A reader named Andrea sent this e-mail in about a game I’d never heard of before:
hello! i just found your legend of localization site after searching for the infamous “war of kangaroo” mistranslation on google!
i had a request about a somewhat obscure PSP dungeon crawler called elminage original, this game had an american translation but they botched several aspect of it, for example there is an item called the “future book” which give you random message upon use but some of the message don’t work, one of the hidden boss in the game (i can’t remember the name but she’s blindfolded and holds a scale and a sword so it should be easy to recognize) also had a special message which too doesn’t work
most amusingly the game had a lot of non-sensical translation, the most infamous one being that when you failed to identify an item the game exclaimed “YOU TOUCHED IT!” any idea how this could have happened?
here’s a list of various translation fuck up in case you want to know more
I’ve never played this game, but it actually looks really cool!
Anyway, I had some theories on what might’ve caused this “You touched it!” mistranslation, but it took a surprisingly long while to finally track it down. Here’s a look at the line in both versions of the game:
|Japanese PSP release||English PSP release|
For reference, this happens after a bishop character tries to identify an item but fails. When this happens, the character falls into a panic-like state that has to be healed before further item identification can be done.
When this identification fails, the Japanese text says “さわってしまった!” which comes from the verb さわる (sawaru). This word has a few different meanings – the main one is “to touch/feel”, but another is “to become irritated”. So my initial instinct was that the translator didn’t have any context information and decided to go with the safer “to touch” meaning when the latter might’ve been more appropriate.
But digging a little deeper, it seems that this line might actually be an homage to the Famicom Wizardry games, which I hear had a strong cult following in Japan back in the day.
I know nothing about the Wizardry games, but a quick English Google search turned up this mention of bishops, item identification, fear status, and a “You touched it!” line:
Those all fit the bill perfectly!
So, assuming this Wizardry connection is indeed true, then the line in Elminage, “YOU TOUCHED IT!” might not be a mistranslation at all – it seems to be a reference to the old Wizardry games. One that might’ve even survived being translated back and forth over the years, wow!
Still, that’s a lot of guesswork on my part, so if anyone out there can provide any further info or insight, or if you can get an English or Japanese screenshot of the Wizardry line, please let me know on Twitter or post in the comments below!