Legends of Localization: The Legend of Zelda
August 11, 2012 6:35 PM   Subscribe

Legends of Localization: The Legend of Zelda is a comparison of the Japanese and American versions of The Legend of Zelda. It highlights differences in music and SFX, why the intro story is in English in both versions and why Pols Voice supposedly hated loud noises, what some of those cryptic hints originally said and how Testitart became Manhandla.

It was written by Tomato (Clyde Mandelin), a professional anime and game translator whose fan translation of Mother 3 showed up on the blue in 2008.

Previous Legends of Localization: Earthbound, Super Mario Brothers. Next up: Final Fantasy IV/II.
posted by shirobara (10 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Ooh. Excited to delve into this.

I used to do localization editing for manga (Japanese>English and my own translations of German>English). I got the job in a flukey fashion and really grew to appreciate the challenges of good localization. A literal translation might be technically correct, but context and audience make a huge difference. In the absence of a translator with actual cross-cultural fluency, it can be a daunting task indeed. I imagine/hope the translation and localization budget at Nintendo is quite a bit more substantial than that of cash-strapped manga publishers (many of which no longer exist).
posted by mynameisluka at 7:06 PM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

The really tough knight enemies found in some of the dungeons are called “Darknuts” in the NES localization.

I’m not sure why the name was changed, but I do like the NES version better. It makes them sound more menacing.
Um... I can guess. And... more menacing? Darknuts? Really?

(This is great, thanks. Can't wait for the FF IV/II edition)
posted by restless_nomad at 8:02 PM on August 11, 2012

It's worth noting: the Animal Crossing version of NES Zelda was never released to the public. The code and ROM is in the data, but Nintendo never made available a way of obtaining them.

The "10th enemy has the bomb" hint may refer to a quirk of Zelda's enemy item drop system. the game counts the number of enemies you kill without taking damage, and when an enemy is killed it looks up in a table based on that number and enemy type, then selects one of a few items possibly to drop from that slot. The table wraps around every ten kills, and for some enemies the table for the 10th kill contains a bomb.
posted by JHarris at 10:40 PM on August 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

And 'easternmost peninsula' refers to the location of the end of the dungeon (as learned from this article, previously).
posted by Gordafarin at 6:31 AM on August 12, 2012

Wow, this is the same guy who did Mother 3! I had no idea. Awesome!
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 6:53 AM on August 12, 2012

Zelda set the bar high. Goes to show that a good concept can outlast primitive programming.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane. Music works on the little nodes hooked directly into my reptile nodes, takes me back to the 80's.

...oooh...ahh. But Disco....oh no! Not Disco again!!!
posted by mule98J at 7:09 AM on August 12, 2012

Can't wait for the FF IV/II edition

Man, me neither, you spoony bard!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:17 AM on August 12, 2012

Tomato's work with Bahamut Lagoon deserves a mention too.
posted by ersatz at 11:16 AM on August 12, 2012

Oh, I had no idea this was the same guy who did Bahamut Lagoon - bless him for working on that; what a brilliant game.
posted by Gordafarin at 2:21 PM on August 12, 2012

He also translated the Western and Near Future chapters of Live A Live, which is a fantastic RPG; Gideon Zhi updated the initial hacking job beautifully, with new fonts for each chapter. If you're a fan of the old Square games I highly recommend you check it out, and I only regret I don't have enough time at the moment to replay it now that I've been reminded of it.

And already the first part of the FFIV localization comparison is up! Love the chart showing Japanese words that got simplified for easytype. I don't believe Woolsey had anything to do with FFII, but I would love to see Secret of Mana give this treatment, especially considering the ridiculous amount of time he was given to translate it.
posted by shirobara at 10:00 PM on August 12, 2012

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