Tutorial: How To Patch Japanese Roms for Fan-Made English Translations

We’ve had tons of articles reviewing some amazing romhacks here on videogamedj.com and yet we’ve only scratched the surface of some of the awesome modifications to your classic favorite games that are out there. The tutorial below can help you not only create the altered playable version of any of the games we’ve reviewed from the original ROM, but it can also open up a huge world of fan-translated Japanese games that you can now play in English.

As any gamer knows, classic console gaming was far bigger in Japan than it ever was in North America. This fact and the lag between getting games translated and new consoles taking over the market lead to a number of incredibly polished, classic gaming masterpieces never getting translated and/or never being released to the North America market.


This is especially true of the SNES/Genesis era when roleplaying games in particular started to become epic works of art with beautiful soundtracks. It’s an interesting period to revisit. You can see the origins many game ideas that are now common – branching plots, real-time RPG battles and character development that impacts the ending – they all got their start in some of these lost gems.

While some of these games have been translated and released officially on other platforms, some have not. Some of the official translations are inferior versions of the originals that don’t quite play the same. Thanks to fan translations that patch the original rom with english text, you can enjoy these games in their original format without learning Japanese first.

While some of the patched English ROMs are available for direct download, many are not. The patches and Japanese ROMs are easier to get, so its up to you to do the patching. Here’s a quick run through on how to do it.

Get The ROM and English Patch File


The first step is getting the legally obtained ROM (as a backup copy of your cartridge) and the IPS or UPS patch. The translation patches can normally be pulled from romhacking.net. Test the ROM to make sure it plays in your emulator in its original Japanese form before patching.

Download and Run MultiPatch

MultiPatch is a nice little UI for applying patches to ROMs. It supports most formats including the common IPS and UPS formats. You can download it here from romhacking.net.

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 11.10.03 AM

Using MultiPatch is pretty self-explanatory. Designate the patch file, the original ROM file and the new english version’s name. Click Apply patch and your new ROM should be appear shortly.

You may find the occasional game patch (mostly old IPS files) that MultiPatch reports has an “unsupported format”. In this case, you’ll want to command-line based IPS patch, which behaves in the same way.

Check Final English ROM

Good to go!
Good to go!

If everything went according to plan, the game should play just like before but now have english text. Keep in mind, not all components are translated, for example, title screens, opening credits and some other in-game things like sign graphics or command icons may still be in Japanese. In the example ROM shown, Star Ocean, the opening dialogue subtitles are still in Japanese because the voice over is in English. Usually, you will know the patch has worked when you name your character and see the English character set.

We will be covering a wide variety of these “lost” games that now exist in English in the coming weeks.

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