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Built to Play 36: The Underdog

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Built to Play 36: The Underdog

We wrap up the Bit Bazaar, get our butts handed to us at the Toryuken tournament, and talk to a fan translator about his radical dream. 

Mare Sheppard and Raigan Burns have been working on the N series for almost a decade. N started as a flash game back in the mid-2000s, then N+ came out on Nintendo DS in 2008, and now N++ is in the works for Playstation 4. N is a platformer starring a ninja hungary for gold.

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Each level is difficult and requires precise timing and movement. Which is what makes play testing so important. Mare and Raigan showcased N++  at the Bit Bazaar two weeks ago, talking about the value of playtesting, and whether this is the definitive N game. You can hear from them starting 30 minutes in. 

Jon Remedios is not a narcissist, no matter what his shirt says. In fact, Jon was so worried about showing off his game, that he created a shirt that said "Jon Remedios is a Narcissist" to justify it. The Shoot Shoot Mega Pack began at the Global Game Jam in January. (A game jam is basically a weekend-long competition to create a new game). Jon wanted to create a game on his own, with as little outside help as possible. That meant simple graphic design, and simple mechanics. SSMP, once done, will be filled with four games based around a shooting mechanic, like in Asteroids. The game he had on display at the Bit Bazaar was Sync, a local multiplayer game where pushing shoot or thrust for your ship means everyone does. You are actually far more likely to be thrusted right into a wall than shot to death, which makes death fairly chaotic. You can find out why starting 34:52.

Courtesy Gavin McKinley on artbygavin.blogspot.com

Courtesy Gavin McKinley on artbygavin.blogspot.com

Meanwhile, last week was Toronto's largest fighting game tournament, so we visited Toryuken to chat with its organizer and its champion. 

Russell Ordona, better known as NeoRussell, has been running the Toronto-wide Toryuken fighting game tournament for three years now. It's one of the largest tournaments in Canada, running games like Street Fighter IV, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and Killer Instinct but it still pales in comparison to any American tournament. Canada just doesn't have the density of players like you might see in California or New York.  So we talked to Russell about the role of these kinds of tournaments, and what he does as an organizer to grow it every year.

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One of the things an organizer can do is bring top talent to the city to draw more competitors. This year that talent came in the form of Justin Wong. Justin is one of the top Street Fighter IV players in the world and famously lost against Daigo Umehara in 2004.  Justin came to Toronto primarily because he's friends with Russell, but he sees it as a way foster competition and find potential champions before they make it to the Evolution tournament. Hear both Justin and Russell chat about Toryuken starting 42:40.

Courtesy Metacafe and Gamespot

Courtesy Metacafe and Gamespot

Localization month continues as we chat with Steve Demeter about his fan translations of Final Fantasy II and Radical Dreamers.

Steve Demeter translated Japanese games ever since 1998, beginning with Final Fantasy II, but he's never done it professionally. Steve does it out of a need to help the underdog, find weird games that will never make it out of Japan, because they were too late, too big or too expensive to bring to the West. The game that's perhaps the epitome of this is Radical Dreamers, a non-canon sequel to Chrono Trigger that the creator officially disowned in favour of an equally contraversial game, Chrono Cross. Radical Dreamers is a bad game. It doesn't make a lot of sense, even in Japanese. It also plays completely differently that its predecessor, more a visual novel with some role playing elements. While Chrono Trigger is considered one of the greatest games of all time, Radical Dreamers is a mostly forgotten mistake, which is why it's perfect for Steve. Hear more about the process of fan translation starting 52:41.

We'll hear more from Steve next week, talking about Earthbound Zero.


The music we used this week all came from the Free Music Archive: "Flying Pea" by Daddy Scramble, "Street Fighter 5" by My Mind, "I've Got Nothing" by RoccoW, "Moonglow" and "Happiness Is" by Podington Bear and "Off to a Fighting Start" by ANAVAN.

Header Image by PascalCampion on DeviantArt.

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Built to Play 35: Translation Issues

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Built to Play 35: Translation Issues

As we enter a new theme month, we're talking about translation. That's translating languages and translating mediums. 

Colin Williamson joined us from Seattle to discuss the process of localization. Colin used to work for Square Enix as a localization expert back in the mid-2000s, and helped retranslate some of the oldest Final Fantasy games, even going back and correcting the work of industry legend, Ted Woolsey.

