I only remember waking up late August 24th, 2009. There was no reason to wake up early; this was after all the final day of summer. The new school semester was still 24 hours away. So I slept till 1:00 pm. I could never have guessed that the Policenauts English translation had not only been completed, but the patch was now live. Why was I still in bed? This was Christmas morning as far as I was concerned.
I had been tracking the progress of the translation since it had been scheduled to be completed in late 2007; I bought a retail copy, then prayed to the rabbit's foot for a swift completion. Almost two years passed. Then I had the stupidest idea perhaps ever; why not try to play the game anyway? I wept openly as I ineptly fumbled my way through the first 5 minutes of the game that was at that time still completely in Japanese. Forget the idea that you can play a game like Policenauts with online guides. It's like saying you can live off of Laffy Taffy and feel good about doing it. Claiming you're a great marksman when the only gun you've ever held was a Nerf cannon in 1986. Can you walk on water? I didn't think so. You won't get an ounce of enjoyment out of this game if you do not speak Japanese. I don't speak Japanese, I live in El Paso, Texas, and I am terrible when it comes to puzzles and math. This labored 1st attempt at Policenauts equaled Sudoku made up entirely of symbols....Where are the comics for God's sake? I was going nowhere.
Back to my initial story though. The patch actually going live that morning was only the start, I still had to make it work. My friend Bobby can make anything work when it came to stuff like this; only he was busy living the life of salary, bonuses and children. I was living the dream playing with blocks and swinging on the jungle gym from 9 to 5 every day. Today Bobby was not available, and I could not wait for him. So I went to work on patching the game....I hated working and thinking both, but now we three were at an impasse; we had to work together if we were ever going to see Hideo Kojima's long missing art house print in full color.
Something you have to keep in mind here as I am toiling with the patch: My room is tiny. Slum lord, tenement tiny. I have about as much room in my bedroom as the box your Converse came in. I can do wonders with the space I have. I needed it too, because I was quickly realizing my laptop was only one device working towards burning the patch onto a disc. I set up three desktop computers all working towards the same end. It was cramped in there; I was on the floor working between the four computers. The machines endlessly spitting out copies of utter failure. The room was boiling, and after 3 hours I was closer to becoming a priest (on my knees, praying) than I was to playing Policenauts. The afternoon turned to evening...
It was 10pm,and I was immersed in computer cords, chicken wire, reams of non-functioning compact discs, and about two dozen memory sticks. Papers were everywhere with vague scrawled notes copied from message boards. These people spoke like this was no big deal! Just what the hell was GNU?,ISO?Linux? Why did I have all these strange files sitting on my computer desktop? I also at this point hated Bobby, because I was drenched in sweat, my knees hurt and he could have done this while blindfolded and hung upside down.
If my entire life was to be judged based solely on how quickly I got Policenauts working, God would not be pleased. I would likely be cast down in my own personal hell of only Madonna on the radio, strip malls of bead stores, and the Lifetime channel my sole entertainment on television. Have you seen Drop Dead Diva? I would argue that civilization really took a sharp, unrecoverable dive once that show hit airwaves. I would be doomed to centuries of interminable syrupy drama, all because Bobby had house payments to make. What about me? Then around 1 in the morning very much by accident the sparks finally hit neuron, The copy worked! It only took me 12 hours.
I, having spent the last 28 years playing video games and spending a small fortune on the hobby itself, can only think of a handful of gaming experiences that make me feel like I did when I first began playing. For me it's Double Dragon, Street Fighter 2, Metal Gear, Ninja Gaiden, Mass Effect and Snatcher. These experiences give weight to reason as to why I still play video games. Policenauts joined that group as soon as I found my way through the first chapter. This was a genuine experience that I dedicated my time to without a single ounce of hesitation. If it were going to take 100 hours to complete, I would gladly sign that contract in blood.
None of this would even be possible if it were not for the dedication of a small translation team over at Policenauts.net. Without the flawless work of Marc Laidlaw, Michael Sawyer and Artemio Urbina, the game would have been lost to the entire English speaking universe. I can only imagine the grinding strain that a translation like this must have been. Three times the chicken wire if I had to guess. These guys are literally rock stars, not many can say that they translated thousands of pages of Japanese text, dumped it onto an obsolete game console, and kept the spirit intact. None of these men were ever paid, it's much like playing a dive club, your paid in drinks and the bartender is the only fan and that's because he's stuck behind the counter. Not to mention the heckling. You do it for some misplaced, foolish belief that the music needs to be heard. Though at times I am sure the project bordered on sadism, this music needed to be heard. This project will be considered legendary in the years to come.
If you support the work of the Policenauts translation team, go out and buy a legitimate copy of the game and patch it. You will likely have far less trouble than I did.
Then sit back and play one of the greatest Hideo Kojima productions ever made.
There is also a fantastic documentary done by the folks at Retroware TV. Here is a small teaser.
My overall point...Get playing, Beyond Coast is finally open to everyone. Three years and counting.