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Author Topic: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization  (Read 4475 times)

RHDNBot

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Update By: Polinym

Polinym of the Woolsey Fan Company (W.F.C.) has released a special translation of the Famicom game, Idol Hakkenden, which localizes the game as if it were released during the original NES era. The W.F.C. took care to ensure that all names, places, terms, and culture in Japanese was localized to things the general American audience with little to no Japanese knowledge could appreciate.

"Idol Hakkenden", or Pop Star Debut as the W.F.C. has named it, is a Japanese text adventure about young Sabrina Seltzer who dreams of becoming a star. While on the surface it appears to be a "kiddie" game, several twists in the plot take the story in some shocking directions. Sabrina's quest for stardom is threatened by an entertainment overlord with ambitions for world domination.

Pop Star Debut marks the W.F.C.'s first translation project. Polinym, currently the company's only member, knew literally nothing of this game prior to translating it. He refused to look up any information about it unless absolutely necessary. This ensures that the game is more authentic as an American release, and not based on any other forms of translation.

The W.F.C. offers a truly unique experience for players. The game's text was written not just to be a mere translation of the original, but enjoyable writing that would've appeared had the game been an American product.

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aqualung

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2019, 03:53:14 pm »
Thanks a lot! Is it an adventure game, similar to Famicom's Detective Club or The Cursed Treasure of Cleopatra?

Polinym

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2019, 12:55:45 am »
Yes! I have not played either of those games, but after a quick glance on YouTube I can say it's very similar to those games. The command system is not as complex as those, but I believe it is meant to be a parody of game like them.
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Bregalad

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2019, 03:19:06 am »
So this game is where the mascot girl of Nerdtracker II came from.
Wow.

Supper

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2019, 04:53:56 am »
To anyone who missed it, this is the same game that TheMajinZenki, cccmar and I released a translation for just shy of a year ago.

This might come as a surprise to anyone familiar with my little crusade against Working Designs, but I'm actually not entirely against this sort of "extreme localization". While I have no personal interest in playing such a thing, I think there's merit in having a game available in a form some people might find more enjoyable than the original -- that's what hacking's for. This is an extremely "Japanese" game with a lot of culture-specific material directly ingrained into the plot and gameplay, so trying to turn all that into something sensible to Westerners must have been quite an interesting challenge. Hope you enjoyed it.

That said, I wouldn't be very happy to see this sort of editing done to a game that hadn't already been properly translated. This should be obvious, but the more you make stuff up in the name of localization, the less it becomes the original author's work and the more it becomes your own. While I haven't played this patch and don't intend to, since it's not something I'm interested in, the amount of editing you describe makes me wonder if this isn't more of a "hack" than a "translation". Semantics, maybe, but still -- how many lines of dialogue can you make up and still call the result a "translation", or even a "localization"?

I also find some of your stated project goals rather puzzling. Why remove swearing, blood, references to suicide, etc.? If you're trying to emulate Ted Woolsey, he didn't care about any of that, as far as I know -- he was compelled to remove such material by Nintendo. I mean, feel free to rewrite the game according to '90s standards of evangelical Christian morality if that's what you want, but I have trouble seeing the value in dragging that nonsense into the present.

(Actually, I'm curious what you're referring to when you say this contains "censorship of swearing", considering Japanese doesn't really have a concept of "swearing"...)

I also see that you didn't use any of my hacking work as a base, which actually makes me sad... I already fixed the problems you seem to have encountered with the karaoke scenes, etc., so why not use my readily-available code? :( You don't seem to have expanded the ROM, so unless you added some heavy compression, you must have had very limited space for text. I had to use both expansion and compression to get everything in our translation to fit.

Magnetick

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2019, 07:20:48 am »
Hey, long time lurker. first time poster here. IDK something about this just doesn't sit right with me. This sort of game would only appeal to a very niche demographic, who generally frowned upon these sorts of 4kids-style localizations when they were more common.

