A 23-Year Perfectionist Journey to Localize the Obscure 'Bahamut Lagoon'

There are clarifying moments in life, forcing one to ponder how to spend the unknowable time we have left. COVID-19 made 2020 a rough year for just about everyone. Combined with other personal traumas, it resulted in that clarifying moment for Near, an online programmer best known for their historic work on bsnes, a foundational gaming emulator whose focus on accuracy has been hugely influential on the modern archival landscape.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bvxezw/a-23-year-perfectionist-journey-to-localize-the-obscure-bahamut-lagoon

I wonder how Patrick was able to reach them, considering they’ve scrubbed basically their entire online presence. A lot of the information in this article could already be found on Near’s website, but there’s also some interesting details here that I’d never heard before.

Around this time, Near was blindsided by his parents. The 15-year-old was supposed to spend the summer—all summer—in rural Pennsylvania with his grandmother, and there was a new condition: no computer. We’re talking the kind of rural where the only things nearby are a gas station and a grocery store. The nearest McDonalds was at least 20 minutes away.

His grandmother didn’t even own a television, so the prospect of being without a computer, both a hobby and a lifeline, was crushing. The catch: no one had told his grandmother one of the stipulations for the summer was the lack of a computer. So, Near began hatching a plan.

“I would have just had to stare at the walls or corn fields if they had their way,” he said. “But I’ve always been a clever little shit.”

At home, Near removed the motherboard and hard drive from his computer and stuffed it at the bottom of his luggage, hidden from sight beneath a cardboard insert. Monitor? Case? Keyboard? Mouse? All of that was left behind, visual evidence the computer was where it was supposed to be, back at home and nowhere near the lazy cornfields of Pennsylvania.

Also in the luggage was every dollar he owned, and when his grandmother picked him up, he asked to stop by CompUSA, a once popular nationwide computer retailer. He rebought everything—monitor, case, keyboard, mouse—and built a new computer in those cornfields.

Goddamn legend.

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Great story, Patrick.

I find the flexibility of “accuracy” interesting. Originally the goal is to release the most accurate version of the game, but later he’s fixing cursors and changing the end screen. Sounds like his values changed - somewhat - along the way. His version isn’t exactly what you’d play on an SNES, it’s a remaster.

I don’t think that’s necessarily wrong, but it’s always interesting to me how much power those localizing a game end up having over it. What he’s putting out probably isn’t what Square would have put out in '96 even though it seems like that was his original goal. Funny how that goes.