[Post-Mortem] Shin Megami Tensei V

Boy, do I have some opinions about this here SMT game.

Shin Megami Tensei V for Nintendo Switch - Nintendo Game Details

Where do I begin?

SMTV is a game of blessings and curses. I’ll start with the good.

The gameplay is top shelf.

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Press turn is back, which is nothing surprising, but in addition, Atlus added an absolutely unprecedented insane amount of customization. There’s new physical skills, new magical skills(and a new tier, -barion), skills that let physical builds use their physical stat to inflict magical damage, meter(Magatsuhi) skills that allow for broken abilities to be used for an entire round(namely guaranteed criticals, full restores and revivals for the entire party, auto charge and pierce, etc), and best of all, Essences.

Demon Essences - Shin Megami Tensei V Wiki Guide - IGN

Essences are the biggest game changer since manual skill inheritance. You can get an item that basically contains all of a demon’s inherent skills, which can be freely applied to either the MC or the demons in his team at your leisure. This means you not only get to customize the MC however you like, any demon in the team becomes near endlessly customizable.

Pairing these two factors together, and this is the freshest, most innovative and widely experimental core gameplay has ever been.

Which brings us to the other big game changer… the world itself.

As you’ve likely heard, yes, SMT V is a full “open world” experience.

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Sort of. There’s five major hubs in Da’at, which… are kind of different, but not really. One’s a desert, one’s a red desert, one’s a… white desert? You get the gist. Sadly, they’re mostly the same atmosphere with shuffled architecture and a different filter applied.

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While repetitive, I give credit given where due: the open world is a joy to explore. The areas are full of massive buildings that you can either access from stairs, adjacent highways, or even stray ledges. There’s lots of nooks and crannies to explore, with little secrets and bonuses that reward exploration, namely the collectible “Miman” creatures that allow the MC to learn new skills and gain new items over time.

The trademark overworld map from 1/2/3/etc is also still present, though only in the “real world” that you only go to like five times.

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Then there’s the dungeon. Not dungeons. Dungeon.

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SMTV has literally one of note: and it has everything I wanted! Great design and aesthetic, platforming, interesting gimmicks, secrets to look for and explore, and… that’s it.

There is no final dungeon. There’s a massive world leading to it, and then a long tunnel with a few battles.

Shin Megami Tensei V Endings | How to get the best Ending and all others |  RPG Site

It’s a crying shame. Look at that architecture. It could have been a massive dungeon full of platforming and verticality. It SHOULD have been. But it’s not, and the game just leads you right to the climatic boss fights.

Then… there’s the story. God, where do I start.

From the get-go, the cover makes it look like there’s going to be all kinds of factions vying for control of Tokyo, since it depicts four demons and the MC.

There’s even a (very marketable) cast of humans! Surely they’re all going to be well fleshed out, have lots of dialogue, and massive impact on the plot, yes?

Meet the supporting characters of Shin Megami Tensei V - GamerBraves
Atlus Reveals SMT V Classmates Miyazu, Tao, Yuzuru, and Ichiro

Nope. They barely factor into the plot at all. After the introduction, hope you liked talking to them! You’ll barely ever see them again.

See this girl here?

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This is Sahori. She’s an NPC who goes nuts, and murders a bunch of bullies with her demon partner after making a soul-sacrificial pact for power.

She is far more interesting than any of the major players shown above, and she’s only in the game for all of three scenes. Therein lies SMTV’s major narrative problem.

Shin Megami Tensei V details Shoei Yakumo, Nuwa, Abdiel, Negotiation,  Fusion, and skill / stat building - Gematsu

There are interesting characters here, and their designs are great, courtesy of Masayuki Doi. Sadly, it’s all surface. The duo above, Yakumo and Nuwa, are one of the more interesting narrative threads, and even they barely appear in the story.

SMTV has interesting ideas, in very broad strokes. This is a world in which Lucifer won. The armies of heaven are scattered and listless, and chaos runs rampant, but even Lucifer himself is nowhere to be found. There could be a ton of great stories told in a universe like this. A power struggle between warring factions of angels and demons, internal fighting, a return of the Divine Powers/Polytheist Alliance from IV, and on and on. V does almost nothing with this potential. Even when a group of the lesser deities from Egypt, Greece, Hinduism, and so on show up in the late game, they barely factor into the plot. They’re just bosses to be slain and obstacles to be stepped on. They barely factor into the alignment decisions if they even get to make an impact at all.

Shin Megami Tensei 5 - Boss Zeus [HARD] - YouTube

You make a choice at the very end, and do some extra quests if you want a “true” final boss. That’s about it. Again, sadly, this reeks of wasted opportunity. V feels rushed. They had a ton of interesting ideas, but the team lacked the time or maybe even the ability to properly utilize them.

