How Dr. Robotnik Turns into Dr. Eggman!

Jrokujuushi asked this the other day:

In Sonic Adventure, the English translation started to make the transition from Dr. Robotnik to Dr. Eggman by having Sonic call him that as a nickname. You can view the English version of this scene here:

I’ve always wondered what that scene says in Japanese, since Japan has always referred to him as Eggman rather than Robotnik. I haven’t found a clip with Japanese subtitles, but here’s one with the Japanese voices, if you’re able to understand it over the overly loud music:

I’m not much of a Sonic expert but I do remember there being a fuss over the Dr. Robotnik/Dr. Eggman thing around the time this game came out, so it’s good to finally take a look at it! It reminds me a lot of how Princess Toadstool had to be gradually changed into Princess Peach some years earlier.

Anyway, here’s the text in this scene:

Japanese dialogueLiteral translationOfficial English dialogue
Doctor: ほーっほっほっほ! ソニック!Doctor: Hohohoho! Sonic!Doctor: Ha ha ha ha! If it isn’t Sonic!
Sonic: お前は! Dr.エッグマン!Sonic: It’s you! Dr. Eggman!Sonic: Look! It’s a giant talking egg!
Doctor: いかにも!Doctor: Indeed!Doctor: Silence!
ワシこそ この世に並ぶ者のない天才科学者、Dr.エッグマン様じゃ!I am the great Dr. Eggman, the greatest scientific genius in the world!I am Dr. Robotnik, the greatest scientific genius in the world!
Sonic: …久しぶりだな。Sonic: …It’s been a while, huh?Sonic: Whatever you say, Eggman!

So it’s definitely played pretty straight in the Japanese version – no talk of flying eggs or name-calling. It’s interesting to see how the localizers decided to use this scene to try to start the name change transition. I personally can’t think of a better way, but I’d love to hear what better ideas fans might have!

I also briefly noticed that the Japanese version is pretty standard stuff for this sort of entertainment, while the English version tries to add in “attitude” with name-calling and insults and stuff like that. Sonic calling Eggman a loser later on, for example – that’s not in the original text and not really reflected in the tone of the Japanese text, either. This is actually a pretty interesting topic, so I’ll have to look into it more someday!

Also, I’m curious to know how this name change went over with Sonic fans back in the day. Was it accepted pretty well, or was there maybe a lot of complaining? And did the games ever go and incorporate chili dogs into the games in some way after that one cartoon series was made? Man, I really need to brush up on my Sonic knowledge someday. I just don’t know which of them are worth playing and which are worth skipping 😯

If you have any lines in games or whatever else that you’d like me to take a look at sometime, let me know in the comments or contact me!

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  1. Zettai Ryouiki

    This one is a bit hard since it’s not just one line, but here we go.

    In Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken for the GBA, known as just “Fire Emblem” in the West, Lyn the main girl was apparently changed in the English translations to have an “action-y” personality, while she was more of a sweet country gal in the original. However, I’ve never seen any lines or proof of this statement.

    Could you shed some light on this, Sir Mato?

    1. …Really? Must’ve been really subtle then. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember any particular scenes where she was portrayed like that. She sounds like the typical nature-loving, conflict-hating country bumpkint throughout the entire game, if memory serves.

  2. For the record there was a chili dog in the 2011 title Sonic Generations. It’s a birthday present to (modern) Sonic. Probably an homage to America’s version of Sonic I suppose.

    Oh, Tomato, everything from Heroes to Unleashed is worth skipping. Colours is where the series gets better.

    1. Sonic was also seen eating chili dogs in Sonic And the Black Knight. During the opening cutscene, he’s got two, and he eats one, if I remember right.

  3. I’ve never played it, but I seem to remember reading that Sonic Adventure 2 uses the Robotnik name, even in the Japanese version. I think it’s pretty cool if that’s the case, since they were trying to bridge the gap both ways, but the Robotnik name has been more or less dropped entirely in the newer games. All it gets is a passing mention in rereleases’ manuals.

    Personally, while “Robotnik” is far from the best name, I liked it a lot more than Eggman and was kind of annoyed that they felt the need to transition over to the Japanese name. It would be one thing if they kept the nickname thing going (which was a great way of handling it), but the guy refers to himself as Eggman now, which is just sad.

    1. Actually, there was mention of the Robotnik name in the cutscene before the final boss in Sonic Generations. I don’t know how it goes in the Japanese version, but in the english version, classic Tails calls him Dr. Robotnik, and he responds with “Please, nobody calls me THAT anymore.” It’s a nice shout out to the name change.

      Personally, while i have played the games, i’m more a Sonic fan cuz of the comics, which i think did a much better transition between the two names. Even though he’s mainly just referred to as Eggman in the comics, they do still occasionally mention the Robotnik name from time to time, solidifying the idea that Eggman is still just a nickname.

        1. Apparently, last I heard, the Robotnik line in Generations was changed in Japanese to something along the lines of “A second Eggman!?” with the “Nobody calls me that anymore” bit completely removed, skipping straight to Robotnik asking Eggman to explain his plan to Sonic.

    2. Correct, the various names in Sonic Adventure 2 are the same in both Japanese and English. Both “Dr. Eggman” and “Gerald Robotnik” are referred to as such in both languages, with no further explanations given.

