"We constantly have to revisit 'Why would Donkey Kong do this?' or 'Why would this environment be like this?' And then we start thinking: 'We're making a game about a gorilla wearing a tie.'"
-Michael Kelbaugh of Retro Studios on Donkey Kong Country Returns
"I have to say it's kinda scary how much you know about this game."
-Nicolau Chaud creator of Marvel Brothel
There are mods that can do anything and everything you want with a game. Some are as simple as a nude patch for your character while others change the game in to something revolutionary. Every mod is made with the will to show a new world to the player. To take something original and transform it in to something different for a new audience.
You can feel a sense of love put in to the projects that these computer wizards develop.
I own a very low end laptop where PC gaming is very hit or miss for me. I've seen some truly amazing mods out there (and some not so amazing ones), but the problem is I can't play a good majority of them. However there is a type of mod that is just low end enough for me to actually get a chance to run. Fortunately for me, these modders have banded together to create a fantastic community of hackers.
The translation community is one we all owe a great deal to as gamers. If you ever played Cave Story, it was most likely due to Aeon Genesis's translation. Groups of hackers like this can offer something that normal mods can't. They can offer us something we want, but could never have experienced without them. That is an incredible thing to offer someone.
A scene like this had it's early beginnings as bootleggers. People that hacked a game and then sold it. This then transformed in to a small online community with similar goals of tinkering with their obscure Japanese games. Then Final Fantasy V was translated and the whole scene changed. Once a full RPG of Squaresoft levels proved it could be conquered, it expanded and transformed these developers in to something astounding.
Modders started banding together, fighting and competing with each other to create their definitive translation of a game. The quality of the projects began to jump to an amazing new level. Hackers like DeJap and translators like Tomato came out to change the scene forever. This group of people that were once hiding in the shadows of the internet can even be found localizing games professionally. Some of the translations provided are of a quality that would wow a true localization team.
I began my love affair with Japanese games around the mid 1990s. Dragonball Z was something that I would sometimes find on tv. I fell in love with a rental of Chrono Trigger even though I never completed it. Final Fantasy VII soon would become an addiction that got WAAAY out of control.
Once I began college years ago, I started to use the internet to expand my hobbies. I stumbled across roms which then led me to Atlus games, which led me to Disgaea which opened up another unhealthy addiction. From those roms however I started to find these translated games and a new world was opened to me. How was it possible that I could play such fantastic games like Wonder Project J, Final Fantasy III and Super Robot Wars 3? With these games, I had started expanding my pallet. From then on I abandoned English published roms all together for these delicious translations.
Playing something like Super Robot Wars was akin to finally getting that puppy from Santa. Despite the fact that I was extra good that year, the fat man never delivered. Well now I have that puppy and he's amazing!
The biggest change to my pallet easily comes from the growth in my interest towards Visual Novels. Obviously, back when they hit the scene in the early 80s in Japan, it was deemed way too costly to bring these titles over. This mentality continues to this day as the genre had evolved and then devolved in to niche genres while the American consumer has been completely unaware.
I found a couple of freeware translations like True Remembrance, Brass Restoration and Narcissu and these games would tear at my soul. They say there is nothing like a good book, but how about when you add audio ambiance and decision trees?
As of a few years ago, the chances of getting a true visual novel in the US was non-existant. However, Capcom broke that barrier down with Ace Attorney. Now we can see more puzzle based versions like 999: 9 hours 9 persons 9 doors start to break through the marketplace. I've been buying these games in force recently because it's one of the few genres that actually needs support lest it dies and they are better than a book at times. It's due to groups like Insani that I have an interest in these projects.
These modders are able to transform gibberish in to poetry. They implement editors, assemblers and all kinds of witchcraft to bring something ignored to light. They have changed my gaming habits and my wants in the world.
I want to thank the people that gave us Shin Megami Tensei, FEDA, Mother 3 and Namco X Capcom. Without these translators, I'd have to learn Japanese and I've heard that's kinda hard.