Mandi submitted a question about an old arcade game called Twinkle Star Sprites:
I’ve been meaning to figure this one out for myself, but I just haven’t had time, so after I saw your awesome site, I figured I’d drop you a line. Twinkle Star Sprites is full of funny translation gems, but mainly I’m curious what the original Japanese version says for Memory’s famous “Sweet tacos” line. As far as I remember, this line is from when you lose to Memory (the last boss.)
I’ve never played this before, but this line is so crazy that I immediately started investigating. It took a lot of work and a lot of skill, but at last I was able to find the text in both versions of the game!
|Japanese version||English version|
So what’s the deal? Is the “sweet tacos” thing in the original line, is it a minstranslation, or what? Here’s the text side-by-side!
|Japanese Version (basic translation)||English Version|
|Oh, I want to return to the castle and eat natto fried rice or something.||Yummm, I wanna go back to my castle and munch sweet tacos!|
So it looks like the Japanese food isn’t sweet tacos – it’s “natto fried rice”.
What the heck is natto, you might possibly be asking. It’s hard to explain well, you just need to experience it – but it’s basically a glob of really sticky, goopy fermented soybeans. You can read more about it here.
I guess “natto fried rice” sounds like a bit of a weird combination, so the localizers decided to make a weird combination that Westerners would understand. Although when I do a quick Japanese search for natto fried rice I see plenty of pages and pictures, so maybe it’s not that weird of a combination.
Anyway, hopefully that answers the question of what Memory says in Japanese!
Also, for future/others’ reference, I could only get Memory to say her crazy food-related lines in the Character Mode – in Story Mode all her lines were serious. You have to lose and get a game over against her to see these lines. And if you’ve never played this game before, give it a shot sometime – it’s a lot of fun and has some pretty goofy writing!
The mystery is solved!! Thanks for all your hard work on figuring it out! 😀 Maybe I’ll have to try some natto fried rice to celebrate!
Isn’t bad translations one of the things NeoGeo is most famous for? 😀
One of the weirdest mistranslations I ever saw in a game involved tacos–the game in question referred to a particular eight-legged sea creature as a “taco.” Even though I don’t speak Japanese, I know enough just from anime to be able to tell that the original line involved “tako” (octopus) and it had somehow been mistranslated! So when I saw the first line in this article, I wondered if the translation had something to do with some kind of octopus-based food… alas, but no.
I played this game briefly many years ago. I do remember it being bright and colorful, and having weird writing! Not more than that, sadly…
I picked up the whole tako/octopus thing from watching anime, too. Somebody should come up with a recipe for tacos filled with octopus meat and call it a takotaco 😀
You may be thinking of Opoona for the Wii. Very unique and creative RPG, but it was translated by Koei in Japan, so it ended up a bit weirder than it should have been. I think there was even a character who had two different translations of his name in the same conversation.
By “this game,” I meant Twinkle Star Sprites. I remember an old online gaming service (which fell out of favor when Steam became a big deal) having TSS up as a free-play game many years ago. I played it a few times; enough to remember how weird the translation was, but not much else.
I’m a big fan of Opoona, actually, and the example I was citing was indeed from that game. I just didn’t name it directly. Possibly because I then would have felt compelled to describe that entire convoluted mistranslation that has the tako/taco confusion, and the rabbit hole goes deeper still on THAT one. And then I’d just be rambling. o_o
Ah natto, the famous stinker that Richard loves on toast in Tales of Graces (incidentally, the main protagonist’s grandfather eventually liked it that way too in Yakitate!! Japan). It’s become its own running gag in Japanese anime and games due to its smell and texture. Changing it to sweet tacos is fine, I doubt anyone here would have known what natto fried rice was back then anyway.
I think natto is kind of the Japanese equivalent of stinky cheese (like Limburger, and sometimes bleu, depending) here in the West. I remember one Harvest Moon game having natto as an item you could prepare, and the characters in the game either really loved it or totally despised it, with no in-between.
Yes, natto is stinky like Limburger cheese. So they could’ve had Memory want to eat Limburger cheese on toast or something. But sweet tacos are much more popular.
I found natto to be more like sticky baked beans, it does have a bit of a smell to it, but I think its over exaggerated. then again, I like natto, usually on rice, so its not all that weird.
Back when the internet was young and restless, a quirky little website “the sneeze” featured a fun little blog called “steve don’t eat it”. Follow the hero of time (link) and enjoy volume 6 for a quick rundown of natto.
Is it ironic that “minstranslation” is spelled wrong?
Sweet Tacos gag aside, it looks like “hangry” was a thing here before the actual word became popular online.