Friday, October 17, 2008

Romhacks: Their Finest Hour?!

This week saw the release of two long-awaited romhacking projects. The first was an English translation of Persona 2: Innocent Sin, a Playstation game about a couple of high school kids who totally rock Hitler's face. I'm not sure if I'm going to get around to playing this one right away. It has a tendency to randomly crash when running on a PSP, according to the patch's readme. That's not reassuring! Still, I assume I'll check it out eventually. It seems a little too interesting for me to skip out.

The other big finished project is Mother 3, the sequel to the cult classic Super Nintendo RPG that Westerners know as Earthbound. I played it in Japanese with the aid of a (pretty shitty) dialogue translation after play-asia had a sale on the game near the beginning of the year, and I was blown away. It's easily one of the best games I've ever played.
Shigesato Itoi
Moreso than any other game I can think of, the Mother series has always had the guiding hand of esteemed copywriter and essayist Shigesato Itoi behind it. He's not just a semi-famous name added for the sake of grafting meaningless clout onto the game. He's actually responsible for writing all of the game's dialogue. And conceiving the story and characters. Since Japanese RPGs are typically focused on story, characters and dialogue frequently written by computer science majors, Itoi's influence is immediately obvious. His games are warm, charming. They're humanistic.

In Earthbound, a common status ailment was homesickness. As a young boy thrust into a terrifying adventure, it's to be expected. The cure for homesickness? Visiting home, or calling your mother on the phone. That kind of charming thoughtfulness is Itoi personified. Frankly, though, after playing Mother 3, I think Itoi is probably just a genius. We need more people like him working on video games.

Something else worth mentioning: Mother 3 has the most amazing soundtrack I've ever heard in a video game. It was composed entirely by Shogo Sakai, who you may know as the composer of Super Smash Bros. Melee. It is 250-something tracks long. There are something like 50-60 battle themes (which fits in nicely with the game's wonderfully transparent rhythm-focused battles). All of those tracks are astonishingly good. In fact, let's go ahead and make this claim: Mother 3 has the best video games soundtrack ever. I am writing this mostly because I genuinely feel this way, and mostly because I want you to go and check this game out, even if you had no prior interest. Yes.

Here's the English-language trailer.
Go play this game. There are detailed how-tos on the official web site.


Mazo said...

Mother 3 is about as cool as I hoped it'd be, if not cooler. Last time I played it I had a rough time, due to my poor Japanese and definitely not a total lack of dedication.

Persona 2, well, I've had some trouble keeping ePSXe going. So.

8bitcity said...

The weirdest thing just happened, I was just looking at blogs, found your site and was looking for a contact link to ask if you wanted to do a link exchange... and you've already got a link to 8-Bit City!

I'll link back to you, thanks!

On topic... I'll have to get around to Mother 3... but I've never finished Earthbound, though I own the SNES cart.

Zach said...

So I picked this up mostly on your recommendation, and although I still haven't managed to get past the second chapter it seems pretty solid.