Maybe this would of made sense before everything got all globalized, but its just anachronistic now. I don't want you to stop making localizations if it makes you happy, but please just recognize when you change it so much its not really the same game any more

Psyklax

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2019, 12:50:37 pm »
This is interesting... I didn't realise until Supper posted that the game was translated properly a year ago, now we have a 'localisation' which I presume is in the style of Samurai Pizza Cats or something. I can see that the kinds of people who inhabit RHDN are not fans of such things, and I agree that a more literal translation is what I would prefer, too. The reason companies did such radical localisations back in the day was because they wanted to appeal to people who didn't hang out on ROM hacking websites. :D

Still, it could be an interesting case study for my YouTube channel, which I'm going to bring out of hibernation soon. Maybe I'll compare the two translations, because even though I would much prefer Supper's effort (and the fact the so-called Woolsey Fan Company didn't reach out to Supper for technical help is a pity), I can see the appeal for more casual players.

Gideon Zhi

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2019, 01:58:56 pm »
Hey, long time lurker. first time poster here. IDK something about this just doesn't sit right with me. This sort of game would only appeal to a very niche demographic, who generally frowned upon these sorts of 4kids-style localizations when they were more common.

Maybe this would of made sense before everything got all globalized, but its just anachronistic now. I don't want you to stop making localizations if it makes you happy, but please just recognize when you change it so much its not really the same game any more

You could always play the author's *other* version of the translation if this sort of thing doesn't appeal.
http://www.romhacking.net/translations/3822/

Polinym

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2019, 06:22:28 pm »
Yeah, I figured my translation would be divisive. This is actually my first translation project. I actually went on my Retron, tried a bunch of Famicom games from a pre-loaded SD card, picked this one which I'd never heard of before, checked to make sure it wasn't compressed, and then proceeded to translate it over 2 months. I didn't want to research anything because I wanted to have only the written Japanese for reference. That means, I didn't even check to see if there already was an existing translation for this game. That's why I didn't use Supper's tools.

The reason I did this as a localization using American names is because I've enjoyed many a game where the translation wasn't as faithful more than games with very accurate translations. Woolsey is a big inspiration, as I admire his writing in Final Fantasy VI and many of his story changes made the game more enjoyable for me. That's why I included his name as part of my "company"; I am a Woolsey Fan. I also was inspired from reading things like this (https://www.polygon.com/2019/7/18/20696081/metal-gear-solid-translation-japanese-english-jeremy-blaustein) (Article from Tomato's Legends of Localization).

I'm still very new to ROMHacking, for I don't even know ASM yet. I would appreciate tips on how to expand/compress text, which I may be able to use to finish Pop Star Debut's songs and polish up the writing.

The censorship is partially a personal thing, but I've also made this with the intended audience in mind. "Idol Hakkenden" is a kids' game, right? Well, I don't know much about Japanese children's shows, but I know American children's shows would never allow something like the guy at the theater who wraps himself in TNT to kill himself. Because of that, I changed it to the guy threatening to blow up the theater instead because he hates pop music. I also don't think it'd be appropriate to have the image of Sabrina (Erika) being stabbed in the head by a sword with blood spurting out in a children's game, so I changed it to the standard "shocked Sabrina" image. And the swearing? My Japanese skills are still somewhat beginner, and I think I heard somewhere that phrases like "shimatta" and "kuso" could be used like swear words. Mentioning "censorship of swearing" helps people know that this game will be for all audiences.

And if you think I changed too much... I actually tried to be accurate to the original Japanese when I could. I wrote this keeping a careful balance of hitting all the points of the original text, while making sure the lines read naturally. I've probably made some mistakes, though, as I'm not an expert in Japanese.
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Cristal

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2019, 10:46:58 pm »
There are some "translators" out there that are extremely Japanophobic and pretty much bend over backwards trying to find English replacements for everything, removing every Japanese trace from the game in question. No respect towards the culture or the original authors.

