Tom James, The Daigo Umehara of Dating Sims Profile picture
J-E game translator. Your only friend with five copies of Amagami and somehow even more copies of Tokimeki Memorial. He/him. 数多いゲームの脚本等を手掛けた翻訳者で幻の海外のアマガミスト。
10 Jun
I've been very slowly working on collecting the handful of Japanese PC game locs that came out in the 90s and one of my biggest white whales came in: the localization of Sotsugyou 2! It's already dumped, so I'm not breaking the seal, but still excited to have this relic at last.
Anime olds will probably recognize the Mixx brand as a predecessor to Tokyo Pop and, indeed, in its time, this loc was available solely through mail order through them, which didn't exactly do much to move copies at the time, so it tends to show up for sale only sporadically.
As I wrote before, I got a good direct offer from a seller for this copy, far lower than any of the other boxed copies you'll see on ebay, so I promise I didn't completely lose my mind buying it. Still pricey, but very likely I'd never see it sell for that again, so I nabbed it!
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10 Jun
Me most days: It sure will be nice to get back to Japan finally so I can live my best days again in the place I'm happiest to call home.
Me tonight: It sure will be nice to get back to Japan so I can search for this Haruka cutout in earnest and propose to her in person finally.
E3 might be going virtual again this year, but I wanna reassure my longtime followers that if any online publication of repute has me on their virtual couch to talk shop (they won't), my resolve in sowing absolute chaos with the Haruka cutout proposal remains absolute.
i had to stop myself from buying a shiori cutout from yahoo auctions like a year and a half ago and she's not even my favorite tokimemo, don't think i won't actually go through with this one day
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9 Jun
Very different application, but a lot of the tips here apply just as much to writing good UI text/system messages in game locs, too. It's important to grasp not just the native design context of anything you translate, but also the context of your audience you're translating for.
What I mean is, it's important to be cognizant of any experiential gaps many or even just a portion of your players might have when playing a game in contrast to its native audience. What may be safe to imply natively may need to be spelled out for mechanical accessibility.
I've said it before, but when I know it's safe, it's common for me to add additional information into tutorial text, etc. to level the playing field abroad in terms of players' working knowledge. Failing to do so well can be a big contributor to games/genres staying niche.
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8 Jun
Playing an abridged run of Next King because sometimes you're just in the mood to throw dice to make girls like you and these sorts of idle animations you sometimes see characters display still get me every single time.
You don't see these animations every time you talk to the girls, but something about them feeling deliberately over animated, almost in an Animation Magic sort of way (if that makes sense?), manages to sell their idiosyncrasies and reminds you EVERYONE is unhinged. I dig it.
Anyway, still satisfying as hell to throw a bunch of dice and watch your current partner's affection grow for you one point at a time. Like I wrote in my thread, it's a genuinely funny sendup of galge, but also one whose mechanics make their own contributions. Next King is cool.
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5 Jun
The more I think about it, the more I'm realizing Takahashi-sensei is just Amagami Coach McGuirk and should be loc'd accordingly.

"Junichi, I know you have trouble with women. Now, I've never been with a man, either, but I AM a woman, so I'm still more of an expert than you."
"Junichi, let me tell you about being an adult. Being an adult is lying awake, cable TV blaring as you order that 100-piece knife set because you haven't had a real conversation on the phone in months. You live in a Japanese apartment, Junichi. You have no room for 100 knives."
"Junichi, I don't know a damn thing about mahjong. You wanna know why they put me in charge of the school mahjong club anyway? Told me, 'Mahjong's a game for loveless men,' said I'd be perfect because you know who my only friends here are? You and Masa, Junichi. You and Masa."
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2 Jun
Aww yeah, got a good feeling about THIS E3 presser-but-not, gamers! Something's just in the air this time, I know it!!!
And for you bookies out there, I'm confident I know what the "one more thing" is gonna be for this one, too. You can hold me to it!
Anyway, if I was Treehouse, I would spend all three hours afterwards showcasing what the True Gamers really want: Shin-chan no Natsuyasumi. Really weird they'd loc anime licenses, I know, but they felt bad about never doing NCL's Eyeshield 21 games and wanted to make amends.
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2 Jun
Honestly, I complain about semantic hangups between VNs vs. adventure games vs. dating sims, but a lot of it is a sheer lack of linguistic accessibility to them as they developed in Japan. It's the situation that frustrates me, not people doing their best with limited vocabulary.
I think the key to improving this long term is to both improve said access via translations both official and, realistically, mostly unofficial, as well as advocating and contextualizing the genres' individual merits. All of them do incredible things, but very differently.
And I know from the incredibly kind and open-minded responses I've gotten over the years and the occasionally viral tweets that people are open to reevaluating things. They just need better tools and language to do it and what's why I feel responsible to speak up as a translator.
