Topic: Watercrown News
In response to my first and only comment, and in celebration of this respected holiday, I've decided to tell the tale that, up until now, I have said would be "best left for another time."
The story is thus:
My name is Desty Nova. I eat flan and I perform horrible, gruesome experiments on human test subjects. My dream is to take over the world MUWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!...
Happy April Fools' Day. There, I've gotten it out of my system.
No, really, the actual tale begins, oh, several years ago. Before I get really started, I will warn you that this tale has actually precious little to do with the Sylvanian Families franchise but absolutely everything to do with why I'm doing the game.
Back then, Gundam was big in the States and I was just learning what else Japan had to offer. The thing that surprised me, though, was the strange feelings of nostalgia and deja vu that sometimes accompanied my anime viewing. A random comment about the old Unico movie that aired years and years ago on the Disney Channel set me off on a fact-finding mission: the movie, as I remembered it, turned out to actually be a pair of movies, and while the name Osamu Tezuka meant nothing to me at the time, the fact that the movies were ultimately Japanese in origin struck a chord. Slowly, I began to realize just where my feelings of nostalgia and deja vu came from: in the late 80's and early 90's, I couldn't get enough of the Nick Jr. lineup on Nickelodeon, which further Internet searching revealed to be comprised mainly of localized import series from Japan.
I was raised on anime and didn't even realize it.
So. My cause celebre for a time was a series called Maple Town, or "Maple Town Story" (a trifling difference, but back then, I was the Internet equivalent of a monkey with a revolver; using the "inferior" American name around me would inevitably provoke torrents of page-long rants), for the sole reason that I remembered nothing of it except the names "Patty Rabbit" and "Bobby Bear" and maybe 5 seconds' worth of material. It took me a long time, during which I lost interest twice and annoyed the dickens out of possibly as many message boards (if I met my younger n00b self on the Internet, I'd probably beat the intellectual @#$% out of him), but I eventually accumulated enough knowledge about the series that I felt my quest was at an end. I even managed to score the Japanese soundtrack and VHS tapes.
However, my searches also unearthed information about another (then) complete unknown: a franchise called "Sylvanian Families". Back then, I wasn't sure of the relation (although I think I held something of a preconception that it was an "inferior" rival series...yes, my views were disturbingly black-and-white back then), and I assumed that like Maple Town, the franchise had vanished into the dust of history sometime in that strange twilight era of the late 80's/early 90's. So it was to my great surprise when, on GameFAQs' board for the game Tail Concerto, somebody posted a link to screenshots of a game called WanWan Meitantei that bore a passing resemblance to Tail Concerto's characters. It wasn't WanWan Meitantei that surprised me, though. It was the other game featured prominently on the linked page, the game I address now as "Sylvanian Families 5".
This was a complete 180 from my assumption. Maple Town was long dead, and Sylvanian Families (as I knew by then) predated it: how on Earth could it still be around? With five (actually six and now seven) video games? This chance discovery merited further investigation: I obtained the fifth game and afterwards found the first and second: none of them are exactly the next Harvest Moon or Final Fantasy, but I found them much more to my liking than, say, Animal Crossing.
The final ingredient in this bizarre Goldberg-esque contraption is the fact that I've had sort of a curse for years: I've always wanted to make a game, but I always either discover I don't have the talent or I lose interest. I've completed only one project to my satisfaction; a thoroughly pathetic text adventure that is now, for the better, lost. Failing creation, I've trifled with fan translations; mostly the same result, but for whatever reason this project has been the one I've stuck with the longest. As you can guess, it's been something of a love/hate relationship: by many standards, the game is incomparably dull (the fact that the storyline involves flowers and fairies that aren't homicidal maniacs will probably keep all but the most hardcore away) and can be finished in a single evening (I've done it myself!); it's based on a toyline I really have no intention of ever collecting (although I will say that anyone who doesn't find the Sylvanians outright adorable had better check to see if there isn't a Nobody walking around with their soul), and yet it has trapped me in the most cunning and ingenious way possible: it tricked me into thinking I could translate it just as easily as I could beat it. It's a kids' game! Almost pure kana, with a smattering of kanji that could be counted on your fingers! And yet its script is a nightmare that I could only tackle by further modifying the legendary Atlas, the inserter that handled Front Mission Gunhazard! This is a project for a master romhacker, a Sisyphean effort with maximum difficulty and minimum reward...
And I have no problems whatsoever being the one who fate has chosen to do it. ^_^
On that front: thanks to bgb, I've tuned up my VWF code even further. Now it doesn't break if a particular part of the game stores the variables for the current line and number of characters printed in an odd place. GB mode is still a little glitchy, but I'm starting to suspect it's a quirk with bgb and not my code this time. A couple of script bugs have been squashed; the game now should be mostly playable again (albeit still about half in English and half in Japanese, and parts of the script haven't been reformatted to take advantage of the VWF).
As for the story of how I learned Japanese...much shorter, much less interesting, and most certainly best suited for another time.
See you, Space Samurai. Or whatever.