I have been playing a translated copy of Radical Dreamers. This game, a sequel made in 1996 of Chrono Trigger, was never released outside of Japan. In 2003 Demiforce created a fan translation of the game. I am grateful for all their hard work to bring this story to me.
What upsets me is that creating and distributing such a translation is a violation of copyright law. According to the law, I should wait until at least 2046 if not longer. Presumably they think that Square-Enix will make a translation commercially available within that period of time, if there is a demand. This wouldn’t be without precedent. Final Fantasy V was originally released in Japan in 1992, and an English translation was released in 1999. Magically this was still commercially viable even though a fan translation had been released in 1997.
The problem with this copyright system is that price signals do not work so well when the product is held in a monopoly. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Final Fantasy V translation was released because the fact that a fan translation was made indicated a demand in a way that the price system could not.
Maybe legislators think that different video games are fungible, and that somehow the pricing of one video game will signal the development and release of other video games. But I don’t feel this way. There is no substitute for seeing how a sequel to Chrono Trigger plays out.
The free market system does not work with monopolies, and the terms of copyright are plainly absurd. Waiting 50 years past the death of the author to translate work is plainly absurd. The relevance of such a work may be long expired by then.
In any case, I won’t be losing any sleep over copying this game.