Friday, August 18, 2017

Ten questions with the guy chiefly responsible for the (nearly complete) English fan translation of Ripened Tingle's Balloon Trip of Love

You're all waiting with bated breath for the English fan translation of Ripened Tingle's Balloon Trip of Love to be released, right?

Don't tell me this is the first you're hearing of it. I wrote about it back in May--in a post titled, "Coming soon-ish to a DS near you: a fan translation of Irozuki Tincle no Koi no Balloon Trip"--for crying out loud.

Unfortunately, we've still got a bit of a wait before the patch is finished and made available to the hand-wringing masses. In the meantime, here's an interview with the guy who not only got this project off the ground but is seeing it through to its release.

I can't share his name in this post for reasons that should be obvious. I can, however, share the handle he tends to use for his fan translation work: joesteve1914.

With that out of the way, let's get to the 10 questions I recently asked joesteve1914 about this tantalizing project as well as his responses to them.

The Gay Gamer: Why did you decide to translate Irozuki Tincle no Koi no Balloon Trip? Are you Tingle fan from way back? Or maybe you're more of a general DS, Nintendo or Zelda fan?

Joesteve1914: I'm a big Zelda fan. I've loved the Legend of Zelda series my entire life, and I've played almost every game in the series. When I learned of the Tingle series, I was instantly intrigued since Tingle is one of my favorite characters. (Not many people share that opinion!) I played Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland and liked it, so I wanted to experience its sequel as well.

The Gay Gamer: When did you start this project? You launched its blog in early 2013, but based on your first posts, it sounds like the project began before that?

Joesteve1914: Yeah, the blog was something I thought of a few months after I started working on the game. If we're being really technical here, I suppose the project started on July 31, 2012, at around 5 pm EST. That's when I posted in the RHDN forums asking for help with hacking the game, since I had never done ROM hacking before. I basically spent the next two years trying to learn about ROM hacking in my spare time. I didn't have the help or the knowledge to start a long-term project like this until the beginning of 2014. So realistically you might say the project started “for real” in 2014.

The Gay Gamer: How many people have worked on or are currently working on the patch? Also, can you explain what each person on the team has worked on or is working on now?

Joesteve1914: In total, around 13 people have contributed to the project so far. At the moment, our team consists of five people. First up we have our translators, waldrumpus and DaVince.

DaVince joined in early 2014, right around the time a major development occurred that made the translation of the script a realistic possibility. He translated the first “page” and some other miscellaneous stuff in the script. He also sometimes stops by our Slack channel and helps us with localization decisions (names, how to translate puns, etc.).

As for waldrumpus, he joined in August of 2014. Like me, this was his first time working on a fan translation. Despite this, he went on to translate nearly 90 percent of the very lengthy script by himself. The dedication waldrumpus has had over the last few years has been amazing. He also is going to be involved in the editing process and will be there to assist the other editors if they have questions.

Next up we have chir-miru, who's been helping out here and there since 2012. At the beginning of the project, chir-miru and I both worked on hacking, which included figuring out how to edit the script and the graphics in the game. We parted ways for a while, but chir-miru came back in 2016 and helped out with some graphics editing.

Zell0s joined in July of 2016 as a graphics editor. He’s been a great help to the graphical side of the project. He did, by my estimate, nearly half of the graphics in the game himself before he left the project this year. We also have masterofzoroark on the graphics side of things. He joined in June of this year. He's been a great help in recent months, too--especially as we near the end of the graphics editing. Finally, we have Pandamanu, who very graciously did the English graphics for the chapter scrolls in the game. There’s around 44 of those, so this was a big help and sped the project up a lot.

And then we have our script editors. We’re still assembling this team, so that work hasn’t really begun in earnest yet.

Although not part of the team, these next few people have also been a huge help to the project. There’s DarthNemesis, who coded the awesome script dumper and extractor (I can’t even imagine editing the text manually), as well as FShadow, who created the new English title logo.

There’s also Auryn, Kelebek, Normmatt and FAST6191; they have given advice and assisted me with some of the more difficult (at least for me!) hacking.

The Gay Gamer: What has been the biggest stumbling block to the project so far? Or what has been the biggest problem you've encountered since you kicked it off?

Joesteve1914: For me personally, the biggest stumbling block in general has been my inexperience with rom hacking. When I started this project back in 2012, I had no experience whatsoever in hacking; in fact, I decided to learn rom hacking for the purpose of translating this game.

I’ve had a lot of problems in terms of hacking that I’ve had to overcome, but the most major one would be figuring out the game’s text engine; specifically how to fit in more text, since English takes up more space than Japanese most of the time. Thanks to the help of Kelebek, we now know that the game uses an unconventional way of determining the length of text. Long story short, it ranges from extremely painful to impossible to expand the amount of text displayed manually. Fortunately, DarthNemesis’s text editor makes editing the text as easy as editing a .txt file.

The Gay Gamer: Have you been pleasantly surprised by anything while working on this translation?

Joesteve1914: I think what surprised me the most was the support and encouragement we got from people. Seeing hundreds of people view the blog every day, as well as the comments that people leave, is very encouraging. I’ve even received a few offers to donate money to the project! Unfortunately, if we accepted anything we’d be asking for a cease-and-desist letter from Nintendo.

The Gay Gamer: I'm guessing you've spent a lot of time playing Tingle's Balloon Trip of Love over the years. What do you like most about it?

Joesteve1914: I like the gameplay the most. It’s a very strange game, as I’m sure anyone who has heard of it knows, but underneath all the quirky Tingle-ness is a game that pays tribute to--or parodies, depending on how you look at it--several classic game genres.

This ranges from point-and-click adventures, to dating sims, to Final Fantasy-style JRPGs, to dungeon-crawlers and much more. The way it merges all of these genres into a Tingle-Wizard of Oz mashup is both amazing and hilarious.

The Gay Gamer: On a related note, why should someone want to play a translated version of Tingle's Balloon Trip of Love? Which aspects do you think will appeal most to your average gamer, or what parts of the title will please them the most as they play through it?

Joesteve1914: Let me start by saying if you’re one of those people who absolutely hates Tingle, you should give this game a chance. I guarantee you will find yourself smiling, if not laughing out loud, when playing this game. The gameplay is addictive and fun without being overly complex or frustratingly unfair. (Hello, Rosy Rupeeland!) There’s also a lot of references to other Nintendo games, especially The Legend of Zelda series. If you’re a Nintendo or Zelda fan--or both--I can’t recommend this game enough.

In terms of the story, I think you’ll be surprised. The game has a heartfelt story and message behind all of its weirdness. The characters are memorable and you’ll definitely find yourself getting attached to them. But don't worry, the game is still a Tingle game, so the humor and the aspect of never taking itself seriously that Rosy Rupeeland had are still here.

The visuals are great as well. They’re not the most advanced on the DS, but they have a certain charm and they're very well done. Once again, if you've played Rupeeland, it’s in the same style as that game.

Also, unlike its predecessor, this game’s soundtrack is pretty great. Each song is well done and they all fit the game’s atmosphere perfectly. There’s a few Zelda songs in there as well.

The Gay Gamer: How far along is the project? Your most recent comment on the subject seems to suggest it's about 80 percent done, but I think you said that last fall. Can you give an update as to where things are now?

Joesteve1914: I'd say it's probably somewhere around 85 to 90 percent done. The script is virtually done, with only a few parts left untranslated, and the graphics also are almost done. Then we have the editing of the script to do. After that we just need to do a beta test, and then the first complete patch will be released.

The Gay Gamer: Do you have any idea as to when an initial patch will see the light of day? Is such a thing possible by the end of the year, or will folks have to wait until sometime in 2018 or beyond?

Joesteve1914: We set a goal of 2017 for the initial release, and that's still the plan.

The Gay Gamer: Is there anything else you'd like to pass along about this project that I haven't yet asked about?

Joesteve1914: Only that we hope everyone reading this gives our patch a try. It’s been a long time coming, and we’ve poured a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it (not literally, of course). I can assure you the patch will be well worth the wait.

Learn more about the Ripened Tingle's Balloon Trip of Love English fan translation, and stay on top of its progress, at

See also: previous 'ten questions with...' posts featuring auntie pixelante, Peter Bartholow (of Indivisible fame), Dudedle Studio, the guys who created Wizorb and the makers of THE 'DENPA' MEN 2

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