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Woolsey's work was flawed, though not for a lack of style. He did the translations largely on his own, couldn't communicate often with the design team, and had crazy deadlines to finish them. Colin meanwhile worked in a team, not too far from where the actual designers worked, and he started the translations while the game was still under development. Those circumstances also helped him codify all the language currently used in Final Fantasy games, like "Phoenix Down" over "Phoenix Feather." A lot has changed since Woolsey worked for Square, and Colin tells us all about it, starting 21:30.

Want to learn more about the history of Final Fantasy? Check out our 1, 2, 3 part history specials. 

Colin also gave us a couple games that are particularly great examples of localizations. For our own list, take a look at our primer. 

On May 8 and 10 we visited the Bento Miso for Comics vs Games and the Bit Bazaar to talk 3D, VR, books and board games.

Comics vs Games is a yearly event in Toronto where comic artists team up with game designers to create a video game. This year, the theme was 3D, leading to the virtual reality games Altar and Libraria. Altar, created by designer Daniele Hopkins and artist Gillian Blekkenhorst, allows you to briefly walk around the ruins of an alien civilization. While designer Kyle Dwyer and artist Adam Hines teamed up for the pop-up book adventure game, Libraria. 

(All photos from Attract Mode's 3D gallery. Clay models were all done by Ventla are long forgotten Nintendo characters that we can't name. The two prints are meant to be 3D with red/blue glasses. If you have 'em, try 'em.)

Each round of Comics vs Games is accompanied by a gallery curated by the fellows at Attract Mode, a video game art collective. This year they held a 3D gallery containing a selection of three dimensional 2D art, presented with old school red and blue glasses. We talked to Matt Hawkins, a long time member of Attract Mode about why they collect video game fanart, and some of beautiful renditions of Dark Souls and Year Walk, amongst numerous other games. You can hear from him, Gillian and Kyle starting 35:00.

Then at the Bit Bazaar we checked in with Conor McCreery and Elizabeth Simins on the other ways one can turn a book into a game, or vice versa.

Conor McCreery was at the Bit Bazaar, a sort-of independent video game flee market, to show off the new prototype of the upcoming Kill Shakespeare board game. Conor is one of the creators of Kill Shakespeare, a comic where all of Shakespeare's works exist in the same universe. Imagine the Marvel comic book universe, but for Hamlet and Othello. With those sorts of mashups already on the table, their publisher, IDW, invited them to turn the three-volume comic into a board game. Conor tells us about how the game works, how they got involved, and why a Kickstarter does more than raise thousands of dollars. You can hear all about it, starting 51:30.

The prototype version of the Kill Shakespeare board game at the Bit Bazaar. 

The prototype version of the Kill Shakespeare board game at the Bit Bazaar. 

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Simins talked about the power of video game zines at one of the panels at the Bit Bazaar. Elizabeth, an artist who occasionally does a comic for Kotaku with journalist Cara Ellison, told us about zine's appeal and their utility. For those who don't know, a zine is like a small handcrafted magazine made by only a few people. Elizabeth loves their physicality and so do the people who buy them from her, although she admits she probably won't get rich off a zine. Still, they enable her to discuss things like misogyny in games, like in "Ain't No Such Thing as Misogyny." If you'd like to hear more about video games zines, and a few of Simins projects, take a listen at 51:30.

Elizabeth Simins's video game zine that collects her artwork and comics regarding misogyny in games. Courtesy Elizabeth Simins.

Elizabeth Simins's video game zine that collects her artwork and comics regarding misogyny in games. Courtesy Elizabeth Simins.


We used music from the Free Music Archive and Soundcloud*. From the Free Music Archive, "japanese prog" by Rushus, "Sun Bum" by Monster Rally and "Touching" by Souvenir Driver. From Soundcloud, we found "Trance Transistor Radio" by Arai Akino on rachelroh's profile. We changed up our theme this week to "Daniel Kruis" by RoccoW. 

Built to Play was made by producer Arman Aghbali and feature editor Daniel Rosen.

If you liked what you heard be sure to leave us a comment or a review on iTunes or Stitcher. It helps more people find the show. 

*This music was all taken under a creative commons license. If you feel your music was used inappropriately, be sure to send us an email. 

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