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Author Topic: Translating every Master System game  (Read 2996 times)

Psyklax

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Translating every Master System game
« on: August 15, 2017, 09:34:37 am »
Some of you may have noticed my other thread regarding the translation of early Famicom games, and there are so many games with Japanese that I'm amazed at the progress I've made, knowing that there are far too many remaining. But I thought I'd take on another challenge: making EVERY Sega Master System game available in English. There are two things that make this far easier to accomplish than the Famicom task: there are far fewer games on the SMS, and the system was far more successful in Europe and Brazil than Japan, so the majority of games are already in English.

I've made a list based on a list from Wikipedia, which includes 341 games, total. I worked through the list and removed any games which were released in the US or Europe. I then examined any that weren't released in either of those - mostly Japan and Brazil - for any non-English text. This reduced the already small list dramatically.

There are some games which were only released in Brazil, but they're just ports of Game Gear games, so the underlying code is identical. So here's my list of what remains:

Code: [Select]
Name (GoodSMS) Translated?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
20-em-1 No
Argos no Juujiken Yes - Psyklax
Castelo Ra Tin Bum No
Ferias Frustradas do Picapau No
High School! Kimengumi Yes - Nick and Aya
Hoshi wo Sagasite... Yes - Filler, SSTranslations
Loletta no Syouzou No
Mahjong Sengoku Jidai No
Megumi Rescue No
Nekyuu Kousien No
Phantasy Star Yes - SMS Power & Localised
Sangokushi 3 No
Sitio do Picapau Amarelo No
Solomon no Kagi - Oujo Rihita no Namida No
Sukeban Deka 2 Yes - Enigmaopoeia, SSTranslations
Super Racing No
Tensai Bakabon No

A good few of them are Brazilian games with Portuguese text. I had Street Fighter 2 on the list, but it's just the copyright info at the beginning so I didn't see any reason to translate that. I didn't want to start this thread until I'd done something myself, though, so I have: Argos no Juujiken. It's a port of the arcade game Rygar, so I replaced the title screen with the one used in the arcade. I think it made the transition down to the SMS's palette rather well! :)



If you're interested in how I managed it, I'll write it in a spoiler box (for anybody who's like "tl;dr").

Spoiler:
So I knew nothing about the Z80, but my work on the NES gave me some experience with assembly, and since the Z80 is also 8-bit, the basic idea is very similar. I read a couple of good docs hosted on smspower, and quickly figured out how things work. I examined a couple of different games before starting on Argos no Juujiken.

It didn't take me long to figure out how the game takes graphics from the ROM and inserts them into VRAM. The NES and SMS do graphics quite differently, since the NES CPU can't write directly into the pattern table: natively the NES needs the 512 tiles of the pattern table to be fixed, and it took MMCs in many different varieties to swap out the graphics. The SMS CPU just writes directly into VRAM, so the graphics in VRAM are constantly changing. I noticed Sonic the Hedgehog keeps the same tile numbers for Sonic all the time, choosing to swap out different animation frames when needed.

Anyway, I could see that the ROM being loaded into RAM changed several times during the title, and I guess correctly that it was bank switching with a mapper. What I was happy to discover (through smspower again) was that Sega made a mapper that most games used, so it's very easy to use. Givem that there's no division between program and graphics data (like the NES), I wondered if I could just add 16KB on the end of the ROM and bank switch to it for my new title. Amazingly, it worked. So expansion is significantly easier than the NES!

I was excited at the possibilities of the SMS palette after my NES experiences, so I thought I could paste in the original arcade title and it would still look pretty good. I first created the SMS's 64 colour palette in GIMP, then made a screenshot of Rygar in MAME. I indexed it to adapt it to the SMS palette, and it looked pretty good (I tried doing it by hand, but GIMP did a better job). I then replicated this palette in Tile Molester, and it pasted in with no problems.

So after putting my new tiles in the right place, the new title screen looks great. There is one problem, though: loading graphics into VRAM takes CPU time, and since I load more tiles than the original game, the music pauses for six frames, which is quite noticeable. I do think that it's a minor thing, however. I must say that I was surprised that adding 16KB worked, though - I figured I'd need a more round number. Perhaps someone could try this on a real SMS with an Everdrive to see how it looks.