It doesn't seem to be Polinym's case, however. Judging from their readme they just want to provide alternative ways to play those games (localized as opposed to translated). But yeah, if those are really their goals, I echo the others' thoughts and would recommend sticking solely to games that have already been properly translated. It's a way to save yourself from the flak you could end up getting otherwise (I've seen it happen around here before, typically with anything coming from Dynamic Designs).

That said, what you do is up to you, but if you're going to release it publicly, be prepared for the criticism. It's not my own concern anyway as I can just play the original JP versions. Got some understanding of the language and am working into improving it, but there are those who still mostly depend on such translations. Trust me that's a real bummer when you finally get the chance to play something, and then it's presented in a dumbed down/4kids way. We're in 2019, not 1989. ;)

cccmar

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2019, 02:20:04 am »
Personally, I'm absolutely in favour of some familiarization when necessary, even if the days when you couldn't look up Japanese concepts (which often do not have equivalents in the western world) are long gone, and it doesn't matter as much. Also, I'd say that just doing the old "according to keikaku" shtick is as silly as just throwing the original script out the window. The best way is to somehow balance things out and provide an experience that is both close to the original version, but also has its own identity, in a way. To be fair, it's not so easy with most 8-bit/16-bit games, since the scripts aren't particularly wordy. In this case, the author clearly stated his goals, so I do not see it as an issue. I'd approach that script in a different way, but then again everyone has his way of doing things.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2019, 03:18:31 am by cccmar »

Tom

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2019, 05:51:23 am »
There are some "translators" out there that are extremely Japanophobic and pretty much bend over backwards trying to find English replacements for everything, removing every Japanese trace from the game in question. No respect towards the culture or the original authors.

It's not just an English phenomenon. Even Japanese translations of foreign games do this sometimes. The Korean game "White Day" had its cast given Japanese names for the Japanese release, for example. (This happens with Korean-to-Japanese comics, as well.)

Sometimes the removal of Japanese settings and cultural references can work out just fine. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney comes to mind. I wouldn't call it Japanophobic, and I don't really find it disrespectful at all. I doubt any Japanese people would be offended by it, if you showed it to them.

Personally, I approve of "Pop Star Debut." Though I haven't played it (or the Japanese original), I like the idea behind this project.

noneother

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2019, 05:18:59 pm »
It's not just an English phenomenon. Even Japanese translations of foreign games do this sometimes. The Korean game "White Day" had its cast given Japanese names for the Japanese release, for example. (This happens with Korean-to-Japanese comics, as well.)

Sometimes the removal of Japanese settings and cultural references can work out just fine. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney comes to mind. I wouldn't call it Japanophobic, and I don't really find it disrespectful at all. I doubt any Japanese people would be offended by it, if you showed it to them.

Personally, I approve of "Pop Star Debut." Though I haven't played it (or the Japanese original), I like the idea behind this project.

This is only done with video games (and occasionally cartoons) because they're still considered disposable entertainment. When a Japanese novel is translated into English, they don't try to pretend like Osaka is really Denver or whatever. Same with movie subtitles. If a game takes place in a real-world location, then the localization should respect that. And this is the case with Idol Hakkenden; there's a bunch of characters and locations that will no make sense if you pretend it's set in America or really anywhere but Japan, so you'll inevitably end up with an incoherent translation in which the text frequently doesn't match the images. Removing things the author finds too violent for kids is no better; this is a NES fan-translation, it's not going to be primarily small children playing it. I was watching Nightmare on Elm Street and Schwarzenegger movies when I was an elementary schoolkid anyway, and so were all the kids I knew, so this just strikes me as nonsense.

I'm not mad at this particular project because, thankfully, it's already been translated, but if it were the only translation, it'd be really too bad.

I also don't understand the whole "refusing to do any research" thing at all. Research is good. It enriches your work.

