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Feature: Classic Gaming Typos, Errors and Translations

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Conglaturations for reading this

Earlier this week there was a great deal of chortling at a minor grammatical error in New Super Mario Bros. 2, with the initial Coin Rush notification being the offending screen; many of us actually missed it in our eagerness to play the mode itself. There's also a bit of a grammatical slip-up in the North American information sheet/manual as well, so wrists will be slapped in the localisation departments of Nintendo.

In any case, it seems only fair to show off the fact that typos, appalling grammar and rather iffy translations were relatively common in the 'good old days'. Many are looked back on with fondness today, though whether gamers of the time would have been as forgiving is hard to say. Either way, the Nintendo Life team trawled its collective memory banks to pick out some well-known or high profile examples to show that, sometimes, text in games can go very, very wrong.

Double Dragon III — Bimmy and Jimmy

Ah yes, Bimmy and Jimmy. Retro gamers had probably spotted this long ago as a rather lazy typo in the opening sequence for Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones, but it became famous in an early video of a certain YouTube celebrity. It's the kind of error made if typing in a hurry and not double checking text properly, which happened relatively often in the 8-bit era.

Ghostbuster's message of "Conglaturation"

Like a number of NES titles, Ghostbusters was tricky to beat, though that was the case on various other platforms as well. It's only natural that if a player defies the odds and actually reaches the end screen they want something worth their while; a cool image, a basic animation or slideshow of screens from the adventure, or whatever could be crammed onto an 8-bit cartridge. What a gamer is unlikely to want is a black screen with the following text.

CONGLATURATION !!!

YOU HAVE COMPLETED
A GREAT GAME .

AND PROOVED THE JUSTICE
OF OUR CULTURE .

NOW GO AND REST OUR
HEROES !

No, that's not a good ending.

"I am Error" in Zelda II

This character in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is famous for obvious reasons, possessing one of the strangest names in video game history. As you'd expect of any quirk or anomaly in a Zelda game, there's more than one theory about the nature of the, um, error. One theory is that the game's code displayed this text when it failed to generate the correct name due to a flaw in the system, while others argue that it's a deliberate reference to bugs and errors. The latter, presented as a theory on zelda.wikia.com, is that a similar character called Bagu, the translation of bug from Japanese, is the other half of deliberate bug/error references. Who knows, but it's a name that'll be famous for as long as we have video games.

"A Winner is You!" from Pro Wrestling

This is one of the most famous examples of poor grammar from a Japanese to English translation, and has transformed into a popular internet meme that's been referenced a lot in popular culture. Pro Wrestling on NES was a prominent title in its day, and the victory message of A WINNER IS YOU put the cherry on the sundae for gamers in love with this classic wrestling game.

"My scheme for world domination has faild" from Mega Man 6

We had plenty of examples from the Mega Man series, but we've chosen one that perhaps has the biggest helping of irony. The ending to Mega Man 6 has Wily (as Mr X) declare the following after being defeated by the Blue Bomber.

MY SCHEME FOR WORLD
DOMINATION HAS
FAILD!

So has your quest to greet your end with class and dignity, Wily.

Ghosts 'n Goblins ending screens

Ghosts 'n Goblins on NES is fondly remembered by some, but is also pretty darn challenging and difficult to beat. Much like Ghostbusters it has an ending with enough shoddy text to make anyone blush, with the notable exception that it does have a couple of nice sprites on screen to make it all a bit better. That doesn't spare it from being ruthlessly exposed by us, though.

CONGRATURATION
THIS STORY IS HAPPY END.
THANK YOU.

BEING THE WISE AND COURAGEOUR
KNIGHT THAT YOU ARE YOU
FEEL STRONGTH WELLING
IN YOUR BODY.
RETURN TO STARTING POINT.
CHALLENGE AGAIN!

Thankfully we had the strongth to type that out... er, strength.

