Super Famicom role-playing game Sailor Moon: Another Story is now available in English and localized for North America, more than two decades after its original Japanese release. It won’t be coming to any console, but it is available for download as a patch for a ROM of the game.
Fan localization projects like these warm my heart. First of all, I’m a Mother 3 fan, a game that’s been left up to fans to localize into English. (Nintendo, if you are reading this, for God’s sake, please localize Mother 3 already.)
Second, and more importantly, fan localizations are amazing examples of a labor of love. Localization is a part of the game development process that combines a knowledge of the original game, with technical programming and cultural knowledge. It also just requires a lot of time and work. Getting a game localized, even 23 years after its release, is no small accomplishment.
Sailor Moon: Another Story is a role-playing game with turn-based combat and lots of character dialogue from the beloved Sailor Moon franchise characters. It originally came out in 1995 in Japan on the Super Famicom. This fan-made localization is the second English version of Sailer Moon: Another Story.
You might wonder why would it need another translation, because this is technically the second. Yes, the game has been translated into English, but this is the first time the game has been fully localized for a North American audience.
Localization isn’t just about translating a language. It is about taking cultural and technical knowledge and then using them to recapture the game for a specific audience. There were over 400 changes in translation made between the initial translation and fully localized version of the game. Theres a big difference between straight-up translation and thoughtful localization.
On the forum where it was released, ROMhacking.net, the localization team showed comparison screenshots that illustrate changes between all three versions. First we see the original Japanese version, then the first English translation, and the recently released localized version after. Many of the comparisons show us improvements across the two English versions like fixed bugs and more natural-sounding language.
Here is an example of one comparison across the three versions:
Although “get out of here” is grammatically correct, we don’t get the same kind of insight into the kid brother character that we do when we read “get outta here!” Details like these matter when telling any kind of story.
This is why I like fan-made localizations. Die-hard fans, the kinds of fans that would be making another version of a game, often know the details of the source material and world around it intimately. They can make calls on important questions like, “How would Sailor Venus say this?”
Now thanks to the work of some of the fans, English-speaking fans of Sailor Moon: Another Story will finally get the full experience of playing the game.