Mighty Kombat sent in a question a while back that might’ve confused many a player over the years, whether they realized it or not. Let’s take a look!
I’ve got something on my mind and i just need confirmation.
Its about Street Fighter. You know Ultra Street Fighter IV introduced the “Ultra Combo Double” option, which lets you use both Ultra moves at once. Its marked with the W icon, as opposed to the other options using roman numerals for 1 and 2.
I also know there’s an old SF3 compilation game called “Street Fighter III: W Impact” in Japan.
Is it because when spoken by a Japanese person, the letter W (double you) sounds like the word “Double”? Is it basically a pun?
I first encountered these unusual Ws way back in the 90s, but at the time I never paid much thought to them.
For example, in the Super Famicom version of Final Fantasy IV, there’s a technique called “W Meteo”. This was translated as “W.Meteo” in the English Super NES release… but back in the day I just always assumed it stood for “White Meteo”.
|Final Fantasy IV (Super Famicom)||Final Fantasy II (Super NES)|
A few years later I encountered something similar in Final Fantasy VII – a special skill called “W-Item” that lets you use two items in one turn:
|Final Fantasy VII (Japanese, Playstation)||Final Fantasy VII (English, Playstation)|
I’ll admit that with this FFVII “W” I was a little more confused, but I just figured it probably had a good reason for being called that.
And it does, I later learned after studying Japanese for a while! Just as Mighty Kombat surmises, the prononuciation for “W” is often abbreviated down to just the “double” part in Japanese, and as a side effect it often gets used to refer to things that are doubled. So the “W.Meteo” wasn’t a white-spell Meteo like I first thought (although that would’ve been cool); it instead just meant it was a “double Meteo” spell. And “W-Item” meaning “double item” makes perfect sense.
Naturally, this “W” gets used in many places besides games too. It’s very common to see on ads, especially lottery-type things:
And who wouldn’t enjoy some W burgers?
And maybe wash it down with some W beer!
This “double” W shows up in many places, but don’t let it fool you! You’ll often see Japanese Internet users saying “w”, but this particular “w” comes from the Japanese word for “laugh” and has nothing to do with “double” at all.
Man, they’re really putting the English alphabet to use over there in interesting new ways, now that I think about it.
Anyway, that’s the deal with “W” in a lot of Japanese games. In the old days, the situation was usually one of these two:
- A non-native English speaker, tasked with translating a game into English, might simply assume we also use “W” as “double” in English
- A non-native Japanese speaker, tasked with translating a game into English, might not know that “W” can mean “double” in Japanese
Both cases would result in “W” remaining as-is in the English translations, much to the confusion of many. Modern translators and localizers usually know about this W stuff, though, so I assume it appears a lot less often in translations these days.
I’m actually curious to know what other old games might’ve had “W” stuff like this, so if you know of any, let me know in the comments!