Yoshi - "It that really you" in Super Mario 64

On Super NES, Yoshi became a star. His appearance in Super Mario World endeared him to so many that he had his own game in the sequel, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. When Super Mario 64 came along, however, the focus was on Mario and the dinosaur was out of the spotlight. He did make an appearance, however, if you collected 120 stars and got Mario up to the castle roof. Yoshi's appearance wasn't perfect though, as he unfortunately says "Mario!!! It that really you???" This was apparently fixed in the DS re-release years later, but Yoshi had already blown his big moment.

"I feel asleep" from Metal Gear

Metal Gear on NES wasn't the same classic that was released in Japan, but a distinctly iffy remake/re-imagining with a fair share of glitches and rubbish text. Within 30 seconds you come across a guard that says "I feel asleep", which sets the tone for the rest of the game, really.

These are just a few examples, but there are so many more. Don't be surprised if we revisit this in the future, but until then we'd like to see some of your favourite typos, grammatical errors or dodgy translations in the comments below.

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User Comments (98)

Tasuki

#4

Tasuki said:

That brought back memories. Also I remember a Megaman game where they spelled Wily's name wrong I belive they spelled it Wiley or something like that. Also what abut the famous Gannon typo in Zelda one I think it was.

Knuckles

#5

Knuckles said:

In Nintendo Powers 250th issue the celebrated with 250 reasons to love Nintendo.

Anyway, there was a classic quote section, with toad saying Thank you Mario! But our Princess is another castle

Was this a real SMB typo, or did NP have huge mistake in the quote?

TheDreamingHawk

#7

TheDreamingHawk said:

Typos in games are surprising nowadays. But don't forget Art of Balance TOUCH! Which has a ugly looking date typo in the endurance mode (For some reason it thinks September 1st is January 9th.)

Porky

#13

Porky said:

There are some typos in the Ace Attorney games as well, sadly :/.

Zyrac

#14

Zyrac said:

The few people who have actually finished Zelda 2 should recall that a character later on in the game tells you to go talk to Error, who will give you a hint about the next temple. So no, it's not a mistake - the guy just has a weird name.

Torchwood

#18

Torchwood said:

@TheDreamingHawk
I don't think it's a typo, I just think that it used European dates. They put the day before the month. For example, today, August 25 would be written 25/8. Nano Assault did the same thing.

Gridatttack

#19

Gridatttack said:

Actually, error names in Zelda II IS error on purpose.
I opened the game in a hex editor, when to error's dialogue offset, and the bytes assigned to his dialog says "I am error". :P

TheDreamingHawk

#20

TheDreamingHawk said:

@JuLeDoS Well then they should fix it. If it shows a proper date in the file select, make it show the proper date in endurance mode so it doesn't look dumb. Because of that I stopped playing the game as it was so annoying.

Omega

#21

Omega said:

In germany it's even worse. There are many games where the german localization is a total joke. And I don't mean games from the past.

NintyMan

#25

NintyMan said:

Mention the Super Mario Bros. 2 credits next time! "Clawglip" anyone?

I'm having "strongth" feelings of amusement at these typos. They're enough to make a grammar teacher's eyes roll. Actually, Error really is named Error.

RupeeClock

#27

RupeeClock said:

I'm surprised you didn't mention the big grammatical error in Super Mario Bros. 3!

Untitled

It should say "You're out!", as in "You are out!"

Millenia

#28

Millenia said:

I heard that Error's name was originally Errol in the Japanese version, but Japanese people have trouble making an 'l' sound so they just make an r sound instead. Basically "Engrish" lol. I forget where I heard that, who knows if that's true.

nf_2

#29

nf_2 said:

"The ending to Mega Man 6 has Wily (as Mr X) declare the followed after being defeated by the Blue Bomber."
The irony in the MM6 section is thick. Make sure you don't have any typos in an article about typos. :P

atariman

#30

atariman said:

I've noticed that there were a lot of wiered translations on a lot of games that I've played (Games from 1970's through 1990's) but I don't care about how the charicters talk in some games.

WiiLovePeace

#31

WiiLovePeace said:

"This was apparently fixed in the DS re-release years later" & if you mean fixing it by not having yoshi on the roof anymore with no thank you message at all, since yoshi is a playable character in the game then I guess you could say it's fixed :p Unless I totally missed the thank you message, I did complete SM64DS & was quite disappointed when I didn't find any thank you message.

Albeit not retro I think the funniest mistake I've found of my own accord is some kid early into Final Fantasy X saying "I'm gonna be a blitzball when I grow up." Sounds good! :p

hydeks

#34

hydeks said:

CONGLATURATION !!!
YOU HAVE COMPLETED
A GREAT GAME .

Forget the misspelling, the rest of the message is blasphemy! lol

ThomasBW84Admin

#37

ThomasBW84 said:

@nintendofreak_2 Bah! I read through this a few times to try and avoid a typo of my own, but there it is. Unlike these games, I can fix it :P

As for the I am Error one, I'm aware that there are various ideas about it, but it's a classic that had to go in.

Plenty of others you guys have mentioned came up in our long-list, including "all your base belong to us". I suspect we will do this again in the future because there are so many, so fear not!

Supereor

#38

Supereor said:

When I first read that "I am Error" in my Ambassador's copy of Zelda 2, I was so incredibly confused, thinking to myself, "Is that a real name? Did Nintendo mean to put that? If it is a real name, who's actually named that?" I thought myself to sleep that night ;)

ueI

#41

ueI said:

My favorite translations are found in the Phantasy Star IV sound test. One song is called "A Promissing Future." Many songs also have "Motabia" in the title, a misspelling of the planet Motavia. The series overall has a hilariously inconsistent translation, with names like Noah/Lutz, Darkfalz/Dakforce, Lassic/Lashiec, Parma/Palma, and Dezolis/Dezoris varying from game to game. Note that some of my spellings may be incorrect as well, as it's been a while since I've played Phantasy Star.

LittleKing

#42

LittleKing said:

@TheDreamingHawk You stopped playing the game because it uses two different formats for the date? Me, I never notice, since most of my portables have the wrong date set anyways. :p

Barbiegurl777

#44

Barbiegurl777 said:

Weird I noticed that stuff before in my video games with typos & other stuff but never really gave it much thought though. I just thought it was the game developer's trying to be funny & putting stuff in there like that on purpose. I didn't know that the words actually had to be spelled correctly in the games. So weird....

I really did think that was just the game developer's playing a funny joke or did it on purpose.

Weird...

Happy Gaming! (^_^)

GeminiSaint

#46

GeminiSaint said:

Don't forget about the engrishy intro and ending texts in the original NES Metroid:
"Defeat the metroid of the planet Zebeth and destroy the Mother Brain the mechanical life vein"
Life vein? LoL

Savino

#47

Savino said:

I was a kid and did not speak english at that time, so most of those typos weren't notice by me!
But...congraturations was too much even for a brazilian 9 years old kid!

grumblegrumble

#48

grumblegrumble said:

In Zelda II, I really thought the guys name was "Error"! Wasn't it? What was it supposed to be? Since 1988, I thought this... LOL ;) Oh my!

JJtheTexan

#52

JJtheTexan said:

The "All your base are belong to us" mentioned above is of course Zero Wing, the early Sega Genesis / Mega Drive title and perhaps first great internet meme.

MeWario

#53

MeWario said:

'Ghosts 'n Goblins on NES is fondly remember by some'
Tehe, typos in articles about typos are crack me up =P Neat article by the way!

Xiao_Pai

#54

Xiao_Pai said:

Most memorable error I can think of is Brawl's in the trophy description for the Dark Suit, you gain this suit after defeating the Amorbis in the Torvus Bog. Wut? lol

timp29

#56

timp29 said:

It's hardly exciting, but POW on NES had the standard 'congraturation' upon finishing the game

jhuhn

#57

jhuhn said:

Back to the Future Part III on NES had Doc's message to Marty that he's in the year 1875, which in the movie, it should be 1885.

FluttershyGuy

#59

FluttershyGuy said:

What? There was even an error in the so-called NSMB 2 instruction booklet? They're such an afterthought for Nintendo now that I treated reading it like an afterthought, so I didn't know. It's not like there's much info they have to put on today's foldout instructions that are smaller than foldout advertisements of yesteryear that came with games. We didn't get any kind of story in or out of game to tell us why we're gunning for 1 million coins. I thought we'd find it was for randsom, or something. A shortcoming in a game I've liked more than the other two NSMBs.

At any rait, grate articles on type-o's is this. :p I think "I AM ERROR" is my fav, because it's hilarious to think of a stranger introducing themselves that way!

Something else that could be fun is an article on Nintendo's various censorships of games over the years. If it indeed is one, I like Kefka's "son of a submariner." Somehow, I doubt that's what he said in Japan's Final Fantasy VI. ;)

KAHN

#63

KAHN said:

@Savino "I was a kid and did not speak english at that time, so most of those typos weren't notice by me!"
looks like you still have a lot to learn.

Flowerlark

#64

Flowerlark said:

I liked the ending to CATRAP. You finally get through all the mind bending puzzles, and the ONLY text in the game (aside from the start menu) reads: THANK YOU FOR YOUR PLAYING. I cracked up so hard.

WaxxyOne

#66

WaxxyOne said:

Seriously? No mention of Zero Wing at all? This may be familiar to "some" of you:

"Somebody set up us the bomb."
"Main screen turn on."
"All your base are belong to us. You have no chance to survive make your time."
"Move 'ZIG'. For great justice."

FluttershyGuy

#67

FluttershyGuy said:

I think I remember one from The Goonies II. When you hit the old lady with a hammer, she says something like: "OUCH, what do you do?" Think she meant to say "what are you doing", or maybe not as her brain may've been a bit scrambled by a hammer blow. :o

TimboBaggins

#68

TimboBaggins said:

@WaxxyOne The reason there is no mention of Zero Wing is because these are all nintendo games, and Zero Wing was on Sega Mega Drive. However I would love them to do a part 2 featuring games with typos from other consoles.

atariman

#69

atariman said:

I just want to say, Super Mario Bros 2 SUCKS! They spell all most every word wrong, the gameplay is just terrible! There's no fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Super Mario Bros 2 is the worst NES game ever made! 2/10

WaxxyOne

#70

WaxxyOne said:

@TimboBaggins Good point! I didn't notice that.

@atariman Um... OK. First off, I don't really recall any major spelling errors in SMB2, but there might be some I suppose. Second, the game is not really about the spelling in any way. Third, it's one of the most original and varied of the Mario series, in large part because it didn't start as a Mario game. And here's the list of things (just off the top of my head) the game added to the series that are still around today:

1. Luigi being taller than Mario rather than a recolored carbon-copy.
2. Luigi being able to jump higher and flap his legs to hover.
3. Peach's ability to float, used in Super Princess Peach and elsewhere.
4. Bob-ombs, Shyguys, whatever those cactus enemies are, etc.
5. Levels that scroll around (rather than basic left-to-right gameplay) including levels with doors to separate areas and maze-type exploration levels, and locked doors.

Rawk_Hawk

#71

Rawk_Hawk said:

delve into the Neo Geo titles and you'll find more of these delicious nuggets of grammatical delights

Ras

#74

Ras said:

My favorite as a kid (and it has since become a meme in its own right) was from Data East's Captain America and The Avengers. Whirlwind comes out of the bank with a ridiculous laugh, and his henchmen say, "Don't disturb us!" Cap responds, "Why should it goes well?" The former is actually voiced, but the latter is just text on the screen. I guess the voice actor said, "I'm not saying that!"

ogo79

#76

ogo79 said:

lol its sad that i see so many typos in my games that i just read them like nothing expecting it. great thread

GamerZack87

#77

GamerZack87 said:

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA

MANY YEARS AGO PRINCE DARKNESS " GANNON" STOLE ONE OF THE TRIFORCE WITH POWER. PRINCESS ZELDA HAD ONE OF THE TRIFORCE WITH WISDOM. SHE DIVIDED IT INTO" 8"UNITS TO HIDE IT FROM " GANNON" BEFORE SHE WAS CAPTURED.

