How a Simple Line in Paper Mario Became a Fire Emblem Advertisement


YoshiRider123 asked an interesting question about some text from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. One of the NPCs near the start of the game references the Game Boy Advance and the new Fire Emblem game.

I get so many questions about this game that I really should just do a full recording of myself playing through both versions so I can pull out screen captures at any point I need in the future

Since Fire Emblem was making its first foray outside of Japan around this time, the question is – did the original Japanese text mention Fire Emblem too, or was it changed somehow to include a quick Fire Emblem advertisement?

First, let’s take a look at this guy’s text in both versions of the game!

Oh noOh no

now I wanna play this game againnow I wanna play this game again

Keep it away ack! I hope more Paper Mario games with this quality come out soon. I still gotta play Sticker Star but I hear mixed reviews about itKeep it away ack! I hope more Paper Mario games with this quality come out soon. I still gotta play Sticker Star but I hear mixed reviews about it

And here’s the translated text side-by-side for easier reference:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
I’ve been hooked on playing Famicom games lately.Hey, what’s up? I gotta say, I’m really hooked on playing GBA games lately.
There’s a game I especially like called “Super Mario Bros.”…There’s this one game that just absolutely rules. It’s called “Fire Emblem”…
Have you heard of it? I totally recommend it!You ever heard of it? Man, it ROCKS MY SOCKS!!!

Neat! It looks like the reference was indeed changed from original Super Mario Bros. for the Famicom to Fire Emblem for the Game Boy Advance!

I guess in a way the original line was going for a bit of self-referential humor, but there’s something charming about Nintendo plugging its own current games to try and boost sales 😛

The funny thing is, I actually did go and buy Fire Emblem a short time after playing Thousand-Year Door. Did I fall prey to this secret marketing, or was it just a coincidence? I don’t know, but I’m curious how many other Mario fans checked out Fire Emblem thanks to this!

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  1. Haha, I recall seeing this when I played it through for the first time. This actually introduced me to the Fire Emblem series as a whole, so I guess Nintendo’s strategy paid off!

    1. Cool! I wish I could see when/how the decision to mention Fire Emblem was made, I wonder if it was a serious meeting or just some localizer who just did it for fun 😛

      1. Probably because both Paper Mario and Fire Emblem are made from Intelligent Systems. And also the first Fire Emblem game released outside of Japan went out around the same time as The Thousand Year Door.

  2. The best advertisement for Fire Emblem was Smash Bros. Melee though.

    I bought Fire Emblem for the GBA after playing with Marth and Roy in Melee, and luckily loved it and have been a FE fan since then! 🙂

    1. Definitely – I’m actually amazed it took so long for a Fire Emblem game to get released after Melee. But better late than never!

      1. Right, more so because the first one that came after Melee had Roy yet that never came outside Japan. Instead we got the one about Roy’d dad where Roy only makes a cameo in the epilogue, unless you’re European as then you get no Roy ever.

        Nintendo logic, ladies and gentlemen.

  3. I owned both but… I cannot remember why I got Fire Emblem. Oh my.

    1. Nooooo they got to you too!

  4. I like the Japanese line better, since the idea of asking Mario if he’s heard of Super Mario Bros. is charming. Almost a bit like returning to talk to Chief Strong later in the game, and he tells you how he’s been playing a game called “Earthbound” lately. 🙂

  5. You know, it’s funny. Fire Emblem is my favourite video game series of all time (I own every game in the series physically and even got ahold of the Fire Emblem Thracia 776 Deluxe Box) and Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door happens to be my favourite video game of all time.

  6. Because this article is about the Mario series, I think I’ll ask while I have the chance:

    Super Mario Wiki recently made some edits to its article about the Viruses from Dr. Mario to account for the recent release of Dr. Luigi. One of those edits was a line declaring that the Magenta Virus from Dr. Luigi is the first female Virus, which contradicts an earlier statement from the American SNES Tetris & Dr. Mario manual that the Red Virus from Dr. Mario is female (page 23: “Not only does Red Virus move very fast, she attacks very intensely. A game against the Red Virus is for advanced players.”).

