Kunio-kun Dodge Ball
v1.0 June 22nd, 2004 - July 17th, 2004
: fixes three little script errors, fully translates the elusive debug menu -> thus making this a truly 100% finished translation. Released on 07/17/2004.
: fixes some player names, released on 07/09/2004.
: 100% translated, released on 06/22/2004.
...a long time ago, when I first found out about this game, I thought: "Damn, why didn't they bring it at least to the US?" (Note that I'm from Europe.)
Some time later, when I first had played it, I thought: "Damn, this game just plain rocks. It kicks 'Super Dodgeball' in the ass and is the best multiplayer game EVER." Of course I had some problems with the fact that the game was completely in Japanese and I was a) too young to understand much and b) got a bit frustrated after.
I left the game alone for a *long* time until about the spring/summer of 2003. I had just gotten a bit involved into this rom translation thing and was thinking of games that would deserve a translation. Not to your surprise Kunio's Dodgeball was one of the very first games that popped up in my mind. Now it's quite a long way from the initial plan of translating a game up to the release of a finished 100% translation patch. It seemed even longer to me who did hardly know any Japanese at all back then. And the technical issues were simply overwhelming for someone who hardly had figured out pointers back then. And so, once more I strayed from the translation and got busy with other things.
It should be noted though that I neither wanted to give up the project nor thought that I wouldn't be able to finish it. Granted, my Japanese was nothing to write home about and at that time I could NOT handle the technical issues, but I was surely determined to translate my favorite Kunio-kun game into English.
In the following months I worked on several translations into German - translations of English games as well as translations of Japanese games -, all of which were of a high quality, if I may say so myself. In doing these translations I honed my skills, my technical skills as well as my skill in the Japanese language. And not to a small degree did I get better. What seemed impossible one year ago is now mostly nothing more than a matter of TIME. After I had actually finished my first really large translations into German (one of them was a RPG, so don't bother questioning what I call "large") several weeks ago and in the process gotten quite accustomed to things like MTE, expanding menues and reprogramming some things (although I surely wouldn't say that I'm one l33t ASM guy, mind you), I figured I was about ready to tackle my first big English translation project.
As I wasn't that convinced of my capability in Japanese yet, I decided not to start with Kunio's Dodgeball, but with "Winning Shot" - which is one cool golf game for the PC Engine. I made incredibly quick progress and soon had finished what I thought to be all text the game had to offer. Then I finished the Tournament Mode for the first time and found out that there's A HELL more text I hadn't even found in the rom yet. And for a simple sports game there were remarkably many kanji in it. Ack.
Not really surprising I soon switched to Kunio's Dodgeball as my main project. On the one hand, I knew from the other Kunio-kun games I had played before that this game would NOT surprise me with some extra text block and on the other hand, as I now knew, most of the text was rather basic Japanese and words Japanese kids probably learn in elementary school already.
So I went to work and after a few days was finished with all that menu stuff. Now that wasn't all that much farther than |pkiss had come with his translation patch (well, from a technical point of view anyway as I had of course TRANSLATED a hell more stuff than the Evolutions patch did) and so now began the fun part. There were two major things left: graphical stuff and the more complex things.
In the assumption that I'd probably be able to finish it quicker I began the graphical hacking. And how wrong I was... Okay, I could do the ending screen and the edit of the intro logo rather fast - but the TITLE SCREEN drove me crazy. Honestly, I surely spent more time on this one item than on all menu stuff before together. *sigh* The size of the letters was rather awkward to start with and I'm "not that adept" at graphics hacking as well, to say the least. I ended up doing a screen, thinking it looked ugly, deleting it, doing a new screen, thinking it looked ugly, deleting this one as well - and so on. I spent a whole Sunday doing this damned title screen and it was late at night when I FINALLY did something I found somewhat acceptable. It was somewhat of a reinterpretation of the original 'Super Dodgeball' logo. So if you think some letter looks weird (the "G" comes into mind), don't mourn - it's not my fault, Technos did it that weird way first. The "Ball" part of the screen was done from scratch by me and I think it looks really cool for something I did from scratch. I mean, it looks even better than the "Dodge" part which I merely had to reinterpret. I wasn't quite finished with the screen just yet though... But to make a long story short, I ended up doing miscellaneous edits here and there and the "final" title screen wasn't ready until one week after I had done the first draft. Yeah, "able to finish it quicker", sure.
