A freelance retro video game translator aptly known as RetroTranslator recently announced that their team’s work translating Konami’s seminal 1990s dating simulator Tokimeki Memorial into English is almost complete. But there’s a catch: it was the less-than-perfect Super Famicom port that was translated, not the superior version that appeared on the PlayStation. Still, that underwhelming wrinkle doesn’t mean the project isn’t worth celebrating.
“I have good news for all of you idols: the translated script for Heartthrob Memorial: Under the Tree of Legends has been fully inserted!” RetroTranslator tweeted last week, turning heads by using a literal English translation for the title instead of the game’s well-known Japanese name, Tokimeki Memorial: Densetsu no Ki no Shita de. “We’re going to work hard to make sure everything is perfect before it’s released. It’s still pretty exciting!”
Exciting is an understatement. Longtime fans of the Tokimeki Memorial franchise have been waiting decades for the original game to be translated into English. More recently, these diehards have been joined by a new generation of gamers eager to try the game for themselves thanks to former Kotaku video editor Tim Rogers. six hour video trial about the history and legacy of the Tokimeki Memorial. It may not have been the first dating sim, but Tokimeki Memorial is perhaps the most responsible for bringing the genre to the fore.
Unfortunately, Tokimeki Memorial: Densetsu no Ki no Shita is not the Tokimeki Memorial that everyone was hoping to see located. That would be 1995’s Tokimeki Memorial: Forever With You for PlayStation, an upgraded version of the original game released for PC Engine’s Super CD-ROM² add-on (that’s the TurboGrafx-CD for those of us outside of Japan) in 1994. No, Tokimeki Memorial: Densetsu no Ki no Shita’s is the Super Famicom equivalent that arrived a year after the PlayStation version, a port that many consider compromised for various reasons, including lack of voice acting.
“Playing Tokimeki Memorial for the Super Famicom before playing it for Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Windows, or PC Engine would be like watching a movie for the first time with the TV muted and two lines of subtitles showing both dialogue of the film and the director’s commentary,” Rogers told Kotaku via email. “It’s not a complete movie; it’s a bonus DVD that you play while waiting for your laundry to finish while waiting for an important phone call.
As mentioned, the biggest problem with Tokimeki Memorial: Densetsu no Ki no Shita by, according to Rogers and the professional Japanese to English translator Tom James, is the lack of voice acting in the Super Famicom Edition. Apart from its stunning pixel art, Tokimeki Memorial elevated the dating sim genre with the introduction of many voice clips for the game’s cast. It made the girls look more real and you could even listen to their voice inflections during conversations. to find clues about how they felt about you. This may seem trivial by today’s standards, but it was something important in the early days of CD-ROM gaming.
“Playing Tokimeki Memorial for the Super Famicom before playing it for Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Windows, or PC Engine would be like watching a movie for the first time with the TV muted and two lines of subtitles showing both dialogue of the film and the director’s commentary. .
“[F]or a game where the end goal is basically to get a girl to confess her feelings to you, the impact of that reward is greatly diminished when you can’t hear her actually articulate, not to mention the progression leading up to that moment James explained to Kotaku via email. “Tokimeki Memorial is by no means the first Japanese game to have tried to build mechanics around the act of fostering relationships with people. The difference is that they were largely unvoiced and their writing n wasn’t strong enough to compensate, and Tokimeki Memorial faces a similar dilemma without this dubbing.
Kotaku has tried several times to contact RetroTranslator for this story, but our attempts to include its perspective have gone unanswered.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any flaws with the Super Famicom version of Tokimeki Memorial. Less space on cartridges compared to CDs and the overall power deficit between Nintendo’s 16-bit console and Sony’s PlayStation meant that everything from the music to the pixel art that made previous releases so appealing had to be toned down . A clear example of this downgrade can be seen in the moving checkerboard pattern behind Tokimeki Memorial’s menus, which Rogers actually points to as one of his favorite parts of the game in his lengthy video. On PlayStation, the background scrolls at 60 frames per second, while the Super Famicom can only muster around 18.
This is where I feel like I have to assure everyone that neither I nor the people I spoke to for this article think that the Super Famicom version of Tokimeki Memorial shouldn’t be translated or that RetroTranslator deserves no praise. Any project of this nature is a monumental undertaking, not only because of the difficulties in ensuring that Japanese nuances and references are correctly transposed into English in a way that English speakers can understand and appreciate, but also because replacing the text in a video game can be a programming nightmare. Rogers notes that the problem is not in the translation but rather in the integration of this work into the game which would represent the most stubborn obstacle.
“[T]is correct, I think, that all versions of Tokimeki Memorial remain untranslated is that the correct versions are programmed in a way that makes the text notoriously difficult to access for any potential amateur locator,” Rogers added. “The Super Famicom version, despite lacking that particular technical hurdle, remained untranslated for those decades simply because people who knew and loved the game in its original language would never bother to translate it except like a dessert exercise after a translation of The Real Game.”
That said, hardware restrictions haven’t always held back ports of this important dating sim. When creating Tokimeki Memorial for the Game Boy Color (released Pokémon-style in two separate games, Tokimeki Memorial Pocket Sports Version and Tokimeki Memorial Pocket Culture Version), Konami developers were able to create an authentic experience by working with the capabilities of the handheld rather than with trying to cram as much of the original game’s content into its less powerful shell. It even limited voice acting and romance-exclusive girls, some of which require new seduction strategies.
“While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend someone looking to play Tokimeki Memorial for the first time to start with Pocket,” James said, “as a new release that looks and sounds amazing for the hardware (it even works on the original Boy game, voice acting and all!) and has a good tempo, in many ways this is my favorite version.If someone playing it for the first time gets hooked and wants to explore more ports I would absolutely recommend that he make Pocket games his first stop as they are both quite fun to play once you get familiar with Tokimeki Memorial’s gameplay and have the most uniquely to offer compared to these other ports.
“[F]or a game where the end goal is basically to get a girl to confess her feelings to you, the impact of that reward is greatly diminished when you can’t hear her actually articulate, not to mention the progression leading up to that moment .
Konami carried the first Tokimeki Memorial to hell and back before eventually developing 1999’s Tokimeki Memorial 2 for the PlayStation. This was followed by two more sequels, the most recent being 2009’s Tokimeki Memorial 4 for the PlayStation Portable, as well as a handful of spin-offs that include the much-loved Tokimeki Memorial: Girl’s Side series, which flips the traditional formula of dating sim by featuring female protagonists and dateable guys. In fact, Konami just released Tokimeki Memorial: 4th heart on the girl’s side for the Nintendo Switch last October. But like every other game in the franchise, it has virtually no chance of being localized for English-speaking audiences.
As such, RetroTranslator’s impending Tokimeki Memorial: Translation’s Densetsu no Ki no Shita represents a significant undertaking in the indie localization world, even if it’s not the exact release everyone wanted. The game as released for the Super Famicom is undoubtedly lackluster compared to its bigger siblings, but that’s not to say translating it is a dumb or less meaningful undertaking. Anything that elevates this iconic franchise in the eyes of Western audiences – let alone preserve it for future generations – is a pretty big deal in my book.
And hey, maybe a lesser-regarded port of Tokimeki Memorial getting an English patch will inspire someone to continue the work of hacking its PlayStation predecessor. After seeing cult classics like Mizzurna Falls and Yakuza: Black Panther translated from Japanese, nothing can surprise me anymore.
Article source https://kotaku.com/tokimeki-memorial-english-translation-konami-snes-plays-1848525789