An English localization for Project Navel’s SHUFFLE! is now available for purchase and download from MangaGamer. The download comes to a little less than a gigabyte and requires the usual online activation scheme. There is no trial version available for this game, but the opening movie is available for download from MangaGamer’s site.
SHUFFLE!, the first game released by Project Navel in Japan, is a romance visual novel with five heroines to choose from. The story takes place in a setting where gates opened between the human world and the “Devil” and “God” worlds. The main character goes to a school attended by people from all three worlds, and his life is turned upside down one day by the appearance of the princesses of the “Devil” and “God” worlds, all vying for his hand in marriage, while his long-time female childhood friend struggles to hold onto him.
This game features artwork from Aoi Nishimata and Hiro Suzuhira, and members of the team who worked on the production of this game originally worked on several hit titles from BasiL. This game spawned an all-ages adaptation for the PlayStation2, as well as drama and music CDs. Novelizations and manga adaptations were also made. However, one of the reasons this game is well-known outside of Japan may be the animated adaptations, the first of which has been officially licensed by FUNimation for North America. The game also has two sequels — one intended to take place after Nerine’s ending, featuring time travel, and one intended to take place after Kaede’s ending, featuring a game system very similar to Gyakuten Saiban, or Phoenix Wright as it is called in the states.
Plans to release the game in English were originally announced by MangaGamer at Anime Expo 2009. By that time, the first pass translation was mostly finished, and a translation check was finished shortly afterwards. The game has been ported from Project Navel’s original game engine to Buriko General Interpreter. As with other previous MangaGamer releases, the game uses Courier New, which is a very thin font and may be hard to read over the background. There is an option to make the background more opaque, but that cannot make the background fully opaque. The title menu is animated and the text engine seems to have some new features, such as the ability to change font sizes to fit longer sentences and the ability to apply italics to the font. There are some instances where the text is animated to add more effect to an exclamation. The game download comes with a PDF of translation notes, but translation notes also appear inline in the game, shown below the text in italics.
The translation appears to be quite up there in quality amongst MangaGamer’s other works and reads naturally for the most part, although there are cases where the diction is somewhat odd. For example, shuzoku (種族) was translated as “strain” and shiriai (知り合い) was translated as “associate”. There is also the occasional typo and mistranslation, such as when something along the lines of “I get this strange sensation that the melody that envelopes me is dissolving itself into the cells within my body, making me one with it” was translated to “My body is surrounded by her melody, and I feel strange feeling as if it is melting inside my cell.” In terms of style, honorifics and various nicknames were kept romanized, with inline translation notes to explain them the first time they appear. “Humans”, “Devils” and “Gods” are used as the names of the “strains” and capitalized. The romanization is somewhat odd at times, with お父様 becoming “Otoh-sama”. The translation isn’t as literal as some of the previous translations, and one good example is when あまりいちゃいちゃのんびりしてると予鈴鳴っちゃうわよ was translated into “Don’t take too much time, you lovebirds. The bell will be ringing soon.” Overall, the quality of the script isn’t too bad and is comparable to commercial subtitles for anime.