This Be Bad Translation #11, Twinkle Star Sprites!

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Some games like Zero Wing and Vroom in the night sky feature bad translations that can be easily appreciated from a single screenshot:

Other games have bad translations that are more of a slow burn – the text has blatant translation problems, but they’re small enough and slow enough that they quietly build up over time. Only when you look back afterward do you realize, “Whoa, that game’s translation is right up there with the best of the worst!”

The Neo Geo game Twinkle Star Sprites is a great example of this “slow burn” type of bad translation. The game is filled with poorly translated text, but the mistakes are small enough by themselves that single screenshots don’t do the full translation justice. But here are some screenshots anyway!

If you’re a fan of classic 90s games with bad translations, Twinkle Star Sprites is definitely right up your alley. It’s a fun, unique game and the translation is right up there with other SNK classics like “Victoly!” and “God! excrement! I’m surrounded!“. Give it a shot!


If you liked this quick look at a bad game translation, you'll love my other bad translation articles too. And for a closer look at a specific weird line in Twinkle Star Sprites, see my article about "Sweet Tacos"!

24 Comments
  1. Oooh! You’re little attacks are sweet like chocolate!

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  2. I assume that the word “hangry” didn’t exist yet when this game was released?

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    1. I did some searching around and I feel like that’s correct. I’d definitely never heard the phrase at the time, although I’m sure someone at some point probably jokingly said it back then to someone. I mostly recall first hearing it in the past 10-15 years or so.

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    2. Welp, been studying english for over a decade now, and this is literally the first time I’ve ever heard of “hangry” being an actual word. It is on a few dictionaries, though. But really, the game predates widespread use of the word, and considering the translation, it’s very likely “hangry” wasn’t deliberate at all.

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      1. It’s definitely a recent slang word, so “hangry” isn’t something you’d use if you were writing something formal, like an essay or something.

        I’m sure you could find people who don’t really consider it a “real” word too, since it’s just a funny way to combine “hungry” and “angry”. There’s probably some native speakers who have never heard of it, too.

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  3. Do the first few screenshots say “LOAD RAN” in the upper left? Is this right or is it supposed to be “LORD RAN”?

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    1. TennisTheMenace

      It’s the actual full name of the main character – Rod might actually be a better choice for the “ロード” of “ロードラン” if we were trying to go for some magical girl joke, maybe.

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      1. My guess would be that it’s “Load Run”, after the computer commands.

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        1. Which, in turn, makes me wonder if it’s meant to be taken as a Lode Runner reference.

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          1. Kinda funny how Lordran in fact predates Dark Souls…

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            1. Spaghetty (of Astora)

              The flow of time itself is convoluted.

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  4. Never played the game, but that screengrab of “Vroom in the Night Sky” makes it look like a shovelware multimedia/FMV game from the mid-90s.

    So is “charactes” characters or characteristics? Seems like the latter. Is the opponento her husbando?

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    1. It’s more likely “characters”, especially seeing how the projectiles you send over to the opponent have faces and all.

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      1. Okay, that makes sense.

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  5. Honestly, the first time I saw Vroom In the Night Sky it made me think of this game. They both have that same peculiar combination of magical girl theming and bad translation. I wonder how many other games out there fit that description?

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  6. The weird thing about this game is the actual writing and localisation seems decent, but then it’s peppered with fairly elementary romanisation/spelling/grammatical errors like in the screenshots here. It’s like the script was written by a native English speaker and then re-typed into the game by a Japanese staff member who was just okay at English and ended up making a bunch of mistakes in transcription.

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  7. Do you know the game road trip adventure on ps2 ? It’s not a 90s game but the translation in ever english or french is gold

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  8. You made a typo in your typo transcription 😀
    The 6th screenshot doesn’t say “alowd”, it says “alownd”.

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  9. I think another example of the “slow burn” would be the original Harvest Moon for the SNES. While there aren’t many spelling issues, there are a lot of minor grammatical issues and odd wording that make the game somehow more enjoyable (it’s the only Harvest Moon I ever got into for that reason). Some examples:
    – Checking the oven in the morning gets the message “Confirm the origin of fire!”
    – The sign indicating the top of the mountain just says “to the top” (lowercase with no punctuation)
    It can be fun to play “spot the translation mistake!” while playing. I mean, the game’s good too, but…

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    1. He did an article on “Confirm the origin of fire!”

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    2. Is that the one that has “PUSH THE START” on the title screen, or was that Harvest Moon 64? Whichever one that is, it cracks me up every time.

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      1. N64 one had “Push the Start”.
        Its script wasn’t much better, to be honest. To be fair it’s mostly guilty of clumsy phrasing.

        Japanese version had additional features and content, like the TV dramas and actual recipes. Can actually confirm it’s a matter of jumping a chip size if you simply drop the English script into the Japanese title, but they also didn’t use any compression. Rudimentary LZ would have made it fit.

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  10. Twinkle Star Sprites was published by SNK, but developed by ADK. I’m not sure who took over translation duties in that partnership, though I have seen some distinctive SNK phrases show up in ADK games. (“you crazy funster!” is in SamSho and World Heroes Perfect, for example) I haven’t seen anything as weird as Twinkle Star Sprites in any SNK game so far, but I haven’t really delved into SamSho yet.

    SNK often had very interesting translations that a native speaker was clearly involved in, so it’s actually kind of odd to see very basic errors like this if they were involved…

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  11. Jesus, the English mutilation.

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