maten no soumetsu translation: realer than real life!

Started by tashi, January 04, 2021, 09:09:52 PM

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hello friends. I've been hacking / translating the sega megadrive game maten no soumetsu for the past few months. The game had a bit of a troubled history, getting delayed several times over multiple years, while the advertising ran full-steam with clever tag lines like "Arnath, who is the shadow standing behind you?!" I was unfamiliar with the game when I started working on it, but it's apparently infamous for being a terrible game, and it deserves its reputation 100%.

I've dabbled with a few translation projects in the past, but always reached my limit at inserting strings, sometimes doing some basic repointing, but my goal with maten no soumetsu was not to make any compromises. I'm not there yet, but I'm close enough that I wanted to share my progress, get feedback, and maybe get some playtesters. Aside from the title screen, everything in the game should be translated. My hacks are pretty amateurish, and my python script dynamically rewrites assembly code, so there could be bugs hiding anywhere. The first playthrough I did took over 10 hours and was quite frustrating, and I was cheating my pants off the whole time. I've tried translating certain lines a little more deliberately to direct the player what they need to be doing. I don't intend to release my patch "officially" until I put together a basic strategy guide, but if anyone is brave / masochistic enough to give this a spin, I'd appreciate it.

I'm grateful for any feedback on the game itself, my translation, the hacks, or my python inserter. Patches and all the files I used for generating the hack can be found on github:

Here's the equipment menu before/after:


I'll give this a download and test it for you, where do we send any errors we find etc.. ?

YEAH! scrap that.. the game is severely unbalanced, the entire battle system is a game of chance.. will I have a wipe or wont I have a wipe.

Suggestion: If you want people to actually play this translation then I recommend you hack the monster stats and balance them out like a normal JRPG. As it stands at the moment the game is unplayable/enjoyable because of the random battles and monsters being able to 1-hit you. Shame really, I was enjoying it up until the stupid hard monsters. Even Flee don't work 99% of the time which makes the whole experience even worse.

IF you balanced the game you could have a nice translation on your hands, the MD is certainly in need of more Jrpgs translated.

I did come across some text issues up to the point of having to go rescue your friend and villagers. One being a word changing about the queen.. "the queen prayed for our country..." the word prayed actually changes to "doyed" as it scrolls on. I did also notice words such as "can't" and "didn't" at the end of a line before it scrolls down onto t he next line would cause the 't to go down onto the next line and then the rest of the line is blank with no text, scroll on and the text continues.

I used the .ips patch and put it directly onto the ROM file.
I used Fusion 3.64 as the emulator.


I'm giving it a spin now. It's unbalanced as heck, but I did get through the first part somehow (and I'll definitely beat it legit, now I'm determined). You really need to luck out with the battles at the beginning. You should probably prep some sorta additional rebalancing hack for the "hacking" section or something. This reminds me sorta of Eternal Legend for the Game Gear in a way, that one had really slow movement and tons of random battles (but they weren't this tough usually). Since MD has very few RPGs overall compared to SFC, this one stands out "a lot" in difficulty.


Fair points, I should have been more explicit about the type of "terrible" this game is :)
It's designed to make you game over constantly. Strangely, everyone seems to have way too much attack power. You can one-shot enemies, they can one-shot you. If you travel 3 tiles north or east of the first town, or 7 tiles west, you will encounter impossible enemies (lions and soldiers). Each area stops spawning enemies when you reach certain levels, which means you can't get any more experience or gold, so you can't overlevel to prepare for harder areas. Pretty sick, isn't it? I think the intention was to reach level 5 from snakes and bats in the first area. For Arnath, that's 575xp from enemies that give 4 xp lol. That's even worse than I realized... yikes. Enemies stop spawning based on your highest level, so if you have unevenly leveled party members, they'll not be able to get xp anymore to catch up.

Thanks for pointing out the text being overwritten, SylarDean. I added new patches to github to expand the VRAM for text, and I think the unintended line breaks were caused by the player-generated names being treated as 6 characters and the game has some line-breaking check that was conflicting with my manual line breaks. I adjusted where I'm wrapping lines, so lines with <player> names will break early, which isn't pretty, but it works for now. Someone is working on a VWF for this game, so I don't want to do too much with the current text engine since it'll be replaced.

