Japan has been a constant source of hilarious video game translation over the years. While today’s younger gamers spit online scorn at the likes of Nintendo for their questionable approaches to gaming translation and video game localisation, older fans look back with a sense of nostalgia at Japan’s great history of video game translation.
Now, Japan’s contribution to international gaming history is being immortalised in a book, honouring some of its most hilarious moments. The perfectly titled This be book bad translation, video games! is the best possible argument for hiring professional video game translators.
Classic translations immortalised
This be book bad translation, video games! features some of the most famous (and hilarious) translations of Japanese games over the last forty odd years. However, you’ll notice the golden age of Japanese video game translation was the ‘90s, which offered such classics as:
“You are a sucking baby” – Dragon Master, 1994
“Go home and be a family man!” – Street Fighter II, 1991
“Years ago… I was Chinese” – Shenmue, 1999
“A winner is you” – Pro Wrestling, 1986
“Here is a graveyard of you!” – The Ninja Kids, 1990
“I’m so hangry.” – Twinkle Star Sprites, 1996
And, of course:
“All your base are belong to us” – Zero Wing, 1992
Aside from making for an amusing read and a nostalgic trip down memory lane, This be book bad translation, video games! is the ideal reminder of why video game translation is so important. It might be funny looking back at these classic language faux pas but today’s gamers are a much less forgiving breed.
Poor video game translation is not a ‘90s thing
There may be an emphasis on ‘90s games in This be book bad translation, video games! but poor video game translation isn’t a ‘90s thing. Type “Nintendo translation errors” into Google News and you’ll see how much the gaming giant still struggles to deliver accurate translations before release.
This is arguably the biggest publisher exporting Japanese games to the international market, too.
The new Nintendo Switch console isn’t enjoying a much better introduction to life than its predecessors either. Vroom in the Night Sky is among the Switch titles to make headlines for its sloppy video game translation, prompting its developer to rewrite the game’s content. Unfortunately, it went on to make headlines once again after the developer’s rework made the translations even worse.
The worst part is, this happens on a regular basis – and fans don’t appreciate it.
When game publishers use machine translation or unqualified translators to adapt their games, it tells foreign-speaking audiences they’re not important enough to invest in quality gaming translation. Nintendo fans are pretty vocal about their anger over this but the price for smaller game publishers is more severe. Gamers simply won’t play your games.
Nintendo and a number of major publishers seem to be riding their luck, assuming their popularity means gamers will tolerate poor video game translation. However, there’s growing evidence to suggest their luck might be running out. For developers and publishers without the decades of popularity Nintendo enjoys, there’s no luck to ride.
Image credits: FanGamer; This be book bad translation, video games!
- Posted by Tom Robinson
- On 7th August 2017
- 0 Comments