    3. Random Visito 999

      This isn’t true, but it did remind me of something. I vaguely remember thinking that Robotnik became his main name in Japan after Sonic Adventure, and I always remembered a scene from Sonic Adventure 2 that I thought solidified it. It’s the scene where Eggman blows up the moon: Linked below (in Japanese no less):

      On the TV you can see Robotnik Empire in large font. I assumed this was for the Japanese audience, but behind that text you can see some Japanese text that reads “エッグマン 帝国 “. Which looks like it translates to Eggman Empire based on some character matching on Wikipedia and Google Translate. I’m guessing that the character’s English name was in limbo at that point, and the developers thought using Robotnik in English would make more sense.

  4. The Eggman thing can actually be trace back to the old genesis game Sonic 2 or 3 I forgot which one. It was in one of the background on a ship. Robotnik was the american name we gave him.

    1. The Great Klaid

      Sonic 2, the level right before Death Egg. The Wing Fortress zone, I never really noticed it as a kid, oddly.

  5. Matt Broussard

    If you only want to play the really good ones, everything after Sonic Heroes (2003) but before Sonic Colors (2011) can be skipped. Basically Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes were the only good Gamecube-era ones.

  6. Interestingly, while Sonic Adventure’s localisation is incredibly loose, Adventure 2’s is an almost literal translation.

  7. There are whole sidequests about chili dogs in the 360/PS3 version of Sonic Unleashed. Chili dogs also appear in Sonic and the Black Knight and in Sonic Generations.

  8. I seem to recall that the Genesis was marketed as being “more adult/more mature” then the SNES (at least in the ads in Game Pro and EGM), so the change from the silly sounding “Eggman” to the grittier (I guess?) name of “Robotnik” doesn’t surprise me. Honestly to me, Eggman sounds like something from Mario Bros. because what goes good with mushrooms/toadstools? Eggs! I never noticed the change because I didn’t have the internet at the time to tell me any different. I know I found it weird that in the Sonic Adventures comics that everything he built seemed to be egg themed and now I know why.

  9. I know as a Sonic fan I was thrown off by the Eggman references when I first bought the game in 2000. After all, Wikipedia didn’t exist back then to inform us about the Japanese name. I still refer to him at Dr. Robotnik either way.

  10. I don’t think anyone really noticed it or cared when they started calling him Eggman in Sonic Adventure, because it was just a nickname, and he had always been egg themed, since at least Sonic 2 when the final level was Death Egg Zone (A strange name but it made more sense when we found out his Japanese name).

    The official cannon now is that his name is Dr. Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik, which I think is kind of a nice homage to western players. It doesn’t come up much in-game anymore, but most manuals make mention of it.

    There are still some people who refuse to call him Eggman, but most older Sonic fans have gotten over it, with only the occasional “He’ll always bee Robotnik to me”. The Sonic franchise caters to a young crowd, though, and by now probably most of the fan community is too young to ever remember him being Robotnik.

    1. He’s not called Eggman because he’s egg-themed. He’s called Eggman because his big moustache makes him look like a walrus.

      ♪I am the eggman/They are the eggmen/I am the walrus, goo-goo-g’joob♫

  11. I think having all the “oh Tails look, it’s an EGG-MAN!” would’ve been the best way to compromise having him as Eggman in the Western releases, since Sonic’s attitude in the west would have definitely made him mock him over his nickname…

    … Except, because of how he proudly writes EGGMAN everywhere, the joke just couldn’t live up and was dropped soon enough. (Specially in the second Adventure game; you can’t mock him for it if he outright EMBRACES being “the EGGMAN” in his theme song!)

  12. Poor Dr. Robotnik. All he wanted to do was to go on with his life and fulfill his career of being a storybook SEGA villain, but NOOOOOOO, Sonic and his mean friends had to continuously bully him with their mean “Egg-man” name in every encounter they had. They overdid it so much that they sent him into a psychotic breakdown and totally made him accept the Eggman label in defeat while forgetting what an awesome name he originally had.

    Don’t let this bullying happen to other villains again. Call this hotline number 1-(800)-STOPHEROES and you can halt villain-shaming in its evil tracks!

  13. They originally started off by trying to merge the original Japanese name with the western name, they actually stated in an interview back when making Adventure 1 that his name was still Dr Robotnik and that hadn’t changed, but that “Eggman” was a nickname that the other characters had for him. However, all it took was one game later for that to go flying out the window and in Adventure 2 I don’t neither he nor anybody else ever calls him by the name Robotnik, and the name seldom appeared in the games ever again. To a westerner who had been with the games from the start it perhaps made it feel like a continuity error… But continuity in the Sonic games also went flying out of the window soon afterwards for future games. Personally my favourite continuity comes from the UK publication of Sonic the Comic, which also introduces a reason to the egg element as well as making the character both manic and evil sometimes and unintentionally comical at others.

  14. Japan has been acknowledging “Robotnik” as a canon name long before Sonic Adventure. In Sonic Triple Trouble for Game Gear (“Sonic & Tails 2” in Japan), one of the stages is called “Robotnik Winter” in both US and Japan versions.

  15. I have a question about Sonic Adventure, myself. You know how, for every conversation that occurs in multiple stories, nearly every line is noticeably different? Is that how it is in Japanese, or is pretty much every line — barring obvious exceptions like Knuckles’ “I’ll make him eat dirt!” before the Chaos 4 fight — exactly the same across stories?

    Eesh, I’m really asking for a full game treatment, aren’t I? Well, if you’re up for it…

  16. Personally, I love how they changed Sonic’s personality for the western audience. It’s perfect. Now if only the games weren’t so poorly made…


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