It’s hard to believe that this project first got off the ground nearly a year and a half ago! As with many fan-led projects, there have been moments of amazing breakthroughs followed by stagnant periods where nothing can be done until the next technological hurdle can be overcome.
With that said, I come bearing some good news and bad news. Since suspense is the name of the game, that means we start with the bad news… but I assure you, the good news is more than worth it!
Unfortunately for yours truly — along with pretty much anyone awaiting the translation patch — I wasn’t able to find any reliable way to get past some of the biggest issues facing a release of the translation:
- Getting the ISO to run reliably on modern Windows machines while also playing the cd audio
- Expanding translations beyond their original character count
A fickle-minded audio player
The first issue, pertaining to the cd audio, was a particularly vexing one. The whole appeal of the Windows release of Kurayami (ignoring for a moment the perk of not needing an emulator) was that it included much better audio than the original PC-98 release.
However, despite trying the game out on four different PCs (two laptops, two desktops), three different DVD drives, and even in virtual machines (WinXP and Win98), I was unable to get the cd audio to play reliably. Even stranger, it actually did play on one of my PCs, but I couldn’t find any settings differences that would explain why it worked there and not elsewhere.
This ultimately meant that, if we were to release a translated ISO (or patch thereof), there was no way to ensure that end users could actually get the full, proper Kurayami experience. And that just wouldn’t do!
Transl8 in shrt-hnd
While I was able to successfully dump
all… most… a large majority of the game’s script, I wasn’t able to find the part of the program that actually utilized the script; i.e., how it decided to branch between dialogue options and what to load and when.
Since the pointers were hard-coded somewhere in the program, that meant that it tried to jump to specific addresses, and if it didn’t find the right data at the designated address, the game would reset to the very beginning, causing you to lose all progress and getting you trapped in an infinite loop.
What does that mean for the translation?
Well, it means that we were only given enough room as the original Japanese text to squeeze the translation in. For anyone familiar with NES/SNES-era RPG translations (with their ATK, DEF, Fir, Lit, and Ice, etc.) is probably well aware what that does to an English translation when you’re working against tight character count constraints.
While this didn’t impede the ability to release a translation, it certainly hindered the quality of what we could release.
This leads us to…
After giving these issues a lot of thought, ultimately I decided the only realistic way to get this game into the hands of fans in a timely fashion, and with a degree of polish that I could be proud of, was to port it instead.
By making a native Windows port of the game targeting modern PCs, we can (reasonably) ensure that the CD audio — ripped straight from an actual, physical CD copy of the game — plays correctly at all the right times and also make the translations as long as they need to be.
While my intention is to make the port as faithful to the original as possible, I also hope to add some optional quality-of-life and customization features to the game. But I’ll leave the details on that for another time.
At present, I’m working toward a modern Windows port of the game that you can download and run straight from your PC, but once that’s done, I’m hoping to release an HTML5 port of the game that will run straight from your browser. Then you can get your Kurayami fix on your smartphone, tablet, PC, and more!
The current Windows build of my Kurayami port is very much a work-in-progress right now, but I hope to have enough finished in the next few weeks to show it off in a video. Stick around for more fun updates soon!
Before I go…
Since I’m going to be coding Kurayami from the ground up, I’d like to hear from you about what kind of modern quality-of-life upgrades or changes you’d like to see in the game to make it a bit more accessible/fun to play.
Whether or not I can do it is another story, but the sky’s the limit right now! Let me know down below what features make visual novels fun for you!