24 years after its release, Japanese bookstore simulator game BookStory is translated into English

BookStory is a classic example of a certain genre of legendary game: Japanese, obscure, unusual but fascinating subject matter, and untranslated. Now you can enjoy it in English, thanks to a fansub decades in the making. The technical work that went into making this possible — hacking 1990s-era Visual Basic binaries! — is a story in its own right.

BookStory is a work in progress, a poem still being written. Much of the flavor text and book titles remain untranslated (they are stored in the game's dynamic modules rather than in static strings, so modifying them is a little trickier). Since the consensus and emphasis is on human rather than machine translation, I invite you to try translating some of the book titles here. There are also efforts to translate the game into German and Romanian

On Kairosoft's website, there is a caption underneath a screenshot of BookStory's title screen: The interior of the now-defunct Kurome Shobo has been faithfully reproduced. The game itself is a restoration, an ode, a translation of a beloved bookstore into the digital realm; a testament to the archival imagination. As indie bookstores shutter and massive conglomerates dominate the publishing world, BookStory offers a space to create and manifest the ineffable experience we seek in our favorite local bookstore. In this virtual counter-narrative, the players are writing—and translating—their own parts.