The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of my all-time favorite games. It was a big improvement over the previous games in the Zelda series and set the standard for Zelda games to come, especially in terms of translation and localization. For once, Zelda characters actually spoke normal English and things made sense!
Anyway, a little ways into the English version of the game you’ll find an item called the Magic Hammer. This item lets you pound obstacles into the ground, attack enemies, and other things like that, which makes perfect sense given the name.
…Except it turns out it was called the “MC Hammer” in the original Japanese script!
|Super Famicom version
|Super NES version
Here’s a look at what the game says when you get this item:
|You got the M,C Hammer!
|You got the Magic Hammer!
|Bam, bam! Pound those dumb ol’ stakes!
|You can drive the wooden stakes down into the ground!
|Bam, bam! Pound other stuff too!
|You can use it to pound on other things too!
Why is there an MC Hammer reference in the Japanese script? I have no idea. The Zelda games ARE known for including references to other Nintendo stuff, but I’m not sure how often real-world stuff is referenced like this.
MC Hammer was well known in Japan at the time of this game’s development and release, so I guess maybe someone on the writing team was a fan or something – I’d love to know more! Of course, the item’s name was changed when released outside of Japan, probably to avoid legal issues and such. Actually, I’d love to know more about that, too!
I’m also curious to see if the name was changed in any of the subsequent Japanese ports and re-releases. I guess that’s something I can look into whenever I do a full comparison of the game sometime!
At first, it might seem silly and almost hard to believe that an old Japanese game of all things would reference such a decidedly Western bit of pop culture like this. But apparently it’s more common than I thought – another Japanese Super Famicom game even references Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”!
|Rejoice! Aretha Oukoku no Kanata
|AGTP fan translation (unreleased)
This is from the Super Famicom game “Rejoice! Aretha Oukoku no Kanata” which was sadly never released in English. There’s a fan translation patch in the works here, though!
Anyway, this really makes me wonder if folks like MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice have ever known that they had been inserted into Japanese video games as goofy little references like this. That’s gotta be an interesting and unique feeling. It also makes me wonder what other Western pop culture has hidden itself in Japanese games – if you know of any, let me know in the comments!