Does Japanese Final Fantasy X Feature the Macarena?

A common question I’ve been getting lately is about a small bit of text in the Final Fantasy X English translation:

Tidus: They say Seymour went to Macarena Temple.

Wakka: Macalania Temple.

Tidus: Aye.

This is famous among English-speaking fans – right in the middle of a mandatory, main event scene is a reference to the Macarena, complete with the weird-sounding “aye”?! Surely this wasn’t in the Japanese version, right?

First, for the uninitiated, here’s a music video of the Macarena song – it pretty much took America by storm in the mid-90s and hung around for years. The times were crazy.

So anyway, what did this Final Fantasy X line say in Japanese? I did some digging around and got some screenshots for comparison:

And here’s how the text looks side-by-side:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Tiida: They say Seymour went to Malacania Temple.Tidus: They say Seymour went to Macarena Temple.
Wakka: Macalania Temple.Wakka: Macalania Temple.
Tiida: Yeah, that’s it.Tidus: Aye.

So in Japanese, it looks like Tidus (“Tiida” in Japanese, which apparently comes from an Okinawan word for “sun”) just mixes up “Malacania” for “Macalania” – an understandable mistake. In other words, the Japanese text doesn’t mention the Macarena or make a pop culture reference – it just plays the scene straight. The Macarena reference was added into the English release.

The Final Fantasy Compendium actually interviewed one of FFX’s localizers, Richard Honeywood, about this Macarena reference many years ago:

Actually, I can still remember when Alex was writing that line. I’m always a sucker for silly humor, and I’m a pop culture junkie. Of course, I laughed and agreed to it at the time, so long as the “Aye!” was done in a way that it wouldn’t seem really strange to people who didn’t know the song (or years later, when everyone has forgotten the old one-hit wonders).

The whole discussion is fascinating and entertaining (he even discusses fan translations and possibly me), so I definitely recommend checking out the full interview here. While on the subject, this 8-4 podcast discussion with him is amazingly interesting too!

Also, just for fun and further reference I’ve put both the English and the Japanese clips of this Final Fantasy X scene into a handy video:

Anyway, hopefully that solves the mystery of the Final Fantasy X Macarena!

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32 comments

  1. “Of course, I laughed and agreed to it at the time, so long as the β€œAye!” was done in a way that it wouldn’t seem really strange to people who didn’t know the song (or years later, when everyone has forgotten the old one-hit wonders).”

    I /do/ know the song and the line delivery is really strange. When I read your text, I expected “Aye” to be said a la an Irish affirmative, not a Nicktoons gag reaction. I noticed that Tidus’ animation was changed for that line, too; I wonder, how often was that done?

    Reply
    1. Whoa, cool! I didn’t even notice that animation change!

      The Japanese version of FFX HD seems different from the English version in a number of different ways for some reason, I’m not really sure why. I don’t remember much about the original versions either, so I dunno if that animation difference exists in the PS2 version too, I’ll have to look sometime.

      Reply
    2. Squeenix actually seems to change the animations to fit up with localized dialogue a lot! I remember a series of videos many-a year ago that showed off numerous such changes made to the Kingdom Hearts series (at least in those scenes where the characters had properly modeled polygonal mouths, and not the lower-poly models with texture-based mouths used during less essential gameplay moments).

      Reply
  2. Wow I actually didn’t even know the “Aye” was a Macarena reference. The way he said it always baffled me! I like stuff like this, though. As long as it’s got some subtlety, localizers having a bit of fun like that is cool with me. On the other side of the spectrum, an NPC in Lunar mentioning that he eats Wheaties is a little much.

    On a side note, I like how Richard Honeywood mentions in the interview his pride in FFXI for making it sound so natural. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the dialogue in that game, but it is top notch writing/localizing.

    Reply
  3. Macarena is ’90s?
    I always thought it was older than that for some reason. Like ’60s or ’70s or something.
    But thinking about it now, it does sound pretty 90s.

    Reply
  4. Heeeey… There’s no secret text on the first screenshot! You messed up, Mato. πŸ˜‰

    I need to get this far now. I was playing the game a while back, but got distracted when some other game came out. I need to try to pick it up again, I’ll always feel slightly incomplete as a gamer until I finish this game everyone talks about. :p Whether or not it’s overrated. Haha!

    Reply
  5. I always wondered about that scene’s line in Japanese. So, in a choice quite reminiscent of Working Designs’s own silliness with script spicing, we peppered it with pop culture (spice pun!). Great stuff to know.

    Reply
  6. I didn’t even remember this line until I saw the screenshots … nor realise that the “Aye” was a reference to the song until I read the localiser’s explanation (and it’s a song I know depressingly well).

