Today, we have a word from the translator of Bokuten – Why I Became An Angel, DS55!
Be advised, this post may contain spoilers.
Hello everyone! At long last, it’s time for me to talk to you about Bokuten. It’s really bizarre to know it will finally see the light of day! Why don’t I start off with the synopsis, to get you into the proper mindset?
In the world of Bokuten, unknown to ordinary people, angels watch over humans and play their divine instruments powered by the red threads of fate to soothe people’s broken hearts. When I say broken, I mean it literally: a shard of a person’s heart will fracture off when they have given up on love. Only angels can find these shards and return them, so the human in question may love again.
Enter our main character, Tomoe Kirinokojima. (Yes, it’s a hell of a name.) One day, he is practicing archery in his backyard and shoots down an angel. When the angel, Aine, wakes up the next day, she finds that her red-threaded guitar has been damaged in the accident and only has a single string remaining. Until Aine is able to repair her guitar, she gets Tomoe to assist her as an angel’s proxy, and has him use the single remaining thread as a bowstring. This allows him to return shards to their owners by firing them at their hearts, almost like Cupid.
Aine believes in love with all her heart, loves all humans, and believes every broken heart should be mended. Tomoe on the other hand is jaded. He doesn’t believe in love or romance, nor does he believe they could ever make anyone happy. Despite their differences in opinion, Tomoe will have to decide whether each of the diverse couples they become involved with would be better off with their romances saved, or if they are better off going their separate ways. In many ways, the romances portrayed are very realistic, and there is often no correct answer. Every decision will come with sacrifices and trade-offs that will change the entire course of the lives he touches.
Bokuten is most assuredly one of MG’s titles that was in development the longest from its announcement to release. It even spawned a parody(?) twitter account tracking its release progress rather poignantly:
So why did this title take so long to come out? Time to tell a story! Bokuten has had a… unique development cycle marked by many shifts in staffing and direction. When the title was originally announced, we were going to do a full port of the game to Unity with a multi-OS release + Steam edit, which the port was going to make possible. One of our programmers set out to work on porting the game to RenPy, but ultimately found that it would be too difficult since a number of the features of the BGI engine Bokuten runs on didn’t mesh well with RenPy’s features and would require a lot of custom coding to make possible.
Some time later, it was decided that we would turn over the porting work to Doddler and give it a shot in Unity. This made more progress, because Doddler is a god as anyone following us knows, but ultimately the decision came from higher up that we would be using the original game engine after all, even after all of the delays caused by not going that route in the first place.
Two abandoned engine ports later, this presented a problem. If we switched back to the original engine, we would lose a number of features such as the announced multi-OS release and, initially, the Steam edit as well. Luckily, our wonderful General Manager, Evospace, was able to cut a deal with the original BGI engine developers. We had been working with them around this time on the Steam Prison release, and in his discussions with them during this process, he was able to get their assistance modifying the game for Steam. Unfortunately the multi-OS release had to be given up on, but you win some, you lose some, as they say.
And so, development pushed forward on the original engine. This lead to another issue however. Bokuten has a very nifty calendar system that allows you to choose any scene in the game at will with a preview of the script for each scene. This auto generates as you play so you can easily jump back if you’d, for example, like to change a decision you made or otherwise. When the game was being ported, we could have pulled the text from the script directly, but in the original engine, these were all image files. This meant the development team would have to make thousands of these image edits, and since the scope of development had changed, no work had been done on this front. Luckily, Doddler was able to automate the image creation process, which is likely the only reason the game is even ready for release this year. Thank you, Doddler!
This translation has been in the works for quite some time, given that it was a 2014 announcement. So, was it worth the wait? I would give that an emphatic yes. Anyone anticipating a mostly comedic story with some dramatic elements, similarly to Overdrive’s other fare, will want to readjust their expectations. Bokuten will, in no uncertain terms, eviscerate, stomp on, then incinerate all but the coldest and most unfeeling of hearts. Where most games might get a teardrop out of its readers in the climactic conclusion, Bokuten chuckles at other titles’ middling upsets, and will almost assuredly make your stomach drop even during its common route, to say nothing of the four character routes which await you at the end.
To those on the fence, I have this to say as a parting comment: Bokuten may move you to tears–repeatedly, in fact–but it’s every bit worth the journey. As different as it may be from other Overdrive titles, I hope everyone reading will give Bokuten the chance it deserves. You won’t be sorry you did.