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Fan translation of video games

Fan translation of video games

In video gaming, a fan translation is an unofficial translation of a computer game or video game made by fans .

The fan translation practice grew with the rise of video game console emulation in the late 1990s. [1] A community of people who have been interested in replaying and playing games in their youth. The knowledge and tools That cam out of this community allowed Them to Work with translators to localize video game titles That HAD never been available outside of Their original country of origin.

Fan translations of video game console games are usually accomplished by modifying a single binary ROM image of the game. Fan translations of PC games, on the other hand, can Involve translation of Many binary files Throughout the game’s directory qui are packaged and distributed as a fan patch . In dealing with translations of games console, a console emulator is Generally Utilized to play the final product, ALTHOUGH unofficial hardware, hardware mods or software mods can be used to run the ROM image is translated icts native hardware.


The central focus of the fan translation community is Historically of Japanese-exclusive computer and video games being white made playable in English for the first time, And Sometimes of games recently released in Japan That are import-worthy and are Unlikely to be officiellement localized to English speaking countries. It has been expanded to include other languages ​​as well. Fan translations to English have provided a starting point for translations to many other languages. A fan translation is also started if a certain game released in Japan is not announced for localization. quote needed ]

Fan translations may also be done to the local community that fans perceive as flawed; for example, if the game has been controversially removed (such as Bionic Commando ), or if there is no such thing as Phantasy Star .

The fan translation community was most popular, and attracted the most media attention, when certain popular game titles were still being worked on. These Were usually popular series of shares Such As Square Enix ‘s Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest . Some Consider the peak Was atteint with the translation of Seiken Densetsu 3 (sequel to Secret of Mana ), a title That Was highly desirable to RPG players and aussi very difficulty to translate was technical basis.

Some of them are available for reproduction on some real hardware for some systems like the SNES.


The earliest fan translations were done by Oasis, a group formed by Dennis Lardenoye and Ron Bouwland, two Dutch fans of the MSX system. Konami ‘s RPG SD Snatcher was translated in April 1993, and The Legend of Heroeswas translated in 1995. Their other projects include Fray , Rune Master 3 , Xak – The Art of Visual Stage , Xak 2 , Xak – The Tower of Gazzel , Ys , Ys II: The Final Chapter and Wanderers From Ys .

These were possible before emulation on PCs become popular (or even adequate enough to play games) because the games were on floppy disks , and were therefore easier to distribute to the users, in comparison to used ROMs(console video game consoles (the MSX also used cartridges, but methods were discovered to the floppy disks and other media too).

Revival after emulation

The development of console emulators to access to foreign video games. A revival began in 1996 when a group calling themselves Kowasu Ku formed under the lead of one “Hazama”. The group Stated Plans to translate Final Fantasy V , aim Their efforts Were never Publicly released. Later that summer, a user called Demi announced work on Final Fantasy V translation and founded Multiple Demiforce. It was dropped in favor of Eventually Final Fantasy II(NES), a more manageable goal at That Time. Demi and Som2Freak used Pasofami to post screenshots of their work at Archaic Ruins, an emulation website. Shortly after, the translation stalled and the group disbanded.

Derrick Sobodash (Shadow) and David Timko Both saw the Archaic Ruins website and contacted conjunctival phrase Som2Freak interest in translating Final Fantasy V . He provided each with some primitive tools, and Shadow and Timko worked against each other. Both projects are generating interest in translation.

Shadow and Timko began cooperating. [2] RPGe, IRC channel, on the EsperNet IRC network by Shadow, Timko, Hooie and Thermopyle. [3] The start of RPGs sparked many other efforts to unify and within, Translation Corporation, and DeJap Translations Starsoft Translations had formed.

RPGe’s Final Fantasy translation was completed October 16, 1997 (version 0.96). [4]

Notable fan translations include That of Mother 3 , [5] Final Fantasy II , III , IV , V and VI , Seiken Densetsu 3 , Bahamut Lagoon , Takeshi’s Challenge , Clock Tower: The First Fear , Radical Dreamers , Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Another Story , Ace Attorney Investigations 2 , Fire Emblem , Danganronpa: Happy Havoc Trigger , Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix , Mission Front: Gun Hazard andPolicenauts . [6]

Community hubs

The first hub of the fan translation community was the ROM Hack Board , hosted by Demi on Frognet . The board began in 1996. The book was published in WWWBOARD script. It reappeared later in 1997.

