A while back, a reader named Dhillon521 submitted a question about Zero Wing’s ending text:
Hello, A little while ago I saw your article about Zero Wing. I decided to look in the game. So I got a Japanese rom and looked at some of the endings. Apparently the Japanese version has 4 endings while the English only has 3! And more interesting the fourth ending is the only one with text. Maybe the bad translations had something to do with laziness? Do you think you could do a article on it? Here is a screenshot of the ending Just in case.
I was all set to translate the line when I decided to do some double-checking to make sure that the screenshot was real and that the Japanese really did have another ending. It turns out that not only is the screenshot 100% real, the Japanese version of Zero Wing has 35 endings! In contrast, the English version only has 3. For those not familiar with Zero Wing, the ending changes with each loop through the entire game.
Anyway, after learning this, I went and documented each Japanese ending, organized them into a table, and tried my hand at some simple translations. You can see all 35 endings below, but there are a few things to note first:
- From Ending #4 and on, the villain character starts to talk in very unusual Japanese. Most of the time he speaks in a very effeminate way, but sometimes he speaks in heavy dialects. Sometimes he talks normally, and sometimes he talks like a kid. His speech style is all over the place and is pretty silly.
- Due to a limited character font, some of the writing in the endings is presented unusually.
- Many of the extra endings feature references to old comedy routines, music, anime, and more. A lot of this information isn’t well-documented on Japanese sites, and it’s even harder to find info on it in English. The age of the references suggests this text was written by someone who grew up in the 1960s or 1970s. Some of the references seem to elude Japanese players, so I’m sure I’m missing a lot of them myself.
- After Ending #35, the endings simply loop around and start with Ending #4 again.
First, if you’re a video person, you can see all of the endings in this video compilation:
If text is more your thing, see below:
A bunch of Pipiru creatures – which were the developer’s mascots at the time – do a lot of silly dancing to the famous Can-Can/Infernal Galop tune
Some fancy graphics and a staff roll
The Zig ship gets scooped up by its mothership and taken to a green planet, then a giant Pipiru appears and winks at the screen
You aren’t a member of the Federation government forces! Just who are you?! Want to join CATS?
C’mon, stop already. We’re busy, you know. There’s nothing left to see here.
The gomashio* at our base is delightful! You should stop by.
* A dry condiment made from a mixture of salt and toasted sesame seeds
Gomashio is our doo-doo! If you put it on rice and mix it with an egg… it’s super-yummy!
Come on! Go to sleep already! This is bad for your health. I have no end, just so you know!
Okay, okay. You win. I would like to ask for your help! I hope we can be friends.
Do you know my name? It’s John Climen*! What’s your name?
* Other possible spellings: John Clemen, John Climent, John Kurimen, many others
My Maylene is gone. I wanted her to be with me! Do you know where she is?
I used to sell bananas in Kagoshima a long time ago. I sell apples now.
The battle isn’t necessarily over. Ha ha ha. Bwwoing! Oh, my butt’s itchy*!
* This appears to be a reference to Hazama Kanpei’s classic itchy butt comedy gag
Sheesh. Let me go home already! I’m at the peak of my beauty, after all!
Our CATS organization is sopping wet now, all because of you. You’d BETTER make this up to us! Kani, kani*
* “Kani, kani” sounds like a familiar gag to me but I can’t place it. If anyone has info, let me know!
CATS hereby issues you an order. “Sui-sui-sūdara-datta, sura-sura sui-sui-suī.”* Go on, try to say it.
* This is a reference to Hitoshi Ueki’s famous comedy song, “Sūdara-bushi”. I cover this very topic in more detail in the EarthBound Legends of Localization book!
A cow or a horse would look oh-so-delicious if it exploded. Hmm, what to do…
Oh my god! We never expected the Federation government forces to have someone like you! You made CATS sobby-sobby teary-weary! We can’t take this anymore!
I’m your mom. I gave birth to you 22 years ago on a Federation military base. Call me “Mommy”!
Don’t be dumb! You can’t beat us in a straight fight, so join us and have some fun!
The battle has only just begun. Are you ready? Ha ha ha. Okay, here goes! Heave-ho! Heave-ho!
After I beat you, I’m gonna clean-clean the world. And then I want to build even more bases!
Thanks to your Federation assistance, our CATS organization is BASU-GASU-BAKUHATSU*! How was that? Muhahahaha…
* This is a Japanese tongue-twister meant to be said quickly – it literally means “bus gas explosion”
”Niwa niwa niwa niwatori ga iru. Momo mo sumomo mo momotarō.”* Can you say it too?
* These are also Japanese tongue-twisters that literally mean “There are two chickens in the yard” and “Peaches and plums are both Momotarō”.
Ta-ratta-ratta-ratta! This is the CATS dance. What do you say? Won’t you dance with me?! Wahahahahaha!
Lulu lives for 10,000 years! Oh, I can’t stand it! Don’t let your cold get you down! SHE! HER! HER!
* Lulu is a reference to a cough medicine, and the phrasing here is apparently referring to an old commercial for Lulu. This is wrapped up with wordplay on an old proverb and a dialect/comedy gag. The last part could refer to a number of things – it’s originally a phrase used to learn English pronouns but has gone on to be used for all sorts of things, including songs and mint gum. I’m not sure what was intended in this case, though.
Is reading me really that fun?! You’re gonna make me cross, y’know! Just stop it already! Seriously, please!
C’mon, it’s time we stop this. I’m hungry, tired, and sleepy. Unnngh… Please! Let me leave!
Howdy, mister. If you quit now, I’ll introduce ya ta some nice gals. Whatcha say?!
I’m gonna go pee-pee behind you! Now do you give up?!
Wh-who are you?! A c-cow? Or maybe a crab? I dunno. Oh! I bet you’re an elephant.
Look up into the sky. You just might see me flying across it. CATS can fly through the sky…. Not! Ha!
You’re that determined to keep this from ending. I give up, good sir! Ha ha ha! HANA TAKADAKA! TAKADAKKA!*
* This appears to be referring to a decades-old comedy gag, but I can’t find much info about it. I assume it’s a play on the phrase “hana takadaka” which roughly means “filled with pride” or “elated”.
Acroooozzz the skyyyyy la la la…
* He’s trying to sing the lyrics of the famous Astro Boy/Mighty Atom /Tetsuwan Atom anime song.
* This is a secret code that remained hidden for over 20 years until a fan posted it on the Japanese Nico Nico video site. Viewers worked together to decipher it, but the code just didn’t seem to work for some reason. An astute fan figured out the issue, though – for some reason “West” means “right” here instead of “left”. The end result is this code:
Press Start to pause the game, then press C, Up, B, Down, A, Left, Right, B, C, C, Right, Left, Right, A, Down and Start. This brings up the game’s “Test Mode”, which works in the English version of the game as well.
So there we go, all 35 Japanese Zero Wing endings. Again, most of this text is so silly, is filled with unusual speech patterns, and is brimming with pop culture references that I’m sure I’m missing something or gotten something wrong. If you can help fill in the blanks or correct anything above, definitely let me know in the comments or on Twitter.