A reader named Jason sent in a question about Soul Blazer for the Super NES:
At one point in Soul Blazer, the angel protagonist starts talking to a mushroom during World 4. Just your every day activities here in early 90s gaming. The mushroom’s response always baffled me, take a look:
“There are no actual bad people”? None anywhere at all? A broad statement on morality, Mr. Fungus? My first guess was that he was saying the prison is empty, but it’s not: Soul Blazer’s gimmick is that you restore the towns one person and structure at a time, back to the way they were before. Once you’re done, the prison isn’t just occupied, it’s packed.
Later you learn the King locked everyone in there for false reasons. I have a feeling the dialog is talking about that, but if that’s the case the localization team may have gotten a little too subtle. Nor can I figure out how the mushroom reasoned that since there are no bad people, it’s not technically a prison. In English, at least, it’s absolutely a prison, even if it’s empty!
Here’s the original text:
The Soul Blazer trilogy’s fond of making statements about human nature, so if one of them came from a semi-sentient Mario powerup, that’s not out of step, but I can’t help but feel something more practical got lost in localization. What do you think?
I haven’t played this game but I have seen full Let’s Plays of it and I mostly remember that it’s an amazing specimen of weird, weird English. So much so that I’d love to do a detailed analysis of it someday or someyear, but for now let’s just take a look at this one line. Also, many thanks for providing screenshots in both languages already – that saves me so much time!
Okay, so here’s the text side-by-side:
|Japanese Version (basic translation)||English Version|
|Up ahead is a prison.||There is a prison over there.|
|There are no bad guys here, though, so maybe it’d be more accurate to call it a “punishment room”?||Well… there are no actual bad people. I guess it is just a punishment room.|
So it looks like the English translation is pretty close to the Japanese, just phrased a little strangely – just enough to make some players go, “Huh?” I think the missing “here” in the official translation might be what causes it; it changes the specific reference of “no bad guys/villains in this specific area” to the broader, more philosophical idea of “no bad guys in all of existence”.
Given the context that Jason’s outlined above, I feel that another term might be better than “punishment room” too, but I can’t think of it off the top of my head. “Time-out room” maybe? Nah, that sounds kind of lame, but there’s gotta be a better term along those lines to show how it’s not an actual prison for bad guys but more of a place where the king threw people he didn’t like. If anyone reading this has any good ideas, please share in the comments!
Anyway, although it’s not a huge, important line or anything, I hope this helps shed a little light on just one of the many strange lines in Soul Blazer!