EMU News Service, now archived by ClassicGaming. [7] It was not until July 8, 1998 that Cataclysm-X , Jason Li and WildBill opened up RPG Dimension (also known as RPGd), a site dedicated to reporting fan translation news and more general ROM hacking tutorials and utilities . [8]

RPG Dimension puts competition on March 31, 2000 when Spinner 8 and (wraith) opened The Whirlpool, a rival news site focusing exclusively on fan translations. The train puts on a slow death over the next two years. The Whirlpool eventually closed on October 4, 2005 following the site of the site’s founders, though site owner (wraith) assured users he was working on another site to supersede the old site. Updates ceased by December 27. [9]

The English fan translation is currently centered at ROM Hacking.net. [10]

Legal issues

It is unusual for copyright holders to object to fan translations. This is probably largely because it is commercially viable in the target language, so the translation is rarely seen as a source of lost revenue.

However, in 1999, a Windows game maker called RPG Maker 95 . The Japanese company ASCII had their lawyers send a quote and desist to the translation group KanjiHack Translations. However, unlike most other groups, KanjiHack was apparently linked to a website that was recently released to RPG Maker 95 software (including a copy-protection crack). [11] The group shut down immediately but others eventually finished the project. Titles from the RPG Maker series were eventually released and officially released in the US for the PlayStation andPlayStation 2 .

In 2014, publisher Square Enix Issued a cease and desist order to Sky has romhacker Who HAD completed a highly Anticipated [12] fan translation of the PSP game Final Fantasy Type-0 , soon after-They annoncé an HD version of the game for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One . This is the time to remove all the pages pertaining to the project. Sky claimed that Square Enix had made “threats and false accusations”. [13] According to Kotaku , Sky had released the translation early against the team’s wishes, possibly to preempt any legal action following a localization announcement at E3, and Square Enix may have been forced to announce the first version of the patch. [14]

A popular belief in the fan translation is a binary patch, which must be applied to the full, original game, is legal. The reasoning is that the patch is of a different nature and that it is used in the context of copyright. The acquisition and legality of which they are completely. This belief is untested in short. Regardless, the patch must still be copyrighted by the author, but this anti- software piracy could have convinced copyright holders to, by and large, turn a blind eye.

There have never been any legal cases involving fan translation issues, and such projects have been widespread over the Internet for years. In recent years, anime fans have begun to attract the attention of some American anime distributors; and as of 2004 one manga scanlator has been handed over to a Japanese company, but most of this As with the fansub and scanlation scenes, they are most likely to be localized.

An Article of Helbraun law firm remarks in the context of fan translations That Redistributing full games with adaptations Most Likely does not fall under fair use , purpose in patch form it might fall under fair use, purpose This Was never tested in court. [15]

Game company acknowledgments

On July 12, 2007, RPGamer released an interview they did with Koichiro Sakamoto, a game producer from Square Enix, a fan of translations: “On a similar note, we told Mr. Sakamoto Mission 1, and asked how he feels about such efforts. The producer says that he is actually doing it. He is something the developers should be doing, but they are not, the fans are doing it. ‘d like to be able to give something back to the fans, and would like to thank you personally for the fans that worked on the translation. ” [16] Clyde Mandelin, a professional localizer and lead of the Mother 3 fan translationproject, received letters of thanks for employees of major game development companies for his translation work. [17]

In 2010, publisher Xseed Games licensed and paid for the translation of Ys: The Oath in Felghana (PC) in the PSP port in order to offset the localization costs of such a “niche” game. [18]

In 2010, the Rising Star Games teamed up with Spanish fans of Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon to translate the game’s script. [19]

In 2011, adult visual novel publisher 0verflow Acknowledged the fan translation group Sekai Project and Its effort to localize School Days . Eventually, American bishoujo game publisher JAST USA licensed the game and paid for the use of Sekai Project ‘ s work in their release, [20] offsetting the localization costs in a similar manner. Xuse’s Aselia the Eternal [21] and the translation Dakkodango Translations for use of their translation.

