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Seiken Densetsu 3

27 November 2001 - Reflection by Neill Corlett

Reflection

Let’s see…

It all started one happy day when I was reading newsgroups, and I stumbled upon an interesting pair of posts: One was a Final Fantasy 5 English translation beta patch, the other was an extremely angry and threatening reply by SoM2Freak. Okay. So I filed the beta away for later, not sure if and when I’d get a chance to actually play it.

Time passes on, and I buy myself a nice Super Wildcard DX2 copier for my SNES. This was in mid-1997, before any SNES emulators were truly fast enough or compatible enough or really worth using at all. Suddenly, FF5 in English became a reality for me, and the first thing that went through my mind as I was playing it was “hey, I can do this.”

So, after FF5, what was next? Well, there was this little sequel to Secret of Mana, except it’s in Japanese, oh no! So I try playing it for a while, and I am absolutely blown away. Can’t wait for J3d! to do the translation! This is gonna rock!

Months pass… I get absolutely sick of the other emulation project I was doing at the time (how naive it was of me to attempt to crack the Atari Slapstic chip without insider knowledge, hint hint)… and I decide to take a look at Seiken Densetsu 3 instead. Over Easter break 1998, I managed to replace the scrolling introduction text, and I even figured out a little of the script encoding. I decided to present my findings to J3d! and SoM2Freak, hoping that my small contribution would help speed them up a bit.

Little did I know, the fate of the entire SD3 project was about to be placed in my hands…

J3d! tells me he’s sick of working on it and that he’d like me to continue in his place, and SoM2Freak jumps up and down with joy that there’s finally a new guy on the team. Okay. SoM2Freak invites me into #romhack on EFnet, and promptly transforms me into the card-carrying IRC addict zombie that I am today.

The focus of the SD3 project for the following few months was figuring out a way to patch the game so that it fit within the original 32 megabits. Why is this? Because my copier only had that much memory, and I was the one responsible for all the ROM hacking work. Of course. I quickly decided to rip out the entire existing compression scheme and develop my own, which would be more optimized for English. It took until about September to get all that code fully written and debugged, and to get a working script dump for SoM2Freak to work on. Meanwhile he translated most of the item names.

From then until about February 1999, SoM2Freak translated about 5% of the game script. It was all pretty slow going until Lina`chan came in. She offered to translate the rest of the script with the help of her “otaku friend” Nuku-nuku. Salvation! Many furious months of translation, script editing, formatting, and beta testing ensued, and in July of 1999, we released v1.00 of the patch. Hooray!

Fun fact: You can actually thank (wraith) for the July release date. He posted something on a web board somewhere saying that the SD3 patch would be released in August, to which I angrily replied that he shouldn’t name any false release dates. By late July, we were putting the finishing touches on the patch anyway, so I figured it’d be best to rush it out in July rather than wait until August and eat my words. In a sense, I guess this adds a touch of professionalism to our work - we were under pressure to “ship it!”

Now, if you’ve read all that, you must be really bored, so here are some fun things to try with the SD3 English patch! Can you find:

  • the various subtle and sundry Pokey the Penguin references?
  • “This isn’t booze, it’s holy water!”
  • Papa Smurf?
  • the phrase “mad skillz”?
  • a character who watches too much X-Files?
  • the phrase “stupid animal”?
  • Angela nude?