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Bastard!!: Ankoku no Hakaishin

10 July 2002 - Reflection by Dark Force


I first heard of this game when I was searching for SNES roms, ages ago (back in ‘96 probably). The game intrigued me just because it was called BASTARD!!. I figured it must have some redeeming factor with a title like that. As like most rom collectors of the day, I never did bother to try out the rom after downloading it.

A couple of years later, when I was taking a Japanese class at NYU, I stumbled into a nearby anime shop that sold copied fansubbed VHS tapes - illegally I supposed, since they were all hidden. I had to give them the ‘password’ to be able to look at their collection, which I got off a friend I knew at the time who frequented the shop.

Looking through their big collection of tapes, I noticed a set of tapes labelled BASTARD!!. Immediately I thought of that rom I had downloaded and never tried out. I thought it had to be related and bought the set - I figured it would have plenty of ass-kickings, just because it was called BASTARD!!. I had no idea what Bastard was at the time.

I was luckly enough to get the Baldric(?) fansub, I found out there were other groups that fansubbed Bastard and didn’t do as good a job. Recently, Pioneer officially subbed Bastard, though they didn’t do it justice. When I finally got around to watching the fansub tapes, I saw the first episode and loved it, especially the use of the word “fuckface”, which I had never heard being used before. Of course they don’t say that in Japanese, but they’re supposed to be talking dirty. By the time I was going to watch the third episode, I found out that my idiot brother had used the tapes to record his show on while he was out, because he ran out of tapes. I was really pissed. When I went back to the fansub store, they were all out of Bastard stock. To this day I still have not seen the rest of the Bastard anime. No matter, I still got something out of it.

Later on, I found out that Bastard was really a manga and the anime came after it and the video game came after that. I finally decided to try out the game and see how close it was to the manga/anime. It was the oddest SNES game I had ever seen, the battles made absolutely no sense and the moves seemed ultra-impossible to pull off. It took me forever to beat the first enemy. The dialogue didn’t really live up to the anime, but the vulgar tone was there.

At this time there was a translator in the scene named Faraday (who last we heard got arrested for having illegal software on his computer, damn Brit laws…). Bastard was one of Faraday’s favorite manga and he jumped at the chance to translate it when I told him I was interested in hacking it. He translated most of it and then vanished, I think this was around the time he got into trouble. After that, I tried finding other people who could finish translating the script, but no one was really interested.

When the script was dumped, I thought it was strange that I couldn’t find any pointers to the text. Eventually I realized that the friggin’ game used hardcoded pointers for every single string, living up it it’s name. It was a real bastard. This meant I would have to do a crap load of debugging and disassembling just to find all the string pointers and replace them all individually. Not fun. So that combined with an unfinished script, made me abandon the project.

About a year later, I was talking to AWJ and he mentioned how much he liked the Bastard anime, he saw the same “fuckface” version as I did. I asked if he would help to finish translating the script and thankfully he did. He had enough interest in Bastard to do a good job of translating it and wanted to see the project finished. Once he finished, I got my act together and hacked the game to pieces, finding all the damn hardcoded string pointers and other nasty crap and rewriting a lot of the ASM. What really made the asm work succeed were some asm patching extensions that F.H developed and I improved on. That made managing the Bastard asm code and data very efficient. Though, even with all this, I still didn’t have enough time to really devote to Bastard, since the majority of my time was spent hacking Tales of Phantasia and whatever else at the time.

I had to beg Anus P. to help me finish up hacking Bastard, and he said only if I would help him with the current game he was working on, so we agreed to help each other. One of the things Bastard desparately needed was a new font. Anus P. came up with a good gothic font he drew by hand which really set the mood for the game, as well as hacked lots of the remaining things in the game and made more room for text in the dialogue window. There was also all the nasty graphics text to deal with, why they didn’t just store it as regular text is beyond me. Without his help, Bastard probably would have laid dormant for another couple of years (like Wedding Peach, heh).

At this point, the Bastard translation was about ready to be released, but I felt it still needed some comestic changes. I went to the trouble of fixing the player names during battle (D.S -> Dark Schneider, Nei -> Arches Nei, etc.), and redrew the kanji on the title screen, which was not easy given the limited number of vram tiles. I also came up with a font for “STAGE” to match the decaying style of the number font. We decided to expand the cheap intro into a full length intro, which matched the prologue used in the anime and gave the story a more ominous feel. Luckily the music didn’t run out before the extended intro did :). Later on I also uncovered the two hidden stages in Vs. mode and allowed them to be selectable - those are the stages which give unfair advantages to Gara and Kall-Su.

Another problem was that the game was so damn hard to beat! I was forced to hack in a “touch of death” trainer to instantly kill your enemy, mainly so we could progress and test out all of the text in the game. Then Jason Li got to do the text formatting (he wanted a credit for something translation related), but I don’t think he actually got around to formatting every string. At this point the translation was ready to be released. I looked over it one last time from start to end and decided the whole script sucked and decided not to release it.

The current English script, though very faithful to the Japanese script, was not very faithful to the anime/manga, or more importantly in my case, it was not faithful to the fansub. The characters lacked flair, the swearing and attitutes weren’t emphasized. I figured since I was only working on this game because of what I saw in the anime, I should make it much more like the anime. The original story in the game left out many details of the story in the manga/anime, so I wrote many of them back in. I gave each character an attitute, except maybe Abigail and Kall-Su, and brought back the use of “fuckface” :). It took far too long but by the time I was done, the dialogue sounded much cooler and the script had grown 3 times in size. Finally I was satisfied and the patch was released.

Despite all the swearing and the bad fighting engine, many people downloaded the translation and no one ever complained about it not being true to the Japanese script - yet all kinds of people had a heart attack for every one word that was different in the ToP English patch compared to the Japanese. What does this actually mean? Were people just ignorant or did they not care as long as there was swearing? I have no clue.

The only thing I wasn’t prepared for upon release was the 9 million different and all seemingly corrupt versions of Bastard roms out there. How I only ever managed to end up with the good rom is beyond me. And many of the good roms didn’t even have headers, causing the patch not to work. I had never been bombarded with so many “your patch doesn’t work fix it” emails before, nor do I ever wish to be again. I don’t think I ever got more than 2 positive emails about Bastard, the rest were ALL complaints about the patch not working. At least I knew people were downloading it and I was just happy it was done.

Some months later, I started to get asked by foreign groups if they could translate Bastard to their language. I kept saying no because I didn’t feel like doing any extra work but I eventually gave in. Currently it’s being ported to four other languages. Not that we get anything out of it but it’s nice to know they all think our blasphemous script edit is worth porting to another language, rather than starting over from scratch. Now, if I only knew how to actually play the damn game, I might enjoy it too.