In 2010, the Japanese game company Minori feels two cease and desist emails to No Name Losers, a fan group that worked one year patch unauthorized translation of Their Game Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two. However, a partnership between Minori, No Name Losers, and American game publisher MangaGamer was later negotiated to allow the official release of Minori’s games in English. [22] [23]

In 2013 for The Fullbright Company’s Game Gone Home , the company actively encourages fan participation, providing professional know-how and support. [24] [25]

See also

  • Fan labor
  • Reverse engineering
  • Undubbing


  1. Jump up^ Szczepaniak, John (June 2006). “Japanese ROM Translation”. Retro Gamer . 25 : 102-105. Archived copy . Archived from the original on 2011-07-18 . Retrieved 2011-07-18 . Archived copy . Archived from the original on 2011-07-16 . Retrieved 2011-07-16 . Archived copy . Archived from the original on 2011-07-18 . Retrieved 2011-07-18 . Archived copy . Archived from the original on 2011-07-18 . Retrieved 2011-07-18 .
  2. Jump up^ EMU News Service (June ’97) David Timko Join Forces for FFV Translation!
  3. Jump up^ EMU News Service (July ’97) New SNES Translation Group Formed
  4. Jump up^ EMU News Service (October ’97) Final Fantasy 5
  5. Jump up^ Parkin, Simon (October 29, 2008). “Mother 3 Review” . Eurogamer . Gamer Network. Archived from the original on September 7, 2014 . Retrieved September 7, 2014 .
  6. Jump up^ Parkin, Simon (September 17, 2009). “Policenauts Review” . Eurogamer. Gamer Network . Retrieved June 15, 2017 .
  7. Jump up^ EMU News Service closed paged
  8. Jump up^ RPG Dimension ArchivedApril 28, 1999 at theWayback Machine.
  9. Jump up^ The Whirlpool’s final update
  10. Jump up^ ROM Hacking.net
  11. Jump up^ rpgd (archive.org) rpg news archive
  12. Jump up^ “Final Fantasy Type-0 Fan Translation Gets Shutdown By Square Enix” . Cinema Blend . Retrieved 2014-07-18 .
  13. Jump up^ “Square Enix squashes Final Fantasy Type-0 fan translation” . Joystiq . Retrieved 2014-07-18 .
  14. Jump up^ Schreier, Jason (21 July 2014). “Final Fantasy Fan Translation Has Become A Fiasco” . Kotaku . Kotaku . Retrieved 22 July 2014 .
  15. Jump up^ Reviewing the Questionable Legality of Fan-Made Translations of Video Gameson helbraunlaw.com (accessed May 07, 2017)
  16. Jump up^ RPGamer E3 – Front Mission Interview
  17. Jump up^ “You Say Tomato: A Pro on Fan-Translating Nintendo’s Mother 3” . Gamasutra . 2008-12-26 . Retrieved 2009-08-10 .
  18. Jump up^ “Why the Golden Age of JRPGs is Over” . 1UP.com . Retrieved 2012-11-14 .
  19. Jump up^ Newton, James (2010-03-08). “Rising Star and Spanish Fans Translate Fragile Dreams Together – Publisher and community work together as one”. Retrieved 2016-02-13 .
  20. Jump up^ “School Days is coming in English!” . JAST USA. Archived from the original on 2013-01-17.
  21. Jump up^ “Journey to Phantasmagoria in Aselia the Eternal” . JAST USA. Archived from the original on 2013-01-10.
  22. Jump up^ Ishaan (2010-07-18). “Minori In” Constructive Negotiations “With Fan-Translation Group” . Siliconera . Retrieved 2013-03-18 .
  23. Jump up^ “Minori Studio Software, Fan Translation Group in Talks” . Anime News Network . 2010-07-19 . Retrieved 2013-03-18 .
  24. Jump up^ Home Gone Will Support Fan Translationsby Johnnemann on fullbright.company (08/12/2013)
  25. Jump up^ these-fan-translations-became-official-translationson legendsoflocalization.com