For a very long time now (maybe the past ten years or so) I’ve had the strong urge to ROM hack and translate a “meatier” game – most games have very simple, generic text, but there are lots of Japanese games out there with text that goes beyond what most Western gamers are used to. I recently sat down to finally play through Kamaitachi no Yoru, which is basically THE game that really started the whole “sound novel” craze in Japan in the 90s. It’s an old game and thus pretty simple, but it’s like an interactive novel combined with murder mysteries and horror movies. It’s tough to explain, the Wiki article does it better justice. Needless to say, I enjoy it enough to want to translate it.
Anyway, I want to share these kinds of games with fellow gamers, so I started taking a look at the ROM of the GBA port, since GBA hacking is what I’m best at after Mother 3. I managed to get a lot figured out, some good news, some bad news. From the screenshot above, you can see I have some basic grasp of the text system, though.
Good news is that the game implements a variable width font on its own. AND it does sprite-welding. Both of which required months of insane work when I did Mother 3. I’m not 100% fond of the English font though, and I’d want to add in more international letters so other translators could translate the game too.
The bad news is that:
- The game’s font is compressed – not only is it compressed, but each LETTER is individually compressed. Makes making a table hellish (still haven’t done it) and will make editing the font a serious pain too. I assume there’ll be thousands of letters to have to check, move, and repoint at some point too, blech.
- The game’s script is compressed, and decompression happens at weird times that don’t make as much sense as I would have expected. There may be RAM limits as a result too, so it’s possible there can only be so much text in a block at a time. If so, translated text might have to be severely shaved down.
- As expected, the text is really just one gigantic scripting language. Never, ever good. This might be what makes me just say, “Screw this.”
I’ve had a lot of fun with the game so far (and learned a lot of new vocab along the way) so this is something I’ll probably tinker with over time. If I ever do translate it, it’ll be a side-side project that I’ll do to unwind, so I expect it could take many years. Unless I win the lottery of course 😛
My first priority right now is to finish my Mother 2 vs. EarthBound comparison stuff, then start up my project where I look at other games’ localizations too. Should be fun!