Announcing an English localization of Sega Saturn cult classic action game Bulk Slash!
Developed by CA Production and published by Hudson in 1997, Bulk Slash is one of the Saturn's best games, combining impressive 3D graphics with fast gameplay that allows the player to switch between a bipedal robot on the ground and a fighter jet in the air at will. But one of its most distinctive features is the ability to find navigators in each mission and bring them aboard your mech. They speak to you throughout each mission — giving directions to the next target, cheering on the player for destroying a swath of enemies, informing the player how many mission-critical objectives remain, even yelling out when the mech takes damage. Each of the seven navigators has different personalities and provide different gameplay benefits when they level up through repeated playthroughs.
But there's one problem for non-Japanese speakers: The navigators speak Japanese, and there are no on-screen subtitles for their lines.
Much of the game's on-screen text is already in English, from the in-mission user interface to the options screen to graphical elements on the stage select and mission briefings. This has allowed English speakers to get through the game without too much trouble, but none of the mission briefings or navigator introductions are in English, and a lot of the game's charm is lost without knowing what the navigators are saying during each mission — choosing one you like and hearing how her lines change as you level up your relationship is a big part of Bulk Slash's unique appeal. Besides, the ability to read each mission briefing in English greatly increases this game's accessibility, allowing English-speaking players to understand the situation — no more referring to an online FAQ to figure out what the hell you're supposed to do!
Greg, Mampfus and I have been working for the last month to make this game as accessible as possible to English speakers. Thanks to Mampfus, we have the ability to swap any in-game Japanese text with English fonts that I created, and we can swap any Japanese voice file for a new one from an English speaker. Thanks to Greg's translations, we've got all seven mission briefings in English, all seven M.I.S.S. navigators' introductions in English, and soon we'll have the controller configuration screen and the end credits changed over to English in game, too. Greg is still working on translating all of the in-game voice lines but he's got nearly half of them finished already.
But there's one thing we can't do on our own, and that's record voiceovers for all the navigators in the game. We need eight female (including the player's childhood friend) and one male (the player) volunteer voice actors to finish this localization project. Each navigator has about 100 lines, although many of them are very short — things like "behind us," "one remaining" and "target set." The player and his childhood friend have just a handful of lines of lines each.
There are also a number of smaller roles for the ending cutscenes, should we go forward with dubbing over those instead of simply adding subtitles to the Cinepak video files — a male narrator, a female child, several male children, etc.
So if you're a voice actor or you know one who would be willing to help, please let us know here on SegaXtreme or by emailing us at Bulk_Slash_translation@online.de — we'd love to hear from you! We also hang out on Sega Saturn Shiro's Discord server, and we can be reached out to on Twitter @lacquerleaks (Greg) and @Danbo_4 (me).
To be clear, this is an unfunded fan project and we're relying entirely on volunteers. But that also means it would be perfect for aspiring voice actors looking for more experience, or for voice actors who would love to help bring this awesome game to a wider audience.
Special thanks to Knight0fdragon for technical assistance to get us started with poking around the code, to Malenko for his suggestions with the on-screen English fonts, and to Ghaleon for providing editing assistance. We really appreciate the help they've given us. And thank you to Sega Saturn Shiro for bringing all of us together in the first place!