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The Story Behind Penguin Dream StoryIt all began with Dave's Videogame Classics. Well, to be honest, it all began with the Atari 2600, but that's going too far back. Let's start with my discovering of emulation.
I had recently purchased a Hewlitt Packard Pentium 100 (Circuit City, around $1899 at the time), and somehow managed to work my way online through MSN. One of the first things I looked for was, of course, games. Particularly, some of my old favorites, suck as Frogger, Kaboom, and Donkey Kong. Imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered Champ! games. I was floored- remakes of some of my old favorites, playable on my computer?! BLISS!
And so it was that I launched a search for video game remakes and stumbled upon Dave's Classics. Back when I discovered it, Dave's Classics still hosted rom files, and once I figured out how to make a Ghosts 'n' Goblins emulator run, I thought I had achieved Nirvana. There could be nothing better than playing the actual arcade game on my computer, could there?
And I suppose that's really where it all began. First was Dave. Then was Jim of Emunews. Then was Zophar. For awhile, ZD was the be-all and end-all of emulation, as far as I was concerned, and it was there that I stumbled upon the Romhack board. I'd always enjoyed the General message board... particularly watching Teeth (an old time ZD regular) eat posts and posters alive, but when I found the romhack board, my eyes really opened up to the possibilities. I watched demi and neo demiforce, whose message board I lurked like crazy, and Shadow, who was chased off the scene (or simply left?) for some silly reason or another, bring their translation projects to life, and I began to think that I must somehow get involved. I decided I wanted to make a contribution, and I began to look into finding out how to modify games as I saw other doing.
I downloaded document after document. I began with simple text and graphics hacks of Super Mario Bros., of course. The very first thing I did was change Mario's name to my own... this really impressed most people I let see this, and it was universally treated with, "How the hell did you do that?" I simply explained that I was a genius and told them to go do my laundry, or something of that sort. A few of my friends actually began to believe my claims when they saw my Super Tecmo Bowl hack, for which I changed the name and colors of the Minnesota Vikings to the name and colors of my High School football team. I also changed all the names of the players on the Vikings squad to our names, and anytime anyone from the team visited me, I had to show it off. Again, it was always initially met with, "How the hell did you do that?", but we would always have a blast playing as ourselves, and taking the Trojans (our team name) to the Super Bowl.
I'm getting to Yume Penguin Monogatari now, really... just a bit more background. Although I wanted to get involved in romhacking, I wanted nothing to do with most people in the "scene." Also, I was knees deep into college at the time, and chin deep in working 50 hours a week managing a Sam Goody to pay for college. Needless to say, I had no time for a major "extracurricular" project, and my hopes of contributing faded. It wasn't until I graduated college and quit my life as a retail slut that my opportunity presented itself.
I'd been hoping to take a few Japanese classes throughout my undergraduate work, but language courses at the university, as you may well know, were daily, Monday through Friday, for three hours consecutively at a time. Working as I was, I had no time for this. That did not stop me from buying a few books from various courses, a few "learn-from-the-tape-as-you-play-it-in-the-car-while-you-drive" packages, a few Japanese to English dictionaries... you get the picture. I immersed myself in learning the fundamentals whenever I could- practicing hiragana and katakana flashcards almost all the time, alone or with my then girlfriend (now wife!). By the time my last semester in college was approaching, I had a pretty good handle on basic Japanese, both read and conversational (this made watching my pirated vhs copy of Macross- Do You Remember Love far more interesting). It was at this time that I decided that my job must go.
And go it did. I left Sam Goody and took a part time job tutoring kids from kindergarten to high school at a tutoring center, mainly so that I could dedicate more time to my schooling. It was around this time that I happened to download the rom for the game Yume Penguin Monogatari from the now dead site Spirit in the Contraption. I was amazed at the game right from the get go. The pictures told the story when I could not match up the kana with anything in my dictionaries, so the game was eay to get through even with my limited Japanese reading skill. I really became attached to the game quickly, however, and soon decided that this was to be my contribution. It was then that I began to hand copy phrase by phrase of Yume Penguin Monogatari from the screen into my notebook. I would pour over my Japanese to English dictionaries for hours trying to find matches for words and phrases. Between classes and during the hours before work, I would go to the university library, grab the big Japanese to English dictionary, and work away at my translation. The magic behind the translation, however, did not come from me. It came from a young man I met at the tutoring center named Aylton Yamamoto.
Aylton was having trouble with school, and his parents requested that I spend an hour a day with him on reading. Aylton and I studied and studied at the tutoring center, and we made great progress. It was one night that I talked to Aylton's dad that set the wheels into motion for the Penguin Dream Story translation as it appears today. Aylton's dad was worried that Aylton, having gradually become a stronger and stronger reader of English, would lose his skills in... you guessed it... Japanese. I told Aylton's dad that I could absolutely relate to how difficult it was to maintain skills in two languages, and showed him the notebook in my backpack, prominently featuring sketches of the Yume Penguin Monogatari title screen and some of the lines from the introduction. As it turned out, I had almost completely finished my translation, when Aylton caught a peek at my title screen sketch and read it as "Dream Penguin Story." I repeated him and asked, "Would 'Penguin Dream Story' be a good way of saying that?" He told me that it would, and asked if he could see the notebook.
Moments later, I found myself at the McDonald's right outside the tutoring center with Aylton, his dad, and his brother. While we scarfed Filet o' Fish sandwiches and fries, Aylton looked over my translations and told me where I screwed up, where it sounded stupid, and how I should just call the Captain toward the end Ahab, because it sounded better.
By the time I left that McDonald's and wished Aylton and his family goodnight, I had the Penguin Dream Story translation as it appears today written in my notebook. That night, I went home and began to insert the new text, letter by letter, into the original rom. I don't remember exactly how long it took, but I do remember that it was ready almost exactly on Christmas Day, 1998. I released the first version of my patch on Christmas Eve of that year, calling it a present to the community, and hoping everyone would enjoy it. I sent news to Emucamp, Zophar's, and a number of other sites, posted news about it on a messageboard or two, and rapidly disappeared from the scene and quickly as I had come. I made every attempt to conceal my email address at the time... I think I've still received only three or four emails about the translation to this day, all from people I had emailed to tell them about it.
What it all boils down to is this: Penguin Dream Story is an amateur translation, handled by a video game fan from way back in the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64 days, and a struggling student named Aylton Yamamoto, who by the way, was in the fourth grade at the time. :) If it seems to you that Penguin Dream Story has a certain child-like flair to it, that comes from both the heart of the original Konami release, and the creativity of a 10 year old, who greatly assisted me in fulfilling a big wish to contribute something back to the hobby I truly enjoyed and still enjoy today. I am glad to have done it, and, although I did tinker around with Higemaru shortly after releasing P.D.S., decided afterwards that from then on, I would allow others to do the dirty work.
Speaking of those who do the dirty work, I'll end this story with a big thank you to those of you out there who continue to introduce great games such as Yume Penguin Monogatari to an appreciative American audience that would otherwise never have the pleasure of experiencing them.
And that, reader, is the story behind Penguin Dream Story.
This site is intended strictly as a tribute to a game that might otherwise have remained unknown to many English speaking Konami and Nintendo fans world wide. kalevan's Tavern is in no way affiliated with any company, period, and is now and forever will remain entirely non-profit.