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1 Jun
If you're wondering how my Memorial Day's going (you weren't, it's okay), I'm about to break one of the forbidden seals in my arcade collecting and bid on a mahjong PCB (kinda; I'll share if I win it). If I'm gonna be a heathen with dating sim PCBs, might as well go all in...
Well, I won the auction! It was for a mahjong puzzle game by the name of Gekitoride. The Toride games are a minor series of mostly riffs on Shanghai, but this entry is polygonal and features different puzzles entirely. Nifty little game that was also ported to PS2 via Simple 2000
The game runs on Namco's System 10 line of late generation PS1-derived hardware. It's the same one that powers my Seishun Quiz board. As much as I do genuinely like the Gekitoride itself, I'd be lying if I said it's not also nice to have a backup motherboard for Seishun Quiz.
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1 Jun
LRT: Amagami canonically takes place *somewhere* in the mid-90s; it's tricky to define because of contradictions between the handful of specific references it makes versus the in-game calendar (ie: the weekdays days fall on in-game don't line up with the years of said references)
For my money, I think it falls within 1996-1998. That said, as someone who once thought it was set in contemporary times (as in, late 2000s, when it was released), there's a part of me that would love to see a what-if mode set in the 2000s that adds, say, SMSing with the girls.
Speaking as someone who's obviously spent *some time* writing all of these characters, I don't think it's a stretch to imagine, say, Tsukasa passive aggressively texting you during class to not fuck up. Or Haruka spamming you with pics of dogs she finds on her walks around town.
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31 May
God damn if Uma Musume's race camerwork isn't always super killer, though. Even after seeing the same handful of cuts and pans hundreds, if not thousands of times by now, they still sell the races damn well, least of all the biggest one of them all. Never get enough of it all.
It just continues to dumbfound me what an achievement this game is on so many levels. Refined approachability of the raising sim gameplay (a genre so often burdened with steep learning curves), superb presentation, and genuinely some of the best writing in Japanese games today.
It'll take a hell of an English loc to make it work abroad, both story and especially UI to bridge the genre experience gap, but I think if it comes over, it's going to bowl over a lot of western devs and press who haven't taken Japanese mobile dev seriously beyond the financials
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29 May
Sure are lotta think tanky white guys thinking they're real clever telling an entire Asian nation about how they should feel about the state of their own country during an emergency situation around here the last few weeks.
Yes, please tell the people of the third biggest economy how contracts work in a capitalist world. I'm sure nobody's given that any thought. In a society where people die yearly from overwork because they feel obligated, I'm sure the problem is they don't understand contracts.
Swear to god, with all the arrogance they're displaying, these IOC fuckers aren't gonna back down at this point unless Japanese immigration outright blacklists them from entering the country entirely. If they can keep me out without passing new laws, they can do the same to them.
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28 May
Seeing some Japanese folks clamor for a remake of Tokimemo 1 that includes the girls from Pocket and the Drama series and, like, I get it, but as someone who's thought about how I'd do it as a thought exercise, the thought scares me and I don't blame Konami for not bothering.
In my mind, Tokimemo is tricky to remake because:
-Adding many girls past the core 12 dramatically impacts pacing and balance. At a point, you have to lower confession thresholds to accommodate for more frequent bombs, etc, which in turns diminishes player fulfillment.
-The quality and nature of dating sim narratives changed hugely between 1994 and 2009. There's room for more bespoke content, but what do you add where? Do you incorporate content from the Drama games into the canon despite the disagreements between KojiPro and the OG team?
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27 May
Tokimemo artist Masashi Kokura: "When I saw nobody submitting Tokimemo stuff to Dengeki, it bummed me out and I decided to myself [in secret]. Natsue wasn't my design and she's a drama CD character, I figured it couldn't hurt, only for Iga to find out as soon as it hit stands."
"My signature proved to be my undoing. [Seen in the bottom right; it's very recognizably his]. Reading that the editor thought my art looked 'just like the real thing' stings."
He doesn't mention which issue, but the important context to recognize is the original Tokimemo was a slow burn at first. It sold okay for a late PCE release, but no magazines were really hyping it up in previews beforehand. It took reviews and work of mouth for it to blow up.
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27 May
Nobody is going to discuss this in press reviews, but this suite is a reminder that while we often romanticize good prose in game locs, it takes great UI and menu writing chops to produce a quality loc, too. Mass market initiatives like this would be DOA without excellent UI loc.
I haven't worked on tools or engines per se, but speaking from experience, I can guarantee that the loc team on this project poured a lot of energy into both the semantics of the tutorials and messages, as well as what to name the jargon, all so it's approachable and retainable.
