We’ve already looked at many examples of how pop culture references and Internet memes were added into video game translations. For example:
Since this is such a common topic of discussion, I thought it’d be helpful to compile a big gallery of examples for reference purposes and just for fun.
I’m only focusing on references and memes that were added into official game translations. In other words, if a game originally had a reference and it was replaced by a different reference during the translation process, I won’t include it here.
I’ve only just started this gallery, so it’s pretty bare at the moment. I hope to update it from time to time with new examples, so if you can provide any example screenshots of your own, let me know in the comments or on Twitter!
Reference to the song, "Don't Worry, Be Happy"
Reference to the main character's catchphrase in Sledge Hammer! TV show
"One day, I will be a winner is me!"
Reference to the notorious "A Winner is Me!" line from Pro Wrestling (NES)
"What do you make of the message? A hat, or a brooch..."
Reference to the movie Airplane!
"Five! Five fish, ah ha ha!"
Reference to the Sesame Street TV show
"Trespassers will be burninated."
Reference to the Homestar Runner flash animation series
"I'll bet you and your goons wrecked them up something awful."
Reference to the "Something Awful" website and its community members, who are collectively known as "goons"
"I can't stop thinking about dark knights! They're cool... and by cool, I mean totally sweet!"
Reference to the "REAL Ultimate Power" ninja website
"It's easy being green, dig?"
Reference to Kermit the Frog
"now I'm gonna be a scholar, 'coz I'm S-M-R-T smart!"
Reference to the Simpsons TV show
"For Gilgamesh... it is morphing time!"
Reference to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series
"Yar, har, fiddle-de-dee"
Reference to the Lazytown TV show
"Sweet Christmas, it's a talking turtle!"
Reference to the Marvel character, Luke Cage
"You think I sat around seven centuries munching on pizza?"
Reference to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series
"But don't take MY word for it - take a look, it's in this book!"
Reference to the Reading Rainbow TV show
"Diamond Armlet: A girl's best friend."
Reference to the song, "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend"
"Ughhh... I still be seasick... I'll soon be tastin' the rainbow..."
Reference to the Skittles candy slogan
"Whip: Best used when problems come along."
Reference to the Devo song, "Whip It"
"Bartz! Look, up in the sky!"
Reference to the Superman series
"Let's return the trouble..."
"...and make it double! Come on!"
Reference to the Pokémon series
"I hear that some fanatical members of the Cult of Kefka insist on spelling Kefka's name with Cs instead of Ks."
Potentially a reference to the fan re-translation of Final Fantasy VI
- more info here
Reference to a Darth Vader quote in Star Wars
"Still, coming here has at least afforded me the rare chance to explore these ancient ruins. So ancient. Such ruin."
Reference to the "doge" Internet meme - more details here
Direct reference to M&Ms candy and its marketing phrase
Direct reference to the Tootsie Pop candy and its famous marketing phrase
"SuPer-Admin Restricted Desktop Access password-protected!? What!? This is madness!"
"Maya, that is SPARDA."
Reference to the 2006 movie called "300".
Reference to the famous "I've fallen and can't get up" quote from the Life Alert TV commercials
"So curl. Many heroism."
Reference to the Internet "doge" meme
"for great justice"
Reference to Zero Wing's notorious intro scene translation/meme
Reference to the "do you even lift?" Internet meme
Reference to the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure series
"Screw the rules, I have money!"
Reference to the Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged series of parody videos
Enemy name is a reference to the band, "Hootie and the Blowfish"
This gallery barely even scratches the surface of all the references and memes added into game translations over the years. I plan to update this article from time to time with more examples, so if you have any screenshots of your own, let me know in the comments or on Twitter.
Also, if you like this sort of stuff, check out my book This be book bad translation, video games! - it looks at the history of bad game translations from the 1970s until today, and how bad translations have actually evolved over time!