How Satan’s Name Changed a Bit in the Japanese Version of Ghosts ‘N Goblins


Adam D. asked a question about something very near and dear to me recently:

I was wondering if you could tell me what the original Japanese name was for the final boss in Ghosts ‘n Goblins. I’ve alternately seen him referred to as The Devil, Astaroth, Satan, Lucifer, and Hades. It seems that for English localizations his name is now officially Astaroth, but I can’t find anything that states what his name was in the original Japanese game.

Ah, good ol’ Ghosts ‘n Goblins, we meet again. If it’s possible for a game to be your archenemy, this game is mine. Someday when I’m in a retirement home I’ll finally defeat the game. Or maybe it’ll defeat me, I dunno.

Anyway, this is indeed a good question – I’ve seen this character called all sorts of things, so I’ve always wondered what his Japanese name is too.

First, for reference, here’s the guy in question:

The English games call him all sorts of different things, but what do the Japanese games call him?

The first thing I did was check the Famicom manual, which is pretty short and doesn’t give many details, but there’s a small comic in the back where the term 大魔王 (daimaō) is used more than once:

Daimaо̄ is the same term we’ve seen used to describe Bowser and describe Ganon before – it’s a pretty general Japanese term to refer to some big evil overlord type of being. A generic translation might be “Great Demon King”, but there are tons of others – Zelda uses “Prince of Darkness”, for example. Sometimes I’ve seen it translated as “Devil” or “Satan”. I’m guessing this is why this boss has had so many different name translations throughout the series.

Years after I first wrote this article, I wrote a much more detailed article about the terms maou and daimaou, and how they’re handled in translation. Check it out here!

Weekly GAMEST Issue 081 - All Capcom 1991 Special Edition
(Image via RetroMags)
Next, I dug around a little deeper and checked Japanese articles and sites. Surprisingly enough, it sounds like his original Japanese name was ゴンディアス, which could be translated as “Gondias”, “Gondiath”, or something along those lines.

Starting with what we know as Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, this boss’ name was apparently changed to アスタロト, which can be written as “Astarot”, “Astaroth”, or a number of different ways, as it’s a name based on old mythology stuff that went through multiple language changes.

Anyway, the Japanese Wikipedia article cites a 1991 issue of Weekly GAMEST magazine for the Gondias information, but as it’s so old I can’t easily verify it.

Still, the number of Japanese websites that mention Gondias is pretty surprising, so I imagine the information must’ve gotten out through a number of different sources.

The top results of a Google Image search for "Gondias" in Japanese

With all that said, It sounds like the Gondias name never really left Japan, as this is the first time I’ve ever heard it. It also seems weird that his name would remain a secret until 1991 though, given that the game would be like 5 or 6 years old by then. But weirder things have happened, I guess.

Thanks to Numbuh Twenty, here are some scans of “Gondias” appearing in the above magazine:

Hopefully this helps shed some light on the subject and helps explain why this guy has had so many different names over the years.

Has anyone else out there heard of this Gondias thing before? If so, where did you first find out about it? I'm really curious to know!

  1. Honestly, I feel like I’ve heard this before, but I kind of forgot about it. They’ve used Astaroth so many times before in previous games (Ultimate Ghouls n’ Ghosts, Namco x Capcom, Project X Zone) that I was under the assumption that was always his official name. He even refers to himself as Daimaou Astaroth in the voice clips for Project X Zone, though I’m assuming that’s just typical demon arrogance.

    1. Where the Wild things are! I knew that monster thing in those pictures looked familiar.

  2. After looking at the Ghosts n Goblins Wiki, it looks like the name Lucifer was given to the final end boss that you fight after Astaroth in Ghouls in Ghosts. Incidentally, Lucifer was also known as Loki in some regional versions, just to make the whole name game more confusing.

  3. It might be worth a mention that it’s likely Zelda only used “Prince of Darkness” in its English version because that’s an accepted way to refer to Satan himself. In that sense, it’s more of a cultural counterpart to “Daimaou” than a translation per se.

  4. The way it sounds (name only appearing after a while) seems to me that it could be one of those situations where something just started catching on with fans. Like the term Robot Master in Mega Man. But I digress.

  5. Also worth noting that one of the only two bits of text in the game, which is written in broken English in both the Japanese and English versions, refers to him as “Satan”.

    1. Isn’t “Satan” what the manual calls the flying red demon bosses?

      1. Yes. And according to Japanese Wikipedia (not totally sure what their source is… it’s not the Famicom manual), that’s their name in Japanese too.
        So yeah, it doesn’t match up all that well.

  6. It might be interesting to look at the Gargoyle’s Quest games, although probably more work than it’s worth. To my understanding, the translated versions star a Red Arremer (the flying red demons) named Firebrand. Meanwhile, the Japanese ones just follow *a* Red Arremer.

    1. I’m going to be mean and say it’s because the Japanese don’t really roll with centralizing the identity of a single individual (they’ve always had a weird hive mentality going on over there). That’s why they didn’t really give him a name and simply say he’s one of the many Arremers who did something heroic for the demon world. I guess we gave him a name because we respect the individual who wants to stand out and make a name for themselves in the world.

      1. This same thing definitely reminds me of the issue with Toads that I’ve covered:

        It’s an interesting topic, once I can come up with a few more examples like this I should write a dedicated article about it sometime!

      2. You’re both overthinking it. Firebrand is just a localized name for Red Arremer made up for the Gargoyle’s Quest series and nothing more. The series doesn’t have any other Red Arremers besides the protagonist.

  7. Great article. Thanks a lot of looking into this. My curiosity has been satiated.

  8. They did something similar on a smaller scale in Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts (my favorite game of all time, highly recommended) by changing Samael (the new final boss) to Sardius.

    Incidentally, said game also features Nebiroth, a more powerful palette-swap of Astaroth you fight on the second loop. Any idea what he was called in Japan?

    1. It looks like he’s called Nebiros/Nebiroth in the Japanese version.


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