There are two interesting facts about this screen shot:

140402-7thdragon

1. Whoa, OS X has a functional DS emulator!? I guess I hadn’t been paying attention.

2. Whoa, is that 7th Dragon in English!? I thought that would never happen.

But yes, it’s true. OS X has a decent DS emulator, and it can run an English version of 7th Dragon, despite that having been treated as something of an impossibility over the years. Several publishers looked at localizing the game a while back, but everyone decided it was just too gosh-darned hard for the U.S. market. Several fan translators looked into it, but declared it impossible due to the quirks of the script encoding. And yet here we are, all these years later, when a single enterprising fan translator has managed to put together what appears to be a really solid English patch for the game. It even addresses the difficulty issue by integrating an optional “USA mode” that makes a few small balance tweaks to sidestep some of the game’s more frustrating elements.

And no, I don’t feel bad about playing this on emulator. The Japanese retail version of the game and its accompanying strategy guide have been a precious part of my library for several years now. I’ve done my part to support the game, darn it.

So what’s the big deal about 7th Dragon? Simply put, I consider it the single best DS game never to leave Japan. (You could argue that honor belongs to Retro Game Challenge 2, which is fair enough, but that already has a fan translation in the works. Or SaGa 2, but again, already fan translated.) 7th Dragon brings together Kazuya Niinou, the original designer of Etrian Odyssey, with Reiko Kodama, the original designer of Phantasy Star, and combines their talents for an RPG that plays like a hybrid of Etrian Odyssey and Dragon Quest III. It brings very Etrian-like skill trees and classes out of the first-person view and into a more standard top-down RPG format. It’s an expansive, challenging RPG with an intriguing premise. It’s gorgeous and has a great Yuzo Koshiro soundtrack. It’s basically a must-play game.

So mosey on over to Pokeytax’s site to download the patch, find yourself a Japanese copy of 7th Dragon on eBay or Rakuten or something, and play the crap out of this fantastic RPG. I’d be playing it right now except, you know, I’m drowning in work obligations. Like always. In an alternate reality where I picked a career that actually pays well and don’t have to work all day every day just to break even, I’m like 12 hours into this English version already. Man, that alternate reality sounds so cool.

9 comments on: The greatest unlocalized DS game is no longer unlocalized

  1. Eric

    I do not know what I was expecting, but it was not this!
    7th Dragon definitely felt like it should be a good game, but much like the Etrain games, something about it never clicked for me. There is just something fundamental that is missing from them. All the ingredients are there but the pie feels a little undercooked. Or something.

  2. Wolf

    Can we reasonably expect this to remain available for very long? I seem to recall there was an earlier 7th Dragon fan translation effort at some point that got C&Ded before it was even finished. Not that I’m anything but please, mind you.

    • J. Parish

      I don’t think a C&D would do much at this point. The patch is in the wild, so it’ll circulate forever.

  3. Michael Hughes

    We in this reality are grateful for your contributions to games criticism, for however long you choose to make them.

  4. Dustin Westphal

    OpenEmu has DeSmuME built in as one of it’s cores. Highly recommended: http://openemu.org (be sure to read the Readme that comes with the patch. There’s apparently a crash bug with DeSmuME.)

  5. TheSL

    And now Kazuya Niinou is just Assistant Director on FFXIV, making quests and such.

  6. touchofkiel

    I too didn’t realize OSX had a decent DS emulator… but seeing as how I just installed Windows via Boot Camp, I guess it doesn’t matter. I’m not big on emulators for modern systems, but I just might have to check this out.

    On the same subject, I can’t wait for Square Enix to release (possibly) a FFXII Hd remake. And I’ve just discovered the fan translation of the Zodiac Job version, and I can tell you it’s awesome. Old news? Don’t care, still the holy grail of Japanese-exclusive games for me personally. (Better yet, playing on an emulator means you can make your own little HD remake of it. I might add that the OSX emulator isn’t very good, though, so you will need Windows for that.)

  7. Funny_colour_blue

    Thanks for posting this Jeremy!

  8. iwuvkemonomimis

    Thank you for making me aware of this. It’s great to see fans translate stuff that was never released in the states. I recall reading a good article on 7th Dragon on Hardcore Gaming 101 a few years ago. I have no idea when I will ever have the chance to try it or any RPG out due to my huge backlog of games but I hope to try it out eventually.