Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Getting insight on MT2 + update

Before I started working on this translation, I had already beaten the first game in KMT years ago. Cheating of course, but I was able to view most of the game. I used that experience to figure out the context in most of the script. But since I had never made it very far in Megami Tensei 2, I had no idea what was going on in the story. And it makes translating the script much harder.

Well, for the last week or so, I was playing through the Japanese NES version. Aside from the different graphics for characters, this game seemed to be very close to Atlus' remake. Only a few lines are different, and even then the meaning is still mostly the same.

Thanks to the folks on's boards, the script for Megami Tensei 1 is basically complete. It'd be possible to insert it in and play through it completely now. Now I'll have to get off my duff and make those final fixes I've put off until now. :)

Here's a pic from one of the endings for MT2 on the NES. If you've played SMT1 or SMT2, it should look familiar. :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spell names

When translating names in this game, I had to take several things into consideration.
  • Should this name be translated literally?
  • What was it called in other translations?
  • If these names became a standard, could I live with it?
Things like フライデーマスク would make more sense as "Hockey Mask", since Friday is the name of a humanoid enemy in the game that mimics Jason from Friday the 13th. In MT2, you collect items called 割り符 so that Mora the turtle can carry you across rivers. In Japan, it involved business deals and a piece of paper was torn, and each piece would signify ownership or serve as identification. I ended up calling them "seals" in the game.

Many of the spells in this game are standard in other Megami Tensei games. So I tried to preserve the spelling where I thought it was appropriate. Agi, Bufu, Zan, etc. are still called this. But this game also has some uniquely named spells. "Dia" is called "Di" in this game, and I think it should be so because this remake is trying to remain faithful to Namco's nomenclature. On MT1 for the NES, they had names for spells like "Patch" (Patra), "Psi" (Zan), "Medical" (Diarahan), "Hyper" (Rakukaja), and so on. MT2 is where they moved into the current naming scheme. So these names didn't completely originate with Atlus.

About standards, the thing that comes to my mind first is the demon class names. If I call them something, I also have to think about whether it'd make sense if it was used in any other game. Calling something "Undead" will lose its meaning if the next game just adds another similar class. Like with zombies being moved from "Akuryou" in MT1 to a new class called "Shiki" in SMT1.

I'm always editing and thinking about how all these names should look and sound, so it's been hard to finalize these lists. Here is an example for the spell names.

Spell list

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Stats for Status Screen fixed

After looking at the pic for the status screen, I decided I might as well fix the stats today. The stat names on the status screen are stored as graphics, whereas the names on the level up screens are just text. So all I did was just copy the text from a screenshot I had with the text names drawn. Add in some routines to bypass the compression, and we end up with this.

I guess I'll have to work on a fix for the character name and item names soon. The character name should be somewhat straightforward to fix, but it will be tedious. The item names will probably be a very tedious task, since I'll have to revise some code from the 8x8 VWF routine to get more mileage out of it.

I'll leave that for later, since it'll also involve finalizing the item names, which I still haven't done yet.

Minor map triumph

I went ahead and did this little map fix for Megami Tensei 1 today. The original game called this 2nd-to-last area "Honoo-no-Fukai", 炎の腐海, or "Sea of Rotting Flames". I decided to leave "Rotting" out of the translation, since I think it's sort of unnecessary, makes the name too long, and "Sea of Flames" evokes the same desired mental image to an American player.

It's called the Sea of Flames because this area is made up of walls of fire. The party takes a point of damage every time you take a step. Hopefully by this point, you'll have several hundred HP for each character. There's also a healer here, so you shouldn't have too much trouble.

The Sea of Flames is an important area to reach. Several key events needed to beat the game can only be found here. This is where Lucifer has imprisoned Izanami, though you will have to solve a puzzle and need a few key items. It also holds an important item that you will most likely need to defeat Lucifer in the final battle (unless you're cheating, of course). Finally, you can receive one of the game's ultimate equipment by beating the area's boss.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Current project page

This project is also hosted on's forums, and it is where I first announced the translation, along with pictures and videos. For now, everything that's already there will stay there. Project Page

Megami Tensei similarities and trivia

I've been playing the GBA version of Shin Megami Tensei the last few days. The two Shin games have a lot in common with the older Megami Tensei games.

There are SPOILERS here! Read at your own risk!

  • In MT2, you visit many ruined areas of Tokyo. Though it is kind of hard to avoid similarities here, their layout and separation play just as much a part as they do in SMT1.
  • Ueno, Ginza, Ikebukuro, Shinagawa, Roppongi, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and others are here. In SMT1, you start from the west and make your way east. In MT2, you start from the south and head north.

  • In MT2, there are villages in Makai themed after emotions such as anger, grief and sorrow.
  • In SMT2, a scientist tries to open a portal to Makai using dolls based on expressions such as laughing, crying and sleeping.

Messiah Church
  • In MT2, Messians attract followers with the promise of paradise and the rule of God. They await the arrival of the Messiah.
  • In SMT, they believe that the Law Hero is the Messiah.

Deva/Gaia Church
  • In MT2, Devans worship the gods of old and welcome the arrival of the demons.
  • In SMT, they are called Gaians.