    Speaking of localisation and pop culture references, and on a different point altogether, I bought the PS3 HD Remaster of FFX and FFX-2 this year and was disappointed to see Shinra use the term “NSFW” in one of the Monster Arena endings. That stood out like a sore thumb, not least because I’m sure that term didn’t exist when the FFX-2 International Version was released. I hate additions like that. It’s going to age the game horribly, it doesn’t make sense since the internet doesn’t exist in Spira and comes across as a desperate attempt to be current. Imagine if Rikku said something like “Hashtag; Gullwings To The Rescue!”

    Reply
          1. Mato, looking at… that, or the post above, I have a question for you. (Apologies if you’ve answered it somewhere already.) Are you in favor or opposed to making “pop-culture” references like that in a game? I feel like I can see both sides of the argument, the plus side being that it can be funny if done right, but the downside being that it can really detract from a game’s atmosphere if done wrong. What do you think?

            (And that’s not going into the subject on whether or not it’s intentional, part of a game’s “schtick”, a one-off, etc…)

            Reply
              1. I’d like to mention that pop culture references are a great way to date your game within a scant few years. Like, things that I thought were hilarious and great back in the early/mid 2000s, like the Hammer Bros speaking 1337 in Partners in Time, or the YTMND references in the second Phoenix Wright game are just painful now.

                Reply
  7. I didn’t pay attention before, but is the preview image for the article from the Let’s Laugh scene? πŸ˜›

    Reply
  8. Cool article. Anyways, you have compared a couple of scenes from Metal Gear Rising before, yes? How about you compare some codec calls from that game. Namely, the codec call that discusses the benefits of red cyborg blood in comparison of the white blood seen in MGS4. Since the white blood was apparently retained in the Japanese version of Metal Gear Rising, I wonder if that particular codec call mentions red blood or even exists in that version.

    Reply
  9. Wow so, I learned the Macarena from my friends, and we all did a dance that has double the amount of moves shown in the official video. wtf?!

    Reply
  10. I’m playing FF4 and I tried getting Baron’s treasury before beating Cagnazzo. In the J2e version which I am playing, it says “It is sealed by a mysterious force.”. Can you please figure out what is says in Japanese.

    Reply
      1. The easter egg where you talk to fireplaces is also in FF3. Also have you ever considered adding a chapter between Agart and Troia about the Eblana Castle. You can visit it after beating Cagnazzo.

        Reply
        1. The “Let’s just sleep in the King’s bed.” line in Fabul is also in FF3 if you sleep in Princess Sara’s bed in Sassoon Castle.

          Reply
  11. Glad to see my legwork on this one proved useful! And if it didn’t, funny coincidence that we found the same sources!

    Reply
  12. The name of the Dwarf King in FF4 is Giotto according to an arrangement album, and his daughter is Luca, according to the After Years. J2e translated their names as Jiott and Luka. This is for the next part in the FF4 comparison.

    Reply
  13. In the manual for Sonic Heroes, Dr. Eggman is known as a feminist. Is this in the japanese manual?

    Reply
  14. Any idea what the Al Bhed language was like in the Japanese version? Were there still only 26 Al Bhed primers, or were more added since the Japanese alphabet is larger? Did it behave the same way, where it just mixed up characters with each other?

    Reply
    1. Heeey! I did an FFX thing on another article’s comments so I thought I’d answer this one as well.

      Al Bhed behaves under the same concept in both the Japanese and English versions – while in the English version they jumble up the letters of the alphabet (with the rule of consonants to consonants and vowels to vowels, Y considered a vowel, to make it as pronounceable as possible), in the Japanese version they change the various kana. This results in a complicated system.

      The regular, unmarked monographs – the stand-alone vowels, and characters like か(ka) and し(shi) – convert with the vowel sound preserved, so, EG, JP い(i) = AB み(mi), JP は(ha) = AB ま(ma). These are jumbled rather than swapped, EG JP ま(ma) = AB γ‚„(ya), not AB は(ha). Kana with a ゙(dakuten) also convert with vowel sound preserved, with a, u and o sets jumbled and i and e sets swapped. (I haven’t the foggiest as to why it’s different there, other than to shake things up.) There’s only one consonant created using a ゚(handakuten), p, so its vowel sounds are jumbled instead.

      Meanwhile, the small kana ぁ(a), ぃ(i), ぅ(u), ぇ(e), ぉ(o), ゃ(ya), γ‚…(yu), ょ(yo), which are all used to make digraphs like γŽγ‚‡(gyo) and γ˜γ‚ƒ(ja), are not converted, and neither are っ(the sokuon, used as in けょっと “chotto”, really more accent/punctuation), nor γ‚“ (n, used as in だん “dan”, the only kana that cannot start a word in standard Japanese).

      There are still 26 Primers, however! Presumably this is so that the game can be translated into English without deleting content. The Japanese versions teach multiple letter exchanges from Al Bhed to Japanese, with the ‘exception’ of 19, 25 and 26, only because they ‘teach’ the kana that weren’t changed. So no Primers were added or taken away, just the Japanese Primers are more complex than the English ones.

      Reply

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