I haven't released it yet, but I will do soon.

So, I've made a start, anybody want to make suggestions regarding my list? Or anything else? :)

cccmar

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2017, 10:04:50 am »
Loretta no Syouzou and Tensai Bakabon are the only two major adventure games that are left, so I'd either knock 'em out first, or leave them be for now. If you need any help with the Brazilian games, I can offer translation support, since I study Spanish/Portuguese. :) I believe there were more Brazil exclusives, like Sapo Xule etc., but those were all re-skins of other titles. Overall, most of those shouldn't be too bad, perhaps apart from the adventure games... 12 SMS games compared to around 300 FC games really isn't all that much. ;)
« Last Edit: August 16, 2017, 05:57:06 am by cccmar »

Digitsie

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2017, 11:48:50 am »
I noticed a Turma da Monica em: O Resgate translation patch on SMSPower's forums from July 31st, but according to it, it's an reskin of Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap.


Psyklax

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2017, 12:02:25 pm »
12 SMS games compared to around 300 FC games really isn't all that much. ;)

Precisely why I became interested in doing it. :D

I noticed a Turma da Monica em: O Resgate translation patch on SMSPower's forums from July 31st, but according to it, it's an reskin of Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap.

Yeah, I don't really care about reskins. The games were made by the original developers and available in English. Reskins are just localisations, so I don't see any need to translate, unless it's a really serious job.

Magma Dragoon

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2017, 01:09:03 pm »
I'm gonna warn you: those Brazilian games are awful.

goldenband

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2017, 02:03:51 pm »
This is an awesome idea for a project and I'm very pleased to see it underway! :) One thing to point out is that Korean games complicate the picture a bit:

http://www.smspower.org/Tags/KoreanExclusive

I'm not equipped to unpack the complex issue of which of these should be considered "licensed" (if any), though clearly some should not. A lot of them are MSX ports, legitimate or otherwise, that use the legacy TMS9918 video mode -- and many of those don't have any Korean in them. But perhaps they should be considered.

Also there's the SG-1000 issue, i.e. whether you want to consider SG-1000 games part of the Mark III/Master System library -- which itself is complicated by the fact that at least 1-2 titles commercially labeled as Master System games are really SG-1000 games. Loretta no Shouzou is the most famous example, but I think there are others (I don't remember whether F-16 Fighting Falcon is SG-1000 compatible but it uses the TMS9918 mode).

I translated two SG-1000 games, one rather well (Chack'n Pop) and one very poorly (Ninja Princess).  Ninja Princess was also localized by a ColecoVision fan publisher though I don't believe the ROM is publicly available; if it were, their changes could perhaps be backported, and would no doubt be superior to my very crude work. Someone on SMSPower also translated Sokoban (and I think he started work on Loretta, though this is all I can find).

I'll be eagerly monitoring this thread. Thanks for doing this!
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 02:36:29 pm by goldenband »

Psyklax

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2017, 03:01:58 pm »
I'm gonna warn you: those Brazilian games are awful.

Be that as it may, game quality has never been my criteria for translating. :) Frankly after almost two decades of amateurs translating games, I guess 99% of the best games have already been done. :) Plus, quality is subjective. For me, every game is good hacking experience which I can learn from.

Also there's the SG-1000 issue, i.e. whether you want to consider SG-1000 games part of the Mark III/Master System library -- which itself is complicated by the fact that at least 1-2 titles commercially labeled as Master System games are really SG-1000 games. Loretta no Shouzou is the most famous example, but I think there are others (I don't remember whether F-16 Fighting Falcon is SG-1000 compatible but it uses the TMS9918 mode).

This is a good point. It's arguable that SG-1000 games marketed as SMS aren't really SMS at all. Hell, there's the SC-3000 too. But this isn't the most formal of endeavours so I don't think we need to nitpick too much. :)

Korean games are easier to respond to: I doubt that any of them are official, and as you said they're often more like SG-1000 games. I saw one in the Wikipedia list that's clearly a pirate Dr Mario clone. There is one in my list, Sango Fighter (as it's more widely known). For me, unofficial games don't count, with rare exceptions (I used to play Micro Machines on my PAL NES, it was awesome, but it's still impossible to correctly emulate).

