How Frog Talks in the Japanese Version of Chrono Trigger


I was recently reminded that the 18th anniversary of Chrono Trigger’s release is this week, so I figured I’d throw together a quick update. It’s hard to believe it’s already been 18 years though 😯

A common thing a lot of players know about or ask about is about how the character Frog speaks. In the English localization, he talks in a very unique, ye-olde-English style. So the question is, does he talk this way in Japanese? Here’s a quick example!

Sequel idea: Frog teams up with the Ninja TurtlesSequel idea: Frog teams up with the Ninja Turtles
Original TextBasic TranslationOfficial SNES Translation
ああ。きっと、この部屋のどこかに、かくし通路があるはずだ。Yes. There should be a hidden passageway somewhere in this room.Mayhap a hidden door lurks nigh?
そこから奥へいけるだろう。We should be able to get inside through there.Let us search the environs.

From my little look at this whole scene, it looks like the character, who’s called Kaeru (which translates to “Frog” in Japanese) in the original script, speaks with the tone of a strong, independent, disciplined man. He definitely speaks in a slightly more complicated, unusual way than people speak in real life, but as far as Japanese entertainment goes it’s a standard “well-trained warrior” style.

The English localization kicks it up a notch and goes with the old, complicated-sounding English to give him a knightly tone.

It’s been a few years since I last played through the English version and about ten years since I played through the Japanese version, so I can’t really say much more on the subject right now, but it’s definitely an interesting topic that I’d like to check out in more detail sometime.

Actually, I think the English re-release on the DS changed Frog’s speech style to be a little more normal-sounding, but I can’t recall if fans found that to be a good or a bad thing. If you know or have any thoughts about it, let me know in the comments!

While we’re at it, here’s another little tidbit!

I think Chrono Trigger was one of the first console games that let you start a new game using the save data of a previous game. It was a really unique idea and gave games that used it a whole new depth! English-speaking fans know this concept as “New Game+” or “New Game Plus”… but what’s it called in Japanese? Here’s a quick look!

I have a theory that successful people in life are probably successful because they're on their own new game+/new life+I have a theory that successful people in life are probably successful because they're on their own new game+/new life+

In Japanese, the term is called つよくてニューゲーム (tsuyokute nyuu gēmu), which translates roughly to “new game with strength”. This actually came up in a show I translated for work last year, so it was really nice having a background in RPG lingo like this already!

You know, this makes me curious to know what the term is called in other languages now. Let me know if you know!

Anyway, Chrono Trigger is definitely one of the most requested localization comparisons I get. I’d love to take a look at it someday, but I also really feel like it’s been given a ton of translation review work already by the hardworking fans at Chrono Compendium – see here, for example. But if there’s enough of a demand and if I can figure out how to juggle projects better, I might give it a shot. I really ought to hold regular polls or something, now that I think about it.

On a less-related note, if you’ve been studying Japanese and want to use Chrono Trigger and other games to help you learn some more, check out this and this! I’ve actually considered throwing my hat into this ring more than once but never got around to it, so it’s cool to see other folks share their love of games in productful ways like this!

If you liked what I've covered here and know someone else who's a Chrono fan, let 'em know about this article. Thanks for your help!
  1. I linked it before for FF4, but Tom Slattery mentions the change to Frog’s dialogue in this interview:

    In short, he wanted to give the whole of 600 AD that speech style, didn’t have time to do it authentically, so made Frog talk like everyone else in that time period did. Which is a shame, because Frog having his own unique speech is one of the really memorable parts of the original translation.

    1. Interesting, I’m guessing it would’ve had the same sort of feeling that FFXII/FFIV DS had then.

  2. Mato, you have the best timing in the world. I ordered a boxed copy of the Japanese Chrono Trigger a couple days ago, and it should be here in a couple weeks. Stay cool.

    1. Sweet, I’m jealous! I used to have just a loose cart of the Japanese version but had to sell it long ago.

  3. How similar are Frog/Kaeru’s speech patterns to Cyan/Cayenne’s, I wonder?

    1. Cyan/Cayenne definitely speak in an old style, off the top of my head I know he uses the “de gozaru” form a lot, for example.

  4. I actually liked Frog’s dialogue being changed in the DS version. It made his text a lot less tedious to read.

  5. Unlike the Final Fantasy games which i first played on the GBA and are most used to those translations, Chrono Trigger i actually did play on the SNES back in the day. In fact, it was one of the first real RPGs i played, alongside EarthBound and Mario RPG. I’ve seen a lot of people online call retranslations of games like these blasphemies and betrayals to the cornball translations of the originals. I guess it’s the same reason people are buying that new dvd of DBZ’s early goofily dubbed episodes.

    Anyway, since i first played the FF games via the GBA ports, i prefer the more accurate translations they have, cuz that’s what i’m used to. However, even with CT, which i did play back in the day, i still prefer the new translation of the DS version. I mean, yeah the SNES version had some memorable lines, but the DS version made some minor plot details MUCH clearer and make more sense, not to mention also having some hilarious adult jokes in it (which i understand are in the Japanese version as well).

    Getting on topic, Frog’s accent never really bothered me too much, but what did bug me was that no one else in that same period talked that way. Even the French-accented chef sounded a bit out of place to me, though not as bad as Frog. I’m rather glad they made things more consistent in the DS translation.

