Hello, all. I have come from NIS America and I bring you good, I mean great news that one of our titles, Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman will go on sale soon-ish! October 26 to be exact. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Eugene and I am the project coordinator for this title. Don’t let my job title fool you. That’s just what they call me when they decide to let me out of Storage B long enough to not pass out from oxygen deprivation. But enough about me; let’s talk about Z.H.P.
Z.H.P. is the story of a superhero by the name of “Unlosing Ranger.” The game starts off with the final boss, Darkdeath Evilman, ready to take over the world! Unlosing Ranger runs in valiantly to save the day! Well, that was the plan anyway. Instead, he was run over by car on the way over. Luckily, a random passerby enters the scene and the Unlosing Ranger passes down his morphing belt before taking his last breath. That’s right, you, the player, are that random passerby. Your newfound powers and sense of responsibility compels you to take on the last boss in the dead hero’s stead! Consequently, you get your ass handed to you on a plate with all the trimmings. Right before you die, you were sent off to this place called Bizarro Earth, a world of… bizarre creatures that the WHS (World Hero Society) uses as the training ground for their heroes. You start off as a novice hero, but with some blood and sweat and tears, you might eventually become strong enough to defeat the last boss!
As you can see from the little blurb above, the entire game can be seen as both an homage and parody of the tokusatsu hero genre (SFX Hero, for those not in the know). Power Rangers, Gavin, Masked Rider series, etc. etc. I practically grew up on those shows so it felt like I hit the floor running. That goes the same for everyone reading this right now. If you liked those Saturday morning hero shows back in the 90s (stateside), this is for you. While the gameplay, in my opinion, is a bit unconventional (roguelikes aren’t that common these days, right?), but like with all NISA titles, the options on customization and amount of grinding are practically limitless. So you have an unconventional story with an unconventional system. Some might consider that to be a recipe for disaster, but it’s done really really well.
Contrary to what some might think, there is very little glamour in the game industry, save a few at the very top. My job involves lots and lots of writing, particular in the form of emails to people thousands of miles away. Stacks of files and documents begin to stack up with no end in sight. Yes, there are days I fought over the red office stapler as if it’s my next of kin. But if I detailed what I did most of the time, I’d bore you to tears. As much the anguish of others sustain me, now is probably not the time for it.
Anyhoo, as far as localization goes, I was placed in charge of translating the original Japanese text (and some other stuff, too). I was expected to learn the game in and out until I knew it like the back of my hand (hmm, never saw that blemish there before). The actual writing of the script was the most time consuming part but also the most fun. With jokes and dialogue that had Japanese hero shows as their common theme, it was sometimes a bit difficult to gauge how much of it people here would “get.”
Alas, there are no evil villains in the game who caned children as their usual pastime (I remember those to be a staple in hero shows back in the day). As far as I can tell, almost all the jokes in the game could stand on their own two feet, prompting me to keep any tweaks at a relative minimum. I’m not trying to disparage the importance if localization in the name of translation. But it has always been my approach to follow the source as much as possible, at least to give the original creators much-needed respect. But on the other hand, making sure as many people as possible understand the various aspects of the game is another crucial priority. It just so happens this title has many universal themes that required minimal tampering. But in hindsight, I should have let my imaginations run a bit wilder with the script. We could always use more references to the relation between sheep bladders and earthquakes.
All in all, working on Z.H.P. was a great experience and I hope that you will have as much if not more fun playing it as I did localizing it.
tl;dr If you liked hero shows at any point in your life, Z.H.P. may be just your thing.