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First post, by megatron-uk

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So this is a fairly well known Chinese language RPG:

https://www.mobygames.com/game/xianjian-qixia-zhuan

621827-xianjian-qixia-zhuan-dos-screenshot-the-game-begins-this-is.png
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621827-xianjian-qixia-zhuan-dos-screenshot-the-game-begins-this-is.png
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CC-BY-4.0
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621834-xianjian-qixia-zhuan-dos-screenshot-anu-one-of-the-female.png
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270 views
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CC-BY-4.0
621835-xianjian-qixia-zhuan-dos-screenshot-fight-the-legendary-beast.png
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621835-xianjian-qixia-zhuan-dos-screenshot-fight-the-legendary-beast.png
File size
27.5 KiB
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270 views
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CC-BY-4.0

There is also an english patch, hosted on Romhacking, to translate the entire UI and in-game text:

https://www.romhacking.net/translations/2441/

However, I can't find any version of the Dos version of the game that will successfully apply the patch. In reality it's not a patch as such; just replaces several data files in the game directory.

The latest, final release of the patch contains the following files for the Dos version:

- m.msg
- m_cht.slf *
- m_eng.slf *
- sdlpal.cfg **
- sss.mkf
- wor16.asc
- wor16.fon
- word.dat

The files marked with (*) are not present in the Dos versions of the game that I've found. The file marked with (**) is only relevant if you want to play the Dos version of the game with the modern sdlpal.exe replacement executable on Windows.

The problem I'm finding is that after replacing those files, the game still starts up with Chinese text, and the 'start' screen, which normally gives you two Chinese-language options:

menu_chinese.png
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menu_chinese.png
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52.03 KiB
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270 views
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CC-BY-4.0

... looks like this after dropping in the patched data files:

menu_patched.png
Filename
menu_patched.png
File size
53.46 KiB
Views
270 views
File license
CC-BY-4.0

If I hit 'down' and then 'enter' I can get the 'Load save' menu to appear, but all of the characters are missing. I am wondering if it is a particular issue with the versions of the game I've downloaded (from various locations), all of them start up with a crack intro: "CRACK FILE From Fat Board (H.K BBS) C.C.F".

Worse, when the game itself starts all of the dialogue is still in Chinese.

Has anyone been able to successfully patch and play the Dos version of the game (this is important, as there are lots of variants: Win 98 release, a later Win XP graphical overhaul, a modern SDL reimplementation, etc). If so, which version did you use to drop the translation files into? If you say "sorry, can't help - I used a retail floppy/CD version" then that's just as helpful; it means there is some difference between the retail disc and these cracked versions on the net.

Reply 1 of 7, by M-HT

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I don't think you can play the english version with the original DOS executable. In the patch readme for version 3.1, it says that DOS versi0n is only supported with SDLPal.

Reply 2 of 7, by megatron-uk

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Hmm... there does seem to be some implicit inference in the discussion on rpgcodex.net that it only runs with the modified 'international SDL Dos' version. The readme file included with the patch (v3.3) is not clear at all:

0. (optional) Backup a copy of your original 'm.msg', 'sss.mkf', 'word.dat'. Additional files 'wor16.asc', 'wor16.fon' for PalDOS.
1. Overwrite the extracted files for your GAME VERSION into the game directory.
2. [For Microsoft Windows platform], copy the included win32 'sdlpal.exe' version into the game directory
- For latest updates and other platforms, download @ official SDLPal page: https://github.com/sdlpal/sdlpal with the 'Download' button @ README.md section
- For touch-based only platforms, change this line 'UseTouchOverlay=0' to 'UseTouchOverlay=1' in 'sdlpal.cfg' file
3. (optional) Documentation of 'sdlpal.cfg' options: https://github.com/sdlpal/sdlpal/blob/master/ … pal.cfg.example

It would be much easier to understand if there was a list of requirements: You need game data X, Y or Z. You need game exe version A, B or C.