Cavery210

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2017, 03:57:33 pm »
You're missing Hokuto No Ken/Black Belt. It has many regional differences.

Psyklax

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2017, 04:51:09 pm »
You're missing Hokuto No Ken/Black Belt. It has many regional differences.

At first I thought it was just a reskin to remove the FOTNS stuff, but after reading HG101 I can see that it goes beyond that, even changing some levels and boss battles.
http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/hokutonoken/blackbelt.htm
I think I may have to add that to the list - and possibly get to work, because it's quite an interesting one!

KingMike

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2017, 06:42:37 pm »
Although Mahjong Sengoku got a Hong Kong release, it seems that one was unchanged from its Japanese release?

(compared to the also-rare NES Mahjong, which got the box and instructions translated to English, but the game itself was seemingly unchanged)

Just watching one of my Internet pals play the Brazilian Woody Woodpecker game, I can just feel it is a painfully terrible and generic sidescroller. Quite a shame as Woody was of my favorite childhood cartoons.
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Digitsie

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2017, 08:49:12 pm »
BTW, what non-US non-Europe releases were eliminated from your list because it didn't require English translations (not because it already had a corresponding game in US or Europe, but because it straightup was fine as it was?)

I eliminated non-US non-Europe games when looking up games in English, but I'm thinking my list would have eliminated some Japanese games that -had- English and therefore should have been included.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 08:58:33 pm by Digitsie »

KingMike

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2017, 09:38:07 pm »
Possible Japan exclusives with little or no Japanese text?

According to SMSPower!...
Comical Machine Gun Joe
Satellite 7
Woody Pop (ported to Game Gear for international release years later)
Alex Kidd BMX Trial
Galactic Protector
Great Baseball
Great Golf (both "Great" sports games are Japan-exclusive and different than the western games of the same titles)
Nekkyuu Koushien
The Pro Yakyuu - Pennant Race

Is Great Ice Hockey any different? It seems the west was one of those Sports Pad REQUIRED games, but I don't think the Sports Pad was released in Japan. The Japanese version of the hockey game had a limited release to like 1,000 copies as a contest prize only, and without the Sports Pad. So did it get changed?
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goldenband

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2017, 10:50:04 pm »
This is a good point. It's arguable that SG-1000 games marketed as SMS aren't really SMS at all. Hell, there's the SC-3000 too. But this isn't the most formal of endeavours so I don't think we need to nitpick too much. :)

Oh, definitely not trying to nitpick -- just getting a sense of whether SG-1000 games might be on your docket, especially since there are only a few licensed SG-1000 releases left that still need translations.

Korean games are easier to respond to: I doubt that any of them are official, and as you said they're often more like SG-1000 games.

I think the Korean situation may be a bit more complicated than you're making it sound -- the Samsung Gam*Boy was official in Korea, though made by Samsung to get around the Korean ban on Japanese electronics. Gaegujangi Kkachi was released by the system's official distributor, though they also seem to have dabbled in ripoffs too. It's a murky situation, and the folks at SMSPower could probably do a better job of elucidating which releases should be seen as "official", or if that's even a meaningful concept in Korea at the time.

I saw one in the Wikipedia list that's clearly a pirate Dr Mario clone.

Dr. HELLO! I played that one a fair bit a while back, and beat it. It's a good conversion (and 100% in English).

You're missing Hokuto No Ken/Black Belt. It has many regional differences.

Anmitsu Hime/Alex Kidd in High-Tech World is a somewhat similar case.


Possible Japan exclusives with little or no Japanese text?

I was 100% sure I posted in a ROMHacking.net thread about this, and was getting really weirded out until I discovered that (1) indeed I had, and (2) the thread in question, filler's "It will take 85 years to translate all Super Famicom games", was either deleted or lost in a site crash. Hmmm.

Anyway, this is what I wrote before, which fortunately is still in Google Cache:

"Some of those games have no Japanese-language content IIRC, like Comical Machine Gun Joe, Satellite 7, and Great Golf.

The Pro Yakyuu Pennant Race was actually localized as Great Baseball in the US, which is confusing as hell since the 1985 Japanese exclusive Great Baseball is a totally different game. However it (Great Baseball 1985) is almost completely in English, with only the player names (or position names? not sure which) in Japanese.