Seven Pillars
  • In MT2, seven pillars based on the inner solar system open a gateway at Ground Zero that leads to Makai.
  • In SMT2, these same pillars are used at the bottom of the Underworld to open a portal to Makai.

  • In MT2, she is your friend's girlfriend. She is caught by the Devans but rescued by the hero.
  • In SMT2, she guides the hero to the Center. It's later found out that she is actually the hero's mother.

  • In MT2, your friend leaves you due to ideological differences. He is called the Dark Hero, and you have to fight him later in the game.
  • In SMT1, your two friends leave you. They are called the Law Hero and Chaos Hero, and depending on your alignment at the end, you will have to fight the ones who are opposite to it.

Hebrew Names

  • In MT2, there is an event where you have to pick out a liar among four brothers. They are Aleph, Gimmel, Dalet and Zayin. But this is something that Atlus changed, since there were different in the NES game by Namco.
  • In SMT2, these are the names of important characters in the game.

The Final Decision
  • In MT2, you ultimately have to decide whom you will ally with: Lucifer or YHVH.
  • In SMT1 and SMT2, you have the chance to reach different endings depending on your alignment.

Megami Tensei 1

  • Not a lot of material from this game, so it'll all be lumped here.
  • In MT1, Set and Hecate were two of the game's major bosses. In SMT2, they are entities you encounter in Makai.
  • In MT1, Hinokagutsuchi is the ultimate sword. This is true for MT2 and SMT1, and perhaps more games.
  • Cerberus was Nakajima's faithful minion in the DDS novels and the anime. In the GBA version of SMT1, you can find a Visionary entry ("Chewed Ball") that hints at Pascal being given to the hero as a gift from one Mr. Nakajima.
  • In MT2, the Devil Buster game is based on the first area from MT1, with Minotaur as the boss. It even displays Nakajima's name as the programmer.

And as a bonus, I found this old man in the barracks of the Messian base in Shinagawa.

There's an underground shelter to the southeast that many people fled to during the great destruction.

But it was struck directly by missiles and completely destroyed.

So the hero of Megami Tensei 2 got nuked. I guess the world's not big enough for two computer-wielding, demon-summoning heroes. :(

Current To-Do list

Right now, there's a handful of things that still need to be done with the game.

High Priority
  1. Translate the Game Over screen, and replace the graphics just like in the intro.
  2. Finalize names for demons, items and spells.
  3. Fix name display for status screens, combat and fusion menu.
  4. Fix demon names in MT2.
  5. Replace graphics for Strength, Vitality, etc. in status screen.
  6. Work on further compressing text in dialogue.
  7. Change map name in MT1 (Honoo-no-Fukai).
Low Priority
  1. Change the font used in the intro and title screen.
  2. Fix the flickering when drawing 8x8 text.
  3. Figure out what to do with decidedly Japanese names (Jakyou Manor, demon class names).

Some of these things might not be self-explanatory.

For High #3, the game sometimes uses a shortcut method to display names with 8x8 text. When it loads a name into the party window at the bottom of the screen, it looks up the spelling from your save data or from the ROM (for human names or demon names). A name like "Yumiko" would be loaded as "54 6A 62 5E 60 64" in hexadecimal.

These letters each take up a single byte and a single tile. What my VWF routine does is redraw each letter and makes a new set of tiles. These are then uploaded back into memory and are assigned numbers like "3C 3D 3E 3F". These tiles are sequenced, and will display a nice flowing name like this.

The trouble comes when a status screen is loaded. In the first example, the player's name is loaded from save data. But on the status screen, it looks at what tiles were saved in the party menu. It's kind of like that game where you keep passing a message down between people and see what you end up with. You can probably tell that this creates a problem. "Yumiko" is not spelled with 4 tiles, and the game gets confused.

You can also see here that the problem even exists in the transition from 8x8 text to 12x12.

So I'll have to add in some routines at each point to check what the name is really supposed to say, and make the game use that instead. I already have an idea of how to fix this, but I'm just feeling lazy right now. :)

First post & status report

I hear kids today use these things called "web logs" to make their marks on the internet. So I'm going to set one up for this translation project. Hopefully it will serve many purposes: to get feedback and help on the project, to show what's been done or what's being worked on, and to display any interesting information on the game or series.

As a current progress report, most of the programming work has been done. I'm still reviewing the lists for enemies, spells and items in order to finalize their naming and spelling. Once I finish that, I can put them into the game and test it to see how they display.

What I really need right now is a hero translator to go over the massive script for Megami Tensei 1 and 2. This would let me concentrate on the coding aspect of the project, instead of constantly poring over a dictionary trying futilely to do the translating myself. I can wait a long time for this, as it gives me time to enjoy other things. But if it takes longer than a few months, I'll have to bite the bullet and go through with my own translation, and ask for help on the most difficult passages.

It doesn't help that this is an old game on an outdated system. And it's ironic that a Japanese-speaking person who would've wanted to play this game would be able to do so without the need for a translation. So the perfect translator would be someone who likes playing old games and can produce work for the enjoyment of others.

Anyway, this should be enough of a starter to get me used to this blogging. I'll create some other posts to fill in the gaps.