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R.I.P. Anime Game Text Hooker Code Database

The End of an Invaluable Translation Service


The AGTH Code Database, a major Japanese text-hooking resource for translations, has vanished from the Internet and no one even noticed.

Anime Game Text Hooker (AGTH) was a tool conceived to hook Japanese text from visual novels (VNs), which could then be used for machine translation or machine-assisted dictionary lookup. Originally released in 2005, it stirred a renaissance in interest in VNs among hardcore fans. In a dark age in VN history when the fan translation scene was in its infancy, VNDB didn’t exist, JAST was the sole English VN publisher, and Steam was little more than a platform for distributing Valve’s own titles, AGTH was a revolutionary tool that allowed English users to bridge the language gap and access the cornucopia of untranslated Japanese visual novels.

AGTH was succeeded by Interactive Text Hooker (ITH), and later by Visual Novel Reader (VNR), but one innovative concept from AGTH remains to this day: game and version-specific custom hooks, termed H-codes. While AGTH and its successors natively supported an increasing collection of VN engines, H-codes allowed tech-savvy users to create their own custom hooks and share them with others users, allowing almost every VN to be hooked that garnered sufficient interest.

Before long H-codes began to flood the Internet, and there was a need for an aggregator that would collect them all in one place. Boys’ Love Games Headquarters hosted a fairly impressive list, and the AGTH Wikia endeavored to do so as well, but none was more comprehensive and widely-used than the AGTH Code Database (AGTHDB). A crowdsourced effort, AGTHDB allowed users to search on titles in Japanese and romaji and also by developer, and even had an optional desktop client.

AGTHDB abruptly went offline several weeks ago. Unusually, an Internet search reveals no announcement, no explanation—no complaints from users even. Merely silence.

VNR’s automatic updates and expansive built-in engine support has largely made hunting down custom H-codes a relic of the past. Yet VNR’s hooking engine is not perfect. While it works with the vast majority of newer titles, compatibility with older titles may be limited. The age of H-codes has not yet passed.

Yet this year, the year 2015, the greatest collection of H-codes the Internet has ever seen has passed away. The majority of users may not notice, content with their new releases and their fancy VNR CPU-guzzler that takes 30 seconds to load. But this user will mourn its passing.

RIP AGTHDB


R.I.P. AGTH Code Database. Your memory may have faded in the collective consciousness, but there are those of us who will remember–who remember a time when a successful hook was not something you expected, but something you earned through a journey of discovery. You made that journey just a little easier. Thank you.

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  • It´s good that so many commercial VN releases are becoming available, so there’s content for fans to enjoy… even that still leaves so many precious works to rot and fade. Peter Payne said in one interview (you can read it on this site) that Japanese VN companies have, I quote, “an annoying habit of losing their source code”. It really is sad, even if somewhat natural too. The old world dies piece by piece.

    Valar morghulis.

  • snooze

    If only there was some kind soul who would take the VNR code that recognizes vn engines to hook into and the streamlined size and speed of ITH. I’d call it ITHVNR. But no this is merely a pipe dream, unavailable to men. Completely out of humanity’s reach i tell you. Still, if there was ever such a thing i would imagine it to be on hongfire.

    • ITHVNR is nice, but it doesn’t fix the reliance on H-codes for some titles, which are now harder to find and document after the disappearance of AGTHDB.

      I should point out that this wasn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide on text-hooking (which is a very complex topic–completely beyond the scope of this article). This is a news article with some history thrown in for context.

  • gustave154

    Very sad news…

  • but if you use translator agregator which has AGTH built in to the program set the need for H-codes could still be there… and then there’s the hongfire H-code request thread

  • Ruben

    Rest in peace old friend, you served me well.