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Important Importables: Notable fan translation projects

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Sometimes video game companies just don’t listen to what fans want. It’s understandable. Publishers are focused on making money and working on games that will give them some kind of guaranteed return, and that often means games that people desperately want don’t get picked up for worldwide releases because financial success isn’t guaranteed.

That’s when fans step up, and get to work on fan translations. Ordinary people who happen to be fluent in Japanese, or know a bit about hacking, take on the task of preparing games for an English speaking audience. While actually getting to play the fan translations may be a questionable act (Piracy is very, very bad. Support your developers and publishers.), there are some situations where it is the only way to play a game that will never, ever see a worldwide release.

This week in Important Importables, we’re looking at some particularly notable fan translations that have either been completed, or are currently being worked on. Most of the headers below also double as links to the translation project or translation group’s pages, so you can read more about their endeavors.

Mother 3

Mother 3 GBA

The Mother 3 fan translation is undoubtedly one of the best known fan translations in existence. When Nintendo GameBoy Advance owners everywhere by failing to release the latest entry in what Americans know as the Earthbound series overseas, fans rose up and the Starmen.net team began work on the Mother 3 Fan Translation.

The group worked for years on the project, who’s lead translator Tomato, is even a professional video game translator, released the first patch in 2008, and a second patch with slight fixes in 2009. The first was downloaded over 100,000 times in the first week. The group even created and released a Mother 3 Handbook that fans could purchase to help them through the game and appreciate it more.

If you visit the site, you’ll find walkthroughs, information about the process, the patch, game analysis and encouragement to support and purchase the actual Mother 3 game. Spanish, French, Italian and other translations of Mother 3 are currently in the works, and it’s one of the few translation projects where even people in the game industry were happy and didn’t object.

Fatal Frame 4 Wii

The Fatal Frame 4: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is honestly one of the most impressive and ambitious fan translations I have ever seen. Plus, it doesn’t require users to turn to piracy to take advantage of it!

Once you apply the simple patch to your Wii, it will not only allow you to run the official Japanese Fatal Frame 4 disc, a feat that’s normally impossible due to region protection, but it will also automatically translate the game into English. The Fatal Frame 4 Translation Team even created multiple versions of the patch, to work with different Wii firmwares, and state on the website that they will update the patches should future Wii firmware block them.

Soma Bringer DS

Soma Bringer DS

The fan translation for Soma Bringer is slightly less organized, as it’s an open translation headed by a devoted fan named Darth Nemesis, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less spectacular than the two already mentioned. It isn’t a full, 100% translation, but it’s over 97% done and anyone who patches the game will have no problem playing it in English.

Soma Bringer is a loved DS game that was adored in Japan, and has developed quite a cult following online. It was developed by Monolith Soft and published by Nintendo, but unfortunately it seems the company has forgotten about it after it’s February 28, 2008 release. It’s an action RPG that’s charming and looks absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, it seems

<a href="http://www.tsukuru.info/tlwiki/index.php?title=Idolmaster_SP" target="external"Idolm@ster SP PSP

I actually had no idea this project existed, until I started writing this article, but I’m quite happy and pleased to see that it does! There’s an open translation project going on for the Idolm@ster PSP games Perfect Sun, Missing Moon and Wandering Star. While all three games are being translated, Perfect Sun is the furthest along and the only one with a patch released.

Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side 1st Love Plus English Fan Translation

Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 1st Love Plus DS

I’m mentioning this little gem of a fan translation in today’s column simply because I know a lot of otome and simulation fans are frequent readers. This is an open fan translation that is currently in the works, and no patches have been officially released yet. The group of fans working on it are doing very well though, and you can see their progress by visiting the project page’s website.

Tales of Innocence DS

Since Namco Bandai has been a bit lax in releasing entries in the Tales of series overseas, quite a few fan translations have popped up for various entries over the years. One of them is Absolute Zero’s fan translation of the second DS Tales of game, Tales of Innocence. An amazing thing about the Absolute Zero Tales of Innocence translation is that the team is not only patching the game, they’re also fixing bugs and glitches! So this patch, when completed, will not only translate it into English, it’ll also make the game more playable and enjoyable.

Fire Emblem 6 The Sealed Sword

Fire Emblem: The Sealed Sword GBA

This is a somewhat hard to find fan translation, but quite comprehensive. It’s an English translation of the GBA game Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi, also known as Fire Emblem 6 or Fire Emblem: The Sealed Sword. It’s actually the sequel to the Fire Emblem GBA game released in North America. Though it was released first, chronologically the events in Fire Emblem: The Sealed Sword take place after the events in Fire Emblem. The translation isn’t complete, but the Dark Twilkitri Net Translation Division has done a wonderful job so far and there has been a patch released. The same team is also working on a patch for the SNES Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu game.

Policenauts PS1

The Policenauts Translation Project came together to bring Hideo Kojima and Konami’s PS1, science fiction adventure game to English speaking gamers. It’s a first person adventure where players help a policenaut, an astronaut policeman, solve the murder of his ex-wife and disappearance of her current husband. The PS1 patch was released in 2009 on Hideo Kojima’s birthday.

Sailor Moon Another Story

Sailor Moon: Another Story SNES

The Bishoujo Senshi Translations team and Niche from FuSoYa translated this surprisingly amazing SNES RPG. True, it’s probably not everyone’s first choice when it comes to import games, but it was the very first fan translation I was exposed to, and it really is a good SNES-era RPG, so I figured it’d be worth mentioning. The Bishoujo Senshi Translations team’s page is down, but there are plenty of screenshots showing just how much work went into the game and what an admirable translation it is online. If you’re an anime fan, or just like well-made, classic RPGs, then look into what a good job they did.

Aeon Genesis

Not a fan translation, but rather one of the most well known and notable fan translation groups. Aeon Genesis has completed translations for 70 games, and is working on translations for almost 40 more. Many of the games are classics for earlier systems like the NES and SNES. Some of their best known works include English translations for Cave Story (PC), Live-A-Live (SNES), Shin Megami Tensei (SNES), Shiren the Wanderer: Mysterious Dungeon 2 (SNES), Rockman & Forte (SNES) and Ys V (SNES).

COMING NEXT WEEK: Important Importables reviews the Sakura Taisen 3 Dreamcast game.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Important Importables talked about Gundam games

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