I will say that when V’s writing is strong, it excels. The tone of the Chaos ending was particularly enjoyable, raising genuinely philosophical questions about what living in a Chaotic world would really entail, and how successful the goal will actually be. It’s a shame the rest of the game’s narrative couldn’t rise to meet it.

In closing, the music should be made note of. The main composer of SMT IV, Ryota Kozuka, has basically taken over the main line series, which I am totally okay with, as his work for IV was nothing short of incredible.

I had high expectations for V, and… well, for better or for worse, it is a very different type of soundtrack.

Whether by design or by direction, SMT V has a very ambient, ominous score. By and large, it nails the tone, and fits the oppressive open world areas very well.

Sadly, with a few exceptions, none of the boss themes have the bite of, say, Divine Powers from IV: Apocalypse.

They are absolutely solid tracks, but anyone looking for a repeat of IV or its successor’s majesty will be sorely disappointed.

I wish the same could be said of the game itself. SMT IV was clearly the product of Kazuma Kaneko’s original design and ideas, as is clearly credited.

V has no such pedigree to fall back on. On the gameplay front, Atlus deserve lauding for the wonderful flow of combat and exploration, and for all the new innovation added.

However, they still have a long way to go if they’re going to fill the narrative shoes that Kaneko, Okada, and Tadashi left behind. Hopefully with this template in place, they can step their game up for the next go round.

[Post-Mortem] Death Come True

I love FMV games. Been playing them since the ancient times of Night Trap and Sewer Shark and well into the modern FMV renaissance, from high production value gems like Late Shift to no-budget schlock like Press X To Die.

It’s about time Japan threw their hat into the ring.

Death Come True for Nintendo Switch - Nintendo Game Details

https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/death-come-true-switch/


As has probably been known, this quirky experiment was written by Kazutaka Kodaka, the lunatic behind the Danganronpa games, a weird VN/murder mystery series known for having the characters die in elaborate ways while trying to solve an elaborate mystery.


Death Come True is basically that, except the protagonist is the one doing (most of) the dying.

Makoto Kuraki wakes up in a hotel with no idea of who he is, what he’s doing there, why he keeps dying, or why everyone thinks he’s… a killer!?

Like most FMV games, Death Come True boils down to making choices… and, uh, that’s literally about it.

I finished the game in about two hours, give or take. It’s VERY short, and far as I can tell, there’s not a whole lot of replay value. It has a few neat twists and turns, high production values, and good acting, but nothing too shocking. In fact, it’s a little predicable, knowing what the writer’s penchant for certain types of tropes and storytelling swerves.

I still had a fun time with Death Come True, but I would suggest waiting til it hits the $10ish mark for maximum enjoy. It’s nice to see FMV games from Japan, especially with a budget and big names thrown at it, just hopefully next time it’s something a bit meatier.

Kill The ‘Cast (Suda51 & GHM Podcast) Episode 1 – featuring special guests, okumura!

Hot off the presses, myself and some fellow Suda-nuts from the Kill The Past discord decided to start a podcast!

Herein we ramble about NMH3, Suda51, Killer Is Dead, Syndrome, and a bit of everything in between.

Mediafire link: https://www.mediafire.com/file/dgwwisq1zgr9630/Kill_The_Cast_EP1.mp3/file

Special HOT FUEGO guests: okumura, composers of the best song in the NMH3 OST!

Fate/Extra CCC Summer Update – Extended Gameplay Preview!

Aria here! So, we might be bad at this whole “quarterly updates” thing, but I promise we’re making progress! It’s also still incredibly hot here, so it’s still definitely summer. But as Andersen put it, you all deserve a reward for sticking with us.

Without further ado, we have an update video for you! Go watch that!

Hopefully this is your reaction:

If so, then I have succeeded and survive for another day on the internet. I’ve been told CJ streamed the prologue a long time ago, but I wasn’t around yet and didn’t see it. But he says the overall quality now is leagues better and deserves to be shown off. The text looks clean, the images look slick, and all the voices have subtitles! (Those Kotomine lines in the joke intro were real and in-game btw). Remember we’re still on the translation phase, so what you saw still needs some editing. But somewhere around 86% of the game is translated and looks about the quality you saw in the video.

