How a Rare Message in Final Fantasy II/IV Got Messed up in Translation


A reader named Arturs asked a question about Final Fantasy II for the Super NES:

Hello, Tomato.

I recently started another playthrough of FF4 on SNES and found a weird message in the Equipment screen. For example, if you try to equip Edward with a harp while he is equipped with bow and arrows, a message will appear that only says “To equip”.

Could you look at what the message says in the Japanese and other versions?


Somehow this sounded vaguely, vaguely familiar to me, but I couldn’t remember the details so I took a closer look at both games. Here’s what pops up when you try to equip a weapon when you have a two-handed setup already equipped:

Hey what are you doing here FF4 update? Go back to your own dedicated section you bumHey what are you doing here FF4 update? Go back to your own dedicated section you bum

So it looks like the Japanese version roughly says: “This is a two-handed item. You can’t equip something else here.”

The English version says: “To equip”. And that’s all.

So what happened? Well, according to FFIV hacking expert Dragonsbrethren, it was likely the age-old mistake of accidentally using end-of-line control codes rather than newline control codes. When properly fixed, the resulting message would’ve been, “To equip with both hands.” and would’ve looked like this:

(Image from The Cutting Room Floor)

Even that’s still kind of weird and doesn’t convey the message quite right in translation. But at least the mystery is solved!

I also quickly checked FFIV Easy Type and the J2E fan translation of FFIV. Easy Type uses the same text as the original release, which is to be expected. The fan translation fixes the original release’s mistake with, “You must have an empty hand to equip this item!”


Don’t mind Edward/Gilbert’s wacky name there, I used a Japanese save file to jump to that part of the game 😛

Anyway, hopefully that clears up that question now! I’m considering covering more of these little tidbits in my full analysis of Final Fantasy II/IV, but if I do it’d probably be after I finish the main game and/or as some sort of bonus content. We shall see!

If you liked this, check out press start to translate, my book about the time I Google-translated Final Fantasy IV. It includes the worst/most hilarious translation mistakes, all while explaining why Google's A.I. made such terrible choices. (free preview PDF)
  1. I’m a FFIV hacking expert! 😀

    1. I better rush over to wikipedia and add that to your lead before another source contradicts 🙂

  2. The Cutting Room Floor also has information on this and other oddities in the game, as well as from many other games. Interestingly enough, this isn’t the only line-break error in FFIV.

  3. edward “j” “dilll-a” von muir: bard, prince of damcyan and notable detroit hip hop artist

    1. Darn it I need to create a “like” button just so I can like that comment

      1. over and over and over and over and…

  4. Even as a kid, I get what it was trying to say. I just knew it wasn’t saying it very well.

  5. Wow, J2E actually did something right? I never would have expected that! 🙂