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Who wants to play Guess That Machine-Translated Game Title?

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
As you probably know, I have a mild-to-moderate addiction to Chinese-made retro emulator handheld devices. A recent addition to my collection is the Powkiddy X2, a device that closely resembles a Nintendo Switch, with a 7” screen and non-removable joycon-style controls. However, what it plays are pre-2000 game systems via Retroarch and a custom UI (that, in the grand scheme of emulator handheld UIs, is decent but not spectacular).

But when you buy a retro handheld from AliExpress, the games that come packed in are often…interesting. Knockoff games, romhacks, international versions; it runs the gamut. In this case, I’m not entirely sure what I’ve got, because it looks like all of the titles were machine-translated.

If I start in the Game Boy Advance section, can you guess what these games are going to be?

The first few are obvious:
  1. Pokemon red
  2. Pokemon green leaf
  3. Pokemon Dungeon
These are Pokemon FireRed, Pokemon LeafGreen, and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team. Pretty simple, right?

4. Pokemon​

This is actually a second copy of FireRed.

5. Star kabi​
6. Star kabi dream spring​

And these are both Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland.

7. Mirror Maze​

While this this Kirby and the Amazing Mirror.

Seems straightforward enough, right? So, let’s see if anyone can guess these (#8-20 on my GBA game list):
  • Dragon Warrior
  • Broken Sword – Templar
  • Iron fist a
  • Castlevania
  • Chamion EX1
  • Demon city – white night
  • Boxer ex2: roaring blood
  • Castlevania
  • Magic ring
  • Gem Square
  • Super Street Fighter 2x: rec
  • Ancient confused wolf XS
  • Super box Warrior 2

I’ll put the answers in my next post (in a spoilerpop, for people who are late to the party). Who can solve this mystery?
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
(Okay, okay, I'll put the answers in now)

Those are, in order: Breath of Fire, Broken Sword, Tekken Advance, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, King of Fighters EX NeoBlood, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, King of Fighters EX2: Howling Blood, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (but the title screen just says “Castlevania”), Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring, Columns Crown, Street Fight II Turbo Revival, Crash Bandicoot XS, and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo.

So, should I post more?
 
My Mandarin is not great so I'd love to be corrected if anyone knows better, but I think that's caused by taking the compound "古惑" (=sly/crafty) from the title "古惑狼" and instead translating its component parts instead of holistically. In Japanese this 古惑 is typically 蠱惑, so part of the problem is the machine struggling to interpret the simplified Mandarin characters, where ancient/old 古 looks the same as 蠱 (to fool/trick/lead astray).
 
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This one intrigues me since the word order has changed. Is shape generally listed after a noun in Chinese, or is it just rearranged for no apparent reason?

What appears to be happening is that what's being translated here isn't the title "Columns Crown," but just the general name of the Columns franchise in general.

The Columns franchise is 宝石方块, gem (宝石) blocks (方块). Without context, machine translations struggle to parse singular and plural in languages like Chinese and Japanese that don't require them to be explicit, and they don't understand it's a block stacking game with multiple blocks, so "blocks" became "square."

Here we get into speculation because again my Mandarin isn't great and I don't know the history so please anyone correct me if you know better, but my guess is that the it was named that way to suggest a Tetris-like puzzle game, because Tetris is 俄罗斯方块, or Russian (俄罗斯) blocks (方块).
 
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Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
Estragon is likely to be the reason this thread is cool. How about another list of GBA games, then?

  • Ranch story: ore town
  • Double interceptor
  • Mario and the flower fairy
  • Reincarnation of demon city
  • Demon City – Xiaoyue Waltz
  • Longzhu Z
  • Legend of Zelda:Shrink cap
  • Detonation bit
  • Locke zero 1
  • Live football
  • Super Street bully box
  • Super Street overlord 2
  • Mario King Kong
  • Stone Paradise – big trouble
  • Phalanx executive fighter
  • Juvenile Jump: Pirate King
(I left off “Super Mario Forward” and all the sequels. Actually, I left off lots of correctly or nearly-correctly translated names. This goes through #70 of the 273 GBA games listed on this device.)


And the translations:
  • Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town
  • Double Dragon Advance
  • (This was a fakeout because it was a duplicate rom--I wonder what it was supposed to be?) Double Dragon Advance
  • Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
  • Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
  • Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
  • Drill Dozer
  • Megaman Zero
  • World Soccer Winning Eleven
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
  • Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo Revival
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong
  • The Fintstones: Big Trouble in Bedrock
  • Phalanx The Enforce Fighter A-144
  • Shonen Jump’s One Piece
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
What appears to be happening is that what's being translated here isn't the title "Columns Crown," but just the general name of the Columns franchise in general.

