My backlog of questions from readers is literally close to 100 questions now, so today I decided to have followers on Twitter decide which one to do my next update about!
Gonna do a Legends of Localization post later today – help pick the topic! - Mega Man - Smash Bros. - Ghosts n Goblins I'll post tonight!
— Mato (@ClydeMandelin) December 13, 2013
I actually got way more responses than I expected – thanks, everyone! By an overwhelming margin, the winner was… Mega Man!
So here’s a Mega Man question that Morgil asked long, long ago that I’ve been meaning to get to for ages:
Back on the subject of the early Mega Man games, The original US manuals refereed to kept changing the name of the city the games take place in. The first game called it something like Monsteropolis, while a later game called it Mega City. I wonder what this is the the Japanese versions, if there even is a city name at all?
Wow, it’s been a long time since I actually had a copy of the Mega Man 1 box or manual, but I still remember that Monsteropolis name! It was so weird and out of place that I guess it wound up being that memorable; I guess the fact it was all over the back cover and written in bold helped:
And I could also swear at some point they use the name “Monsteropolis” in one of the Captain N cartoon episodes back in the day, but upon checking my DVDs I can only find references to “Mega Land”.
Of course, “Monsteropolis” was also in the story part of the first English manual a few times… so let’s take a look at the Japanese and English stories side-by-side!
|Rockman 1 manual||Mega Man 1 manual|
And here’s all that side-by-side for easier comparison:
|Japanese Version (basic translation)||English Version|
|In the year 200X, through the use of scientific advances, humanity created humanoid robots for industrial use. One day, Dr. Light, the foremost authority on these industrial robots, received the following news.|
”The robots you developed are going out of control one after the other! At this rate, robots will take over humankind!!”
Robots taking over humankind!? This must be the work of the evil genius, Wily. He’s modified the robots Dr. Light developed and is bent on using their power to take over the world. …
Dr. Light summoned “Rock”, a household robot he always cherished like his own son. And then, to recover the heart portion from each of the six robots he had created himself, he modified Rock into the combat robot “Rockman”.
Go, Rockman!! Successfully recover the six robots! And then destroy Dr. Wily’s massive robot factory and restore peace!
|It’s MEGA MAN versus the powerful leaders and fighting forces of Monsteropolis – that strange multi-faceted land of robot-like Humanoids.|
Brilliant scientist Dr. Wright conceived the construction of fully-operational human-like experimental robots to perform specific everyday duties. Dr. Wright, and his assistant Dr. Wily, encouraged with their very first near-human robot — MEGA MAN — proceeded to develop six additional Humanoids, all programmed to perform prescribed rituals.
But, with the exception of MEGA MAN, all of Dr. Wright’s near-human robot experimentation went awry. Assistant Dr. Wily turned disloyal, re-programming Dr. Wright’s Humanoids, now bent on destroying opposition so Dr. Wily could control the world and its resources.
Resisting re-programming, MEGA MAN is chosen the defender of the universe and its inhabitants. MEGA MAN dares to single-handedly penetrate seven separate empires of Monsteropolis, eliminating the leaders and followers of these sovereignties.
Get ready for some very exciting challenges!
Wow, they’re pretty different, yet not as profoundly different as I was expecting! I kind of like the cheesy, B-movie / crappy sci-fi novel / “every 80s Atari game ever” feel of the localized story – it at least matches the localized box art perfectly!
Anyway, my basic translation is a bit rough around the edges, but I think it gets the details across. On closer look, here are some things of note when I compare the two:
- The name “Monsteropolis” is entirely a creation of the localization team – it wasn’t in the original text. There was NOTHING like it in the original text.
- Dr. Wily is made Dr. Light/Wright’s assistant in the English text, but that wasn’t the case in the original text. Off the top of my head I can’t recall if later Japanese versions do claim that Dr. Wily was his assistant (or the other way around), so if anyone knows, let me know in the comments!
- Rock Man is just a house robot in the Japanese version. I think it’s kind of neat that a domestic robot is what’s needed to defeat industrial robots!
- The Japanese text also makes it clear that after you defeat the boss robots, there’s still another goal left – to destroy Wily’s big factory. When I was a kid, I’d only played the American version, so the fact that there were a ton of really hard stages after the main bosses came as a big surprise!
There’s probably more I could say and pick apart, but basically, the answer to Morgil’s question is that the Japanese story has no mention of a city’s name or even a city, really.
I then checked through the manuals for the rest of the games but couldn’t find any Monsteropolis mentions, so I kind of want to believe that it was a Mega Man 1-only thing… Yet something in the back of my mind says that’s not true. If anyone knows where else it’s mentioned in later games, let me know – I’d love to start piecing this Mega Man localization stuff together, for my own sake at least.
Anyway, the next part of Morgil’s question was about the name “Mega City” and how it’s supposedly the name of the city in later games. I’m not sure what “later games” refers to since there are so many games and spinoff series and all that. But from what I could tell, the name “Mega City” was introduced by the Archie comics series that has Sonic/Mega Man crossover stuff:
This is getting into territory where I KNOW I know nothing, so I can’t say too much more at this point. But I do know that on occasion Japanese creators will embrace and adopt localization choices – Sonic and chili dogs is one example, I believe. So, with that in mind, I did some more searching around on Japanese sites… but still couldn’t find any real Japanese equivalent to these city names in the Rockman games. So it seems these Monsteropolis and Mega City names are isolated to the fandom outside of Japan. Which is actually kind of an interesting idea in its own way and might be worth an article of its own someday!
The Japanese Rockman/Mega Man games don’t seem to make any references at all about “Monsteropolis” or “Mega City”. These terms only seem to exist outside of Japan.
I’m actually curious to know if these city names were used in releases in other languages – if anyone knows, let me know! And since my Mega Man knowledge ends right around X or so, I’m 100% sure I’ve overlooked or forgotten something here. If so, let me know in the comments or Twitter or e-mail or whatever else!