Sega RetrospectiveThe Shining Force
But in the end, Moogie and her website Shining Force Central had to move on. The website has evolved to become the go-to resource for fans wanting to import and play the Shining games themselves. A translation started by a group of fans was moved to Shining Force Central after the original team drifted apart. Fans were finally getting a glimpse of the game's larger plot.
Project manager Steve Simmons described the sheer amount of work involved in translating such a text-heavy game: "We're talking over 250 game files which hold roughly 2000-2500 lines each, with up to 200 of those lines being unique dialog lines." They've snared a few dedicated Japanese speakers to assist with the project in the past, but Simmons laments the current difficulty in finding volunteers with the necessary Japanese language skills, although they have a wealth of volunteers willing to do other jobs.
The project has had to do its homework when it comes to even the finer details. Weapon, item, special attack and spell names had to be consistent with the rest of the series and even the game script of the first scenario has been retouched to align it more closely with the original script. "At its peak," says Simmons, "the team was 15 or 20 strong with members from Canada, France, Brazil, Taiwan, Singapore and of course, the US and UK." Volunteers were grouped into teams that not only translated and proofread, but did line identification, text insertion, and playtesting. The fan effort has so far released a playable English patch that is updated every six months or so as the script gets reviewed. Shining Force III has become playable in English, more or less.
But Moogie is emphatic that the fan effort is legal: "The project in no way endorses piracy and does not distribute illegal copies of the game. The instructions [at Shining Force Central] explain how to copy and patch original, official copies of the game. Unfortunately a few people have seen fit to distribute pre-patched illegal copies on the internet, against the wishes of the project - but not a lot can be done about this."
To coincide with twenty years of Shining goodness, Moogie is preparing a new campaign, this time ignoring Sega and going straight to the Shining source, Camelot Studios. And she's yet again tweaking the approach. "In the past our campaigns have focused on saying what we want, almost like making demands ... this time we're sending love, not demands." The love will be uploaded to YouTube this time around, and Moogie has plans for a giant Shining series birthday card with thanks from fans around the world. And the addition of an adorably cute homemade Yogurt plushie can never hurt one's campaign efforts. (Yogurt, for those unfamiliar with Shining Force, is the game's unofficial mascot - a squee-inducingly adorable hamster who's completely useless on the battlefield.)
Of course, as much as Camelot may want to make a new Shining game, there is one glaring problem. As Takahashi explained in GamesTM, "Sega maintains the rights." The new campaign dares to hope that perhaps Camelot and Sega can put their rocky past behind them and work for a "bright, Shining future".
Get Involved: Fans who want to take part in the newest campaign effort or volunteer to help to the fan translation project should visit Shining Force Central for more details.
Lisa Gay is a freelance writer dividing time between Tokyo and Beijing.