    Incidentally, when i was in college i bought a PS1 so i could try FF7-9, and also ended up getting a copy of that port of CT. I mainly bought it so i could see the anime cutscenes in it. However, two of the cutscenes had some Japanese text in them which bugged the heck out of me cuz they couldn’t be bothered to translate them. Luckily, when the DS version came out years later, i found the cutscenes in that version did have the text in them translated, and especially with the second one, I finally understood what was going on.

    1. This is pretty interesting, and it makes me want to write up something about how the first translation people encounter tends to be what they prefer the most… but not always. I gotta sit down and think about it and research stuff first. I wish I could also jump between universes to see people experience different translations first and then see how they like each one.

      1. If you wanna interview me for that article, i’d be happy to help.

      2. I’m a purist who’s learning the Japanese language, so I am inclined to prefer the original script (though admittedly, I still have yet to experience much of it in this case; I imported the DS version, but have yet to play past meeting Marle at the fair ^^’). However, I do have pretty fond memories of the English Playstation version (which I guess is the same as the SNES version; I emulated the latter way back when, but unless there was a spelling check-up here or there, I don’t recall anything being changed). It wasn’t perfect, of course… I mean, one scene has a guy who “guzzles soda” and “gets hyper on sugar” (yeah, if that doesn’t utterly reek of obvious censorship, I don’t know what does)… but Frog’s dialect was definitely one of those things I got a kick out of, personally. ^^

    2. Are you joking?
      The GBA translations were done by SomethingAwful memers.
      FF5’s GBA translation is particularly infamous for being awful.
      It’s so bad that it makes stuff like “You spoony bard” and “Son of a sumbariner” seem tame in comparison.

  6. I’ve only played the DS version, so the idea of Frog speaking in faux-Elizabethan strikes me as very odd. I heard that Glenn spoke normally, which is truly bizarre. I’m disappointed that Kaeru isn’t the huge jerk like I’ve been told.

    I was reading the first example and thinking, “‘Aru wa zuda’? Is ‘zuda’ some type of old-timey samurai- oh. He’s saying ‘hazu da’, nevermind”. Well, I thought it was funny.

    1. Yeah, darn that は, it was the bane of my early years studying the language. Even now, maybe once or twice a year I’ll get it wrong still 😛

  7. I actually really didn’t like Frog’s speech being more normal in the DS version, since his super-antiquidated speech in a world where nobody else talked like that made him a more unique character. The LP by Quovak also points out that this adds to his character arc, in a rather roundabout way.

  8. Another interesting thing about the DS retranslation: Square Enix did a marketing campaign focusing on the line “Good morning, Crono!” from the SNES version, but that line ended up being changed in the retranslation! Always struck me as funny.

  9. Yeah…I remember being initially disappointed that he didn’t speak in ye olde english, but overall it’s probably for the best. When you think about it, it’s super weird that no one but him in that whole era (not to mention the entire game) speaks that way in the original version of the game.

  10. Generally, I find random accents in dialogue *extremely* annoying (why hello, Square Enix’s Dragon Quest butchery). I have a bit of a soft spot for Frog, though, but I’ll allow that a good amount of that is probably because it’s “how I remember it.”

    While we’re near the subject: when Sabin and Cyan meet Gau in FF3, Gau thinks Cyan’s speech is hilarious, and goes on an extended rant where he just says “thou! Thou!” over and over, and then starts calling Cyan “Mr. Thou” afterward. How dows that play in Japanese?

    1. Pretty much the same. He’s calling Cayenne “Gozaru”, after the archaic polite copula both Cayenne and every other samurai in all Japanese pop culture uses.

  11. I was in the camp that found the accent removal for the better, for two reasons:

    1. In the SNES version, he was the only 600 A.D. character who spoke like that. Imagine if Ayla had been the only character to speak like a caveman. Same thing. It just creates a nasty disconnect.

    2. The faux-Elizabethan in the SNES wasn’t particularly authentic-sounding. He used it inconsistently, and occasionally misused it.

    Had the DS version been able to get both of those points right, I’m sure I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. But not bothering is still better than messing it up as the SNES translation did, IMO.

  12. There is actually an interesting fan theory as to why Frog talks in the Olde English way while nobody else does, including when he was Glenn. He started talking that way to create a new persona since in his mind he was no longer Glenn but was now Frog and his new life was not the same as his old.

  13. Strange accents can do good things to a character.

    Thou, thou!

  14. Didn’t know about an intent to old-style all of 600 AD (though I’d still expect Frog to be more composed than the layman), but count me in a camp of “played DS version, but was aware of Frog’s played-up speech”.

    For what it’s worth, Chrono Trigger, among many of SQEX’s Square stock, has a mobile version. If it’s suffered the fate of early FFIV and FFVI (didn’t check the comments on the latter), maybe something ended up different there. Doubt it’s enough to be relevant here, unless someone went and added Queen’s English superfluous “u”s exclusively in Frog’s dialogue.

    1. I’m late, but CT on mobile is more like Square-Enix’s first mobile FF1/2 ports in that it’s missing content but it’s otherwise a straight port.

      Think Dragon Quest IV-VI’s mobile editions, except in landscape and a bit worse.

  15. Here is another question for you Mato. In the Japanese version, what is Crono’s default name? is it Crono? or Chrono? can you even tell in Japanese? I seems odd to name a character in a game Chrono Trigger either of those names if you ask me, but I was just curious.

    1. Well, the English word Chrono appears to be written as “Kurono” in Japanese, so I suppose either word would work.

  16. Japanese Frog reminds me more of Grovyle from Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Explorers (or perhaps the other way around) than anything else, now that I think about it.