The Columns franchise is 宝石方块, gem (宝石) blocks (方块). Without context, machine translations struggle to parse singular and plural in languages like Chinese and Japanese that don't require them to be explicit, and they don't understand it's a block stacking game with multiple blocks, so "blocks" became "square."

Here we get into speculation because again my Mandarin isn't great and I don't know the history so please anyone correct me if you know better, but my guess is that the it was named that way to suggest a Tetris-like puzzle game, because Tetris is 俄罗斯方块, or Russian (俄罗斯) blocks (方块).
This is very cool, thanks!
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
The courts were very clear in ruling otherwise!
Actually, they found that the book was in the public domain and that Universal didn't own the rights to King Kong anyway. Which is why the most recent film was pointedly referred to as Peter Jackson's King Kong
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
I’m figuring I’ll jump around a bit so we don’t get bored of any specific era of games. I still have two posts worth of GBA games, but let’s look at the NES section for a bit first.

There are 2200 NES titles on this device, or 220 pages of them. Many of them are accurately labeled! Many of them are not, especially the Japanese versions of games. Fortunately, I explored 500+ NES games in various languages last year, so seeing “hot blood” games doesn’t confuse me any more.

At least in the first few pages, some of the rom titles that seem like they weren’t translated are actually pretty good: Cat Ninden Teyandee (#25) is usually romanized as Kyatto Ninden Teyandee; it’s the Japanese version of the Samurai Pizza Cats game. Baby_Boomer (#73) is an actual game called that!

I did find a few gems, though, with plenty more to come:
  • Soul duel 3 power
  • Red Fortress
  • Super horsepower Euro 1
  • Super Mario housebreake
  • Allloy equipment 1
  • Devour heaven
  • Devouring heaven and ear
  • Biography of candy
  • Underground exploration
  • Good boy, sword of 634
  • Lonely soldiers
  • Middle East War

Translations:
  • Contra Force
  • Jackel
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Wrecking Crew (Japanese Version)
  • Metal Gear
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms 2
  • The Guardian Legend
  • Spelunker
  • The Japan-only game Musashi no Ken - Tadaima Shugyō Chū, roughly “Sword of Musashi - Now in the Middle of Training”
  • Isolated Warrior
  • Silk Worm
 

Exposition Owl

Owl of the not-so-wild
(he/him/his)
Okay, “Underground exploration” is straightforward, and “Alloy equipment” seems like a pretty standard machine translation snafu, but where on earth did the name “Super horsepower Euro 1” come from?!
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
Let’s do another post of NES games! These had some real humdingers. (But yes, now I just want to use “Super Mario Housebreak” forever.)

  • Human weapon 1
  • World weapon 2
  • Ninja frog
  • Ninja dragon sword 1
  • Devil City 1
  • Outside devil City
  • Dragon of Cheng Long
  • Kabi dream of stars
  • colony of Star Wars
  • Squirrel battle 1
  • Water soul fighting
  • Sara man snake


Translations:
  • Code Name: Viper
  • Rolling Thunder
  • Battletoads vs. Double Dragon
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Castlevania
  • It’s Kid Dracula!
  • Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Journey to Silius
  • Chip ‘n Dale’s Rescue Rangers
  • Legacy of Kage
  • Salamander (aka Life Force)
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
So, one more post of NES games for now. This brings us to #300 in the NES list, and a lot of games appear to repeat from there. I think there are a few more gems further in; we can always come back later.
  • Mystery of the Rockman 2
  • Lock 5 Bruce’s trap
  • Artillery
  • Special rescue instruction
  • Prison break 1
  • Prison break 2
  • Wild escort
  • Indol Fever
  • Headly de
  • Star soul duel final colony
  • Air soul duel final mission
  • 60 Street bullies


Translations:
  • Megaman 2
  • Megaman 5
  • Vice: Project Doom
  • Tokkyū Shirei Solbrain (aka Shatterhand)
  • P.O.W.
  • CrossFire
  • Gunsmoke
  • Indy Heat
  • Hydlide
  • Journey to Silius
  • Final Mission (aka S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team)
  • Street Fighter V60 Turbo (clearly a knockoff cart)
 
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