    The Red Virus has no feminine characteristics in its appearance, and the SNES American manual is the only one so far to give a gender to any of the Viruses. So, I’m curious. Are there any official Japanese-language statements or materials that state the genders of the Viruses?

    Also, are the names “Fever”, “Chill”, and “Weird” exclusive to the English world? Those names originated in the Nintendo Comics System.

    1. The Viruses having names /only/ appeared in the Nintendo Comics System. Nowhere else.

  7. It should be noted that both the Paper Mario series and Fire Emblem series were developed by Intelligent Systems. I always thought that was the main reason they picked that game specifically, and also as you say it was just being exported for the first time.

    1. Oh, cool, I totally forgot about that connection. I guess that’s a good reason for the reference too 😛

  8. I would highly recommend Super Paper Mario if you want a game full of fun and quirky references. The writers really impressed me with the localization. It’s among the best.

    1. Yep, I really liked what I’ve played of Super Paper Mario. I probably stopped about halfway through and never finished it though, oops.

      1. Then you should definitely go back and finish it! 😀

      2. I was actually really impressed with the second half of the game in particular. Definitely go back!

  9. I played Paper Mario 2 a lot and I love the Fire Emblem series, but I just couldn’t remember that reference, so I looked up what the Toad kid says in the version I am accustomed to: the German one. And indeed, Fire Emblem isn’t referenced there, instead it is pretty much a translation of the Japanese script. If some of you are curious, this is what the little Toad says in the German version of Paper Mario 2:

    “Seit einer Weile spiele ich nur noch mit meinem Nintendo Entertainment System…
    Besonders gut gefällt mir ein Spiel namens Super Mario Bros.
    Kennt ihr das? Das müsst ihr euch unbedingt auch kaufen!”

    which roughly translates to

    “Lately, I’ve been only playing on my Nintendo Entertainment System…
    I especially like a game named Super Mario Bros.
    Do you know it? You definitely have to buy it!”

    So yeah, it’s basically pretty much what Mato’s translation of the Japanese lines says, there are just a few minor differences. For example, he distinctively talks to both you and your partner (which you can’t tell from the translation but if you know German it gets apparent immediately) by using “ihr” instead of “du” or the more formal “sie”. “ihr” could technically be used for addressing one person but that would be a really old-fashioned way of saying it, and even then “ihr” would have to be capitalized.

    Now, I’m kinda curious about two things. First, is there a way to know if he talks to both Mario and the partner or only Mario in the Japanese version?
    And second, is this line a direct translation from the Japanese one in other languages as well (for example in French) or were they following the English approach?

    1. “First, is there a way to know if he talks to both Mario and the partner or only Mario in the Japanese version?”

      I am too stupid to answer this, but I would like to compliment you on an AWESOME question. That’s the sort of thing I’m really fascinated to hear. 😀

    2. I believe since he’s using キミたち (kimitachi) he is speaking to both Mario and his partner. Kimi by itself is (an informal way to say) “you”; the suffix -tachi pluralizes it to “you guys”, essentially.

      1. Oh, you beat me to it, ha!

    3. Does any video game company other than Nintendo (who only started relatively recently) translate from Japanese straight to the other European languages instead of Japanese>English>Whatever?

      (There’s even one Nintendo published game, Napoleon for the GBA, released in only Japanese and French, which has an English fan-translation based on the French script)

      1. I’ve never really looked into the subject, but this is something I’ve been curious about too.

      2. iOS Secret of Mana used the original butchered English SNES script, but since they couldn’t use the European SNES translations (they were by Nintendo), they retranslated it from scratch straight from Japanese: French, German, Spanish and Chinese. The “blood” and “death” word count increased drastically as a result in those scripts…
        All Square and Enix pre-PS1 games were localized by Nintendo in Europe, so they can’t really release a version without that script on non-Nintendo platforms. Maybe other similar cases exist?