The entry at Romhacking is even more vague: "Recommended to run game with ‘SDLPal’ exe. More info in Readme File." (underline emphasis mine)

I've signed up at rpgcodex to try and get a definitive answer.

Reply 4 of 7, by zyzzle

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I also registered at rpgcodex and asked the experts there is there's any way to run a native DOS .exe version of the game, even if it is the reimplemented SDL version of the game. All I would like to do is run the game natively in DOS. It appears the the SDL version is Windows only, but there's some confusion mention of an unofficial DOSPal executible which will run natively in MS-DOS, without Windows or other OS required... I can't find such an executible anywhere. I also can't locate the original 1995 DOS version of the game anywhere.

Not sure if the original game was a CWSDPMI executible, or what, since I can't find it anywhere.

Reply 5 of 7, by megatron-uk

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I found several versions of the original Dos game, none of which seem to be bundled with a Dos extender (cwsdpmi, dos4gw or similar):

- A 'Hong Kong' cracked version ~20MB
- An original CD version (1 data track, 8 short audio tracks) ~200MB

Both were from sites distributing dos games (which I am not going to link to for obvious reasons). There are also versions on archive.org, but only the ripped/cracked versions.

The contents of the CD version is as follows:

legend.png
Filename
legend.png
File size
98.07 KiB
Views
92 views
File license
CC-BY-4.0

Fingerprint of the main exe file:

$ md5sum pal.exe
7e5634fee8dd389bbf769142473b5210 pal.exe

The unaltered, original version works fine in Dosbox, but of course it is all in Chinese (even the install/config utility). From what I can tell the ripped/cracked version works the same - but it has a different set of files as some of the exe's have been stripped out:

legend_rip.png
Filename
legend_rip.png
File size
80.7 KiB
Views
92 views
File license
CC-BY-4.0

The main difference is the game exe:


$ md5sum PAL.EXE
8fe1fce755c2c958dd6be8c8cb8f44e9 PAL.EXE

There isn't a SDL version that will work in Dos, unfortunately (as there isn't a mainline version of the SDL library that targets Dos).

Personally, I think it's a very misleading project - nowhere up front does it state that the translation patch and the engine re-implementation need to be used together. That's not to take anything away from the accomplishments of the people involved, but when you have to go digging through a forum or the changelog of the translation patch to find out which versions it will (and won't) work with, that strikes me as though it could be made much clearer up front about which combinations of the game and patch will work.

Reply 6 of 7, by megatron-uk

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Much of the confusion could be mitigated by having a list right at the front of the readme.txt in the translation patch (which is distributed separately!) and the re-implementation engine, something like:

The following combinations of translation patch, game data and engine are possible:

Game Data / Original exe / Re-implemented SDL exe
1995 Dos / No / Yes
1995 Win95 / Yes / Yes
200x WinXP / Yes / Yes

Reply 7 of 7, by zyzzle

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megatron-uk wrote on 2021-06-06, 08:40:
Much of the confusion could be mitigated by having a list right at the front of the readme.txt in the translation patch (which i […]
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Much of the confusion could be mitigated by having a list right at the front of the readme.txt in the translation patch (which is distributed separately!) and the re-implementation engine, something like:

The following combinations of translation patch, game data and engine are possible:

Game Data / Original exe / Re-implemented SDL exe
1995 Dos / No / Yes
1995 Win95 / Yes / Yes
200x WinXP / Yes / Yes

This information is useful indeed. I did find the ripped DOS version (seems to be a flat 16-bit mode DOS .exe coded in Turbo Pascal?), and it does look like a fantastic game for the time, an isometric view RPG for pure DOS in 1995. It is a shame that the translators have left the original DOS version as a lost castaway, and seen fit to translate instead only the SDL version for other, lesser systems. I understand that the main reason the v. 3.1 English translation patch doesn't work in DOS, is that there are hardcoded passages within the DOS .exe in Chinese. Why people took the time to develop translations for Win 95 / 98 / XP and also the SDL-reimplemented .EXE and neglected the original DOS version does seem quite mysterious, short-sighted and a bit perplexing.