We have one unused Easter Egg that was shown as an error message if installing the game failed, but we’ve since removed the option entirely since it doesn’t improve anything. In honor of Tsukihime Remake’s release, we decided to share it here:

Lastly, we wanted to give a shoutout to the kind person who sent us all the CCC Void Log books, which contain *nearly every spoken line of dialogue in the game written down*! They have made my life so much easier for transcribing battle lines ; _;

If you’re reading this update, please get in touch with ItsumoKnight in the iwakura productions discord! He had something Gundam related he wanted to follow up with you on.

And as for you, dear readers, let us know if there’s anything you’d like us to cover/show off in future updates. We’ll probably be back around New Year’s (who are we kidding, it’s September, we’ll probably skip to a Winter update next), so see you then!

– Aria

Serial Experiments Lain (PSX) – fully translated and playable!

In true fashion that Lain herself would approve of, no less: exclusively via the Wired.

https://3d.laingame.net/#/game

This effort is nothing short of astonishing. The team remade the game from the ground up, then hardcoded subs to translate what was thought to be an untranslatable game due to the biblical scope of what’s an exclusively voice acted experience.

Serial Experiments Lain was developed concurrently with the series, and designed to be its own thing, though you could probably make a case to tie it into the show, if you wanted.

It’s not so much a game as it is an A/V experience. You explore diary entries, listen to interviews between Lain and her psychologist, and spiral further down the rabbit hole until you learn the truth: both literally and figuratively.

If you’re even a cursory fan of the series, or a hardcore obsessee like yours truly, it is a must-play.

Fate/Extra CCC: Spring Update, Trackers, Gil!(?)

We have a short update for you today since we’ve mostly been pushing forward in translation progress rather than anything flashy. Though speaking of flashy, Kotcrab has set up a progress tracking page where you can see an estimate of our project updated in real time! You can view that page here –

https://kotcrab.com/progress/ccc/

In terms of translations, we have some updates here: – Chapter 6 has been fully translated! – In dungeon translations are now underway – Over 530 audio files have subtitles now (including misc areas of the game like in Kotomine’s shop, My Room, and the Secret Garden) – Misc bug fixes encountered in playtesting

As always, thank you for your patience as we push the translated line count higher and higher!

(Disclaimer: please don’t be liberated from your money.)

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Fan Translation: Preview (Colons)

This is kind of a long story. If you want that, read on after this.

If you don’t, uh, just watch this.

Still with me? Good!

Amazon.com: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner [Japan Import]: Video Games

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner is a spinoff of the SMT series. It was originally released for the Sega Saturn(wise choice) and then later for the PSP(tough call) and then never localized(thanks Sony. NOT).

What separates Devil Summoner from SMT? In a nutshell, Devil Summoners are basically the same as SMT’s protagonists: normal humans who work with demons. The difference is, Devil Summoners are more, shall we say, hands on with their demons. Demons tend to get more personality and have more influence in the story, and be more friendly with their summoner, not just tools for a job. (Especially in the Raidou games.)

Basically, Devil Summoner games are more ‘street level’ and character-driven. That’s how I like to think of it, anyway.

Devil Summoner (Video Game) - TV Tropes

Devil Summoner takes place in 199x, where a college student with terrible luck winds up having to save his girlfriend, the city, and maybe the world from the machinations of a Bible/Grimoire-wielding dark summoner hell bent on reviving a goddess and wreaking all kinds of the hades(props if you get that).

Sid Davis | Megami Tensei Wiki | Fandom


This brings us to a few years(?) back when on 4chan’s “SMTG” community, a user I’m fortunate enough to now-know as Fukuzatsu decided he was going to translate the game for the PSP.

At least, until he hit the worst of SMT walls: demon negotiation. It’s been hell on him.

Enter another Spanish team of savvy hackers, who’ve been making progress, namely https://twitter.com/megaflan/ and https://twitter.com/GriffithVIII , each of whom were kind enough to join up and make Fuku’s life(hopefully) easier.

I have to give special props to @NakuFox, who came up with the INCREDIBLE title screen, as seen in the video above.

So without further ado, here’s some screens.

Also, mad props to Marsh, the absolute madman below. He beat the game in raw Japanese, and his charismatic flow made the game even more popular than it was already.

SMT: DS was a huge success in Japan, and lead to its (IMO) vastly superior sequel, Soul Hackers.

Fate/Extra Perfect Patch Release! (1/15 Update)

               Hello, Aria here! Hope everyone is staying warm and opening hundreds of loot boxes in FGO (wait, did we miss Christmas? Pretend it’s still Christmas! Padoru!). Not to distract you from the necessary grinding, but our Fate/Extra Perfect Patch is here, which includes battle dialogue, ruby text, berserkers going berserk, and more! This patch was a long time coming, so I thought I’d talk about the battle dialogue process a bit!