The stakes are especially high in a Japanese>English localization context, when differences in social mores and just video game history and culture in general can mean knowing when to add more information so foreign audiences can approach the material as well as native players.
Read 5 tweets
26 May
So, this many months later, let's pick right back up by talking about Megumi here. Megumi, for those unaware, is Shiori's shy best friend. In the original game, she serves as a trap that can make Shiori runs go awry due to her having similar, but lower, stat requirements.
Megumi, to my knowledge, never appears in the previous two Tokimemo Drama games, but here, she's one of the most important characters in the story, second only to Shiori, and it's because she serves as something of a mirror for our protagonist and his problems.
Like the protagonist, Megumi struggles to come up with a response to the essay prompt about when she really shined as a person during high school. At first, she tries to confide in Shiori, but ultimately connects much better with your character because of their shared position.
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24 May
Continuing to play only the most gamer games with my Dreamcast VGA box. As much as I was hopeful it was simply misunderstood in its time, I'm beginning to see just why this is such a black sheep among series fans. And yet it's so fascinatingly off, I keep wanting to press on... ImageImageImageImage
So the thing about Sentimental Graffiti 2 is that it's *aggressively* different from the original in almost every conceivable way, both in terms of tone and gameplay. Boldly, its premised on the idea of the original game's protagonist being straight up DEAD. Image
There's technically more to it, but not at a level that's divulged in the game itself. I'd argue this isn't inherently fatal, as it solves the continuity problem inherent to direct dating sim sequels, but it means everyone in the existing cast is a BUMMER when you meet them. Image
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24 May
legend has it if you successfully survive localizing racing lagoon in one piece, you're instantly hired to be the head of square's localization department sight unseen and given carte blanche to translate anything else you want in their catalog to your heart's content
racing lagoonに対して
Anyway, what little there is to see from that trailer seems to indicate that they're approaching it how I likely would if I was (unluckily) tasked with it: don't even bother matching the exact Japanese cadence and just dial the period appropriate ambience up to 11 in other ways.
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18 May
thinking again about sheryl fitzgerald, the most popular girl in konami's surprise global hit, heartthrob high, which takes place in loveland, co
remember amy katzenberg? she's one of the most talented students at heartthrob high, she paints AND she sings in a band

not only that, but she's bilingual and speaks fluent french! she'll even interpret for you on your class trip to paris

amy's a real hoot, lemme tell you
and then there's sally norris

sally norris is a spunky girl. she manages heartthrob high's football team. if you join the team, practice hard, and play your cards right all four years, you might not just score the winning touchdown at the state championship, but also her heart!
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17 May
@robearific It's fine! I'm flattered you would take the plunge! And nah, that's pretty much it in terms of stuff to consume. (Although I do recommend the mahjong side story in the Vita version. Legitimately quite funny and there's an option to let the AI play if you aren't feeling it.)
@robearific As for routing stuff, I'd say yes, but it is genuinely a *lot* of content to 100% and isn't necessary to see the most narratively important stuff on offer. To unlock the one big hidden route, you just need EITHER a (good) スキ ending or a ナカヨシ ending for each girl.
@robearific If you want to maximize the amount of original content you can see, then it's worth knowing the シリアイ level has wholly unique story events for each girl. So when going for ナカヨシ endings, I recommend going デアイ>シリアイ (so NOT getting the star event to アコガレ)>ナカヨシ
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13 May
For those wondering, I just did a cursory search through the reviews up on major outlets and out of all the ones I could find, only Destructoid seems to have noted what makes Famicom Detective Club an adventure game series and not a VN one, which is... about par for the course. Image
Like I've said before, it's not like I don't get how these things are confusing abroad. The thread got lost once Japanese adventure game locs became especially rare after the early 90s and the scattershot efforts of VN locs from the 2000s onward muddied the lineage further.
I'm not gonna go on another diatribe tonight. I just think it's important we (as in people beyond folks like me) learn to make that distinction because otherwise we're misrepresenting both developer intent and especially historical context with these games specifically.
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11 May
People seemed to like that last thread where I went into how gameplay design makes Shiori a potent final boss in the original Tokimeki Memorial (). So let's discuss another way the series uses stats to define girls with a great example in 4: Yuu and Maki.
For those unaware, Yuu (left) and Maki (right) are the game's two cover girls. Yuu, like I've discussed before, is Tokimemo 4's final boss character, while Maki is much more approachable. Interestingly, they're both on student council, which you can optionally join, if you like.
This is already a unique setup within the series, as typically school clubs are only represented by one romanceable character. It's something of a tradition in dating sims, especially raising-style ones like Tokimemo. So why does 4 buck this trend? To entrap players pursuing Yuu.
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