Thursday, 19 June 2014

ROMHacking: The Process of Translating Japanese Video Games (GB, GG)

There are many ways to go about translating a video game as there are many options to start off from but here I will show you my way. I was researching how to translate a Japanese video game into English on romhacking months ago and after weeks of pain I finally managed to implement changes with help from Scio. I don't think I could have managed to learn without his help, many thanks Scio. Even if you aren't going to translate a game from Japanese this will still show you the ropes so please read to the end and tell me what you think.

Stages of Translating a Japanese Video Game
  1. Get a translator
  2. Gathering a Games Japanese Character and English Text Hex's
  3. Implementation
  4. Organization
Tools Needed
Emulator for game
Hex Workshop (My preferred hex editor, nice easy to use gui)
WindHex (Used initially to find English text using relative search, also hex editor)

1. Translator
Many stages are involved in translating a game and firstly your gonna need someone who understand and can read Japanese, for me that was a guy I met on moddb from making a mod based on the second sino Japanese war. I messaged him and said that could he possibly help me out with translating a game, he was actually very enthusiastic about it which was really good because if someone is bored with it they are going to eventually stop working on it or....... ask for MONEY! You don't want either of them to happen so try to keep your translator happy because google translate can't do poop when it comes to Japanese. You can use it for short phrases or single words but that's really it. I don't blame you if you try as it at least shows your making an effort although many would say otherwise but im more open minded.

Machine Translators
Google Translate: Can be useful but most of the time a broken mess.
Infoseek: A decent Japanese made translator that you can reword into readable sentences, your best bet if you can't read it.

2. Gathering the Japanese Character and English Text Hex's
This process isn't actually very hard to do but just time consuming, it may depend from game to game but the technique I use generally should work. If you want to implement the translations into the game your first going to have to find where the text you want to change is in the game, for that you have to gather all of at least a large portion of the games text hex's. The first stop you need to make is to find a part of the game where English text is displayed such as the main title screen where they have some English for example CLAMP in the Rayearth games.

Take a screenshot and download WindHex, this program will allow you to find the English text using relative search so open that part of the program up and type in the English text on the main screen into it. It will then give you a offset, put that in the Hex Workshop bar at the top and you will then see a few digits right at it's location. Clamp on the title screen for me was B9C1B7C3C6, then in your table or word document fill in these hex's with the letters.

There are two ways you can organize your hex's, you can create a table using a hex editor or like me you can just have it in a word document. Here's a short extract of the hex's I collected for Magic Knight Rayearth Making of Magic Knight:

10 =
11 =
12 =
96 = A
97 = B
98 = C

The English text at the title screen is then your testing ground for finding the rest of the hex's so change the for example B9 to B8 and vice versa for the rest and just go up and down with the hex's, save what you did and then load up the game to see your changes. You then fill in the hex's with what is there now and do that until you have a sizeable portion of the hex's full, if you can't make out then Japanese characters then get your translator to recognize them and then you can continue. It can be hard to make out the Japanese Characters when the game is old and retro such as a Game boy game due to the text being in bit format but don't worry as that's what the translator is for.

3. Implementation
It's easy to find the text when you know what your doing, check the video below for a visual way on how to do it. Just gather the hex's for the characters and then search for the hex's and you'll find the text your looking for or at least most of the time you will. Then replace those hex's with the English hex's you found in the game and like magic you have made the text appear in English. Now sometimes you will have limited spaces but I just made due with what I could and did my best since....I didn't learn how to use pointers and still haven't. For a rough translation it's not necessary as you can always go over it when your done.

4. Organization
I'll fill this in sooner or later.

An old tutorial I had 75% finished over 2 months ago that I touched up recently, I'll do the rest sooner or later. Im not the best at writing tutorials but I hope you'll learn something from this.

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