On the balancing side, I added new patches called "max_level" which set all party members to max stats and level when they join the party. You should be able to apply the IPS patches in any order. This will have many strange bugs and side-effects, such as enemies not spawning and not being able to earn more gold. Some stat displays will glitch because you're not supposed to have 65,535 attack. Equipping gear might overflow your stats back to 0. If you want to use cheats, player data is stored in RAM at $FFCEDC with two bytes each for player ID, current HP, max HP, current MP, max MP, attack, defense, then 1 byte each for current level, strength, mind, vitality, and speed. Of course, even with 999hp, you will still be one-shot by late game enemies and certain spells. Battle stats are stored in RAM at $FF34C8, following the same format up through attack/defense values. If you lock $FF34CA (Arnath's current HP in battle) at a non-zero value, you won't game over. Outside of battles, that RAM location is used for tilemaps, so you'll get some graphical glitches if you leave the cheat on all of the time. Truly, this game is a beast.


Brilliant to see this one getting translated -- it's fairly obscure even among Genesis/Mega Drive fans and I've always been curious.

It sounds like you're planning to put rebalancing and other changes to the gameplay into separate, optional patches, which is great to hear if so. Among other things I can imagine writing a review of this game, and it's nice to have the option of experiencing it as it was originally released (but without the language barrier, obviously). Improvement patches are wonderful, don't get me wrong, but when they're non-optional parts of a translation they do leave reviewers in a bit of a bind...

The enemy-removal thing is interesting, I know Villgust does that on the SNES. Some other aspects of your description of the gameplay make me think of Hoshi wo Miru Hito aka Stargazers -- not a happy comparison for any game!


I've made some significant changes since my original post, but the patch is a little "unstable" at the moment so I'm not posting new patches just yet. I do have some new screenshots. I sorta figured out the image decompression routine for the title image, but I wasn't brave enough to try recompressing a graphic, and there's still plenty of empty space in the ROM, so I added a new uncompressed title graphic and created a tentative title translation: Demon Genesis.

I expanded party member names to 11 characters from 6. For now, user selectable names are still 6 characters, but I might be able to modify that. That expansion required redesigning several menu layouts I'd already redesigned, but I'm pretty happy with how everything fits now.

My biggest block now is design-related, not coding for once. I can't figure out how to rearrange the battle scene with 11 character party names. I feel like the battle art is one of the few redeeming qualities of this game, and doubling the width of the party windows on both sides of the screen would leave practically no room to see the art.
Enemy names were originally placed in 3 separate small windows, but when I expanded enemy names from ~8 characters to ~16, I consolidated them into a single window. I'm considering trying to do something similar for party members, maybe 3 on each side, but I'm not sure how that would work yet.

I partially figured out the tilemap format so I made a map of the world and put together a mini-strategy guide of sorts to take you through the first few quests and highlight some of the game mechanics, like the importance of the speed stat and leveling.
I'll link it instead of embedding it since it's a little large (1630x1312px): Walkthrough part 1 (levels 1-10, through Alf)


Happy news, friends. I have a new patch v0.3a on github

I got some good direction from the RHDN Discord and was able to implement a satisfactory solution for my "long name" problem: squishy tiles!
Only two characters have names longer than 8 characters, so it was easy enough to put in some conditional stuff and new font tiles. In menus and other places, they use their normal font tiles, so all of my menu rework wasn't in vain.

I had forgotten to translate the credits in my v0.2a patch, so I'm glad I actually finished the game again to notice and fix that. I almost quit right before the final boss because the end-game section is ROUGH. Random encounters every 2 steps, with random instant death chance from most enemies. Up to that point it wasn't terrible because enemies stop spawning after you exceed an area's "level cap." I've said this a few times before, but I think "everything" is translated now. Until one of you finds some hidden strings somewhere, at least.

The scope of the game is pretty impressive, and there are lots of party members, so it might even be enjoyable if it weren't for the punishing difficulty.

I've done some very primitive work on implementing a VWF, but it's a long way from anything approaching stability. I might do a little tweaking for a rebalance patch since I'm pretty confident I can handle that, whereas the VWF is proving to be an indomitable adversary.

Anyway, here's a big before/after comparison: