Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars was a grand departure from the Mario template when it launched back on Super Nintendo in 1996. Nowadays there's nary a genre the precocious plumber hasn't dipped his toe into, but his first foray with role-playing turned out to be a classic that still stands up today, filled with odd yet loveable characters and hilarious, if surreal, dialogue.
It seems that much of the absurdity may come from the translation. Recently Legends of Localization ran a fascinating article detailing many of these differences in a specific part of the game. For those who skipped this classic (sacrilege!), one of the characters is a spellcaster named Mallow who has the ability to read enemy's minds. When he does this, a quote pops up with a bespoke line of dialogue.
There are many of these and, in truth, they're a little scattershot - sometimes the line provides a clue to the monster's weakness, but more often it's some entertaining nonsense. It seems that the original Japanese dialogue contained many pop culture references which were altered or removed completely in the translation to English.
For example, in the original Japanese an enemy called Pulsar states "Hit me and you will be punished when I go up in smoke!", a veiled reference a Sailor Moon catchphrase “In the name of the Moon, you will be punished!”
In English, we get the accurate (and useless) "I'm a mini-pulsar." Quite.
Elsewhere, Buzzer's dialogue in Japanese references a famous line from the manga series-turned-anime Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, with some clever wordplay referencing the 'beat' of the enemy's Japanese name (Hachi Bīto). The English translation goes for a Madonna reference - something western players were far more likely to pick up on.
These changes are understandable - especially in the mid-nineties when limited internet access meant the world was a lot smaller and pop culture in all countries tended to stay closer to home. Still, it's fascinating to look back and see the alterations made when bringing the game to the west.
The article details dozens of changes, and this is only the dialogue found when using Mallow's "Whatcya Thinking?" ability. The game is chock full of text, so more information will undoubtedly be revealed in the future. Head over to Legends of Localization for the full article - it's well worth a read.
How many of the references would you pick up on today if they'd been translated more literally back in the day? Let us know below...