Author: Ken McDonnell
Translating is hard. Even for those who speak 12 languages, accurately transferring meaning from one culture to another presents a unique kind of challenge. During this transferral we’re bound to lose a percentage of understanding as two languages combine, but it’s the job of a translator to ensure that this loss is minimal.
The following translators failed. Hard.
See, in the early days of gaming, Japanese developers often translated dialogue for Western releases themselves. It was way cheaper and, in fairness, a lot of the time they were pretty close to the mark. However, some of these “translators” made such wonderfully funny mistakes that the gaming community has since embraced and immortalized them. Here are some of my favorites.
22 Gaming Mistranslations We Can’t Help But Love
1. The Aero Fighters Franchise
While the first Aero Fighters saw the protagonist struggle with his own identity as he pondered, “A mechanical body is useful, but a live body is best…yes?” (I have no idea how you want me to respond, sir) its sequel saw a helmet-wearing-dolphin make a mistake that changed everything.
The poor guy…
Well that took a bottlenose dive…sorry.
2. Ikari Warriors
“What’s that general? I literally didn’t get any of that. You want me to what?”
Anyone else get a kick out of putting an uncomfortably long pause between “I would express my sincere.” and “Thanks to you.”? Just me?
3. Ghosts n’ Goblins
I’d be inclined to say that this was super cute but I struggled to get past the spelling of “congratulations.” Congrat-u-ration. Reads like someone who visited America in their youth and still thinks speak good. At least is happy end. Blagh.
Line 1: Oh come on, people! Can’t anyone spell it correctly? Cong-LA-turation? Really?! It can’t be that hard to look this word up.
Line 2: Well at least they have faith in their own game. I only hope it was better than their spelling.
Line 3: What now?
Line 4: You know, without any punctuation I’m inclined to believe that this text wants me to go and put some heroes to rest. Also why is there such a huge space between exclamation marks and not fullstops? I’m getting too into this…
5. Stop The Express
6. Last Blade
7. Metal Gear
“In what way, friend? Do you feel yourself drifting through life without purpose? Have you become numb to life’s frivolities and wonders? Has the enormity of the universe challenged your calm nature and brought you to the precipice of your own sanity? Are you tired of your meaningless existence, brother?!?!”
“I meant ‘I fell asleep’…”
8. Money Puzzle Exchanger
9. Art of Fighting
I am man, feel my confusion and contempt for your lack of basic English.
Also, word to the wise, try to keep the word “moan” out of vocabulary. It denotes a certain kind of act that…just stop shouting it at people, okay?!
10. Pro Wrestling
11. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
WHERE DO I EVEN BEGIN?! “BURNED TO TOAST?!” “VAPORIZED TO MILK SHAKE?!” Or do I rather begin at the end and tear that appalling joke apart?! I mean I have to admire the alliteration in the first sentence, but man, this is some mutant English.
12. Double Dragon
13. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
14. Crime City
Okay. While there’s technically nothing wrong with this sentence — and I do commend you for that, Crime City — this is one of those instances where a localization team would have come in handy. Any native speaker would look at this horrifying image of a woman who appears to be speaking from within the bowls of horrid beast while seated upon a demented sofa chair and think, “Something about this needs to be changed.”
“Thanks nice boys.” Creepy.
15. Exciting Hour
I’m already imagining this burly gentleman in a ring panicking about, literally, everything. Whether he left the stove on, whether his muscles are pretty enough, whether his mask is holding back his claim to fame, whether this game is even worth appearing in, whether player 1’s knees are about to burst. There’s a lot to worry about, people.
16. Final Fantasy IV
This one is so famous and so beloved, you can literally buy it in t-shirt form.
Told you. Here’s the link for it. You’re welcome.
17. Samurai Shodown
18. X-Men: The Arcade Game
There are no images of Magneto’s lines from this revered and cherished arcade game (neither of those descriptions are accurate) so you’ll have to trust me when I say his lines are in fact real. Here are some examples:
“Welcome to die!”
“I am the master of magnet!”
Oh, and all of his lines were voice acted. Someone actually read them and now has Magneto in X-Men the Arcade Game on their C.V.
19. Super Mario Sunshine
21. Zero Wing
This phrase is said to be one of gaming’s very first internet sensations. Forums all over the world realized just how extremely fun-sounding this line was and continued to use it. You know, it’s funny, most internet forums actually continue to display the same level of English proficiency. BUUUUUURRRRNNNN…I’ll calm down now…Have some more Zero Wing:
Captain: Why happen?
Pilot: Enemy ask.
Captain: Give phone.
Pilot hands phone. Captain rings enemy.
Captain: What happen?
22. Fatal Fury Special
If ever I’m forced to engage in a good old fashioned game of fistycuffs, this will definitely be my line before the fight kicks off. Then I’ll probably just hug them or something. “Please don’t hit me!”