Tom

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2019, 10:36:55 pm »
This is only done with video games (and occasionally cartoons) because they're still considered disposable entertainment. When a Japanese novel is translated into English, they don't try to pretend like Osaka is really Denver or whatever. Same with movie subtitles.

No, plot relocation happens with TV shows and movies as well. Sweden's "Let the Right One in" was brought out in English as "Let Me In," changing the characters and setting to reflect a difference audience. There are other examples as well, because it happens all the time.

It's a global phenomenon. Japan does the same, taking shows that were originally set in foreign countries and changing them to be set in Japan.

If a game takes place in a real-world location, then the localization should respect that.

Different people have different notions of what respect means. In my opinion, it takes a good amount of respect for (and familiarity with) the source material to properly alter the setting and characters for a new audience. As I said before, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a good example of this.

Removing things the author finds too violent for kids is no better; this is a NES fan-translation, it's not going to be primarily small children playing it.

Personally, I agree with this 100%. However, it is up to the person doing the project. If they want to make a project that really "feels" like it was an official release years ago, more power to them.

Pennywise

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2019, 05:37:13 pm »
In my opinion there is no right way to translate. It's very much a fluid process for me that varies from game to game. So this idea of localizing a game completely is something I have no problem with. One of my more challenging translations was a parody RPG that features a ton of wordplay puns, some of which are based around historical figures and pop culture stuff. You can't directly translate that stuff and still retain any sense of humor, so it has to be localized. My approach was to determine the spirit of the joke and to come up with a western/English equivalent for it. In order to redo the joke in English, I had to strip the Japanese away from it.

Orochi Kusanagi

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2019, 06:02:43 pm »
I personally dislike censorship of any kind, but for this particular project I don't see what the big deal is. At least it had a "regular" translation already, this is just a labor of love at this point from these folks that made this one to emulate their favorite childhood translations.

Polinym

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2019, 08:12:44 pm »
One thing I thought I should mention that I didn't feel the need to really talk about in the patch description is that I actually found some an odd bug with one of the images in the game. For whatever reason, somebody added the tiles to the image of the "Game Over" ("Bad End") screen, causing the top of "Pop Czarina" ("Dark Iromono Erika") to look odd. I found an unused tile in the graphics and tried to fix it. At least, I'm pretty sure it's a bug. I don't know why Czarina's hair would be cut off with an unfinished "ribbon". Also, why else would part of her whip show up there?

Here's a side-by-side comparison.


September 15, 2019, 04:11:06 pm - (Auto Merged - Double Posts are not allowed before 7 days.)
Sorry about the double posting, and sorry about the above picture not working. I uploaded it in Scratchpad and saw it in preview, so I don't know why it didn't work. Anyway...

Thank you all for your comments about my localization. I will consider them when I go to localize other games. While doing a playthrough for my YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIefCsvaWzg), I noticed quite a few typos and bugs in the patch I released. There are also a few things that still need to be localized. After my playthrough is finished, I plan on finding time to release patch version 1.2.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2019, 04:11:06 pm by Polinym »
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Ishkabibble

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Re: Translations: Pop Star Debut (Idol Hakkenden) Unofficial Localization
« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2019, 08:32:43 pm »
The type of localization here is very interesting, but especially in terms if cut content and censorship, should be done on a select few of translations.  Most people simply want to play the game relatively untouched as it was originally released, only translated if never before translated.  Since this game was translated before, your hack is a good alternative who want something strictly for their kids who don't mind playing NES games.

Also, in this day and age, those still interested in playing romhacks of games in the 90s are generally pretty old and would heavily criticize a localization like this if it had never before been translated, mostly in terms of visual censorship.  Retro junkies like myself are looking to personally play these. Dialogue and text itself, I personally an more flexible with so long as author intent is still present.  In that case, Westernization is less of an issue.

Any additions to this site are positive overall as long as they are earnest efforts, though if WFC ever does localize something no one else has, I would suggest a dual release of censored and uncensored for those that want either or.