'No expense spared and not a single corner cut': After 11 months of work, one of Japan's most beloved PS2 games is finally playable in English

More than 21 years after it was originally released, one of the true holy grails of Japanese-only games has been translated into English. Fan translator Hilltop Works, who previously translated cult favorite Square Enix carPG Racing Lagoon, released an English patch for life sim Boku no Natsuyasumi 2 on Thursday. The trailer above celebrates the release, showing off a two minute slice of the game with English subtitles, UI, and in-game artwork.

If you had to compare Boku no Natsuyasumi 2 to other well-known games, it's most similar to the likes of Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley, but only broadly. You're not tending crops or doing much at all that feels truly "gamey" in Boku no Natsuyasumi (which translates to My Summer Vacation). You take on the role of a young boy living a month of summer break in the Japanese countryside circa 1975. That may sound mundane, but the series seems to leave a deep mark on those who've played it. I'm very excited to be one of those people, soon, thanks to Hilltop Works' translation. But don't take my speculative word for it—take it from Tim Rogers' six hour video:

There aren't many games that feel truly autobiographical, but this series draws heavily from the childhood of creator Kaz Ayabe, who was 10 years old in 1975 and has been making games in this life sim vein for the past 23 years. "I was thinking that I wanted to create a game that simulates the real world, so I was trying to find a good subject for that," Ayabe said in a rare English interview a few years ago. He continued: 

"But back then I was super busy with work, and when I was always clogged with work, I would remember this hill that was at my relatives' house that I visited during my childhood summer vacations. So I kept coming back to that scene, and wondering why I kept thinking about it, and then thought, OK, maybe I could make a game that replicates your summer vacation."

Despite seeming like quite a simple game, Boku no Natsuyasumi 2 was a challenging localization project for several reasons. The most obvious barrier was that its Japanese text was displayed vertically, rather than horizontally—Hilltop had to completely reprogram that aspect of the game in low-level assembly code to display text along the bottom instead.

There were other major hurdles for this translation, too, like important bits of Japanese audio that were lacking subtitles entirely: 

And the many drawings and other textures that had Japanese text, requiring extensive image editing:  

"This has been one of the most challenging games to wrangle with but I'm beyond delighted at the state it's in," Hilltop wrote about the project when he first announced it back in March. Eight months later, the English patch is finished, and downloadable from Google Drive here. For a PC game in the same vein, check out last year's Shin-chan: Me and the Professor on Summer Vacation, a spin-off also designed by Kaz Ayabe. It was the first game in the Summer Vacation series to receive an English localization. 

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).