Saturday, May 8, 2010

Translation hacking Castle Shikigami: repairing the taint of XS Games

I'm a fairly big fan of Alfa System's Castle Shikigami series; a trilogy of overhead curtain fire(or bullet hell) shooters.

The three main games in the series have seen release on a plethora of consoles, ranging from the PS2 to the Dreamcast, and most recently, to the Wii and the 360.

All three have also received release in the US, in some form or another.

Well, almost.

For whatever reason, XS Games had the rights to publish the first two games in the US.

They butchered the first one. The mid-stage dialogue and conversations between the player and the bosses, a tradition of Shikigami and many shmups in general, was removed. Additionally, any semblance of the game having character was taken out; all the player sees of the cast is the character select at the beginning.

The second game fared slightly better in localization. All the dialogues and character portraits remained intact, as did the endings.

The blessing stopped there. Castle Shikigami 2 is notorious for having one of the most hilariously awful localizations of all time. As heard here.

The details behind this aren't fully known, but it's generally accepted that XS Games used mostly unknown voice talent with little to no proper direction, and a lazy localization that was more the result of a direct, untouched translation.

Anyway, that's another story.

Myself and some volunteers have taken it upon ourselves to translate the first game into English, something that hasn't yet been done in any form.

We plan to convert all the in-game text into English, just so that the player can understand the story.

Shikigami isn't exactly known for its great storytelling, but the dialogue commonly involves very hilarious if not nonsensical conflicts between characters, and a needlessly convoluted plot.

So if nothing else, it should be a fun endeavor.

We'll keep you posted.
(And of course, if you would care to help in any way, shape, or form; contact me!)


  1. even more funny (or sad) is the german translation of this, which really looks like it was made using babelfish. For example, there are some english words still present in the middle of the sentences, or other words are just.. well, they dont exist and make no sense at all. I have no idea how a publisher can come up with something like this.

  2. What exactly needs helping?

  3. I have a translator working with me for the re-localization, so what we need is help to reverse engineer the text.

    I have a hacker volunteer as well, but progress is slow; Shikigami's code appears to be surprisingly complicated.

    This could be because we're using the PC version, who knows.

  4. I actually own (or owned, I Gamestop everyday so it's hard to keep up with what I have any more) this game, and I can't believe this dub was actually put out the door. It makes Tokyo Crystal Mew seem like the dub of Cowboy Bebop.

    As far as your localization is concerned, don't overdo it, you run the risk of creating what is referred to in anime communities as a Macekre. The extra "bitch" sseems immature, but then again, I chuckled at the headline of "repairing the taint" so maybe it's just me, but please try and remember that good localization companies like Working Designs didn't really have to go past "hell" and "damn".

    The best of luck to you in your efforts!

  5. FYI, that's Shikigami 2 you're referring to. Shikigami 1 was never localized at all. All the dialogue was removed.

    We're in no position to take on Shikigami 2. That has a massive amount of dialogue. Upwards of 45 different games counting the 2P routes, which are different.

    Shikigami 1 only has seven characters, no 2P added dialogue. It's much easier.

    Re: Profanity, it's just a bit of improv based on what I was told, since the original line was somewhat profane. And it fits the character. But I will only use it where appropriate, and if it fits the character; and nothing worse than a 'T' rating.