Memories of the Fan Translation Scene Part I

Hey guys, Newfie here my first post on the new GAMERadio Blog and I thought I would talk a little more about something we covered last episode. For those of you that listened to 337, we had quite a discussion on the crawl of the JRPG genre and how much everyone has moved away from it. One thing that I wanted to talk about was my love of NES RPGs, specially the ones that never came state side. The first JRPG I invested any serious time into was a fan translation of Final Fantasy 3 on the most radical of emulators, NESticle.

Just look at how RAD that bleeding hand is.

    My ROM collection was built from things my cousin would download at university and bring home, as we couldn’t afford dial up internet for the Windows 95 PC I won from a local Home Hardware store. My cousin being a gamer, also brought his SNES and his carts along with him while he was living with us and attending university. My first though was to play the older installments of games I had played on SNES. Megaman, Mario, Zelda, and all sorts of platformers. I then began to just play whatever I could get my hands on, starting at the letter Z because there were fewer games to look through.

Zoda’s Revenge was a pretty badass sounding game.

   Slowly making my way through games, I would only play the highest numbered sequel, because newer is better right?

Mistakes were made in my logic.

    Eventually I made my way to Final Fantasy. At the time, I still did not comprehend the series. I tried to play FFI and quit because the game was so basic in all of its features, a trait that I now fondly miss when playing new RPGs. FFII drove me mad because it used a keyword system where you would have to memorize words and ask villagers about those topics. The translation at the time was very shoddy and quickly I gave up on the game when my favorite party member up and left the party with a bunch of my best gear.

Fuck you Gordon.

    Thankfully I continued on to Final Fantasy 3, and here is where I found myself hooked with the series and RPGs in General. To me FF3 was leaps and bounds ahead of the first two Final Fantasy games. The colours had been upgraded, the sprites felt larger and seemed to have more detail. Everything in the game was just tuned in so well.

Just look at these amazing sprites.

    The one thing that had me totally hooked was just how brutally difficult this game was, while always feeling fair. One of the major complaints about FF1 is that the NES game was difficult because of the sheer amount of grinding required to get enough gold for the gear. FF3 was not difficult for that reason, it was difficult because every encounter had the ability to wipe your party if you were not careful. This was a game that really tested your ability to manage a party when faced with the odds against you. 

Even defeating Land Turtle in the starting cave is an achievement.

    It was this difficulty and sense of accomplishment that would turn me into a huge RPG fan. Unfortunately, I was still a Nintendo fan at heart and an RPG fan in an era of the N64. This meant no new Final Fantasy, no Chrono Cross, no Square and no Enix.

At least I had that sweet Quest 64…

    The lack of N64 RPGs was both a burden and a blessing. At this time I came into a new Windows 98 machine with a Pentium III, broadband was making its way into every house, and suddenly projects were springing up everywhere to try and translate as many Famicom games as possible. This put me right on the cusp of discovering lost Famicom history, and enjoying some more NES RPG classics that never made it state side. In particular, one other very difficult RPG that follows the exploits of a young boy named Ninten. For now, check out the boss theme for FF3 if you have not heard it already.