So there I am reading ハイスコアガール (High Score Girl), the romantic comedy story of a video gamer (Haruo) in the early 1990s with the main theme of the story being Street Fighter 2.
I am more of a nostalgic gamer (I don’t really get the chance to play many new games), but love reminiscing about the games I grew up with. So I knew the original arcade game Street Fighter 2 quite well. That is until one scene in the manga displaying the amazing skill of Haruo’s rival, a 12 year old girl who is a Street Fighter 2 prodigy. She get’s all the way up to Vega on one 50-yen coin, only using the jab punch button with Dhalsim.
Wait, Vega? If they were going to show how awesome she is, why would they stop at Vega? It would’ve made a bigger impact if she made it till the final boss M.Bison. But then I turn the page, and there is M. Bison, except his name is Vega.
Have my important childhood memories been clouded somehow? Did I mistake the last boss name of one of my favorite video games of all time? Let me look up the Japanese version of the game.
Then, that only leaves one name left . . .
All the names are shuffled. Why change the names of the bosses in translation? Two reasons apparently:
1. Vega sounded non-threatening.
2. M. Bison stood for Mike Bison. Quickly, look up at the picture above of the Japanese M. Bison.
Who might this be . . . 1990s . . . What rhymes with Bison?
As what I’m sure was to avoid any wrath by Mike Tyson and his manager, the name shuffle was enacted.
While I’m sure you are fully aware of the concept of video game localization (translating a game and adjusting the language to the culture of the market that it is being sold in), I couldn’t think of a more relevant series topic for JALUP.
Learning Japanese + Video Games + Making Fun Of Translations = Win?
Changing names isn’t that sinful I suppose. Though I don’t like to think about Mike Tyson while I’m recalling my childhood.
But Ryu, who I didn’t find out until I studied Japanese isn’t pronounced Rye-you, had a mystery line translated that also left gamers confused.
And since there was no character or reference in the game to Sheng Long besides this, this must’ve be a secret character that gamers should spend months/years trying to unlock?
Except this was the original:
しょうりゅうけん を やぶらなぬかぎり おまえ に かちめ は ない
Or to add some kanji to that to not look so unreadable:
(Using the translation’s original wording): You must defeat my Shouryuken to stand a chance.
昇龍拳 (Shouryuken) was Ryu’s signature move, the rising dragon punch.
So the error was simple. Someone translated 昇龍拳 as Sheng Long.
Now there isn’t much text in an arcade fighting game from the 1990s. Besides the inbetween fight message screens, the only place you would really find much text was in the character profiles. But looking at the Western version of the game, the profiles were fairly simple.
Information that no player would ever care about. But then I got a chance to see the Japanese version.
Half the profile is cut off in the Western version. The Japanese version tries to be funny and add a little back story behind the characters including things like “Likes,” Dislikes,” and something extra about the character.
Dislikes: Natto that I was forced to eat by Ryu while in Japan.
And how about one more.
Likes: Baths, Chanko nabe (large Japanese stew often eaten by Sumo wrestlers to add/keep weight), and Tiramisu.
Note, this is funny because there is a bit of a stigma attached to Japanese men who eat sweets (more so 20 years ago then now).
✩Japanese Sumo Wrestler.
Literally the above translates to “Japanese Sumo Wrestler,” but it is not the real Japanese word for Japanese Sumo Wrestler which is usually 力士 (Rikishi). Why the change? Because it looks stylish maybe?
Any other Street Fighter 2 localization or translation issues that surprised you when you found out?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.