Sorry I've been neglecting this thread so badly. To everyone who's given support, thanks! I'll try to respond to everything that warrants it, however belatedly...
I'm curious: when do you plan on uploading these to the main site? That way, your patches show up in the searches and more people can find them (I'm sure more people than us forum members would like to try out your patches). For example, I had heard about what happened with Exile II: Wicked Phenomenon, but it wasn't until now, digging through the archives of the Personal Projects subforum, that I saw something was done about it.
I'm gonna risk playing Devil's Advocate here and say that, although I found it frustrating at first, when I figured out what I had to do, I actually thought that part of the game was pretty clever.
Yes, I've intended for a while to get these on the site, but I wanted to make some final updates and quality checks beforehand. Obviously those have been in limbo for a while, and lately I've been distracted by a somewhat-related translation project, so it'll probably be a while before everything's ready to go. Sorry for the holdup, but I can only endure so much Vay and Alundra at a time.
As for Silver Star's climax, I actually agree: the Working Designs version is the more memorable conclusion. When I first played the game years ago, knowing nothing about Working Designs except the name, the thing I remembered most about it afterwards was using the harp at the end. But I don't want to cherry-pick "good changes" and "bad changes"; if something was meaningfully altered for the US version and it's in my power to revert it, I'm doing it, regardless of whether I think it was for the better.
I'd also add that this gimmick worked much better in the original version of the game than the remake. The Sega CD version has a checkpoint at the start of the sequence and visually indicates that you're taking damage and will die if you don't do something, whereas in the remake, there's a good chance a first-time player will just keep plowing on ahead and end up getting instakilled out of nowhere. And god forbid you neglected to save right after beating the final boss, since checkpoints are gone and you're locked out of saving during that sequence. Plus the Ocarina normally functions as a sound test, which makes it far less intuitive that it suddenly does something new at the very end of the game. And then there's the fact that they ended up forcing you to waste an inventory slot for the entire game just to make sure you'd have it for that scene...
So WD had increased the difficalty of the first Lunar in PSX version. That explains why did I always have to spend extra time on mob-grinding to level up in order to beat the first boss in a town. Nice work!
Yeah, it ends up being pretty nasty because not only do enemies give less EXP, the minimum levels to which bosses' stats are scaled are increased, and IIRC the way stats are scaled makes enemies significantly harder to beat at higher levels, despite your characters being more powerful. (I seem to recall hacking the party to level 50 one time and getting completely decimated by the first boss.)
You know, I've been wondering if WD made any significant changes on the shooters they ported (Elemental Gearbolt, RayStorm, RayCrisis, Thunder Force V).
I know Elemental Gearbolt is hard as ALL HELL on the US version, but Alfa System games aren't exactly easy...
I haven't tried any of the others, but yeah, the Japanese version of Gearbolt is pretty easy and the US version is extremely hard. After a few hours of playing the Japanese version, I could get to the final boss on the hardest difficulty with no problem, but I couldn't even beat the "training" mode on the US version (which incidentally is "easy" mode in the Japanese version, and doesn't end after 3 stages). Enemies definitely do more damage; I don't know if the changes go further than that.
Chances are the other games you mentioned have comparable alterations. Working Designs was pretty consistent about that up until 2000, when they apparently just stopped doing it (AFAICT -- I'm basing this on Lunar 2 and a cursory examination of Arc the Lad, so there may well be stuff I don't know about). I like to think that Vic backed off of the difficulty changes after several reviewers specifically slammed Working Designs' alterations to the mechanics in Silhouette Mirage (GameSpot gave it a 4.6, calling it an "unrewarding chore overwrought with tedium" compared to the original)
. Though now that I check, he seems to have spent plenty of time trying to convince people who complained about this that they were somehow wrong to do so
, so maybe not.
I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks, Supper. I am a HUGE fan of Working Designs, however I definitely agree that you're doing the right thing fixing the asinine changes they made to the difficulty of their games.
Also I wanted to take a moment to explain why I'm a fan of WD. Their translations have aged terribly, and they did butcher the script of many games they worked on.
BUT - I'm 35. In the late 80s and through about 2000 there really weren't anyone localizing games like these. Many of these games *WERE* niche, and gaming itself was still pretty niche back then. If it wasn't for WD I have no doubt that most/all of these games would have never been released in English before the days of fan translations. Since fan translations weren't even a thin until the late 90s, and emulation of systems like the PSX wasn't really viable until the mid 2000s, many of us would have missed out on ever playing these games at all.
I don't think hating on you is at all fair, but do try to understand that many of us love WD because of what they did, not because of HOW they did it.
Still though, I think changing the difficulty was a completely stupid thing to do, and in some cases (Exile 2) it completely broke the game. There was no good reason to do that, and thank you again for what you're doing.
Perhaps you could take a break from WD games and look into doing fixes for other games? I'm sure WD wasn't the only company monkeying with game balance when bringing games overseas (Squaresoft circa 1992 I'm looking at YOU), so perhaps there are other games that could use some fixing?
(And yes I know that FFIV has already been fixed, I'm just pointing to that as an example).
Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly that the concept
of Working Designs was great. I love games that are unusual, niche, often overlooked, or simply perceived as "unmarketable" by most American publishers in the '90s. Bringing over those games from Japan and giving them a great, polished translation to put big-budget publishers to shame would have been awesome. Except of course that's not what happened, and so here I am, trying to salvage these to the extent that I can.
If Working Designs helped lead to the rise of later localization companies that did what the company should have done in the first place, they deserve credit for that much. It was still a heavy price to pay, and I think you can understand my frustration at having to choose between stumbling through a game in a language I don't know, or playing a horribly mangled version of the same thing that could
have been so much more.
But yes, there are certainly plenty of other games with comparable difficulty changes. I've actually been eyeing Legend of Legaia as a possible future project, though I've got enough on my plate at this point that that's probably a long way off.
Anyway, thanks again to everyone for your feedback. I'll try to get these on the site in a timely manner, but hey, it wouldn't be a Working Designs thread without some delays...