In 1991, Jaleco of America released an NES game called Totally Rad. It was a fairly decent late-generation platformer, but it was perhaps most memorable for its oddly relentless '80s-surfer-dude dialogue, which even at the time had started to sound dated. I played it at least once around the time of its release, but I had mostly forgotten about it until one day I happened upon a Japanese game from 1990 called Magic John.
It was Totally Rad. And yet it was not.
As I glanced through Magic John's cutscenes, I quickly noticed that the original game had in fact been played completely straight. The bodacious 'tude and happenin' sensibility of Totally Rad had been solely an invention of its localization team at Jaleco, who not only played fast and loose with their translation but also entirely redrew two of the characters. While the story of the original is merely dorky and forgettable, the American release crosses the line into a glorious retroverse that renders it an oddly prescient ironic masterpiece.
Once I realized how much had been changed, I knew that I would eventually need to make an in-depth study of the localization to document the changes. Thus was born The Rad Project.
But enough blather. It's time to be righteous.
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