games / Columns

Ask 411 Games 09.24.12: ‘Fire Pro’, Abandonware, Woolseyisms, More!

September 24, 2012 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina

Hello, and welcome to yet ANOTHER edition of Ask 411 Games!

I know, what are the odds?

Well, I guess if I did post something else, it would probably get posted, but then again I’m not exactly the least clumsy person on the planet, plus I am facing a massive writing deadline in 5 days, so I guess the odds of me posting this are, oh… 95%? Maybe 96.5% if you’re generous.

Meaningless I know, but hey, I gotta put something here before the awesome of Banner takes over.

411 on Twitter!

Me On Twitter~!

Remember, questions can go in the comment section, or, better yet, to [email protected]

Memo to Jed: Hey, inside jokes are what keep me motivated, and at least someone gets them. Hell, sometimes I toss in stuff that I’m fairly certain that no-one else on the planet but me finds amusing. Like 95% of my ‘jokes’.

And we begin quickly with A.C. Sativa

BTW, is the Every Console Ever column dead?

No no, it’s resting.

That is to say, after this weekend (where I shall be calling in a pinch hitter to take over the column for a week) it will be one of the two major projects I undertake and leave for dead, half finished, after a few months of inactivity with a goal of a finish later on. I just can’t justify publishing it piecemeal, I need to wait until I have more meat for a V1.0 beginning, then I can add to it as I go.

Evil Jeff emailed in, and so he gets to be the first proper question to be tackled to the ground this week.

Hi Matt,

got a nice obscure question to test your powers of research:

I just completed the excellent ‘Mark of The Ninja’ on the XBox 360, and noticed on the end credits that the ‘Senior Director XBLA Publishing’ was/is a Mr. Ted Woolsey. Is that perchance the same Ted Woolsey who translated so many of the SNES Squaresoft RPGs for Western releases? Having played so much of his work in my yoof I almost feel like I know the guy – any idea how he went from ‘Jurassic Pork Soup’ (Chrono Trigger) to what he’s doing now?

Thanks, as ever

Ted Woolsey remains a somewhat… polarizing character in the western fanbase for JRPGs, being the man who, as Neutral Evil Jeff points out, translated many of Square’s 1990’s games, although he didn’t do translation as much as he localised. There is a difference.

See, anyone today can fire up Google Translator or Babelfish if they are old school and do a dirty cut and paste translation. Except that what you get out tends to be… Well, for example, take the first paragraph on Syn-Sophia’s webpage, to take the first page in another language I have bookmarked. You run that through Google, and you get this.

By the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake,
I would pray for us those who have died.
I would sincerely sympathy for everyone that has been affected by the disaster.
I wish I reconstruction of the affected areas as soon as possible.

Enough to get the gist of it, but certainly that’s hardly correct English. So a cut and paste translation is rarely good enough. You need someone to translate it, and then localise the text so that it makes sense. Ted Woolsey was one such man, as he had graduated with a master’s degree in Japanese Literature, and was then hired by Square to become a translator/localiser for their games to the US market. His first game was the Gameboy game Final Fantasy Legend III (SaGa III in Japan). And most of his guidance came from the work done on Final Fantasy IV’s conversion to the Western Final Fantasy II, in that he was given that game and told ‘Do the opposite of that’.

And that he did, to… mixed reaction. Some people feel that he’s a dictator who thinks all Americans are morons who can’t comprehend anything other than the same exact thing they’ve seen before, and others who think he’s a hardworking guy who did the best job he could to make stories and plots make sense. ‘Woolseyism’ is a slightly obscure term for when a translation differs from the original source material, and is either an insult or a descriptive term, depending on inflection.

Anyway, he worked on several games for Square, and is best known for Final Fantasy VI, although he also did Chrono Trigger and his final game was Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. He left Square before they began work on making the English version of Final Fanstsy VII.

Ted then helped to set up a video game company, Big Rain, in 1996, as their Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. The company’s major work was Shadow Madness, an RPG for the PS1.

