Localization Roundup #1


I’m always finding cool little tidbits of info, articles, videos, and more around the Internet, but they’re not really fit for dedicated articles on Legends of Localization. But then I realized I can just make articles that cover a bunch at once – and so the Localization Roundup was born!

Every week or two I’ll share things related to game translation that I feel are really interesting and worth checking out. Here are five examples to start the series off!

1. English Translations Reverted Back to Japanese

A Japanese gamer has taken classic game NES games that were translated into English and then reverted them back into Japanese.

You might think, “Why would anyone do that?” The answer is that NES translations also changed game mechanics, music, graphics, and other non-text things. In some cases, like Castlevania II, the horrible loading times were removed during the English translation, so now Japanese gamers can play without such annoyances.

You can check out the full list of games and IPS patches here, which includes Metroid, Double Dribble, and Blades of Steel.

2. Kamaitachi no Yoru / Banshee’s Last Cry Comparison

Kamaitachi no Yoru (Night of the Sickle Weasel) is an important entry in Japanese gaming history, but it got almost no attention outside of Japan until it was ported to mobile systems a few years ago. It was then finally given a full-scale localization into English meant to make the game more accessible for non-Japanese players.

I haven’t played the translated version myself, but I recently discovered that someone in Japan did a quick comparison of both games here!

3. Japanese Undertale Reception

I commonly get asked about how Japanese gamers have responded to the official Japanese translation of Undertale. It deserves a whole giant write-up of its own, but a quick answer is this: when it was recently announced for the Nintendo Switch during a flurry of game announcements, Undertale generated more Japanese response on Twitter than any other game that day, except for the new Super Smash Bros. tease.

There’ve also been many Undertale concerts in Japan. I managed to watch one live a few weeks ago that featured Prof. Sakamoto – here are some Nico Nico screenshots from it:

There was also a bigger concert the other day performed by the Japan Game Music Orchestra.

I mentioned this a few months back, but I played a small part in the game’s Japanese localization and have plans to do a project related to its English-to-Japanese localization process in the future. More info here!

4. Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town Mistakes

The Harvest Moon series is notorious for its translation problems. Here are a bunch of funny problems from the Friends of Mineral Town entry. How did they even give the OK to release it like this?!

5. Steve from Portugal Plays Super Mario Land

This is an old video that I absolutely adore – a Japanese gamer plays a little bit of Super Mario Land while practicing his English. I’ve always wanted to subtitle it since it’s kind of hard to understand in places, but I really love the fun and sincere silliness to it all:

That’s all for this time! If you find any cool game translation-related stuff that’d fit in one of these updates, let me know on Twitter!

If you enjoyed this, check out Legends of Localization Book 1: The Legend of Zelda, my book dedicated to the very first Zelda translation and how it has affected every Zelda game since! (free preview PDF )
  1. The first two Atelier games have finally gotten a fan translation.

      1. Alexander Djokic

        I need to look for something…. >_>

        Do you know if it is the Plus version of Atelier Marie?

        I’m totally excited now.

        1. It looks like it’s one patch for the PS2 version, Atelier Marie + Elie.

  2. For added fun, watch the Mario Land video with Google’s auto-generated captions on. “Thomas Bonham Carter”, indeed.

    Also, the audio desyncs, which gives you a second or two of precognition by the end of the video.

  3. I support you, Steve from Portugal.

  4. Mato, do you still ever think about translating StarTropics into Japanese?

    1. Yep! That’s what I’m leaning most toward, if anything.

      1. Great! The Japanese deserve to play this gem of a game in their native language.

  5. I don’t suppose there’s anywhere one can watch that Undertale concert?

    1. I don’t think so – they even region-blocked it online when it was live, so you had to be in Japan to see it 🙁

  6. Night of the… Sickle Weasel? Is that a joke I don’t get, or is it one of those things that doesn’t seem half as odd in Japanese as it does in English?

    1. Yeah, it’s something that translates very poorly because of how culture-specific it is. The explanation makes some sense though: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamaitachi In fact, the title change to “Banshee’s Last Cry” is probably a good example of how the game in general was reworked to fit audiences outside Japan.

  7. That Steve from Portugal video really reminds me of the English skits Nagano did way back. Here’s one, there should be a couple others on Youtube as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzv-dZIqM3E

    1. Whoa, I never knew about this guy, I’ll have to check out more of his material.

      1. He’s a fairly popular comedian. From what I understand, this was his attempt at marketing himself towards an international audience with a series of videos featuring an English skit introducing an English-subtitled video of one of his Japanese skits.

  8. Relating to the Undertale for Switch announcement, is the word for a light switch in Japanese the same as the word for the Switch console? Otherwise I’d think that play on words wouldn’t have worked as well.

    1. Yep, in this case “switch” works in both languages the same way – I assume someone at Fangamer or 8-4 picked up on that potential pun when brainstorming announcement trailer ideas.

      1. Wow, that’s really cool! I can’t imagine there are too many puns that work well in both languages.

  9. Hardly gaming-related, but I’ve always been a bit curious about what they think of The Room in Japan. The Disaster Artist winning Oscars must have given it at least some attention, and I’m curious if there’s ever been an official Japanese release (I can’t imagine how you’d begin to dub it)

    More gaming-related, I’d love to see an article on Cho Aniki’s perception in Japan vs. the West. Am I right in my understanding that it’s more a parody of Japan’s bizarre bodybuilding culture than anything explicitly homoerotic?

    1. I have a feeling the language barrier will keep The Room from getting reactions from Japanese viewers, whether it’s dub or sub. I’m curious too, so I’ll look into it though.

      As for Cho Aniki, I’ve always wondered what the heck is up with it too, so that’s definitely a good topic to examine. Depending on what I find it might even make a good article, thanks for the suggestion!

  10. If I’m not mistaken, Hiro Maekawa (the head of Natsume) did the translation and editing for the earlier Harvest Moon titles like FoMT. When he translated the original Harvest Moon, he’d only been speaking English full-time for a year. That’s why the older games have some wonky lines. Later games in the series have some typos and things, but nothing like the earlier ones.