Bulk Slash English localization project

Danthrax

Established Member
Update time! The project's been going well. We're on a good pace and we hope to have a public patch out by the end of September — just 10 weeks away! :oops:

Last week, Greg (aka Lacquerware) mastered Raycher's voice work for Naira and inserted all of it into the game. He also mastered and inserted Cargodin's line heard after defeating the last boss, a computer voice that says "final password accepted." Raycher and Cargodin did a great job, and we hope to debut their voice work on the Shiro Show in a couple weeks!

(As an aside, we're still not entirely sure why that computer voice mentions accepting a password — the player character inputs an unseen password shortly thereafter to shut down the Spät Fest super weapon, but not at the moment you hear this voice clip. We did find an old Japanese webpage with a product listing for Bulk Slash at バルクスラッシュ that says the main villain obtained seven passwords, one from each planet, so maybe this voice line is the vestiges of some lore that otherwise didn't really make it into the game. Whatever the reason it's there, it'll be in English in our patch!)

Last week was a busy week for recording sessions. Greg and I worked with Erin "Lefe" to record Lira's lines, then Greg and Mampfus mastered her lines and inserted them into the game. We're super happy with how they came out! We also asked CrouchingMouse to voice our final navigator, the secret unlockable Kina. Greg and I worked with her last week, too, to record all of Kina's lines (as well as the line for the protecting boy in the general ending cinematic). Those haven't been mastered yet, though.

Last Friday, we debuted Edobean's performance as Leone live on the Shiro Show. You can check out the VOD of it here:



Then Greg livestreamed Bulk Slash on his Twitch channel to show off Leone in English more, and he was joined in chat by Edobean. You can check out the VOD of that here:



I tileset the Backup Select screen's translated text. It's five different lines totaling about 90 Japanese characters that Greg translated a few weeks ago, and I just got around to tilesetting them in English. They're now ready for Mampfus to pop into CrystalTile and insert into the game. Here's what the screen looks like untouched; it's accessible from the configuration/options menu:

BackupSelectScreen.png



I also investigated some more Japanese text that we initially forgot about: the screens that appear when you boot up the game telling you about issues saving. Knight0fDragon stumbled upon one of them while implementing Twin Stick controls. There are six different messages totaling about 730 Japanese characters. Greg has translated them and I'm figuring out the specifics on how to tileset them now so the linebreaks don't look bad. Here's what one of those screens looks like:

RAM error screen.png



Mampfus extracted Bulk Slash's general ending video in a virtual Mac OS 9.2 environment, converted it to an MOV file, replaced its audio with PandaMonium's English narration, then converted it back into a Cinepak video. This causes a minor loss of resolution and color intensity, though, so he's attempting to use an AI upscaler to mitigate that. In the image below, the frame on the left is how it looks after conversion, and the frame on the right is after using an AI upscaler called Topaz:

AIUpscaledComparison.png



As far as recreating the music heard in the ending videos, Jiggle85 and his brother expect to finish them all in the next couple weeks. We've heard the work-in-progress general ending's track and it sounds great! Besides the music, there are some sound effects that need to be recreated for these ending videos, too, and we're considering using the royalty-free sound effects on Zapsplat.com.

That's all for now. Just one more navigator to record for: Colòn, whose lines we're going to record with Saskia next week!
 
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TrekkiesUnite118

Established Member
There has to be some way to just preserve the original Cinepak Stream and swap in the audio stream. I attempted it with FFMPEG to make a MOV file but MovieToSaturn did not like it. Though that doesn't mean it's not possible, we just might need to get the video in the right Quicktime MOV format.
 

Danthrax

Established Member
OK, latest news! We had a recording session last week with Saskia for Colòn's lines, the final navigator we have to record English lines for — well, mostly English lines ... you'll see =) We weren't able to finish, so we have another session scheduled for tomorrow.

Naira's English voice, as performed by Raycher, was debuted on the Shiro Show last Friday. You can check out how she sounds on Shiro's YouTube channel once they upload the video: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfTSQ67HNTG7ENRNU_XGFUA

Then Greg livestreamed the Naira in English build and showed off the Twin Stick controller being used for the very first time with the new controls Knight0fDragon implemented. Pretty cool to see it in action:



Greg is working on mastering the English lines for Kina, which were recorded with Crouching Mouse a couple weeks ago. Those lines probably won't be debuted in public until we're about done with the patch late next month, though.

We got an audition for the part of King Flair (Metical's father) from Uciel and the team loved it, so I can announce that he'll voice the part!

RedrawnKing.png

(King Flair image above redrawn and colored by PudgyBunny based off of his appearance in Metical's ending. We're going to use this as well as a couple other images she redrew for the translated Bulk Slash website, which was mostly saved by archive.org but was missing a few character portraits.)

Mampfus has managed to successfully extract Bulk Slash's cinematics, replace their audio and put them back into the game. We tested out swapping the opening movie's music with some heavy metal and made a patch with it, and it works! That means we're in business once Jiggle85 and his brother put the finishing touches on recreating the endings' music, which should be very soon.

