Why Nintendo’s translations have me concerned

Before I say anything else, I have a confession to make: for around a month after Yo-Kai Watch was announced for the west, I constantly wanted to correct people whenever I saw it typed. “It’s youkai, or even yōkai” “What’s wrong with you people?” It’s a good thing that I didn’t because upon further inspection, the game actually spells it yo-kai.
Fast forward a couple months: Nintendo announces that there will be a 2DS bundle packaged with Yo-Kai Watch. I pondered this for a second, “why specifically package it with the 2DS?” Then it came to me; the 2DS is more targeted at smaller children due to it’s more solid hinge-free design and reduced cost. This same concept was likely the driving force behind the game’s translated name; appealing to younger players by giving them a simpler way to pronounce the title. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a nitpick on my end, and as such, I let it go.

That brings us to our main course. On October 23, The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes was released, offering fresh multiplayer puzzle-solving action. The game was generally well-received, but has recently caught flak for a bizarre choice in the American translation: a reference to a popular meme from a couple years back called Doge as shown in this now infamous image.

The outcry has been pretty widespread across social media, with responses detailing disappointment to outright swear-filled rants. Though these reactions are a bit extreme, they have a bit of truth to them; Nintendo games have always been friendly to all players and have been more or less timeless where this single bit of dialog seems to cater to internet-savvy teens and is already dated by over a year.

Ultimately, though these are independent and isolated incidents, I have never been more conscious of translation and the implications therein; and by the same token, though these two successive incidents don’t constitute a  pattern, they both have a sort of bias towards younger audiences. Hopefully, this isn’t indicative of a shift from Nintendo’s classic “fun for all ages” angle, even in specific instances, or for a bid at internet pandering for that matter.

About The Author

Adriel Rangel

Adriel has been an avid lover of games and anime for near all his life. Hailing from Chicago where he is currently pursuing a degree in game design, he greatly prides himself on using both his gained knowledge from his schooling as well as his life-long experience as a gamer to analyze and express his love for games. As far as Anime goes, he likes all sorts, but loves dramatic action; his favorites being Fist of The North Star and JoJo's Bizarre adventure. Fun Fact: Adriel's favorite genres of games are Fighting games and Shooters, but his love for his reckless playstyle keep him from achieving greatness.