That Weird Time Lakitu Started Throwing Pipes


David H. sent in a question about Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door quite a while back:

I was finally getting around to finishing the second Paper Mario game a little while ago, and noticed some odd things in Goombella’s information about the Dark Lakitu. Screenshots attached – she says the things they hold up are “pipes”, and refers to the Spinies that come out as coming from pipes as well. For contrast, the normal Lakitu are correctly described as holding up Spiny Eggs.

This game’s localization is otherwise quite exceptional (at least, as far as I can tell without knowing the original), so this stuck out a bit. Any idea where the pipes came from?

I have very fond memories of this game and clearly remember being confused by this as well. I just assumed the Dark Lakitu threw a new type of projectile that I hadn’t seen yet. But now that I look back, I think I know what’s going on here: someone mistranslated the Japanese term for “Spiny Egg” and the mistranslation was never caught or fixed.

Here’s a closer look at what exactly happened. First, here are some of the instances of Dark Lakitu throwing “pipes”:

Image 1Image 2
Image 1Image 2

In both cases, the Japanese text uses the word パイポ (paipo) to refer to what Dark Lakitu throws. The paipo name goes all the way back to Super Mario Bros. 1, and we can see that the English equivalent then was “Spiny’s eggs”:

Image 1Image 2

This indicates that a translator working on Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door didn’t recognize the name パイポ at first and instead misread it as パイプ (paipu), which looks very similar in Japanese if you’re reading too quickly. Paipu is one way to say “pipe” in Japanese:

Image 1

The fact that Mario and pipes are closely related probably added to some of the confusion. On top of that, I get the feeling that the translator was rushed, had probably never seen these particular Lakitus or Spiny Eggs, and had little context to work from to begin with. The same translation mistake happened several times… but other times paipo WAS properly translated:

Image 1Image 2

I think this inconsistent translation is what made the mistake a little hazier. It’s also a neat example of how lesser-seen text can give you a glimpse into a game’s translation process.

Anyway, I haven’t done any detailed localization comparisons for this game, but from what I recall, a ton of work and polish was put into the game’s English script. So it’s a little surprising that this flub slipped through, but I assume it’ll be fixed in future releases of the game. In any case, at least the mystery is solved!

Summary: Dark Lakitu doesn’t throw pipes at all – the translator mistook the Japanese term for “Spiny Egg” (paipo) for the Japanese word for “pipe” (paipu).

Incidentally, this Japanese “Paipo” name actually has a surprising origin. You can read all about it and Lakitu’s Japanese name here!

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  1. Ooof, it sucks when one makes mistakes based on one tiny difference like that. I imagine this has caused similar cases in other games.

  2. ‘…I assume it’ll be fixed in future releases of the game.’

    Does Mato know something we don’t :O


    Why no secret text 🙁

    1. He hasn’t been doing secret text for a bit now actually.

  3. Well, I could buy some small pipes from the hardware store I probably could realistically throw at people if I wanted to.

    But throwing SMB pipes, that is pretty ridiculous?

  4. If the word’s translated inconsistently, it might be a sign multiple translators worked on the game, one more familiar with the series than the other(s).

  5. If this title gets released for Virtual Console someday, that goof would definitely be patched. If it is possible in first place that is.