Vertical Text in an English Game Translation


An example of how English text looks when displayed inside a vertical Japanese text box - from Makaijima: Nanatsu no Shima Daibōken (MSX, fan-translated screenshot)
(Screenshot from Video Game Museum)

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  1. I think that’s “Higemaru Makaijima”!

    1. I believe you’re correct.

    2. Thanks! I wondered why the screenshot was called “hig”, now it makes sense. It looks like this was from the MSX version, which was written in English despite being a Japanese game. Another example to add to the list!

  2. I don’t know why the translator thought this would have worked. We don’t read like the Japanese do.

    1. It wouldn’t have been the translator’s fault, it was just how the game was originally designed and the programmers/company probably didn’t want to take the time and money to make it horizontal for secondary markets.

      EDIT: Actually it turns out this is the Japanese game, the script was just written entirely in English as often happened back in the day. So this wasn’t a translated intended for other markets, it was still aimed at Japanese gamers.

      1. I just wonder why they authored the text to run top-to-bottom, left-to-right. As far as I know, neither English nor Japanese is typically read in that order.

        1. Yeah, that’s a really good point. The whole thing is crazy from the start 😯

          1. I guess the programmer is too lazy. The screen coordinate increases in this direction.

      2. Ah I see. It’s still weird and unwieldy-looking though.

  3. Only an image? Dude, this sort of thing warrants it’s own article if you ask me.

    1. I’d like to, but again, my time has become limited. We used to post images like this on Instagram, Patreon, etc. but I decided to move them to the site for simplicity’s sake.

      1. Again, since this would essentially be one of the only translation comparison websites I am aware of in first place, seeing so little activity does little to quench my thirst for knowledge. That said, keep up the good work regardless.

  4. This might be a fan translation? I found a Japanese video of the game and the same scene is in Japanese:
    If that’s the case, it’d make more sense that it ended up this way, since hacking it to print horizontally would be much more involved than just substituting English text into the existing vertical text routine.

    Incidentally the Famicom version of the game prints its text vertically as well, but in the prototype NES localisation “Makai Island” the text is printed horizontally and the screen is completely blanked out whenever text appears. The same thing was done in the localisation from the unreleased Famicom Strider to the NES version.

    1. Yep, I think you’re right, thanks for correcting me. I had checked YouTube beforehand just to be sure, and when I saw the same font in the Japanese game I made a hasty assumption.

  5. To clear this up, in case anyone is still reading. That image was edited by me. There is no translation patch for the game. The original game is in Japanese. Someone translated the ending for me, and I edited the image to add that translation. It was added vertically because that’s how the text box is displayed. I would have had to edit and move the text box and cover part of the graphics if I wanted it horizontally, so I just left it like that.

    There is an English NES prototype that removes the text boxes altogether and just shows the text in a black screen, as seen here:

    1. Whoa, thanks for letting me know! I should’ve known/guessed, since I’ve provided ending translations for you before too. I’ve updated the page to reflect this info + include a link to your site.