               When I first joined up with the project, I had never actually finished Fate/Extra before. I played on PSP when it came out and rage quit a couple rounds in after dying instantly to some mobs. So, my first task was to play through the game and subtitle the battle lines along the way. All the character voice lines are labeled like “ner_1700” without much additional context, which made things a little tricky. This includes non-battle dialogue as well, which we don’t want to translate. Thankfully, Kotcrab set up a debug message that appears on the bottom of the screen that displays the name of the currently playing file.

(You won’t see that message in the bottom left, but it made my life much easier~)

               With that, I was able to figure out the general number range of what’s battle dialogue and what’s story dialogue. I started by translating as many Nero battle dialogue lines as I could, then continued playing the game. From there, I’d beat a boss, then translate their lines. All was fairly smooth…

               …until this fucking guy.

               Now remember, I’m doing all the subtitles with audio only. I just remember sitting in the library on my laptop, shaking my head in utter confusion as to what the fuck this guy was saying. His dialogue blends several religions into one to make his “true” religion, also known as a nightmare to my ears. I was in such a desperate state of despair that I just googled what I could make out and prayed. What answered my prayers…

               …was a devote follower who created a Twitter bot that regurgitates his lines every hour or so. I managed to find the line in question typed out! It was a godsend, until the next line didn’t exist. But that one led me to a Japanese wiki with every line in the game typed out! (Well, it turned out to be more like 70%, but it was still an amazing blessing). Using that Japanese wiki, I was able to recreate it on my own local wiki and organize all my notes:

               Each line had context written out as well, and with its help, I was able to match line numbers to specific actions, such as break attacks, master healing servant reactions, and more! With this new tool, I was able to check my previous translations, then advance much more smoothly into the horizon, with the crazy fanatic Gatou now defeated.

               Now until that point, I was using our editor to translate without seeing anything in the game. Just before Gawain, everything was set up to add my translations into a patch. I pre-translated all of Gawain’s lines, then did his battle for the first time. It was the most intense battle in the whole game, improved immensely by having the battle subs working as he slammed his Noble Phantasm into me two turns in a row. I knew it was coming too because every enemy Servant has a “tell” line that announces their intention to use their Noble Phantasm that turn (it’s always line #1752 for anyone curious, with #1753 being a “you survived!?” follow-up). I had just translated Gawain’s, so I knew exactly what to look out for:

               I recorded the battle as an early test to show the rest of the team the subs. I should have died in that fight with how sloppy I played, but damn if I didn’t win first try white knuckling the entire time. You can watch that terrible test video here (Keep in mind that since it was an early demo, the lines are unedited with some technical issues present that are now fixed. Timestamp is when things start going crazy – https://youtu.be/jomlQ6cx9uw?t=238 .) There’s no mic audio, but you can feel my spirit break when Leo announces a second Noble Phantasm. It just gets worse from there.

               During the cutscenes before that battle, we also noticed an issue with battle subtitles playing during the pre-combat smack talk conversation. Turns out people say battle lines outside of combat for dramatic effect! Thankfully, Kotcrab had no issue hunting down a variable that would let us know if we were currently in battle. With that, subs would only play if we were in combat. BUT we also subtitled level-up lines post battle and those aren’t in battle! We settled on a set of flags in the timing, with one of the flags meaning “play only in battle” if true. Whew~

               After that, the game was defeated, Holy Grail obtained! No strings attached, they just gave me the Grail and wished me on my way~ Next steps were to translate the rest of Nero’s lines plus Archer, Tamamo, and the Rin route servants. Sprinkle on some sound effect translations as well (those ended up being stored separately as we learned, requiring some more code tweaks to get just right), then it was time for Archer!

               Wait that’s not right.

               There we go, that sounds more correct. At this point, I’m mostly getting to just enjoy the game, while spotting a missing line now and then. Most of these lines are battle victory lines, separated into “servant doesn’t give two shits about you” (first half of the game) and “servant will die for you” (later half of the game). When I got to Alice’s fight on Week 3, I asked if colored subtitles were possible.

               ItsumoKnight: “What’s so hard about it, it’s just Alice and Alice”

               Turns out the color codes should just work since the subtitles use similar code to the game!

               …okay not quite. It initially caused some interesting text glitches which made the following line even more creepy than before. With some quick debugging by Kotcrab, we got everything working:

               Along that same line, we wondered if we could do the Berserker scream, which ended up being easier than expected. There are 4 possible Berserker noise characters, so I wrote a quick python script to randomize different combinations at different lengths, then I matched them to lines that seemed to fit and added “!” marks as appropriate.

