This time of year tends to put me in a retro mood, so I finally played through Dragon Quest I for the first time. Here's a thread on its various official translations and how it's helpful to be familiar with Dragon Quest if you're in the business of translating Japanese media.
The first official English translation of Dragon Quest I was released in the US in 1989 under the title of Dragon Warrior due to copyright issues. It features archaic language, likely in an effort to make it sound similar to games like Ultima or Wizardry that came before it.
The names of people and places are also altered to theoretically sound more like something a native English speaker would have originally written. All in all, the quality of the writing is honestly impressive for a game translation of this era.
The next translation was released in 2000 for the Gameboy Color. This one uses more modern language and is very succinct, which is at least in part because of the tight space restrictions imposed by the tiny screen.
Some name changes get walked back while others are retained. See this interview for more information on why that is:…
It's also worth noting that the Japanese script was updated for the Super Famicom version of the game that never released in the US. All subsequent JP versions (GBC, mobile, etc.) use that script, as far as I can tell. Mostly the dialogue is expanded upon and there are more NPCs.
Finally, the latest translation was released for the Android/iOS version in 2014. This translation is also used for the Nintendo Switch port. It returns to the archaic style with even more flowery language than before, now that there is ample space for it.
I feel like the case of Dragon Quest I is particularly remarkable because its three official translations are all good quality, just centering different approaches and writing styles.
There's no one "right" way to go about translating a game. It's more about the impression you want to make and what audience you're trying to reach (and also restrictions imposed by hardware).
And speaking of reaching audiences, Dragon Quest certainly reached its audience in Japan. So much so that if you're a Japanese media translator, chances are you'll run across a Dragon Quest reference sooner or later.
For example, this line from Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town might actually be a sneaky DQ reference. I at least recognized it as a generic RPG shop line, which spurred us to make a reference of our own.
The Famicom version of DQ1 itself refers to one of Yuji Horii's previous games, frequently called "Portopia" in English. Portopia, in turn, gave birth to the spoilery Japanese meme 犯人はヤス ("The culprit is Yasu"), which also still gets referenced in games, like say, 7'sCarlet.
Not to mention games like Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which is basically just one big Dragon Quest reference.

(Feel free to sound off with any references you've come across in your work, too!)
Anyway, it never hurts to know your DQ! And to aid in the learning process, I have an excel file on my website with the Japanese scripts of DQ1 and its English translations side by side for easy perusal.

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More from @LizBushouse

30 Apr 20
Context errors have been popping up all over the place in my FF7 script comparison, so I wanted to take some time to explain WHY context is so important in translation and how the differences between Japanese and English gave rise to these errors.
I'll be mainly focusing on the troubles of translating from Japanese into English, but know that context is indispensable in every form of translation and different language pairs have their own unique stumbling blocks.
To start off, Japanese often leaves out the subject, assuming the reader/listener can fill in the blanks. So in order to properly translate it into English, which usually requires a subject to be stated, the translator needs enough context to be able to infer what's going on.
Read 29 tweets
22 Apr 20
With the recent release of #FF7R , I thought it would be a good opportunity to take an in-depth look at the original Midgar segment and its translations. For example, did you know that the revised PC translation (on all modern consoles) both fixes and muddles things further?
While it corrects typos and clarifies some lines, it also ends up being further off the mark than the original translation in other instances.

I'll be noting differences and other things that caught my eye, in the same vein as my Link's Awakening series.
For reference, I'm using the original PS1 English version, and the Nintendo Switch version for the Japanese and updated English text.

From what I can tell, all modern ports use the updated PC translation, and the Japanese text is the same across all versions.
Read 252 tweets
12 Nov 19
Link's Awakening Comparison: The End

When learning the Ballad of the Wind Fish from Marin on Switch, she says to never forget her (in both E and J) which is extra bittersweet if you wait to learn it until the end.
On GB/C, she just says to play it every once in a while so you don't forget it. If you talk to her again afterwards, she'll explain that it's a song of awakening and wonders if the Wind Fish will grant her wish if/when he awakes. (This line doesn't seem to appear on Switch.)
After opening up the Egg, the owl doesn't say "The time has come!" in Japanese, but roughly just "Hoot! The Wind Fish is waiting inside the egg." Also, the Japanese literally says to "enter the shell".
Read 25 tweets
11 Nov 19
Link's Awakening Comparison: Part 12

When reading the book about the color dungeon, the J lit. says "the power of color will rest on your clothes" while the E just vaguely refers to the power of color. E Switch also cleans up some of E GBC's fragmented text here.
The color dungeon is more accessible on Switch. You no longer have to answer what color the skeletons to get inside.
The dungeon is literally called the "Clothes Dungeon" in J.
The skeletons' names are punny in both languages. "Gar-Dion" in E and "Mon-Ban" (gatekeeper) in J. Also, "color guard" is a nice touch in E.
Read 24 tweets
7 Nov 19
Link's Awakening Comparison: Part 11

Papahl's text got edited slightly between GB/C and Switch to avoid repetition created by the icons.
Also, in J, he doesn't say anything about not intending the hibiscus to be a reward, just "Oh yeah, about your reward..." ImageImageImageImage
On Switch, he gets an extra line thanking Link. On GB/C he just repeats the "Delicious!" line. ImageImage
In Japanese, Write says that Christine sent him a bromide, a kind of celebrity photo meant to be collected by fans. On GB/C she signs her name on the photo, but on Switch it's just a hoof-print. ImageImageImageImage
Read 23 tweets
5 Nov 19
Link's Awakening Comparison: Part 10

Ulrira's hint was changed from "weathercock" on GB/C to "weathervane" on Switch. Likely to make it slightly more kid-friendly. Incidentally, the Japanese word for weathervane (kazamidori) is literally "wind-viewing chicken".
The rabbit still wonders if the flying rooster is real, even when it’s right behind you. In fact, by this point there's hardly any new dialogue. Everyone seems to sort of freeze after you discover the island's secret, which seems like an intentional choice.
In J, the owl's "kewashii" has a double meaning of "steep/precipitous" and "grim/severe". There's also an extra line towards the end saying roughly "Everything is riding on you."
Read 25 tweets

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