(Great Golf has a similar issue, BTW -- the game released as Great Golf in the US was called Masters Golf in Japan.)

I know a translation of Tensai Bakabon was underway at one point, and though it wasn't finished, helpful attachments like the dumped script are available here:

http://www.smspower.org/forums/11498-TensaiBakabonTranslation

So that's there to be resumed, if anyone wants to. Add Nekyuu Koushien, Mahjong Sengoku Jidai, and Loretta no Shouzou, and you've got 4 -- or 5, if you count Great Baseball JPN/1985-- Japanese exclusives left to translate.

[...]

BTW I think there are a bunch more SMS games that were Japanese exclusives, though a couple of them were released in English on other platforms, i.e. Rygar and Solomon no Kagi. The others I can spot are the paddle games BMX Trial Alex Kidd, Galactic Protector, Megumi Rescue, Super Racing (paddle optional), and Woody Pop. None seem to have significant Japanese at first glance, except the title screens of Rygar and Solomon's Key."
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 11:44:13 pm by goldenband »

Digitsie

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2017, 11:02:17 pm »
Huh - thanks, goldenband, KingMike. Hopefully at least those get considered a bit.

And btw, the same question goes for the Korean games, as I'd never heard of Dr. Hello till now!

*edit* although looking further, I see why. I did notice a list of apparently legit Korean roms that did NOT include Dr. Hello.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 11:37:54 pm by Digitsie »

phalanX

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2017, 11:32:51 pm »
At first I thought it was just a reskin to remove the FOTNS stuff, but after reading HG101 I can see that it goes beyond that, even changing some levels and boss battles.
http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/hokutonoken/blackbelt.htm
I think I may have to add that to the list - and possibly get to work, because it's quite an interesting one!

Actually, Hokuto No Ken/Black Belt has already a french translation. I was hoping to deal with that after I finish my Hokuto No Ken/Last Battle project for Genesis.

cccmar

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2017, 02:12:51 am »
I know a translation of Tensai Bakabon was underway at one point, and though it wasn't finished, helpful attachments like the dumped script are available here:

http://www.smspower.org/forums/11498-TensaiBakabonTranslation

Curious thing - looks like Filler worked on this one in the past; maybe it would be good to ask him about it. Perhaps he has a halfway done script somewhere. :) 20 kb is less than I thought it would be, actually. Dunno about Loretta no Shozou, but perhaps there is something on the site that could help as well...
It's an interesting situation overall, since a good chunk of the games will have to be translated from languages other than Japanese time around.

Psyklax

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2017, 02:50:31 am »
there are only a few licensed SG-1000 releases left that still need translations.

Well, maybe it would be good to try doing those too, then. :)

Anmitsu Hime/Alex Kidd in High-Tech World is a somewhat similar case.

I had thought about that, as I've actually translated AH on paper (I was even trying to make a TAS - don't know why...). But the differences aren't so big as Black Belt. You play as Alex Kidd and you want to go to the arcade instead of the cake shop, but otherwise it hasn't changed. The only bit with any real changes is the quiz which obviously has different general knowledge questions. Given the playing experience is more or less the same, it puts the translation at a low priority. That doesn't mean I wouldn't like to do it, though... :D

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2017, 07:29:52 am »
Curious thing - looks like Filler worked on this one in the past
I had forgotten all about this. :D

I'm away right now but I'll check in a week when I'm back home. I know I looked at Anmitsu Hime also. Not sure how far I got.

tvtoon

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2017, 10:16:00 am »
If you can find someone experienced with tilemapping and compression, I can do both "Castelo Rá Tin Bum" and "Sítio do Pica Pau Amarelo", as they need some timed ordeal. Now for Woody Woodpecker game, you just wait... It will be easy but painful (to play) experience. ;)

KingMike

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Re: Translating every Master System game
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2017, 10:35:53 am »
I remember watching Sardius play Alex Kidd in High Tech World. He got to the second "adventure" stage, and it sounds like even Sega of America didn't know how to finish the level (I recall they gave a solution like "pause the game 100 times" which sounds more like a cheat code than an intended solution). :D
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