Image: Nintendo

As British film critic Mark Kermode often says, we should never make fun of people for mispronouncing words because — more often than not — it means they learned it through reading. This holds true whether they were found in a book or a video game, and many of us as kids gleaned new vocabulary from instruction manuals or the TV screen itself.

Voice acting these days tends to do away with confusion, but back in the day you generally had to read names off the packaging or in text boxes; reading and saying are two very different things, though, especially in the English language. It’s the fault of video games that this writer’s childhood pronunciation of ‘chaos’ more closely resembled the word ‘trousers’ for years thanks to collecting emeralds as a blue hedgehog and reading the word on the Special Stage screen.

Below we’ve collected together a bunch of video game vocabulary that commonly splits opinion for one reason or another. Some come from confusion over foreign names, others from regional variations, accents, abbreviations and more. Under each one you’ll find a poll – feel free to cast your vote and we’ll see what the Nintendo Life community consensus is on the pronunciation of these words. They've all become common parlance in the realm of video games, but we can’t quite agree on them.

Non Issue
Image: Nintendo Life

An important note before we begin:

Most differences are simply regional. 'Mario', for instance, can be said with an elongated ahh in the first syllable, like Peach does, but could equally be pronounced murry-oh or marry-oh – they’re all just variants according to the accent of the speaker.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that usage dictates acceptability and there’s no inherently ‘correct’ way to say most of the examples below. Language is a malleable, uncontrollable thing not governed by rules in textbooks – dictionaries document, they don't dictate. Even the intentions of the person who coined a particular word or phrase are immaterial once language has gobbled it up – just ask the man who invented the .gif!

Even things that sound nonsensical and ungrammatical to some people (British ears will likely bristle on hearing ‘I could care less!’ to demonstrate a total lack of interest, for example) become legitimate alternatives over time, no matter how hard you might fight it. Any living language is constantly in flux, and those who insist on clinging unyieldingly to grammatical rules or ‘correct’ pronunciation will only stress themselves out!

Okay, let's have some fun!


Image: Nintendo Life

This seems to depend on which side of the Atlantic you reside, with North Americans tending towards sness and UK gamers preferring snezz. Alternatively, some people say every single letter separately - you’re wasting valuable time, people! Think of all the extra hot takes you could squeeze into you gaming conversation by knocking off three syllables.

How do you say 'NES'? (1,351 votes)

  1. "ness"29%
  2. "nezz"16%
  3. "enn-eee-ess"55%
  4. Other1%

Please login to vote in this poll.


Image: The Pokémon Company

The accent over the ‘e’ tends to trip people up with the ‘Pocket Monster’ portmanteau. In some languages it indicates a specific pronunciation of the vowel sound, whereas in others it denotes word stress. We tend to be Poker-mon people, but Poke-y-mon and Pockee-mon seem fairly popular depending on your region, with some people stressing the second syllable. The risqué-sounding po-Kay-mon is probably the closest to the Japanese pronunciation and sounds like an hors d'oeuvre if you say it slowly. “Be a fine chap and pass me a Pokémon, would you?”

How do you say 'Pokémon'? (1,316 votes)

  1. "Poker-mon"13%
  2. "Poke-y-mon"35%
  3. "Pockee-mon"13%
  4. "po-Kay-mon"33%
  5. Other7%

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Image: Tecmo

This one stems from many a kid’s unfamiliarity with Japanese back in the day. Probably most famous thanks to Ninja Gaiden, although Zelda fans scouring mags for information on Majora’s Mask probably read about Zelda Gaiden, too, it translates as ‘supplementary’ or ‘side story’ which explains its use for numerous video game sequels and spin-offs. The Japanese pronunciation is more like guy-Den when spoken at speed, but most westerners have been saying Gay-den for years, much to the chagrin of the orange jumpsuit man in The Wizard.

