Why Final Fantasy Tactics’ “Little Money” Line Is So Incredibly Slow


A common request I get is that I someday take a look at Final Fantasy Tactics, as its translation was supposedly pretty poor and/or unintentionally funny. It’s tough to admit, but I’ve yet to play the game. I really hope to someday, but for now here’s a question I’ve been asked a couple times before!

This comes from Stephen P.:

Final Fantasy Tactics on the Playstation has a pretty spotty translation, but there’s one particular part that stands out for a different reason.

In the intro to each chapter, there is a very slow text crawl with each letter appearing one by one. I’m guessing this speed worked well enough in Japanese since they use less characters per word, but it’s a little tedious. However, the phrase “little money” appears even more slowly, and I was wondering if there was some particular reason the game would be programmed to do this in the original Japanese game (since there certainly isn’t one that I can see for the English game).

Note that the offending phrase appears just as the player is starting to get fed up with the slow speed, almost as if they thought it would be funny. “Yeah, then we make it even slower and they’re like OH COME THE HELL ON ALREADY!”

For reference, I’ve made a video that compares the Japanese and English versions of this infamous “little money” scene side-by-side:

I can sort of see why the translation is known for being iffy – the original text doesn’t even mention “little money” at all! Now I also understand what ol’ HCBailly is referencing all the time 😛

Anyway, as you can possibly tell from the Japanese version, the text goes at an okay pace and pauses for a moment at logical pausing points as if someone were reading it aloud. It’s well-done and there’s no super slowdown at all.

It looks like the English translation retains the speed of the Japanese text, which does make it a little more annoying. And then it slows down to an amazing, infuriating crawl once it hits the “little money” line.

I’m not sure why this happens, my guess is that it’s another control code issue accidentally introduced by the localization team. How it passed quality control is another thing altogether. But at the very least it looks like this wasn’t an issue in the original text – the original line doesn’t even have text that moves this slowly.

If anyone out there has experience hacking Final Fantasy Tactics, could you look into this? I really do think it’s a control code problem, but now I’m dying to know for sure!

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. It’s ironic that one of the strongest stories of the series has one of the weakest translations. I never played the PSP version, so I don’t know how that one holds up.

    There actually is a large group of people dedicated to hacking FFT. You could try to reach out to the Final Fantasy Hacktics community.

    1. The PSP version uses the flowery, Elizabethan style of Final Fantasy IV DS or Final Fantasy XII. Not everyone liked it, but I did. It was a lot more accurate – and clearer – than the PSX version. It did, however, introduce some name changes; Orlandu is Orlandeau, Gaff Gaffgarion is Goffard Gaffgarion, Daravon is Darlavon, etc.

      Unfortunately, it has a very annoying programming error. The attack animations – especially ones that use heavy particle effects – are greatly slowed down. And, since the sound isn’t slowed down, enemies will often perform their dying screams more than a second before you see them keel over. I got used to it after a while, though.

      1. If you use custom firmware for your PSP – the good folks at Final Fantasy Hacktics have you covered with a simple hotpatch plugin that removes this issue. (And optionally renders the game at a 4:3 aspect ratio, if you prefer)

  2. Yes, HC mentioned the origin of it when it came up in his LP. Anyway, I don’t know myself but in his LP he theorized the reason might be that the localization team might have been being paid l i t t l e m o n e y. Video in the comment above, unsure on time stamp.

  3. “Pretty poor” don’t describe it. It’s awful. This does lead to some wonderful lines — I still use the line “don’t blame us. Blame yourself or God” from time to time — but a lot of incomprehensible rubbish, including a tutorial that’s so bad you’ll probably be better at the game if you never bother with it.

  4. FFT, one of the most dramatic and poignant of the unnumbered FFs ever made, and yet known for its bizarre translation. I always found the little money part to be quite amusing, as if the game is telling you to “go out and get a job” because you will have little money if you’re not thinking about getting one. XP

  5. The DS version of Final Fantasy 4 references this in one of the signs in the Baron inn.

  6. the english video is private.

  7. The NA version definitely misplaces control codes relative to the JP version. The control code “E2 XX” controls the delay before the next character – but it’s generally used for only a single character at the end of a line, and immediately reset to standard (“E2 05”) right after. The comma before “little money” is missing the standard delay reset afterward and seems to be processing an end-of-line pause after each character, which is only reset when the next end-of-line sets it back. It’s a lot like forgetting to close an HTML tag!

    In contrast, the Japanese version properly handles its control codes with nothing amiss. Not sure where it was introduced, although the lines are definitely custom-wrapped, so it might have happened while splicing lines together.

    For what it’s worth, here is the relevant hex from the NA version (you may need to post this into Notepad or another fixed-width destination to get it readable):

    16 24 31 3C FA 36 32 2F M a n y s o l
    27 2C 28 35 36 FA 3A 2B d i e r s w h
    32 FA 35 28 37 38 35 31 o r e t u r n
    28 27 FA 29 35 32 30 FA e d f r o m
    37 2B 28 FA 3A 24 35 E2 t h e w a r
    19 DA 74 F8 E2 05 2B 24 , h a
    27 FA 31 32 FA 2D 32 25 d n o j o b
    36 E2 19 DA 74 FA 2F 2C s , l i
    37 37 2F 28 FA 30 32 31 t t l e m o n
    28 3C DA 74 F8 E2 05 24 e y , a
    31 27 FA 28 39 28 31 FA n d e v e n
    2F 28 36 36 FA 2F 32 3C l e s s l o y
    24 2F 37 3C FA 37 32 FA a l t y t o
    37 2B 28 FA 26 35 32 3A t h e c r o w
    31 E2 19 D9 B6 F8 E2 05 n .
    16 24 31 3C FA 25 28 26 M a n y b e c
    24 30 28 FA 37 2B 2C 28 a m e t h i e
    39 28 36 FA 24 31 27 F8 v e s a n d
    35 28 25 28 2F 36 FA 33 r e b e l s p
    2F 32 37 37 2C 31 2A FA l o t t i n g
    35 28 25 28 2F 2F 2C 32 r e b e l l i o
    31 F8 24 2A 24 2C 31 36 n a g a i n s
    37 FA 37 2B 28 FA 35 32 t t h e r o
    3C 24 2F FA 29 24 30 2C y a l f a m i
    2F 3C E2 3C D9 B6 F8 E2 l y .

  8. You wonderful man you.

    Over a decade and finally an actual answer. Not that it’s super important but it’s odd that I’ve never seen it pegged down, and that I’d feel like searching this issue randomly right after its been answered – I don’t make a habit of it lol. As for the translation the hacking crew on the Challenge and FFT boards might have a non Shakespeare-ized but still decent alternative translation, though I bet if they did make one this exact thing would get left in because it’s such an iconic and humorous bit of the old translation. I’m sure my eldest brother’s older brother would find it funny too.

  9. I really want to play the PSP version of Final Fantasy Tactics. Easily one of my favorite Final Fantasies (and I loved most of them before XII), but the story gets very bewildering because of incredibly inconsistent usage of words like country and empire. I ended up with very little idea of which wars were fought within and which between nations.

  10. I always thought the slow down on that line was intentional, to sort of drive home how destitute people were at the time.

    Admittedly, that makes the text crawl seem that much more obnoxious. Would’ve been much more effective if the whole thing went about twice as fast.

    Instead, we’re left with the feeling that we need to get out and give the game a push.