In the end, after much trial and error within various emulated Mac OS 9 environments, Mampfus used a single command line command with FFMPEG to add audio to the extracted cinematic:

ffmpeg.exe -i BS_OP.CPK -i blind.mp3 -c:v copy -ar 22050 -map 0:v:0 -map 1:a:0 -shortest bs_OP_new.cpk

Then we just put that Cinepak video back into the game and we're all set — no conversions necessary. The Cinepak files ended up slightly larger than the originals by a couple kilobytes, so we can't use CDMage to test them — we have to build a patch using Knight0fdragon's Sega Saturn Patcher utility, since it doesn't care if new versions of files are different sizes than the old versions.

Lastly, I tileset all five RAM error screens and they're ready for Mampfus to insert them into the game. I think this is the last of the Japanese text that needed to be changed to English ... unless we stumble upon more.

RAMerrorscreen3_Complete.png

(This is how it looks after I've finished tilesetting, not how it'll look in the game — the text will be white against a background image and there won't be red Xs at the lower right. Mampfus will copy and paste this into the KANJI.FON file, then go into the TITLE.ALL file and change the hex addresses for these memory error screens' text to direct to where he put the English script in the Kanji file. There's so little text in the game and the Kanji file is so large that we can afford to do it this way.)
 
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Thank you Dan for this detailled update.
Yeah, the breakthrough with the videoediting was on the right time. I was really getting demotivated. I mean, i have achieved something before, thanks to Trekkies' How To Guide: Encoding Cinepak Videos Properly | SegaXtreme, but as he said, its better if you start with a really highquality video. In our case, we only had the original Saturn Videos as source, and as you all know, thats nothing really great. And using that method resulted in a video with a worse quality. And that after trying to find a suitable format/codec to work with under mac os9, because I couldn't figure out how to use Virtual dub (I always got an error message regarding the codec).

So next step was trying to ai upscale the source material, at first with a doubled resolution. The output looked good, but with all the convertions to get it finaly into the saturn, it was again worse than the original material. So again, we had to raise the resolution via ai upscaling. There was still a loss, but just slightly, something we could perhaps live with. But the side effect was that my (really old) pc and additionally the mac os 9 enviroment took much too much time for rendering the single steps (which where at least 3 per video).

Meanwhile Trekkie was lookign for a way to replace the container of the original videofiles with replaced Audiotracks to something movietoSaturn could work with. That, and the circumstances i described before led me to the step to learn how to use ffmpeg, something I was a little bit afraid of not being able to figure out (beeing a noob).
And eureka, that was the solution. In contrary to Trekkies, I tried to replace the audiotrack of the extracted videofile without changing the video itself or the container, and it worked. Not only there was no change in quality or any videoformat issues, it happened so quick as nothing was done. In a jiffy, like magic!
The only problem was, that ffmpeg automatically choosed a higher quality for audio than the original, so the bitrate was doubled what resulted in (audio) stuttering and clipping. I couldnt manage to use the original audio codec of the Bulkslash videofiles (pcm_s8, stereo, 8-bit, 44100 khz), so I halved the frequenzy to 22050 khz to lower the bitrate back to 705 Kb/s.
 
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TrekkiesUnite118

Established Member
Yeah it's probably a case by case basis for where it will work. I know with Sakura Wars, Megaman 8, Sakura Wars 2, or just even using the Cinepak Test Viewer program I'd get audio corruption issues when I used the FFMPEG method. Sakura Wars 2 in fact wont even attempt to play an FMV made that way, it just skips it and goes to the title screen.
 

Danthrax

Established Member
Things have been a bit slower than usual over the last couple weeks for the Bulk Slash English fan localization project, but we have made some progress to report. Firstly, we cast Ucial as King Flair for Metical's ending and Greg worked with him to record his lines.

Greg also finished mastering and inserting the English voice lines for Kina, as performed by CrouchingMouse. They turned out awesome and we can't wait for everyone to hear them, but it's still going to be a bit — we have a couple other navigators to debut first!

Greg and Mampfus finished recording the lines for our final navigator, Colòn, as performed by Saskia, but audio mastering has yet to be begun. Mampfus and Saskia worked with an audio professional who Mampfus needs to get back with (hopefully tomorrow) to get the recorded lines.

We do have a new debut coming up, though! The English voice of Lira, as performed by Erin, will be heard publicly for the first time this Friday on the Shiro Show at 5:30 p.m. EDT! We also might have a little surprise in store if Patrick is able to beat the game and watch the ending...

In other news, I started Photoshopping the Japanese text off of the physical game's original fold-out manual to put an English translation onto it. It's gonna take a while, though... We plan on distributing translated images of the front and back of the fold-out manual along with the patch so everyone can get that full Bulk Slash experience.

Lastly, Jiggle's brother was on vacation so their work on recreating the endings' music was put on hold until this week.
 
