Tokimeki Memorial is finally getting an English translation

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Image: Konami / MobyGames

An independent retro video game translator known as RetroTranslator recently announced that his team’s work in translating Konami’s original 1990s dating sim Tokimeki Memorial in English it almost complete. But there’s a catch: a far from perfect Super Famicom port was translated, not the improved version that appeared on the PlayStation. However, this disappointing wrinkle doesn’t mean the project isn’t worth celebrating.

“I have good news for all you heartthrobs: translated script for Heartbreaker Memorial: Under the Tree of Legends was fully inserted! RetroTranslator tweeted last week, gaining everyone’s attention by using the literal English translation of the game’s title instead of the well-known Japanese title of the game: Tokimeki Memorial: Densetsu no Ki no Shita de. “We will work hard to make sure everything is in order before it is released. However, it is quite exciting!”

Fascinating is an understatement. longtime fans Tokimeki Memorial the franchise has waited decades for an English translation of the original game. More recently, these die-hard fans have been joined by a new generation of players who want to try the game for themselves thanks to former Kotaku Tim Rogers video editor six hour video essay O Tokimeki Memorialhistory and heritage of Russia. It may not have been the first dating sim, but Tokimeki Memorial perhaps most responsible for putting the genre on the map.

Unfortunately, Tokimeki Memorial: Densetsu no Ki no Shita de is not Tokimeki Memorial everyone was hoping to see localization. It will be 1995 Tokimeki Memorial: Forever with you for PlayStation, an updated version of the original game released for the Super CD-ROM² add-on for the PC Engine (that’s TurboGrafx-CD for those of us outside of Japan) in 1994. Not, Tokimeki Memorial: Densetsu no Ki no Shita de is the Super Famicom equivalent of a year after the PlayStation version, a port that many consider compromised for various reasons, most notably the lack of voice acting.

“The game Tokimeki Memorial for the Super Famicom before playing it for the Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Windows or PC Engine, it would be like watching a movie for the first time with the TV turned off and two lines of subtitles displaying both the movie’s dialogue and the director’s commentary.” Rogers said. Kotaku by email. “This is not a complete movie; this is a DVD bonus feature that you turn on while waiting for the wash to finish. also I’m waiting for an important phone call.”

As already mentioned, the biggest problem with Tokimeki Memorial: Densetsu no Ki no Shita deaccording to Rogers and a professional Japanese-to-English translator Tom James, is the lack of voice acting in the Super Famicom version. In addition to stunning pixel art, Tokimeki Memorial lifted the dating sim genre with the introduction of extensive voice clips for the game’s actors. It made the girls feel more real and maybe even listen to the intonation of their voices during conversations to understand what they think of you. This may seem trivial by today’s standards, but in the early days of CD-ROM gaming, it was very important.

A useful metaphor

“Playing Tokimeki Memorial on the Super Famicom before playing it on the Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Windows, or PC Engine is like watching a movie for the first time with the TV turned off and two lines of subtitles displaying like the movie’s dialogue. and director’s comments. “.

Tim Rogers

“[F]or a game where the end goal is to get a girl to confess her feelings to you, the impact of that reward is greatly reduced when you can’t actually hear her, let alone progress leading up to that point.” — James explained Kotaku by email. “Tokimeki Memorial by no means the first Japanese game that tried to build a mechanic around the act of strengthening relationships with people. The difference is that they were barely voiced, and their writing wasn’t strong enough to make up for it. Tokimeki Memorial faces a similar predicament without this voice acting.”

Kotaku Tried to contact RetroTranslator several times for this story, but our attempts to include his point of view went unanswered.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the Super Famicom version isn’t without flaws. Tokimeki Memorial. Less space on cartridges than CDs and a general lack of power between Sony’s 16-bit Nintendo and PlayStation consoles meant everything from music to pixel art that made previous versions so enticing needed toning down. A clear example of this reduction can be seen in the moving chessboard behind Tokimeki Memorialthe menu, which Rogers calls one of his favorite parts of the game in his lengthy video. On the PlayStation, the background scrolls smoothly at 60fps, while the Super Famicom can only hit around 18fps.

This is where I feel like I have to reassure everyone that neither I nor the people I spoke to for this article believe the Super Famicom version. Tokimeki Memorial should not be translated, or the fact that RetroTranslator does it is unworthy of praise. Any project of this nature is a monumental task, not only because of the challenges of ensuring that Japanese nuances and references are accurately translated into English in a way that English speakers can understand and appreciate, but also because replacing video game text can be a programming nightmare. Rogers notes that the problem is not with translation, but rather with incorporating this work into the game, which would present the most difficult hurdle.

“[T]I guess the reason why all versions Tokimeki Memorial remain untranslated is that Good Versions is programmed in such a way that access to the text becomes notoriously difficult for any would-be amateur localizers,” Rogers added. “The Super Famicom version, despite lacking that particular engineering hurdle, remained untranslated for those decades, simply because people who knew and loved the game in its original language never bothered to translate it except as a post-translation dessert” The real game.”

However, hardware limitations have not always held back ports of this all-important dating sim. Doing Tokimeki Memorial for Game Boy Color – released in Pokemon style as two separate games, Tokimeki Memorial Pocket Sports Edition and Pocket cultural version of the Tokimeki Memorial– The developers at Konami were able to create an authentic experience by working with the capabilities of a portable device, rather than trying to squeeze as much content from the original game as possible into its less powerful shell. It even features limited voice acting and exclusive romance girls, some of whom require new courtship strategies.

“Although I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who wants to play Tokimeki Memorial the first time you should start with Pocket“,” said James, “as a new version that looks and sounds impressively good for the hardware (it even runs on the original Game Boy, with voice acting and everything!) and has a great pace, in many ways it’s my favorite version. If someone playing it for the first time is addicted to it and wants to explore the ports further, then I strongly recommend that they do Pocket games are their first stop as they are quite fun to play once you get familiar with Tokimeki Memorialgameplay and offers the most unique features of any other port.”

Importance Tokimeki Memorialvoice acting

“[F]or a game where the end goal is to get the girl to confess her feelings to you, the impact of that reward is greatly reduced when you can’t actually hear her, let alone progress leading up to that point.”

Tom James

Konami ported the first Tokimeki Memorial to hell and back before eventually developing the 1999s Tokimeki Memorial 2 for PlayStation. This was followed by two more sequels, the last of which was released in 2009. Tokimeki Memorial 4 for PlayStation Portable, as well as many additional products, including highly acclaimed Tokimaki Memorial: Girl’s Side a series that changes the traditional dating sim formula by introducing female protagonists and guys to date. In fact, Konami has 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 little chance of being localized for an English-speaking audience.

So the looming RetroTranslator Tokimeki Memorial: Densetsu no Ki no Shita de translation is a big deal in the independent localization world, even if it’s not the version everyone wanted. The game as it was released for the Super Famicom is undeniably pale compared to its older siblings, but that doesn’t mean translating it is stupid or less meaningful. Anything that elevates this iconic franchise in the eyes of the Western public, not to mention preserves it for future generations, is quite a lot in my book.

And hey maybe a less respected port Tokimeki Memorial getting an English patch will inspire someone to continue the work of hacking their PlayStation predecessor. Seeing cult classics such as Mizzurna Falls and Yakuza: Black Panther Translated from Japanese, nothing surprises me anymore.

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