Tokimeki Memorial finally gets an English translation

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Image for article titled Konami's Iconic Dating Sim is finally translated into English, but not the version everyone wants

Picture: Konami / MobyGames

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 in English is almost full. 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 from. “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. Long time fans of Tokimeki Memorial The franchise has been waiting for the original game to be translated into English for decades. More recently, these diehards have been joined by a new generation of gamers eager to try the game for themselves thanks to old Kotaku video editor Tim Rogers six hour video trial on Tokimeki Memorialthe history and legacy of. It may not have been the first dating sim, but Tokimeki Memorial is perhaps most responsible for putting gender on the map.

Sadly, Tokimeki Memorial: Densetsu no Ki no Shita from is not the Tokimeki Memorial everyone hoped to see localized. It would be the years 1995 Tokimeki Memorial: Forever With You for the PlayStation, an enhanced 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 from is the Super Famicom equivalent that arrived a year after the PlayStation version, a port that many consider compromised for a variety of reasons, including the lack of voice acting.

“Playing Tokimeki Memorial for Super Famicom before playing it for Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Windows or PC Engine, it would be like watching a movie for the first time with the TV muted and two lines of subtitles displaying both movie dialogue and the director’s commentary,” Rogers said. Kotaku by email. “It’s not a complete movie; it’s a bonus DVD that you play while waiting for your laundry to finish while Also waiting for an important phone call.

As mentioned, the biggest problem with Tokimeki Memorial: Densetsu no Ki no Shita fromaccording to Rogers and a professional Japanese to English translator Tom James, is the lack of voice acting in the Super Famicom Edition. Besides its stunning pixel art, Tokimeki Memorial elevated the dating sim genre with the introduction of many voice clips for the game actors. It made the girls feel more real, and we could even listen to their voice inflections during conversations for clues about how they feel about you. This may seem trivial by today’s standards, but it was something important in the early days of CD-ROM gaming.

A useful metaphor

“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. .

Tim Rogers

“[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 by email. “Tokimeki Memorial is by no means the first Japanese game to attempt to build mechanics around the act of fostering relationships with people. The difference is that they were largely unvoiced and their writing wasn’t strong enough to compensate, and Tokimeki Memorial faces a similar dilemma without this voice acting.

Kotaku Tried several times to get in touch with RetroTranslator for this story but our attempts to include his point of view went unanswered.

Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t 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 names 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 believe in the Super Famicom version of Tokimeki Memorial should not be translated or that RetroTranslator does not deserve 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]he reasons, 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 localizer,” 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. Doing Tokimeki Memorial for the Game Boy Color – Pokémon-style release as two separate games, Tokimeki Memorial Pocket Sports Version and Tokimeki Memorial Pocket Culture Version— the Konami developers were able to create an authentic experience by working with the handheld’s capabilities rather than 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 to someone looking to play Tokimeki Memorial for the first time should start with Poachedsaid James, “as a novelty release that looks and sounds incredibly good for the hardware (it even works on the original Game Boy, dubbing and all!) and has a good tempo, in many ways. respects, this is my personal favorite version. If anyone playing it for the first time gets addicted to it and wants to explore the ports more, I would absolutely recommend that they give it a go. Poached games their first stop as they are both quite fun to play once you get familiar with Tokimeki Memorialand have the most uniquely to offer compared to these other ports.

The importance of Tokimeki Memorialthe dubbing of

“[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 .

tom james

Konami ported the first Tokimeki Memorial to hell and back before finally developing 1999 Tokimeki Memorial 2 for 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: Girls Side series, which flips the traditional dating sim formula by introducing 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, the impending RetroTranslator Tokimeki Memorial: Densetsu no Ki no Shita from translation is a big business in the freelance localization world, although it’s not the exact version 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—not to mention preserving it for future generations—is pretty good business in my book.

And hey, maybe a less considered 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.

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