As you can see in the trailer, the company changed names to Craveyard when it got bought out by Crave Entertainment, and Ted became Vice President of Internal Development instead. As well as Shadow Madness, the company was also working on an RPG for the Nintendo 64DD, called Project Cairo. But Shadow Madness did not sell well when it was released in 1998, and the company was shut down in 1999.

He then joined the RealNetworks as Director of Business Development, focusing on the RealArcade website, delivering games via the internet back when both the RealNetworks was a serious thing and people were still coming to terms with the idea that games could be played ‘online’.

He worked there for a few years, moving from brief to brief, distributing the RealNetworks systems to developers and consumers, until 2004.

Today, he is indeed working at Microsoft, as Director of First Party Publishing for the Xbox Live Arcade service. So in other words he’s working on getting Microsoft owned games onto the service, as exclusives. Fair enough too.

So there you have it, a short history of the man who gave the world Son of a Submariner.

I wish I could embed this.

This one too.

I gotta admit, I downloaded the game because of this video, and the hope I get to play against them later on.

And this has nothing to do with gaming, but since it’s me at 0:36, I’m including it.

Joe brings us back to the Civilization games.

Love that song.

Hey Matthew, have you ever played Civ? They tried dumbing down Civ 5 and its a complete mess. Most would rather play Civ 4 still.

I have indeed played Civilization, with Civ 2 being in my top 5 games of all time most of the time.

(My top 5 changes a lot, given what I’ve played recently, my mood, time of day, the temperature, how badly I need to go to the bathroom, lots of factors. Right this second it is, in no order, Civ 2, Alley Cat, Fallout: New Vegas, WWF: No Mercy and KOTOR1.)

Of course, my love for that game might well just be because I had the hots for the Diplomacy Adviser.

That said, I must admit that I’m kinda over my head with the newer ones. Civ 2 is my fav just because it was the right balance of detail and complexity to gameplay and fun. Although I must be one of the few people on the planet who loved Sid Meier’s Colonization (or, for that matter, Sid Meier’s SimGolf, although that one I know was just because my stories for that online were popular.)

But to stop with the videos, I do understand both sides of the argument. On one hand, the Civ fanbase is passionate and demands more and more complexity, more detail, and I totally get that. But on the other hand, it is still meant to be a game, and there comes a point where you need to pick gameplay over complexity. You want to please the fans you have who are passionate, but at the same time you don’t want to stonewall out new fans from picking the game up and giving it a go. It’s a tightrope to walk, and often games will go too far to the “accessible” side. But given that I still play 2 occasionally (partly because my computer is, frankly, pretty weak), I am not the best guy to give a detailed opinion on the newer ones and what have you. Suffice to say that I do understand why they went too ‘dumbed down’, and I can’t really blame them for it.

Guest#1121 includes a video! And a link!

Do you have any idea who owns the rights to this game?

Well this is a game I know nothing about. Fun!

Actually it looks kinda cool as a basic puzzle game, certainly I’ve seen and played far worse on my mobile phone, so good for it. And the music’s kinda cool. Apparently it began life as Bumpy for PCs in 1989, made by French company Loriciels, and then Infogrames took over and produced Pop-Up in 1991.

So I can only assume that Infogrames still owns it, or rather, Atari, SA owns it. Infogrames became Atari, SA in 2009 after it bought out the rights to the brand. However, this may well be an Abandonware game, games that copyright holders no longer care about. But then again, Home of the Underdogs, which is an awesome site, btw, and you should check them out, has the game listed but also says it isn’t available due to being either ‘still on sale or removed at request of the owner’, which would seem to indicate that someone does indeed own it, and at a guess, it’s Atari, SA.

And with that, remember, questions can go in the comment section, or, better yet, to [email protected] I will leave you in the capable hands of Todd ‘Casting’ Vote. Until next time, stay gaming gentlemen and ladies.


article topics

Mathew Sforcina
comments powered by Disqus