article research. It’s all still in the early stages but should be fun.
I’ve been trying to stay on top of my e-mails but have fallen far behind. If you’ve e-mailed me but haven’t heard back, I’ll still try to respond, even if it’s super-late. If you send a question for me to answer on the site, though, I usually move those to my little database for future updates.
I recently wrote a Legends of Localization article for issue #21 of Nintendo Force Magazine. You can check that out here. I’ve been considering writing small articles like this for other sites and magazines and such, so if you have any suggestions or recommendations let me know!
That’s about it for right now, but for more day-to-day updates on our progress you can follow me on Twitter and Tumblr.
A few months ago I started working on an update for the MOTHER 3 fan translation patch. Before releasing it, though, it needed to be tested – so I played through the game on Twitch! While testing the game and fixing bugs, I also shared translation notes, memories of the project, and more. We also had guests on, including fellow team members. Even Marcus Lindblom, the head localizer for EarthBound, participated in the chat a few times!
This was pretty much our first time streaming so everything was pretty rough around the edges, but if you like MOTHER 3 or if you’ve wanted to know more about some of the translation choices that went into the patch, give it a watch. I also sometimes discussed professional experiences and the like, so if you’re into that sort of thing, you might like it!
The MOTHER 3 stream was a lot of fun, so my wife and I have gotten into streaming games more regularly. Here’s just a quick sample of recent stuff:
As of the time of this post, I’m about 48 hours in and I’ve STILL got a lot left to experience in this hack. While I’ve been playing it I’ve also been sharing bits and pieces of localization differences that I’m aware of. I’ve also been polishing my programming skills and making neat software that displays some translated text on the stream for viewers who don’t know Japanese. And, to everyone’s surprise, the Japanese creator of the patch showed up in the chat and has since become a regular. All in all, it’s been a really great experience and I hope you’ll join us sometime if you’re into Final Fantasy games!
I actually hope to share more Japanese ROM hacks like this in the future, so if you know of any that you think would be neat to get the live-translation treatment, let me know.
To celebrate America’s Independence Day, I streamed a bunch of Japanese games about America. I want to get practice doing live-translations of Japanese games, so I thought this would be a good start. Despite my bumbling around, it was a lot of fun – way more fun than I expected it to be!
I’m hoping that if I keep doing these sorts of streams, I’ll continually polish my live game-translating skills and be able to “streamlate” (yes, I just made that up, feel free to groan) more complicated Japanese games with ease!
I’m especially fond of this Japanese hamburger RPG:
And this game written entirely in English by a Japanese native:
Live-Translating Other Games for Weird Events
We also stream games for odd holidays and special events. Usually we end up playing a bunch of weird Japanese games and I’ll translate them live. For example, a friend of ours got married a few weeks ago, so after the wedding we played a bunch of wedding-themed games!
On my wife’s birthday, we streamed a bunch of Japanese yokai/youkai games, which I tried to translate:
And for World Population Day, we played a bunch of mostly-Japanese games with the word “world” in their titles:
We also did something similar for World Cat Day. We tried to have a “Sneak a Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day” – which is a real day – but couldn’t find any zucchini games, sadly.
Anyway, this is all to say that if you’d like to see more things like this, be sure to follow me on Twitch and follow me on YouTube, as that’s where all the fun and translating is happening. This streaming stuff isn’t always 100% Legends of Localization-related, but sometimes the two interwtine – my MOTHER 3 stream is on the MOTHER 3 localization section, for example. Some other things I’d love to stream in the future include:
More extensive Japanese ROM hacks
Streams of other games I’ve fan-translated, so I can share memories, translation notes, secrets, and more