Swearing and profanity in video games is nothing new, but sometimes it pops up when you least expect it. And when it pops up in games translated from Japanese, the result can be unintentionally confusing and/or funny.
The topic comes up a lot, so I’ve started gathering examples of unexpected, surprising, or out-of-character swearing from official game translations.
The Nintendo 64 was often derided as being a “kiddie system”, but this game was anything but kiddie. Swearing supposedly happened so often in Ogre Battle 64 that I dismissed it as an online rumor for years. But after just half an hour of playing, I encountered so many swears that I stopped counting. I’d love to see what other colorful phrases this translation includes!
Download was only released in Japan, but it featured a lot of English text anyway. The multiple game over screens are unintentionally funny for native English speakers! You can see the full list of bad English from Download here.
EarthBound uses the word “crap” a few times in the game, which was a little surprising for some players at the time. There’s long been argument over whether or not “crap” is actually a bad word, so a few years ago I asked Twitter followers for their opinions. As I expected, the poll results were divided, but I personally recall that it was considered the tamest of bad words at the time but there was still a lot of pushback from certain groups.
At the very least, these “craps” in EarthBound seemed very out of character for Nintendo of America to include, given the company’s strict content policies in the 1990s. Nowadays, it seems almost quaint to bring it up!
I don’t know how common it is, but the Mega Man series has had at least two examples of unexpected swearing:
Some games only have rare instances of unexpected swearing, so I’ve bundled them into the gallery below.
I’d like to continue to add to this gallery over time, so let me know if you can think of anything else that belongs here. It especially helps if you can provide a nice-quality screenshot too, but not necessary. Thanks for your help, dammit!