The greatest unlocalized DS game is no longer unlocalized

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.

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