        I would say Bandai who used to release exclusive games for France (Dragon Ball, Saint Seiya, Sailor Moon), but the actual quality of the script and some of the mistranslations seems an awful lot like an English>French translation. They could have had an intermediary English script ready?
        However they did Tail Concerto straight from the Japanese version in French, complete with anime intro theme, voiced cutscenes where the subtitles are matching the Japanese voices rather than the US localized equivalent.
        A Yu-Yu Hakusho translated in Brazil by the local Sega distributor straight from Japanese,
        A Captain Tsubasa and a Naruto game released in Europe without an English option,

        1. That’s pretty interesting. Thanks.

    4. Cool, I always love to hear about how these games are translated into other languages!

      And yep, in Japanese he uses キミたち, which is the plural version of “you”.

  10. I’m not loving Sticker Star Story. The battle game play is almost Chain of Memories stupid (though not quite that bad). The story isn’t even a shadow of the earlier games in presentation or presence…I dunno, it’s definitely the weakest entry. I’m having a hard time staying interested in it.

    1. I liked Sticker Star for the most part, but the boss fights are unremitting awfulness.

      1. You’re the first person to feel the same way I do. Everyone seems to just hate it, but I DO like the game, but it really dropped the ball in a few places (such as bosses).

  11. Sticker Star is really pretty bad. It removed the charm that made the games fun in the first place by watering down the story and dialogue, and made battles a pointless chore. ALL of my friends hated it, and we all love the Paper Mario series to death. I was the only one who even kind of liked it. I definitely do not recommend this game.

    1. Blame Miyamoto for it. He’s the one who suggested to change it from a clone of TTYD and to tone down the story greatly.

  12. I’ve been staving off the urge to replay TTYD for awhile myself and you made it harder to resist! I’ve got so much schoolwork and other games that I finally got to play but I love that game SO MUCH! 😀 I gotta finish Sticker Star too actually. I forgot I hadn’t finished it (I do that a lot). It’s honestly not the best game, especially in the series. Maybe you should find a way to try it before buying it.

  13. Speaking of in-game plugs, there’s a similar easter egg in “Shining Force II”. If your character is inflicted with the “muddle” status, there’s a chance they may waste a turn playing “Shining Force: Sword of Hajya” on Game Gear. I don’t know if this text was in the Japanese version.

    1. Quintet games do this an awful lot:
      Robotreck (aka Slapstick), set in a world called Quintenix, has one of the first things you can speak to a computer who says :
      “Actraiser 2”
      “Illusion of Gaia”
      Popular new releases! Buy them!

      As for Terranigma (aka Tenchi Suzo) it has in Neotokio the Quintet building, but sadly most of the easter eggs were not localizad.
      An NPC present only in the Japanese version would give you a Magirock if you answered correcly all of his questions about Actraiser, Soul Blazer (and the Turbo dog), Illusion of Gaia and Robotreck. They tried to localize it but removing the Robotreck reference (it was never released in Europe) and replacing it with either Mario’s clothes coulor (French version) or Link’s plasma gun (German version), leaving it as it is (Spanish version) or removing the text for the whole quiz altogether (English version). Ultimately remants of the texts are still there in some non-English versions but the quiz was dummied out.
      Another NPC would thank you for saving him and tells you he was inspired to do a game called Tenchi Suzo, which was called Illusion of Gaia 2 instead since the game was translated by NoA and they used the US name (the Spanish version caught the mistake and made it Illusion of Time 2 instead)
      Finally the biggest one would be a neon sign in Neotokio that’s still in Japanese in all versions, reading:
      ENIXニュース・・ドラクエVI キンジツ ハツバイ!!! (3 slime smileys)
      “Enix: Dragon Quest VI Soon for Sale”


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