After this feat was achieved, I only had to take care of the one major technical issue of this game: the names. You see, player names, team names, strategy names, formation names - heck, ALL names in this game - don't use the same font as the main text. Well, this isn't exactly true. It DOES use the same font. But it also does some rather complex thing and switches beginning/end byte and the very contents of the font table. I had anticipated something like this, but only running LordTech's modified SNES9x made it absolutely clear to me.
Now I was faced with a problem. How should I deal with this difficult situation? I could have done some incredibly complex like trying to use DMA transfer. But as I don't exactly got this figured out by now, I decided to stick with a rather simple plan. Until...
I got this excellent idea. If the game cheats and uses more than five characters (which is the maximum as you can easily see in-game), why shouldn't I be able to? I only needed to figure out what and how to do it. If you read this readme carefully, you might still remember that the game uses a special way of text aligning that makes the Handakuon (the thing that looks like this= °) and Dakuon (like this: '') "stick" to the letter directly before it. Now if I could do something similar to this and make the game display TWO characters in one "slot"? That would be about perfect.
However, due to some restrictions font-wise I could not just reprogram the font table and/or the table containing the entries of the font table (yep, the game uses two completely different things for this). This would just make the letter I put in instead of the original Dakuon or Handakuon stick to the letter in front of it - and in exactly the same way as those ABOVE the letter. Meaning it looked like o² only with a letter instead of a "2". This kinda sucked and I could not find a way to reprogram this rather crappy routine. I'll explain why in another document. For now, here's how I finished the thing. I decided to stick to a more oldschool way of displaying more characters and used one technique commonly known as "squished tiles". It wasn't all that simple though as I STILL had to modify the font routine a bit. But read on...
Shortly after I found a way and also got it to work. I replaced the original font with my custom font and modified the way the game reads it in a bit, and voilá, there you have a fully translated game featuring names longer than 5 characters - but not taking up more than five characters when being displayed. Yay. I dubbed this whole thing "DLE" or "Dual Letter Encoding" as this is what it does: showing two letters in the space/place of one.
This thing is probably the single most complex thing I've dealt with so far. And as such I'm very satisfied with the result. It might look a bit "scrambled" with some names but after all it's better than having to call "Sonokawa" "Sonno" or something like that, right? And thus ends this project history with the release of the 100% translation patch for Kunio's Dodgeball. Enjoy it and be sure to let me know if you like it. Oh, and if you actually read all the text in this section: Thanks for listening.
(Additionally, there is something else that might better the quality of the patch even more. This thing is a variable width font (VWF). If I understand the way a VWF works right, it might be even better suited for the displaying of names that are "too long" than my "DLE" approach. Very unfortunately, I don't know much about VWFs yet and have about no idea how to make or implement one. But I'll be on the lookout and if I ever figure it out, I'll be sure to redo the names in Kunio's Dodgeball using a VWF. Till then, sayounara.)
Not that much to say here, really. For the most part, this translation stays true to the original. Of course, some modifications had to be made. It's about impossible to translate a Japanese sentence meaning "If you'd please select the enemy team you wish to compete against next" *LITERALLY*. It just has to be shortened to something more readable like "Select next opponent". Especially as we westerners simply are not used to having such complex sentences in SPORTS games. And when did you last read some polite phrase with "please" in a video game? I in fact NEVER did apart from role-playing games. Anyway, what I wanted to say: It would have been possible for me to expand the menu sentences to two lines if I had wanted to, but I didn't do it because I really don't think ANYBODY would like to have such monster sentences as the one in the example above.
Apart from that, there's one one other translation issue: the names. It's UTTERLY impossible to transcribe a name that uses up to SEVEN letters in Japanese (Dakuon and Handakuon automatically get "attached" to the respective letter in front of them) into a Roman name that can use a maximum of FIVE letters. You just ()()§()/=)" can't write out something like, let me think, "De La Torre" (te+dakuon+ra+to+ru+re). Due to the DLE encoding I added to the rom, I *was* able to use more than five letters, but especially those filled with Dakuten or Handakuten couldn't be translated one to one as my DLE were somewhat limited due to technical restraints. Perfect Example for this is the aforementioned "De La Torre" who became "Torres". Wherever I had to shorten or change names, I was most careful to use a name that could be a native name of the nation in question. (Though sometimes I just had to guess. Who the hell knows about native names in Kenya?)
Conclusion: Really nothing to worry about translation-wise. Though I'd like to encourage anyone who thinks one or the other player name sounds awkward to eMail me about it. Would be really cool if you also could suggest a better sounding name in such a case.