How do you say 'Gaiden'? (1,308 votes)

  1. "guy-Den"69%
  2. "Gay-den"30%
  3. Other1%

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Image: Capcom

Whether you’re referring to the Street Fighter, Ninja Gaiden star Mr. Hayabusa or the forklift driving kid from Shenmue (actually, he's Ryo, but it's close!), chances are if you're reading this you started off saying his name wrong. Rye-oo seemed natural at the time and it can be tough to shake something you internalise in your formative years, even if you know it’s closer to ree-Oo. Check out Clyde Mandelin's Legend of Localization post for an in-depth look at the correct Japanese pronunciation.

Poor old Ryu. Ken doesn’t have to put up with this crap! Mind you, some of us had trouble with Guile and Dhalsim, too.

How do you say 'Ryu'? (1,291 votes)

  1. "Rye-oo"29%
  2. "ree-Oo"66%
  3. Other4%

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Image: Nintendo

Yoshi’s your bro, see? That is unless you rhyme the green dinosaur’s name with ‘bossy’. Personally, we like to keep things formal and use his full title of 'T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas Esq.' to avoid embarrassment. As you can tell, people love getting stuck with us at parties.

How do you say 'Yoshi'? (1,316 votes)

  1. "Yo-shee"74%
  2. "Yosh-ee"25%
  3. Other  0%

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(Mario) Bros.

Image: Nintendo Life

Unless you’re trying to be difficult, there are three options here: bross, as in the brother-band responsible for the 1988 hit single When Will I Be Famous; broze, as in one dude-bro, two dude-bros; or simply the word ‘brothers’. The really interesting thing is if you say it differently when you substitute ‘Mario’ for ‘Smash’…

How do you say (Mario) 'Bros.'? (1,321 votes)

  1. "bross"20%
  2. "broze"48%
  3. "brothers"32%
  4. Other1%

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Image: Nintendo

For such a simple word, there’s an awful lot of possible variations with this one. You might say it ­Mee-lay, or possibly muh-Lay. Alternatively, May-lay is popular. That should be the end of it, although you might hear mee-lee (rhymes with ‘wheelie’) or melly (rhymes with ‘smelly’). We know we said there were no ‘wrong’ answers at the top of the page. We lied. Please don’t say Smash Bros. Melly.

How do you say 'Melee'? (1,293 votes)

  1. "Mee-lay"7%
  2. "muh-Lay"3%
  3. "May-lay"61%
  4. "mee-lee"18%
  5. "melly"6%
  6. Other6%

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Image: Nintendo Life

Hold up, how is this 'Nintendo-related'? Well, with Switch becoming something of a shmup fan's paradise, we couldn't very well leave this old chestnut out, could we? Shooter fans will be tired of clarifying this one (along with 'Darius', we're sure). Sometimes capitalised, 'tate' is essentially Japanese for ‘vertical’ and arguably pronounced tah-tay, but most English speakers would assume it rhymes with ‘hate’. This is one of those examples where even though we know the 'proper' pronunciation, saying it correctly would get us a ribbing from our mates down the pub. "Oh, shall we visit the Tah-tay gallery later?!". Perhaps we need a better class of acquaintance.

How do you say 'Tate'? (1,090 votes)

  1. "tah-tay"21%
  2. "tayte"76%
  3. Other3%

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And one more thing... Reggie Fils-Aimé!

One More Thing
Image: Nintendo

No need for a poll with this one, really - it's definitely 'Phil's Aim'. Seriously, though, we assume people butchering his surname was what led him to plain old 'Reggie'.

How do you say 'Reggie Fils-Aimé'? (1,237 votes)

  1. "fees-em-May"36%
  2. "feeza-Mee"11%
  3. "Phil's Aim"8%
  4. Reggie22%
  5. Reginald1%
  6. The Regginator17%
  7. Other4%

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There are many others, of course - fans of Ys spend more time telling non-fans how to say it than they do playing the game. Feel free to let us know the words that have caused you problems in the past (including 'hors d'oeuvre' , if you like). The beautiful thing about the written word is you don't have to say it!