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Can't wait for this to release. Made a US styled cover in anticipation. Wish I could upload it to The Cover Project, but they don't have a Bulk Slash section. The blurbs on the back are paraphrased from Google translations of the original Japanese back. Tried to reword them to sound more accurate to what I thought they really meant.
Bulk Slash US.jpg
 
Can't wait for this to release. Made a US styled cover in anticipation. Wish I could upload it to The Cover Project, but they don't have a Bulk Slash section. The blurbs on the back are paraphrased from Google translations of the original Japanese back. Tried to reword them to sound more accurate to what I thought they really meant.View attachment 6524
You’re gonna need that TwinStick logo on the back brother! Amazing progress everyone
 
You’re gonna need that TwinStick logo on the back brother! Amazing progress everyone
From what I can find on SEGA Retro, it seems twin stick games don't have any icon denoting they support it (looking at Virtual-On US box as a reference), unlike the 3D pad.
 
This game does not support 3D control pad
Noted. I saw "3D" on the back of the Japanese case and assumed that meant the 3D pad (hadn't tested myself, just assumed). Corrected it and added a little twin stick icon in its place. Since there's no actual twin stick icon for box art, I just took it from the diagram on back of the Japanese twin stick packaging. I've also added a bit of lighting to the back, to look even more like the Japanese box art. Not sure if I should keep it or remove it.
Bulk Slash US_02 alt.jpg
Bulk Slash US_02.jpg
 
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Danthrax

Established Member
Quick Bulk Slash update today. Greg has translated the fold-out manual that came in the CD case with Bulk Slash in Japan, and I gave it an editing pass. I'll begin paginating an English version of the manual soon.

Shadowmask has generously volunteered to work on recreating the ending cinematics' sound effects. In other sound-related news, Mampfus worked a bit on the sound levels of the general ending's English dub.

The Shiro Show recently uploaded a VOD of Naira's debut in English from July, which you can watch here:



Big thanks once again to Raycher for contributing her vocal talents! Keep an eye out for Shiro Show's VOD of the Lira debut video soon — they livestreamed that about a week and a half ago.

Speaking of the Shiro Show, we offered Dave and Patrick a little cameo in the game — they agreed to voice the two men at the car show heard in Rupia's ending. They're small but fun parts!

MotorShowGuys.png


If you missed the Shiro Show's livestream of Lira in English and can't wait for their VOD, Greg livestreamed the Lira patch on his Twitch account last week, which can be viewed here:



Thanks again to Erin Lefe for providing the English voice of Lira!
 

Danthrax

Established Member
We're getting closer to being able to redub all of the endings in Bulk Slash, wrap up this project and get it out to everyone. Shadowmask found public domain sound effects to recreate every sound effect heard in each ending. He put in some great work toward an important step in redubbing the endings. Jiggle85 reports that he and his brother are 90% complete with recreating the music heard in the endings. Some instruments need tweaking and other mixing needs to be done, but they're very close.

Mampfus is feeling under the weather so he has yet to get the voice clips we recorded with Saskia from the audio engineer he worked with. So that's holding up our ability to get the final navigator's English voice into the game. Wish him a speedy recovery, everyone!

Lastly, today at 2 p.m. EDT, 6 p.m. GMT, Digital Foundry will check out our English localization of Bulk Slash live on their YouTube channel! They'll be chatting with the Bulk Slash localization team while playing. It's very cool of them to feature us. Their channel can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9PBzalIcEQCsiIkq36PyUA
 

Danthrax

Established Member
Things have started to pick up a bit in the last couple weeks with the project. Patrick and Jiggle85 have finished two of the three tunes heard in the navigators' endings. As for the other tune and the general ending music, they report that they're pretty much done, with maybe a couple of tweaks left to do.

SaturnDave and TraynoCo from the Shiro Show recorded their lines for Rupia's ending — they're the guys at the car show getting engulfed in Rupia's smoke!

MotorShowGuys.png


Lacquerware has placed all the vocal tracks with the sound effects for Rupia's ending, we're just waiting on music to be finished. Everything is compressed and noise-reduced, but he'll need to fine-tune the volume levels.

Mampfus retrieved Saskia's recordings of Colòn's lines and is working to convert them into Audacity's format. This is the last navigator for whom we need to put English into the game.

Knight0fDragon analyzed the controller setup screen and determined that we can fit both the original gamepad as well as new twin stick graphics in the game for when players scroll to the fourth twin stick control scheme that Knight has implemented. He initially was thinking about converting the screen from 8bpp to 4bpp to halve the amount of space being used by the graphics, but then he noticed that there's enough blank space in the code after the existing gamepad graphics to drop a twin stick graphic in there. To that end, a new twin stick pixel art graphic needed to be made, so I made one.

TwinStickSprite.png


It gets a bit messy with all the lines from the action descriptions drawn over it, but there's not much we can do about that.

TwinStickConfigScreenGraphic10.png


There's still a black zero in the middle instead of a "TYPE-D" graphic because the game is expecting that sprite to be in the spot where the numbers used for the Visual Bonus screen are. Knight has an idea about fixing that, too — basically forcing the game to use one of the existing TYPE- sprites and putting a D somewhere else in the file.

We also put in a little more work on the manual, with Lacquerware and I hashing out a bit further some of the wording. I'm nearly finished 'shopping out all the text from a scan of the manual, and it'll take no time at all to paginate our translation onto it once I'm done.

Lastly, Digital Foundry featured our patch as well as Bulk Slash in general a couple weeks ago and you can find that video here:
 
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