Saturday, January 2, 2016


Here are some comments on the translation of the NES/Famicom game Faxanadu.

1. Localization Changes

—Religious references:
priest → Guru

church → Guru (Guru's House in the manual)

prayer → mantra

god/spirit of the spring → old man of the spring
Pope of Dwarves  → The Evil One

魔界丘 (makaikyū: "world of evil spirits" i.e. hell + hill)
"Infernal Knoll"

the underworld / evil place
This word appears two times in the game. In the beginning of the game it is translated as "the underworld", near the end as "the evil place". In the English manual it is called "The Evil Place" and depicted as a huge cliff. Why would anyone call that a hill? Don't ask me. Also, had the elves always called that an evil/infernal place, even before the dwarves went crazy? Sounds kind of racist.
Apparently the meteorite is enshrined in the Tower of Suffer.
You will find the tower above the church.

The meteorite is meditated on at the tower of Suffer.
You'll find the Tower above a Guru.
The dwarves worship a piece of the meteorite as if it were a god

The Dwarfs are chanting their mantras to a segment of the meteorite

The dwarves hailed the meteorite as a messenger of God

The Dwarfs regard the meteorite as a cosmic messenger

—Place names:

Fortriss → Fortress

Forehaw → Forepaw

Daydrake → Daybreak


エオリス → Eolis / Eolith

ゼニス → Zenis / Zenith

ス (su) is the closest thing phonetically Japanese has to th (the voiceless θ) which is still pretty far away and is a good source of confusion. Players of Final Fantasy 7 should be familiar with this fact.

—Miscellaneous changes:
ducats → Golds

oil → ointment

Ginji the pickpocket → the pickpocket Gingi (changed to sound less like a Japanese name?).
A reference to the actual person Shitateya Ginji, a ringleader of pickpockets in the Meiji era. Also, スリの銀次 (suri no ginji) is a character that appears in the game Momotarō Dentetsu (released after Faxanadu).

 2. Omissions


城壁のそとをグルッとまわりやっといりぐちを  みつけた..
Following the town wall I finally found a way in...

A complete line has been left out.


ここはエルフの都  エオリス
This is the capital of the elves, Eolis

This is the Elf town of Eolis

Later in the game there is a character who refers to the town as the capital.


A shield will protect you from dwarven projectiles

[The shield]'ll protect you from Dwarf attacks


Open the door to the shack below with this key

Use this key to open the door below

It looks like I am lost.
My spells Hien and Mankintan have no effect.

I'm lost.
My magic does not work.

This is a reference to the Famicom game Momotarō Densetsu. Hien (flying swallow) let's you teleport into a town you have visited. Mankintan (name of a medicine) is a healing spell. It's pretty obvious that this should be omitted as no one would have gotten the reference.

Offensive magic is effective, but it consumes a lot of energy.

Magic of offence is effective, but it consumes power.

—Castle of Fraternal:

ドラゴン スレイヤーをキンググリーブよりてにいれた
I obtained the Dragon Slayer from King Grieve.

I've got the Dragon Slayer. 

3. Errors

bottle of poison → jar of poison

Although ビン (bin) could be translated either way, the graphics look more like a bottle than a jar.


Fly into the blue sky.
You should find the Sky Spring.

Go below the blue sky.
You'll find a fountain in the sky.

For some reason the translator has missed the word fly. Also, the spring is called a fountain. Graphically they do all look like fountains though.

Earth Spring

the first spring / the first fountain

The translator has confused the word だいち (daichi, earth) with the word だいいち (dai'ichi, first). In a second line he again calls the spring a fountain.

Tree Spring (or Spring of Wood)

spring of Trunk
A strange change, considering that there is a Tower of Trunk in the game and it is not the tower in which this spring is located.
It looks like the poison is almost gone.
This should be a good time to restore the spring back to normal. (Literally: "should be a good time to restore")

The posion is almost gone so it's all right to wake him up.

The translator has mistaken the god of the spring talking about restoring the spring as the player character talking about waking him up.

There is also a shop outside the town.
It is in an inconvenient place but sells useful things.
I wonder if you can find it.

There are stores outside town.
They sell useful items, though it's inconvenient to get there.
I wonder if you could find them.

Japanese does not have a universal plural form so this kind of mistake is entirely understandable. The NPC is talking about a unique hidden shop though.
Which leads us to...

Dwarves have occupied abandoned houses outside towns.
Never let your guard down.

The house outside town was abandoned and the Dwarfs are living there.
Watch out for them.

Using plural here makes a lot more sense, since there are more than one of such houses.


鎧とヘルメットを てにいれたなら神父様のところへ  おいきなさい
When you have the armor and the helmet, go see the priest.

When you get the shield and helmet, go to see the Guru. 

This is an interesting one. The translator has simply been careless, because in the text of the game, a few lines above this one you will find:
The legendary shield and helmet are somewhere in the world of branches.

You'll find the legendary shield and helmet in the World of Branch.

Here the Japanese script itself contains an error since the helmet works as the best shield in the game.


You will find friends even in Dartmoor, the place they call the Infernal Knoll.

I have friends in Dartmoor which is known as an evil place.

Not such a huge mistake, since in Japanese a subject is not required to make a grammatical sentence and therefore it is often omitted.

4. Conclusion

Even with its typos and errors and occasional awkwardness, I do not think that the translation overall is that bad. In any case, it could be a lot worse.