Sunday 25 June 2017

Game design legend John Romero launches Irish language game

Dangerous Dave is back with HD graphics and a new focal or two
Dangerous Dave is back with HD graphics and a new focal or two
Frank Whelan

Frank Whelan

John Romero is probably most famous for his work on Doom, but it's not the demon-filled shooter that's getting an Irish language update.

Romero has chosen his 1988 platform game Dangerous Dave for his first foray in to the Irish language.

Dangerous Dave title screen
Dangerous Dave title screen

While not now as famous as the ground-breaking shooter Doom, Dangerous Dave should be fondly remembered by PC and Mac users of a certain vintage.

Taking much inspiration from Mario games, in 1988 Dangerous Dave was one of the top platformers for those without a plumber-ready Nintendo console. Available on Apple II and DOS computers, Romero summed up the game for independent.ie:

"Dangerous Dave was a Mario-style platformer game I wrote in 1988. The object of the game is to move Dangerous Dave through ten hazardous levels packed with dangerous plants, fire, lethal water, and lots of abstract enemies that shoot. Dave can run and jump, and the control scheme is very much 1980’s-style movement. It’s a real challenge because the levels start easy and get ridiculously difficult pretty fast. Beating the game is an accomplishment."

With a number of classic titles under his belt, why remake Dangerous Dave?

"Over the years I have gotten several dozen emails from fans wishing they could play the game again on their computers and phones. Several have attempted to remake the game on their own. Many students use it as as an example to copy in programming class. Incredibly, Dave was more popular than DOOM in India due to the fact that Dave ran on the slowest CPUs and most primitive DOS computers, whereas DOOM required the latest and greatest computer. I’ve been amazed at how far Dave has reached, and it made sense to bring the original game back for today’s platforms." Romero said.

Of the fourteen languages supported on the game, Irish ranks as the least spoken, so why the extra effort to include a language whose speakers can usually understand English?

Dangerous Dave's story is told by his nemesis, Clyde.
Dangerous Dave's story is told by his nemesis, Clyde.

Brenda Romero, fellow game designer and wife of John, explained the reasoning:

"Irish was a natural choice for us since we are moving to Ireland. It felt necessary to include it, even. I was also raised to appreciate Irish culture and my Irish heritage. My great grandparents were Irish, and though the language didn't pass to me, we understand the critical importance of keeping it alive. John's dad and his family were native Spanish speakers - Yaqui and Cherokee Indians from Sonora, Mexico. He decided not to teach John Spanish, because he didn't want him to be discriminated against. So, that was lost. It's something he's lived personally."

John Romero shows off his Dangerous Dave as gaeilge.
John Romero shows off his Dangerous Dave as gaeilge.

The Romeros decided to move to Ireland after Brenda came over in 2014 as a Fullbright Scholar, studying the Irish game industry and education system. A return visit in 2015 confirmed their feelings towards the country. "We felt so inspired by the energy in the country's game development scene that we wanted to be a part of it. As parents of four school age children, we also think that it's a wonderful place to raise them." Brenda Romero said.

The re-release features new soundtrack, sound effects and a HD graphics update. The game also features a comedy storyline told by Dave's nemesis, Clyde, brought to us in Irish by translator Michael O'Connor.

Speaking to Independent.ie about the Irish version of the game, John Romero said:

"It was important to me to have an Irish version of the game, and it’s something I will continue to do with our games going forward. Games are increasingly being used to teach kids, and having games they can play in their own language, particularly Irish, reinforces its importance in culture"

Dangerous Dave in the Deserted Pirate's Hideout is available now for free on iOS from the Appstore.

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