               The last major improvement we added was adding ruby text support. Kotcrab went into detail about this in an earlier post, but essentially it lets us add the small subtitle above certain skill names that CCC uses.

               In this case, it adds “Rho Aias” above the skill name for that extra touch.

               With Extra moving into an editing and playtesting phase, I was free to move onto CCC. It’s hard to give actual progress numbers with the battle dialog since there’s a lot of non-battle dialogue mixed in, but I’ve translated the lion’s share of Nero, Archer, and Gilgamesh’s dialogue. Once I finish with Tamamo’s (nearly there), I can play through CCC and translate missing lines as they come up. This will include the in-dungeon subtitles as well, with context! Sadly, the Japanese wiki for CCC is much more incomplete, so most of the lines will be by ear, but on the other hand, the line numbers have the same meaning as Extra! So with that, I’ll know when a line is a counterattack remark, an “I just died” line, or a “chiding the player for playing terribly” line.

               Lastly, thank you for all your patience! This has been a tough year for all of us, and I hope that you can enjoy the work we put into vanilla Extra while you wait for CCC!

               PS: I suppose you want to download this patch, huh? F-fine, it’s not like I want you to play it or anything!

UPDATE:

Now with Mac/Unix patching options and various Aksys translation fixes mentioned by the community!

https://mega.nz/file/3F0iUTDK#gHldA8BBZTXzcYjjZWd9urcWl9kb7h711I24sAzqKGY

(Editor’s note: Fate/Extra is very special to me. It was my exposure to Fate, and without it, I wouldn’t have become the fan I am today. It also lead to me neglecting a blind date, and in retrospect, the game was the better choice, but that’s a story for another time.

If this is your first go at F/E, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and still do. Especially the amazing Shinji Hosoe OST. -cj)

iwakura.p state of the union – 2020

Crazy year, ain’t it?

Actual depiction of most 2020 social life, I imagine

Thankfully, we’ve been busy, so here’s where a few things stand.

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment

As you may or may not know, I was able to test out the first playable build earlier this year.

Unfortunately, it only gets me so far, so I’ve been asked to keep it on hold until the rest of the gameplay text can be finished. This is fine by me, as it will make testing worlds easier on me, my Japanese is NOT that good.

Fate/Extra CCC

Thankfully(?), the updates are largely handled by the CCC team, so be looking forward to that soon-ish.

Things That Were Completed

(disclaimer: iwakura.p was only cursorily involved in some of these. Napple Tale and YaruDora in particular are the results of hard work by people I’ve worked with and am more than happy to signal boost.)

Napple Tale, c/o Cargodin and EsperKnight:

A quirky Dreamcast RPG with a devout cult following.

http://www.romhacking.net/translations/5091/

YaruDora, Double Cast, again, c/o Cargodin and EsperKnight:

A fully animated visual novel! We all knows what it is.

https://www.romhacking.net/translations/5777/

Sakura Wars (editor)

The classic RED/Sega strategy RPG, on Sega Saturn(shiro).

https://www.romhacking.net/translations/5318/

Last Blade 2 (editing and revision)

The classic SNK fighter, now with a new translation! And a happier ending. (May vary)

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/19rXmrdl1f1nIyTUrIIi_RCDOfgzbC1SQfkQdb1rv9Ps/edit

And now, a taste of things to come…

Moonlight Syndrome

One of Suda 51’s first outings as writer/director, a precursor to The Silver Case and the Kill The Past series. Suda is in full unhinged crazy town. If you think you’ve seen madness, you have NO IDEA.

Castle Shikigami 2

The sequel to the original, and IMO, one of the best shmups of all time… with one of the worst translations ever. Which, I for one, have no intention of abiding.

Here’s hoping 2021 will be better than 2020. It’ll sure be an exciting one, I think.

Catch you on the flip side.

-cj

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (PSP) Update

I can’t let the CCC team take all the thunder, can I?

So as anyone who’s been following me on twitter knows, the reason for the delay has been due to a bug at Seven Sisters.

I’m happy to say that bug has been squashed.


As you may notice, A MAJORITY OF DUNGEON AND BATTLE DIALOGUE IS STILL IN JAPANESE. Yes, we know.

The town text, which is probably a good 60% of the game’s dialogue, is already implemented, along with a sprinkling of dungeon banter(how and which rooms, I have no idea, seems completely random).

So where’s this leave us? With the dungeon and battles, and fixing any bugs in the shops(which already appear to be several).

I’ll leave on a positive note with more screens. Have an enjoy.

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Crap, I ended on Nyarlathotep… uh, well, on a positive note, as my girl Ulala says, stay tuned.

Spaaaace Cha-

wrong game.