Lost in Translation is a blog series that discusses obscure fan-translated ROMs with history on the game and translation process, as well as downloads with the most up to date patches applied.
In today’s collection, we’ll be focusing on 3 mecha games for the Super Famicom that didn’t make their way out of Japan by traditional means.
With the help of dedicated ROM hackers, these games were translated from Japanese to several other languages and had the opportunity to be experienced by a much wider audience than their original creators would have ever anticipated.
Assault Suits Valken
ASV is a fast-paced mecha platform shooter with gorgeous pixel art both in-game and during its cutscenes. The control scheme is very in-depth but surprisingly intuitive, with blocking, strafing and hovering while firing all simple enough to master in the first few levels.
The game was developed by Masaya Games and produced by Toshiro Tsuchida, who would later go on to work for Square and the Front Mission series.
Technically this game was localized and released in the US under the name Cybernator. But this English translation of the Japanese version features previously censored dialogs, portraits and additional scenes that were removed during localization. I don’t necessarily think these missing parts of the game make it any better, but I do think it is a more complete experience.
Super Robot Wars 3
Super Robot Wars 3 is one of many in a mecha franchise mash-up series that has spanned over 30 years.
It plays like a slightly more sci-fi Advance Wars in space, where you strategically command your different classes of mech troops in space fields of war and duke it out in close up SD mech battles.
It’s no secret that this game is tailored for a specific breed of mecha addicted otaku. It features one of the most insanely large mash-ups that spans over 20+ different franchises in popular Japanese mecha anime and manga.
While this all sounds impressive, the references and amount of content between all of these niche Japanese franchises may be a bit much for some. I honestly only really recognized some Gundam related references, but the gameplay might be enough to keep you engaged!
Front Mission: Gun Hazard
Gun Hazard is an offshoot of Front Mission, but it is clearly nothing like what had been seen from the series at the time.
What I immediately noticed was how similar it handled to Assault Suit Valken, a game created 4 years prior by Front Mission’s original creator. But strangely enough, Toshiro Tsuchida was not involved with this game, which to me certainly feels like a spiritual successor with a more fleshed out stats and equipment system.
In it, you’ll fight your way through intensely dramatic scenes and action-packed levels which are experienced through a Mario Bros 3 style overworld map. Blowing up mechs gets more rewarding every stage as you gain exp and funds to level up your mechs abilities and equipment.
The music compositions in Gun Hazard are the second collaboration from Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda after Chrono Trigger. With its intricate use of samples and DSP effects, you can really hear how at home they must have felt on the SNES by that point. A lot of the tracks definitely have a very early 90’s cyberpunk quality to them and are very reminiscent of Terminator or even Metal Gear Solid.
Even though the game has some quirks, (like not telling you that certain levels require you to exit them by walking to an arrow and holding B and down at the same time) the gameplay is a blast to experience, the music is written by Square legends and the translation work really is top notch. Fantastic work all around.👌