Video game translation is a vital part of the wider video game localization process. Ever since the first video games were published, developers have had to translate their games to sell them to a wider audience. Sometimes, developers do not follow the best practices and their mistakes in translation become legendary. The following are some of the most iconic video game translation fails.
“Pro Wrestling” was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1986. The game was relatively popular when it was released. However, the main reason this game is still remembered today is its gaming translation failure. Upon winning, the player is shown a victory screen with the words “a winner is you”. This phrase has become a meme in the gaming community on the internet, with players congratulating each other with the mistranslated phrase.
This 1993 fighting game developed by the Japanese developer SNK contains some of the most egregious bad video game translations. The most likely explanation for this failure is a lack of localization services QA done before the release of the game. Regardless, Fatal Fury Special’s bad gaming translation has gone down in history as one of the most memorable. Some highlights from this game are, “what a tough, I think I used about 61.5% of my strength”, “your fists of evil are about to meet my steel wall of niceness”, and “Blood is thick, but syrup’s thicker. Think about it”.
In 1984, an NES version of the Ghostbusters game was created by Japanese developer Bits Laboratory. The game was mired with many issues, but perhaps the most glaring was its strikingly bad video game translation. Upon completing the game, the player was presented with these words, all in capitals: “conglaturation!!! You have completed a great game and proved the justice of our culture. Now go and rest our heroes !”. Only a total failure of the video game translation and localization QA teams could have produced such a shockingly awful translation. By using the professional translation services that a video game localization company provides, developers can avoid such grotesque mistakes.
Zero Wing, released in the early ‘90s, contains some of the most famous examples of bad video game translation. Like the other examples on this list, developer Toaplan’s video game localization team and its localization QA team must have not been working up to standards. The best known bad translation is “all your base are belong to us”. This phrase has become a popular internet meme. A few others are “we get signal”, and “somebody set us up the bomb”. Had they employed a professional gaming translation company, perhaps they wouldn’t have had such serious mistranslation errors.
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