Remember that scene, in Pulp Fiction, where Vincent (John Travolta) tries to justify his haircut to Jules (Samuel L. Jackson), by explaining the thing about drugs, Europe, and cultural differences? He explains how the French call the Big Mac “Le Big Mac”, and squirt mayonnaise, which is great but too bad he isn’t a gamer because he omits some of the most interesting “little differences”:
Lost in Translation
By now, one could put together a decently lethal-sized book of video game terms that have become household. Everyone has heard of Resident Evil, even if they cannot explain what the fuck it means, and could probably identify Megaman and Left 4 Dead as video game titles. Those words are the world of gaming, for us. It’s crazy to think that there are developed, gaming parts of the world, where they do not exist.
You might already know that Resident Evil is actually Biohazard, in some countries (including the one that produced it), EarthBound is actually Mother, and Megaman is Rockman, but did you know that the recently released Left 4 Dead DLC, titled Cold Stream, is Left 4 Dead: The Cold of Fear, in Russia? I guess it makes sense because every stream in Russia is probably cold so ‘Cold Stream’ to them must be as unremarkable as ‘Crunchy Doritos’ or ‘Smelly Dogshit’.
Now that’s scary.
But some of such translations I cannot explain, like how the fuck Turok 2: Seeds of Evil became Violence Killer in Japan. That title is so absurd, not only does it make no sense in the context of the game, it even manages to contradict itself, in just two words. Could they simply be fucking with us? I mean, they also re-titled Crackdown to mean the exact fucking opposite over there: Riot Act. And you will never guess what the Japanese title of Bionic Commando is. It… is.. The Resurrection of Hitler: Top Secret! I shit you not and if you guessed that correctly, without knowing, contact me with the next lottery numbers ASAP.
Well, at least, they keep it crazy; UK, on the other hand, just goes for the boring milding things up. They have Canis Canem Edit for Rockstar’s Bully, Project Zero for Fatal Frame, and instead of adapting the two of the most epic video game titles ever–Death Sword and Axe of Rage–they kept the Barbarian series, well, the “Barbarian series”. To be fair though, they more than made up for that with this cover:
Hey, remember the NES days? Remember how everyone was obsessed with that crazy, futuristic contraption, called “Nintendo” that had not one, not two, but eight fucking bits in it… or on it? Remember fucking craving that shit? Well, if you do, you are more unique than you think. See, back in the day, Nintendo didn’t really give a shit about a good chunk of the world or its’ money. Not only did they almost completely ignore the hundreds of NES clones that burst out of China like chow mein diarrhea, they didn’t even bother selling their own system in a lot of those bit-hungry markets.
So, instead of a Nintendo, in South Africa, they had something ironically titled “Reggie’s Entertainment System” (prophetically trolling Nintendo President, Reggie Fils-Aime). And in India, and some parts of Eastern Europe, they had… get fucking ready… the Terminator!
Sadly, no Austrian accent. Yet.
From Asia to South America, kids had another name for the thing one inserts his Mario into. And don’t think that these were just some covert, counterfeit units, sold in Subway stations in between Cuggi bags and Abibas shoes. They were sold in actual game stores, had their TV commercials (with celebrities), and some were as big as NES in US and Japan! The Russian clone, Dendy, sold millions of units, had its’ own TV show, and a long-running gaming magazine.
Kids in those countries didn’t even hear the word “Nintendo” spoken out loud because the clones took care not to ever mention that word for various legal reasons, just in case. It was all about “Dendy” and the like, instead. Think about that for a second. That’s like finding out that in some major parts of the world, they had a cartoon elephant as a mascot for the whole thing, instead of Mario. They totally did:
We have all heard of a game, usually a Rockstar game, getting into some shit over its’ content. US media sure loves to freak the fuck out over it, like it’s the disappearance of their last crumb of crack, but they will usually only fume for a day or two, before moving on to their next piece of bullshit. In some other countries, they actually mean that shit and get games banned. And I know that you probably expect me to list a bunch of ‘Postals’ and ‘Grand Theft Autos’ but you’ll be surprised what some folks around the world qualify as “fucked up”.
When Sweden bans a game titled “Dead or Alive: Dimensions” (which they did), it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the reason (well, you should also probably know what a game like Dead or Alive would refer to with the word “dimensions”). But, say, you happen to be in Brazil and you are a huge fucking die-hard fan of the Cat in the Hat… (weirder things have happened). You’ll be horrified to learn that that game is banned there.
Though, can you blame them?
How about Pokemon? You like? Well, Saudi Arabia banned Pokemon because it promotes gambling (and maybe they do have a point). Moving on. ‘EA Sports MMA’, a sports game, was banned in Denmark because it advertises sugary drinks (not because it also advertises people getting punched in the face). But that’s probably not as strange as a country banning something as seemingly harmless as Football Manager 2005. Really, can you think of anything more harmless? Not only is it a sports game, it’s a fucking soccer game, and one where you don’t even fucking play soccer but stay off the grass and manage instead. That one made the mistake, in China’s eyes, of calling Tibet a country. It’s not the only game they banned because of that (Hearts of Iron was banned for similar reasons). They also banned Command & Conquer: Generals for “smearing the image of China and the Chinese army.” How?