In 2014, Bandai Namco Games released Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment for the PS Vita. The Asian release of the game included a full English translation of the game, which is a common thing with Asian releases.
Asian game case
The Asian release has Japanese voices, Chinese and English translations, and a Chinese version digital manual
This version was released well before the North American and European versions were released, so Sword Art Online fans eagerly imported the Asian version to play it as soon as possible.
This initial English translation turned out to be notoriously bad. News of the translation’s quality spread across news websites, message boards, fan sites, and social media.
Most of the articles and posts about the game’s translation repost the same dozen or so screenshots though, so I was always curious to see what else there was to find. So, years after buying the Asian version of the game, I’ve started playing through the game to experience it for myself.
Along the way, I plan to take screenshots of everything noteworthy and then share the best examples here from time to time. Think of this as a weird Let’s Play article about the game’s bad translation and not the game itself.
I’ve heard that the North American and European English translations cleaned up the problems found in this Asian release and/or that these versions were given new translations altogether. There was also a PS4 re-release/remake at some point, which probably had a new translation of its own. If anyone can share details, please do!
I originally had 393 screenshots from this introductory section of the game alone. Here are 40 or so of them:
Note that this is what overly direct, rushed, and inexperienced Japanese-to-English translations sound like. Not a good first sign!
Besides weird phrasing, the punctuation often looks wonky, like the apostrophes
"When did it happened?"
Where'd you go, text?!
Verb tense issues are a common thread in this translation
"Ones" instead of "once" - this happens more than ones too!
Wait a minute, now it's properly translated as "Orc"! Someone needs to "proof" this text
Japanese sentences are built in a different way than in English, so direct translations often sound like weird run-on sentences like this
I think she means "pattern"
A profound philosophical statement
In my limited experience, these kinds of verb and preposition problems are common in translations from Chinese to English, so I wonder if these were done from Japanese-to-Chinese-to-English
I hope you like penetration, because this translation won't stop talking about it
I think it'd be fun if this type of grammar became commonplace
"But that's no do it today."
Right at the start of a climactic scene
Some Japanese punctuation is left untouched
All the "penetration" talk is from the word 攻略, which means stuff like "capture", "infiltrate and take control of", "conquer", etc.
"Why have I came...... Is there another way of saying it?"
My brain actually skipped over the "being" mistake until it was pointed out to me
"But I don't feel right of being monitored"
"What are you think!"
The translator(s) really struggled with the word "hiding" around this part of the script
"since she hinds her presence"
"So I'll leave the fun for next time for going to your rooms!"
I don't know if this is a mistake or not, but given the quality of the translation so far I'd bet on the answer being "yes"
"I'm luck that I this location"
Maybe it's just me, but there's a charm to this style of English
Who knows, maybe this is what English will sound like a couple hundreds years from now
I'm very busy with the penetration
My grammar organ hurts
Enemies "receive" items when they die???
Please do various things better
"There are many Lizardmans in you go into the depth."
"It seems that there is a powerful Lizardman in the deep."
Be sure to check out Part 2
! We’re just getting started!