How Breath of Fire’s Massage Scene Was Changed in Translation


A reader named Jay asked a little while ago about a scene from Breath of Fire. It involves an old man asking specifically for a female party member to give him a back massage, and then a weird cutscene with a pink, flashing screen happens:

So the question is, what was this old guy saying originally and what happens in the Japanese version of the scene? After a bit of work I was able to locate the text in question. Here’s how the scene progresses:


First, before you put Nina at the front of your party:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Who are you?! I HATE men! Stay away from me! Ptooie!The woman with you… Let me speak to her.

And if you put Nina at the front of your party, he says:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Oh! Oh! What a beauty you are!
Please, let me give your shoulders a rub-rub!Healer, won’t you please fix my aching back?
I’ll give you Zeni if you’ll let me rub them!
   Yes   No   Yes   No

Holy moly, that IS different! It wasn’t what I was expecting, but it’s definitely got a creepy vibe. In the Japanese version, he wants to put his hands all over Nina, but in the English localization he wants her to massage him instead.

Once you say yes, the screen fades to black, then it starts flashing pink, suggesting that “something” is going on. But IS anything going on?

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Oh… Oh…. Oh!Pat-a-pat-a-pat-pat.

After this, the scene fades back in and the old man talks again:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Whew, that was great. Thanks.I feel years younger! Thanks!
This is the secret to my youth.

Then he pays money!

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Nina received 20000 ZeniYou receive 20000GP

Wow, so it looks like he specifically pays Nina in the original version. He also says something after paying her, but in the English version he doesn’t say anything at all:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Don’t waste it now.

If you talk to him again with Nina in your party, he’ll say something like this in the Japanese version:

Oh, you want me to rub you some more? You certainly are a lecherous girl!

Summary: He does ask for a massage in the Japanese version too… but he asks to give one rather than receive one.

Anyway, hopefully that answers that question! I can understand why this might not have been acceptable back in a 90s Nintendo game, and I’m impressed that the localization almost writes around it all without seeming too out of place. But if you ever played the game and wondered what this scene was REALLY about, now you know!

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  1. If it weren’t for that pink screen, I would never think it was censored. I do admit, I’m not the best at picking up subtle innuendo at times.

  2. Goes into the the JRPG discussion. Sees somebody talking about being a new user, following HC for a while, same old same old. Sees LoL link. Gets confused. Glances up at username. Mato. Well, I certainly didn’t expect that. XD

    1. Haha, yeah, I actually am like, “You know, I oughta look into that” whenever HC wonders about something in a Japanese version of a game. So I figured this would be a good time to finally do it instead of just think about it 😛

    2. I’ve read this several times and I still can’t understand what you’re saying.

      1. I signed up on HCBailly’s forum this morning and posted a link to this article on there.

  3. While I normally don’t like the censorship that went on when an SNES game was brought over stateside, I’m kinda glad the creepiness of the scene was removed. BoFIV had a similar scene involving Nina and a foot/back rub that was just downright disturbing.

  4. Are there any translation patches for the BoF games that decensor the dialogue?

    1. Those guys who made the BoF2 restoration/retranslation were working on such a project for this one as well, but I don’t know if they’re still working on it… It’s been years since I’ve heard anything about it. I hope they finish it, or that someone else makes such a patch. I actually prefer this one over the second.

    2. Yeah, I believe Ryusui’s working on one for BoF1. I don’t know if any others exist yet though.

      1. I remember Myria/Tyr/barubary working on it too. (her current name is a reference to BoF1, her former a BoF2 reference if you remember that boss, but maybe not.)
        I myself had tried working on it before but not getting far. I’m sure if Myria works on it, it’d be quite well.

    3. I have a very incomplete retranslation patch for the original BoF myself, but I ran up against technical limits and then got distracted by other projects (such is life). I was also using it to help teach myself translation, so the quality isn’t yet even up to my standards, much less suitable for release.

      I do still intend to finish it one of these years, but I have far too many higher-priority projects for the moment. It’s really interesting to see some of the changes made in the official English translation, though.

  5. Obviously rewritten to be less perverted because the U.S. wasn’t used to the “perverted old man” stereotype in anime and anime-styled games at the time of BoF’s release. Also, on SNES and we know how annoying Nintendo was about the kind of crap. It is very dirty, but it’s also typical of old men being pervs in anime.

    1. Yeah, in America we tend to only look the other way when it’s creepy old men in an old folk’s home doing the creepy stuff.

  6. You know what I find hilarious about this? This was rewritten to avoid the creepy perv vibe, but when BoF4 was released years later, Marlok massaged Nina’s shoulders at one point (while censoring a lot of the other anime style humor, like the hot springs and ass paddling joke).

  7. It’s Zenny not Zeni (currency in all Capcom games that have a currency).

    It’s weird how Square changed it to “GP”.

    1. It may be Zenny in the later localizations, but as text above is a translation + Romanization of the original Japanese, I don’t think the official localization applies.

  8. In case anyone was wondering … the title and narration of the linked LP video both reference a “Puff Puff massage.” That’s a thing from the Dragon Quest/Warrior series, though edited out in the ones that came out for the NES. In DW III there’s a parallel to the case discussed in this article: you can get a Puff-Puff from a dancer, who will pick you up on the street, take you upstairs, and turn out the light. Next there are some “ohhh” and “this feels gooood”-type lines … and then her father reveals himself as the masseur! (he’s even wearing a gimpy face mask though this is a common character sprite in the game).

    But get this: in the English language version, she asks to tell your fortune and, with the lights off, you say something like “Ohhh … it’s getting clearer, so clear!” … before her father reveals with a “Hehehe” that he’s been manipulating the images in the crystal from under the table.

    In either case, when you return to your teammates, they ask you how it went, and you reply with a resounding “…..” Hilarious.

    (Incidentally, at least in the American version this happens whether a male or a female character goes upstairs with her.)

    Oh, I forgot: even in the American version, if you talk to the dancer again, she says something about your stiff shoulders. So, despite coming up with a neat workaround for the massage, they forgot to make that bit of text match up. Oh, well!

    Here’s my source of information about the original — a rough translation of the entire text of DW III, which also includes some background on Puff-Puffs way up front:

    1. Must have been in the NES version.
      I recall in the GBC version it was left as a “puff puff”.