GO FIND THE" 8"UNITS
" LINK" TO SAVE HER.

ALL OF TREASURES
A few examples are listed below.

CONTAINER HEART - RUPY - 5 RUPIES - LIFE POTION - 2ND POTION

PLEASE LOOK UP THE MANUAL FOR DETAILS

mudjo

#80

mudjo said:

I thought that Ghostbusters calls itself 'grate' and not 'great'.

DarkEdi

#83

DarkEdi said:

All Neo Geo games (includes the VC) have wrong english and spanish text. It is more common in the fighting games.

atariman

#84

atariman said:

@WaxxyOne
I understand that you love this game but it keeps on replaying everything, almost every boss is the same, the music is the same, The only cool thing about the game is you can be toad, peach, luigi, and mario (Originail charicter) if it wasn't for that option, it would of been a 1/10. :(

kurtasbestos

#88

kurtasbestos said:

These kinds of errors seem a lot less interesting and a lot more forgivable now that here in the futuristic age of the Internet, very few people seem to care about using correct spelling or grammar.

Anyway... my personal favorite game typoe, though, is an obscure old Genesis/Mega Drive game called "Traysia", where a character named Floyd that travels with your party for a while before becoming a major villian for the rest of the game is named "Froid" in the final battle. Oops.

ThomasBW84Admin

#89

ThomasBW84 said:

@UnseatingKDawg As TBD has said, defence with a c is correct in the UK, and this site's house style is to use British English. So no, it's not a typo or error, I triple-checked before it went live :)

Bass_X0

#91

Bass_X0 said:

Defence looks better written (or typed) down than 'defense'. Defense looks like a bad typo to me.

UnseatingKDawg

#92

UnseatingKDawg said:

@theblackdragon and ThomasBW84: Thanks for pointing that out. I did know that this is a UK based site, but I never saw that type of spelling. I know the UK uses the "U" in words like favorite or color, but I didn't know about defense being spelled different. I'll be sure to keep it in mind.

MeloMan

#93

MeloMan said:

What's so funny is, When I first got my NES in '88 for Christmas, Ghostbusters was all I could imagine wanting as I've always been a rabid fan. It took me until some time in the '90s to get around to actually beating it's horrendously difficult ending (in other words, "getting" to the ending), but when I saw this I'd like to have DIED at the engrish I saw. Thank you NL for making my day by posting that... I was indeed one of the poor souls who saw this :D

Next up, Double Dragon 3... I owned this game, and either I forgot, or I just plain missed the Bimmy and Jimmy reference.

I was also one of the poor souls that beat Ghost and Goblins and died of laughter of that engrish too (lol x 20)

I didn't even catch the SM64 blunder before. And to keep it short, I remember all the rest of these on this page.

I know I remember losing enough to Arcade Rygar and getting asked "Can you accept further challenge?"

MeloMan

#94

MeloMan said:

I got another of my favs...

Mega Man X: "X, why you done this to us?!"

I was ALL on the floor with that one :D

Token_Girl

#96

Token_Girl said:

Very funny! I hope this becomes a series! I had never even noticed the Mario 64 one. I must have just been so excited to have completed the game that I didn't notice!

MarvelMon22

#97

MarvelMon22 said:

sigma in mega man X6... lol that was a terrible one. unfortunately, i can't seem to get a pic up. can anyone find it? :D

Scary_Old_Lady

#98

Scary_Old_Lady said:

@JuLeDoS Then if it uses uk dates why does mine think there 27 months now?
No really it says 8/27/12. It looks really odd. I wonder what the 27th month is callled...

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