Bad Game Translation Hall of Fame

34 Comments

Bad video game translations can be funny, frustrating, baffling, and entertaining all at the same time. Below are some of the best of the worst English game translations of all time.

These pics are here for many different reasons – some involve genuine English mistakes, some are often-quoted typos, some are famous for sounding silly, and others are notorious for their unfortunate wording.

The Classics

If you’ve been playing video games for a while now, or if you’ve ever read articles about bad video game translations, you’ll probably recognize these.

Personal Favorites, Part 1

Every couple weeks I’ll add more of my favorite examples of bad translation that I’ve come across during my normal game translation research. Here’s the first set of many to come!

Personal Favorites, Part 2

If you liked this, check out This be book bad translation, video games!, my book dedicated to game translation disasters from the 1970s until today!
34 Comments
  1. I swear to god, somebody NEEDS to track down that bootleg game.

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    1. The background text says “fantasia” (or maybe “Lantasia”) so that could be a starting point for a search.

      Arcade bootlegs are a goldmine of crazy.

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      1. A quick search for Fantasia brings up this Gals’ Panic knockoff series (screenshots may be NSFW): https://www.arcade-history.com/?n=fantasia&page=detail&id=804

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  2. Could anybody please tell me what’s unusual about the Bubble Bobble one? I didn’t quite see any spelling or grammatical errors in that one, unless the way the sentence is the unnatural part?

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    1. I 100% agree that it’s one of the weaker “classic” bad translations – in fact, many classics from that era like “spoony bard”, “I am Error”, and “let’s attack aggressively” were pretty weak to begin with, but mostly became memorable through popularity, repetition, initial unexpectedness, word of mouth, etc. And given that 30+ years have passed, it’s understandable that what might’ve seemed odd back then now seems tame and normal today.

      In Bubble Bobble’s case, I’m guessing it was just the unnatural-ness, at least in comparison to the simple, straightforward messages from other arcade games from the time.

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      1. In a similar vein, there’s nothing technically “wrong” with the Terranigma shot — “thank you for arousing me” is correctly constructed, and “arousing” can very well mean what it’s being used to mean. The catch is that it has pretty strong connotations of something rather more amusing.

        Also, if I could propose one addition to this gallery, it would be “I, GARLAND, will knock you all down!”

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      2. The one you listed is the revised English version of Bubble Bobble. See the japanese one here: https://tcrf.net/Bubble_Bobble_(NES)

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  3. I seriously cannot make heads or tails of what B.C. Story is trying to say!

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  4. Hi Mato.
    I don’t think that “Take care, Ho!” is a bad translation. In final fantasy, the Dwarves have a habit of saying “Lalli-Ho” and I’m wondering if in japanese they end every sentence with desu-ho or something similar. I feel like it would be acceptable translation to leave some of those “Ho”s in.
    That said, it does sound very funny out of context.

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    1. Oh, don’t worry, I know all about hos in Final Fantasy IV: https://legendsoflocalization.com/final-fantasy-iv/dwarf-castle/#lali-more

      The interesting thing is that the Japanese version of that line didn’t have a lali or a ho, so the translator went out of their way to add it in. It’s not a bad translation in the “wrong” sense, just in the “unintentionally has alternate meanings” sense.

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      1. “I’ll jack into your squirrel” is also a case of this. In Battle Network characters “Jack In” to electronics to enter cyberspace, and that squirrel statue has a computer in it.

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  5. “Ranger, are you working? You are working hard!” from BoFII is still my fave ^^

    The Robotrek / Slapstick ones are pretty hilarious!

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  6. No mention of Breath of Fire 2? Not even “Equip Lod/Bait”?

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    1. Not yet, mostly because I already have a dedicated gallery planned for it + I already have 100s of BoF2 bad translation pics here anyway: https://legendsoflocalization.com/breath-of-fire-ii-super-nes-localization-review/

      I guess maybe I don’t need to do a second gallery for it maybe, now that I think about it.

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  7. It’s still annoying to see “I am Error” listed as a “bad translation”. It’s the guy’s name, it’s a pretty straight translation of the original line, and people should KNOW it’s the guy’s name since you’re told to go talk to Error to get some rather crucial information on how to progress about halfway into the game. I never got why this constantly gets treated as some context-less random nonsense line.

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    1. Yeah, I think it seemed funny back in the day when this sort of stuff was new and nobody knew Error was intended, but nowadays it just seems quaint. That’s why I have the “classics” section up top – I’m thinking I should put “I am Error” up there and link to my article about it, just to spread the word some more.

      EDIT: Okay, just added it and included a link to my article. Did the same with the spoony bard pic too.

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      1. Oh right, I completely forgot you wrote an article about it way back.

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  8. This might not be a translation error (or maybe it is?), but in Advance Wars 2 (US version), Flak refers to the Bombers as indirect units (units that fire at a distance). This is incorrect, as Bombers (well all air units) are direct units. https://static.giantbomb.com/uploads/original/2/29615/1526899-flak06.png

    It does fit Flak’s stupidity. They did fix this dialogue in the European version, which confused me at the time where the indirect joke came from.

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  9. Gods, Lufia: The Legend Returns is full of some ridiculous foul ups. It’s seriously embarrassing how awful it gets, and it happens right away too.

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  10. oooh yeah, I loves me some hot SQEXToys

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  11. In ZUN defense, he was making that game all by himself. 😀

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  12. “You cannot stop me with paramecium alone.”

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    1. Did you find the guy?

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  13. Seeing the evergreen “HARRY UP” mistake made me nostalgic enough to fire up Highly Responsive to Prayers, and I thought you might get a chuckle out of the stage clear screen: https://imgur.com/a/20VnUht

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  14. Bad translations in video games exist because of not only deadlines, but for overbearing censorship policies. I bet Nintendo of America’s Early 90’s overbearing video game policies were just as stupid as the bad English that we know and remember today.

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  15. I always thought “A WINNER IS WHOM!” was a top-level reference to “A WINNER IS YOU”, which is doubly appropriate given the context of the game’s storyline.

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  16. Heads up, that “YOU ARE INVOLVED IN A CRIE” screencap is from Data East’s Chanbara.

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    1. Yep.

      Speaking of warnings in arcade games – there’s also the “FULL EXTENT OF THE JAM” in DoDonPachi.

      Reply

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