Q1: Is this the first fan translation you have worked on?
A1: I've done smaller pieces of translation before, but not a massive project of this scale. This was the first "full" fan translation I'd worked on!
Q2: How much coding knowledge do you need to create a translation patch?
A2: It really does depend on the game itself; Some games on certain platforms require just opening up the game files and replacing text, others will have heavy encryption that will likely need cracking with no guidance, and a way to reinject the text after finishing the translation. For this project I'm very glad hilltop was the project leader as they are a genius when it comes to coding; they were able to figure out all the complex encryption as well as text rendering modes this game uses, and I don't really understand it fully myself. One of the reasons people haven't translated this game in the past is due to how notoriously difficult it is to crack, but they found a way anyway.
I have tried some basic techniques to de-encrypt stuff for a few pc-98 games I want to translate, but figuring out the non-standard encryption on some of the game images has proven to be a challenge. Depending on the game you can sometimes find files unencrypted and easy to extract!
Q3: When did you discover the game?
A3: I found out about the game probably about 1.5-2 years ago when a friend of mine, Lucy, proposed that we do a translation for it (They'd work on the code/technical stuff and I'd do the language). We made a small start but things got postponed, and then hilltop announced they were making their own translation patch, and being that they're very experienced and fast working I assumed it was the end of the line for our little project. However hilltop was actually looking for help and we ended up being incorporated into the hilltop team! Before talking about translation I hadn't actually heard of it, however.
Q4: The Racing Lagoon soundtrack by Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi is a masterpiece. Has this soundtrack had an effect on the music that you make?
A4: It is indeed! Even after listening to it for the hundreds of hours I had to whilst translating I still am not sick of it! It has inspired me in the sense that I have sampled a few elements of the soundtrack in some of the songs I've done, but I don't know if I have the ability to make tracks as good as the ones for this game; one can only dream haha.
Q5: Can you recommend any Japanese exclusive games that don't require you to know japanese?
A5: Off the top of my head I remember enjoying the original GBA rhythm heaven without knowing any Japanese, and I'm not sure if that has an English patch (it probably does). Other than that a lot of the Japanese games I'll play are either available in English or heavily rely on understanding what's going on, but I'm sure there's many more!
Q6: Are there any Japanese exclusive games you would like to translate in the future?
A6: Definitely, once I've got some more free time. I did start work on a pc-98 game called "Doki Doki Pretty League", but as mentioned above we've had a bit of a snag when it comes to figuring out the encryption on the images. The same issues happened with the PC-98 game "birthdays", which is a really fun game but we'll need more time to figure out how to crack that.
Q7: Some words in the text are kept in parentheses like [ This ] can you explain the reason behind that?
A7: So in Japanese you can think of 「」 and 【】 as sort of equivalent to the English '' and "" speech marks. Originally all of the games text was in 「」 brackets to show that the characters were speaking, but for the translation we felt it didn't really need to be there, especially considering we had a very limited amount of text space to work with in the ps1s low amount of RAM, and any space we could access was very useful. Those speech marks took up an entire 2 bytes!
Anyway, that means that much like you'd use '' or "" when already inside a grouping of the other one, the 【】 pairing was used as speech marks that were nested inside the characters speech. The reason for keeping them this way is largely because it just looked much cooler and impactful than using "", and kind of fits well with the absurdity of the game's script.
Q8: Was it a daunting task to work on this translation knowing how long people in the retro gaming community had been waiting for a chance to try the game.
A8: If I'm 100% honest I knew there was some demand for the game but after seeing the response to the finished patch I'm extremely blown away by JUST how much demand there was; it's only now in perspective I can see how many people were waiting for this, and so I suppose I didn't find it daunting out of pure ignorance haha! I'm glad people are finally able to play it because it is extremely entertaining!
Find bye2's music below: