Released! Shiji Hero Legend v0.90

This game is not for everyone. It is tough, tedious, different, and at times - downright exasperating! The plot mixes history (from the Chinese "Shiji", finished by Sima Qian in 94 B. C.) with legend, mysticism, and fantasy - rolling the whole shebang into a turn-based RPG format with a setting during the "Warring States Period" of Chinese history (circa 300 B. C.).

Therefore, we are happy to announce to all of you aficionados of historical fiction and the most hard core RPG gamers that we have finally released (John Hojnowsky) "Shiji Hero legend". As far as we know, "Shiji" is the only SNES classic turn-based role playing game ever built around almost 100% accurate historical and legendary accounts of actual events. The fiction component means that many characters - typical of everyday people during those "times" - are plugged into the story in order to bring the overall scenery to life.

Some NPCs in this game, however, are pulled from other eras, suggesting a possible "time-jump" or immortality implication on the part of the original writer(s). In summary, the Japanese author(s) "playfully" introduced a variety of famous people, legends, anecdotes, and even a chunk of prehistoric and current Japanese folklore into a plot that sort of "spills out" of the precise boundaries of the Warring States Period.

The major characters, however, are in just about every case traceable to the "movers and shakers" of that age. Even the hero (role-played by YOU) is a person who lived, breathed, and shaped ancient Chinese history significantly. One major disclaimer, though... This is ancient Chinese history viewed through Japanese eyes. A huge challenge we had completing this project reminds me of the name of an amateur translation group that emerged about 20 years ago, called "DeJap". Yes, that's exactly what we had to do with the story script at times too numerous to count - convert Japanese terminology and Katakana to correct Pinyin (English transliteration) matches, pertinent to mainland China.

For example, anything related to the Han Kingdom that transpired in 300 B. C. frequently displayed as "Korea" in the machine readouts that served as starting points. Go from there and multiply the translation experience with Han subjects seven times, and the labor quickly became daunting! The era of the game, 300 B. C. as previously stated, is called "The Warring States Period", a time when seven "princes" in seven realms battled to replace the fading Zhou Dynasty. Those kingdoms included Zhou, Han, Chu, Qi, Wei, Yan, and Qin.

This is the first game that I (Wildbill) translated 100%. Hausen was instrumental researching historical events and helping guide our overall efforts toward the greatest possible accuracy. Hausen, Recca, and I are the only people on Planet Earth to have played this entire English patch and beaten the game. Recca informed me that the game and puzzles are very difficult in places and that a guide of some sort would be most useful. Unfortunately, I don't have time to write one.

When Bongo` first mentioned this game more than a decade ago, not too long after we released "Destiny of an Emperor-II", I became interested, even though the "DoaE-II" plot was based on people and events that occurred in about 220 A. D., and the Warring States Period in China transpired 500 years earlier. Finally, I started pestering Bongo` to resume working on an English insertion system for "Shiji". His coding skills were quite polished by that time, and here we are!

The Intentional Retention of Certain Ancient Chinese Pictographs:

Presently-used Hanzi and Kanji in the Chinese and Japanese-speaking world have evolved from archaic forms. In 300 B. C., written Chinese appeared differently, a configuration that scholars call "Greater Seal Script" (Da-zhuan 大篆 [1000 to 200 BC]). This system displaced an even earlier written language called "Oracle Bone Script". In this game, the Japanese designers wrote village shop signs in Greater Seal Script. For the purpose of retaining selective esoteric ambience in our game patch, team member Hausen suggested we NOT include shop signs that we had previously converted to English.

A Statement by Kazuo Fukushima ("Shiji" Scenario/Game Design) - Translated by Hausen:

What would happen if someone based an RPG on history? For quite some time, I had been considering that possibility absently. While indulging in the imaginary worlds of sword and sorcery - great fun was always there. Yet, having played various games, I began to feel something was lacking. When I came to realize this enveloping feeling was in fact 'emptiness', a vagrant idea in my head started to blossom into a more cogent plan.

"Fun" is probably the most important aspect of games. However, is the only fun attainable derived from just playing the game? In this mindset, games would be no different from any idle amusement. No, I'm not belittling the value of any form of entertainment, but what if something else could be added - an important ingredient - rather like "icing on a cake"? Comparing athletics, for example, we don't play sports merely for the fun aspect. We also engage in physical competition to stay healthy through exercise, practice teamwork, learn sportsmanship, and so on. All of these factors enhance the value of sports.

While deliberating such matters, my head started spinning like chibi characters moseying around some ancient Chinese setting. Many stories and historical figures began filtering through my mind. Yes, why not have the hero start out as an ordinary peasant during the Warring States Period in China and center the main action around [the ancient capital of] Luoyang? Surely, the hero would need friends, so why not start with Lin Xiangru? We would also need a legendary fighter, and Jing Ke would fill that role nicely. I didn't particularly want to include magic, but the Chinese concept of "qigong" wove in quite conveniently.

For the longest time, I was completely absorbed in planning and preparing my story. So, why did I choose Chinese history as a subject? After all, northern European settings with Norse mythology would have fit well into a "sword-and-sorcery world". Considering the recent boom in 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms' games, I reasonably expected a Chinese setting might be a profitable enterprise. However, the ROTK theme had already saturated the gaming market, so I also considered the turbulent Spring and Autumn Era and the Warring States Period. Why not chose the latter time frame, I concluded?

The Warring States Period is the most original and interesting time in Chinese history, certain to introduce diverse characters, the fight for supremacy between the seven states, and familiar stories that we recall in the form of common anecdotes every day in our modern times. However, I didn't know how to deal with the Hanzi (Chinese Kanji). Regarding place names, people, etc., I could not disregard Hanzi entirely, but I wasn't well versed on the Hanzi script. Additionally, in my research, many Hanji/Kanji not used normally in Japan came up frequently, so early on, I decided not to vex players with a plethora of esoteric and archaic [scripts and pictographs].

An 8x8 font was impossible, meaning I required a 16x16 format to design a proper display of languages. That limited me to 14 characters per line and only three rows of text on any given screen. With these limitations, we pondered whether we would frustrate players with constant scrolling in order to read the story. We hammered away with various configurations until somehow the dialogue screens appeared to be rather easy-to-read after all.

Some of the stories and proverbs weren't familiar to [the mainstream]. In addition to new literature, we delved into second-hand bookstores, chased discontinued titles, and utilized libraries to the maximum. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the authors of the literature we referenced that augmented our inspirations. Due to my paucity of knowledge at the time, I may have made a few mistakes. In addition, we simplified some game features for the convenience of players. Please understand the desireability of not over-complicating the game.

I cannot say if the genre of "historical RPGs" will endure. Upon release, I have no clue as how "Shiki Eiyuuden" will be received and critiqued. However, if you [players] take your time and explore every nook and granny [sic], I am confident this game will satisfy [those who enjoy RPGs]. Upon completion, you [players] will have an appreciation of Chinese history and literature from the "Shiji" and "Eighteenth History". You may even enjoy what you learned and be inspired to explore the subject further.

- Kazuo Fukushima (Scenario/Game Design)

Caveats:

Due to the lack of anyone on the team currently who possesses the skills of assembly coding and the ability to decompress, redraw, and re-compress graphics, a number of features in our English patch remain incomplete and even flawed in one instance. These include various puzzle logos scattered throughout and a gambling hall menu that appears midpoint in the game. Reportedly, the "casino" menu is inoperable, wherein a player is unable to purchase chips. (This could be "jumped" by opening the Japanese ROM with a player's SRM.) Additionally, some graphical menus appear in a mix of Chinese and English, but none of these unresolved issues prevent a player from completing the game in English.

Therefore, as in the case of several of our recent patch releases, this one remains unfinished. As we have explained previously, both time factors and downsizing in the diversification of our production team have dictated this reality. The dilemma remains to either share a fully playable patch "as is" or keep it in "cold storage" indefinitely, hoping we will eventually find ourselves in a position to build toward a more "perfect" patch.

We can't guarantee that we'll ever revise this patch and release a Version 1.00, but we are open to assistance regarding the unfinished graphical menus. For more information, check the readme included inside our zipped patch file.

Finally, kudos to Taskforce for creating the "Shiji" font, changing the date on the title screen twice, and helping get "Shiji" released! FlashPV designed our English title page, so a hearty "thanks" is extended to him. Quite recently, Recca played the beta from start to finish. I fixed Recca's observations as best I could, then Taskforce and I decided we would release Shiji in its present form. If someone can help us fix the puzzle menus and gambling game bug or write a walkthrough/FAQ, we would be majorly delighted!

Dedicated to Wildbill (Ha-ha! Taskforce put this in the readme template!)

01/24/2021 - Bongo`, Wildbill, Hausen, Taskforce, FlashPV, Recca and the Entire D-D Team
Released! Super Shell Monsters Story II v0.90

For quite some time, I (Wildbill) have deliberated over releasing this English patch to the general public.

However, the span of years that I've held this file is related more to losing the work that contained the most recent revisions. Finally, I searched the content on a loose HDD once mounted inside a PC in which I had installed increased storage capacity, and there it was, buried within a sealed packing box that was stacked inside a shut-off room, along with dozens of other moving containers.

It took some discussion, but my teammates finally convinced me that a fair number of good people in the world who really love vintage RPGs, folks who have extended enthusiastic and appreciative support over several decades, deserved to play these fruits of our labors. We will build a feedback forum on our SSMS-II message board, and as always, we'll respond to congenially-offered inputs, as well as errata involving gramatical miscues and such.

Here's the back story on how I became involved in coordinating the SSMS-II translation project. It all started shortly after we began working on SSMS-I, a partially completed patch that Bongo` extracted from a list of abandoned efforts. As we proceeded with the first game, my research turned up that a sequel existed but in Japanese only. I played some of SSMS-II in Japanese, then convinced Bongo` to start building an English insertion system.

Before bogging down, I translated about 80% of SSMS-II by myself, so I contacted Gerb (who translated our inherited English script for SSMS-I). He agreed to finish the 20% in SSMS-II, as well as back stop everything I had done previously. Working together, I thought Gerb and I made quite a team knocking out the SSMS-II story. Bongo` found the complex coding system quite tedious, but he kept hacking away at the challenges until everything began taking fine shape.

*Caveat: *

Our patch appears to have only one random bug and a few places where Japanese Kana appears in graphic battle messages. Unfortunately, no one remaining on the team is capable of decompressing that Kana and remapping it into English. The bug is the possibility of some NPCs speaking in garbled text. This is quite random and appears to be related to using save-states. If it occurs, the workaround is to walk to a place where you may save your game. Restart after saving, then return to the character who spoke the gibberish. In every case, this always fixed my game.

For more information, check the readme included inside our zipped patch file. We can't guarantee that we'll ever revise this patch and release a Version 1.00, but we are open to assistance regarding the compressed battle and other messages that still display in Japanese.

Kudos to Taskforce for helping get this direct sequel to SSMS-I released quickly, within just a few days of me rediscovering my lost work. FlashPV designed what some are calling our best ever English title page! Also, I want to heap some praise on our members and friends who thoroughly beta tested the English game some time ago, akualung, MariusB, Swordmaster, and Recca.

Dedicated to Gerb

11/11/2020 - Bongo`, Wildbill, Gerb, Taskforce, Filler, Draken, SylarDean, Recca, FlashPV, Swordmaster, akualung, MariusB and the Entire D-D Team
Update! Released! Aretha II v0.91

Finally, after much more time passed than we intended, D-D is releasing a fully playable English patch for this game. Aretha II is a direct sequel to our previously released Aretha (I [English]) patch. This is the good news. However, our efforts are not polished to the finely-tuned levels of our usual fare over the past nearly two decades.

While reviewing the status of this and several other unreleased D-D projects, we arrived at a consensus that the better choice is to make what we have available to the game-playing world, rather than allow our work to languish in an indefinite state of limbo. Following is a couple of disclaimer paragraphs we have incorporated into our Aretha II readme document that accompanies the patch in our zipped release file.

*Caveat and Invitation:

In a MAJOR departure from our previous policy, we are releasing an unfinished patch. This is due to both time factors and downsizing in the diversification of our production team. In no way are we suggesting anything but positive support for all of our highly dedicated and hardworking teammates in the past. It's simply that changing life circumstances for some of us have dictated the realities of where we find ourselves today.

At this time, we active members of D-D cannot guarantee that we'll ever revise this patch in any way. This means we may never release a Version 1.00. At the same time, we're not saying we won't. As per usual, D-D will establish a feedback topic within the Aretha II forum on our WWWBoard. After receiving the patch "as-is" and playing the game, if someone comes along who really loves this work and possesses the know-how to rectify certain technical issues, we will be standing by, ready and willing to discuss the matter."

We have proceeded through an in-house beta process and fine-tuned the game as best we can. However, in consideration of the small amount of issues still remaining, we have decided it's best to release the game in a beta state of Version 0.90 instead of calling it Version 1.00. Obviously, this release will place the patch in its current form within the public domain. As always, we welcome anyone to provide any and all inputs. However, be sure to pore over the Readme document, so you will be aware of what we don't need reported.

At this time, I (Wildbill) want to thank Taskforce for the many hours he spent reformatting this game for "long" names. He also cleaned up a multitude of glitches throughout the play. Meanwhile, we hope you will enjoy Aretha II (English). FYI, this game plays seamlessly with its predecessor. Those who haven't tried Aretha I might enjoy it more in the double-play mode. Feel free to download the patch either from the PROJECT page or from our DOWNLOAD page.

Dedicated to Bongo`

02/24/2020 - Bongo`, Filler, Wildbill, Taskforce, Draken and the Entire D-D Team
Released! Ranma ½ Hard Battle II Super Move Hustle Romanian v1.00

We would like to announce and release Ranma ½ Hard Battle II Super Move Hustle Romanian. Recca is a big Ranma ½ fan and really wanted to get this game into Romanian after our English release. So he asked if he could, and he knocked it out in short order once I finally got the stuff together and got it to him. We hope you enjoy it.

12/03/2019 - Recca, Filler, Bongo`, Taskforce and the Entire D-D Team
Released! Aretha V1.00
Happy Labor Day!

Dynamic Designs gave birth to this Super Famicom English game patch quite a while after Filler, Bongo`, and I (Wildbill) had completed a significant amount of production work on Aretha II, a direct sequel to this game. As I progressed deeper into A-II's story, I began pestering Bongo` as to how I would REALLY enjoy working on this story, too. Bongo' informed me that the two games - even though produced by the same companies - used different "routines" in their construction, and he wasn't sure if he could "reverse engineer" the intricacies of this "prequel". Well, the release of this patch proves that once again, Bongo` can do just anything he sets his mind to accomplishing, and in bringing this project to a close, we certainly appreciate all of his fine efforts!

Aretha is a turn-based RPG that our beta testers have reported is a fun play. The game is a standard "Tolkien-style" fantasy that features some rather unique elements such as gemstones that may be harvested after battles and presented to special wizards who possess the ability to fabricate unique weapons. As with previous fare, the fates of kingdoms, queens, and princesses are at stake. An unlikely female heroine sets out to recover her grandmother's stolen heirloom ring, only to be caught up in cataclysmic worldwide events that far exceed her wildest imagaination!

Kudos go out to all of our D-D members, Filler for translating Aretha, Taskforce for reformatting the entire game for "long names", and our three beta testers, MariusB, Draken, and akualung. Once again, the synergy of teamwork has brought the major labor - on Labor Day, appropriately - of a full-sized Super Famicom RPG to a successful conclusion.

For now, to obtain an English patch for Aretha in IPS format only, gamers may download it below. Later, players may visit our Download section for additional patching formats. I hope everyone enjoys Aretha English!

Download our Aretha English patch from the downloads page or the project page.

09/03/2018 - Filler, Bongo` Taskforce, Draken, MariusB, akualung, and Wildbill
Released! Ranma ½ Hard Battle II Super Move Hustle v1.10
Happy Memorial Day!

Here is an updated patch for Ranma ½ Hard Battle II Super Move Hustle. This should fix several remaining problems the game had upon release including properly fixing that pesky Mariko graphic. This also fixes the Niagara Falls graphic, the VS battle untranslated names, as well as many small text issues. Hopefully, this is the final patch for this game. Sorry about the problems and thanks for sticking with us while we fixed them.

05/28/2018 - Filler, Bongo`, Taskforce and the Entire D-D Team
Announcement! Sacred Age Odyssea (I) & II
Dynamic Designs is pleased to announce these two new Super Famicom turn-based RPG translation projects, also known as Shinseiki Odysselya (I) and Shinseiki Odysselya-II.

Filler will be the official translator for the first game in this series, written almost 100% in Hiragana and Katakana. Only the scrolling introduction in O-I uses a bit of Kanji. Sacred Age Odyssea-II is a true sequel to the first game but employs Kanji liberally in the game story's script.

Presently, both Bongo` and Wildbill have done a bit of translation work with the Odysseas. Their stories take place on Earth and involve extensive world travel in three different time periods, beginning with the Ice Age.

For the time being, as he has time, Wildbill will translate bits and pieces of O-II and proceed as deeply into the 77 text files as he can. He will also translate all of the miscellaneous files containing longs lists of O-II's magic spells, items, equipment, names, and the like.

However, to produce an O-II story the quality of Lennus-II, Mystic Ark, Burning Heroes, Silva Saga-II, and others, we could majorly benefit from the services of fine translators such as Shiva Indus, Eien ni Hen, Gerb, or Ritchie - not to mention Filler. We are very pleased that Filler has stepped forward with O-I but would not presume to lay a heavy hand on his shoulder regarding the sequel.

Finally, (Wildbill speaking), please don't entertain the notion these were just two more routine hacks for Bongo`. Over the years, the Odysseas have resided firmly on the "impossible" list. After deep thought, I decided I wasn't ready to "retire" following the eventual release of recent new projects 3X3 Eyes and Shiji Hero Legend, so I cajoled Bongo` repeatedly to reopen the Odyssea files. He wasn't sure he could solve their complicated scripting engines until one day he suddenly did. Then, putting together insertion structures required copious amounts of "grunt work". Bongo` logged the time, and here we are!

Thus, D-D trucks on into the future, reveling in the creation of new patches and fun, never finding twisted pleasures in tearing down other groups' work. If Wildbill is successful unraveling most of the O-II story, we may need a second more qualified translator just to backup the tougher spots and skim over the rest. In due time, we'll be establishing the usual mechanisms at this site, so players who are interested in these two games may follow our progress.

05/27/2018 - Bongo`, Wildbill, Filler, and Taskforce