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Character Name Limits

Many older video games have limits to how many letters can be provided in text entries. This can lead to a character's name shortened to fit into the allotted space. Sometimes an entirely new name is made for the character, other times letters are dropped from the name to make it fit.

This can be quite prevalent in games translated from Japanese—after all, in the Japanese Writing System, a single kanji or kana character can represent an entire syllable which would need multiple letters in the Latin alphabet.

Compare Serendipity Writes the Plot when technical limitations change the creative direction of a work of fiction, and Cap. See also Dub Name Change, as differences between languages may cause this to occur when translations are done.


  • Most game show ports to microcomputers and early consoles allowed eight characters for a player's name.

  • Pokémon has Feraligatr and Victreebel, as there's a limit of 10 letters for their names. Victreebel is particularly noticeable as its pre-evolution Weepinbell has both L's. The name limit was increased to 12 for Pokémon X and Y, but the abbreviated names remained.
    • In the beta versions of the original games, Gyarados was called "Skulkraken" due to the same problem.
    • At first, Vespiquen looks like the second E in "queen" was dropped for this reason, until you count the letters and realize there's only nine.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy I is filled with these, both with enemies (such as PEDE, as opposed to Centipede, or BLUE D for Blue Dragon) and with spells (such as HRM, LIT). These became especially evident in subsequent re-releases of the game, which had less constrictive character limits and changed many names to be more faithful to their full intended names (example: MADPONY became Crazy Horse).
    • Final Fantasy II, Frionel was renamed Firion in English releases to fit under the six-letter limit.
    • Final Fantasy IV, the Four Fiends take their names from The Divine Comedy: Scarmiglione, Cagnazzo, Barbariccia and Rubicante; these became "Milon," "Kainazzo," "Valvalis" and "Rubicant" in the original Super NES release. In the same release, the summons Leviathan and Bahamut appear in the menu as Levia and Baham. In addition, due to the six-character limit on party member names, Gilbert was renamed Edward.
    • Final Fantasy VI, Strago drops the "s" from the end of his Japanese name. Cyan is similarly a simplified version of his Japanese name, Kayenne. These names are still kept in the Advance port despite the extended character limit.
      • The boss Poltrgeist omits an "e", and the Ultima Weapon drops the space and is renamed AtmaWeapon. Both are only in the Super NES release; later releases restore Poltrgeist's name to the Japanese name, Demon, and AtmaWeapon reverted to Ultima Weapon.
      • Some enemy names were simply shortened to be a crunched version of the original name. For example, the boss monster Dirt Dragon is spelled Dirt Drgn.
    • Final Fantasy VIII, the name of Guardian Force Quetzalcoatl has to be shortened to "Quezacotl."
  • In Golden Sun, playable characters get this treatment in the English versions of the game because of this trope, leading to name changes from Gerald to Garet, Garcia to Felix, Jasmine to Jenna and Picard to Piers.
    • Character limits are increased in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, with names like Matthew and Tyrell running around.
  • Chrono Trigger has the protagonist named "Crono" as there's a limit to five letters to character names.
    • In the Nintendo DS rerelease, an extra sixth space was added, so it's possible to name him "Chrono" now. Either way, his name appears as "Crono" by default on the "name this character" screen, as it's his official English name.
  • The Mega Man Battle Network games follow this trope for the names of NetNavis, which might be an intentional throwback to the older games that had less memory. This leads to Navis named FlamMan (FlameMan), the American football-themed FootMan/GridMan and JapanMan (originally YamatoMan.)
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories for Game Boy Color has an eight-character limit for all card names and the rest is cut. So, "The Unhappy Maiden" is written as "The Unha", and so on.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess allowed the player to name Link's horse, whose default name was Epona. Of course, the amount of characters that could be used was limited. It turned out that the Wii version of the game had a flaw that allowed a hacked save file to use a name longer than the allowed name length. This led to the infamous "Twilight Hack", which used a hacked save file where the namespace for Epona was instead filled with a program that was loaded and executed when the game loaded the save file, allowing the installation of unauthorized software. This led to a revolution in Wii homebrewing.
  • Live A Live is notable (at least in one English translation) in that several player character names exceed the six-character limit. This means that if you erase the names to input something else, you can't put them back in.
  • The Dragon Quest series often had name entries with enough room for the length of an average name, and it would appear that way in dialogue, but it would be truncated to just the first four letters whenever it needed to fit in menu screens.
    • In the first Dragon Quest Monsters game you only had room for four letters, but the main character's default name was Terry. To solve this problem, the name entry screen starts with Terry written in a completely different font than the rest of the game, and you can just play through the game with his name spelled like that. But it's not possible to spell "Terry" yourself if you erase it.
  • The mainline Phantasy Star games, just like Final Fantasy above, give you a whopping four letters to work with. Of course, only the second game lets you rename anyone. Likewise, techniques only had five letters available, so you were left with cryptic spell names like Tsu/Githu/Nathu, Shinb, or Vol/Savol.
  • A constant bane in the Breath of Fire series, specially in its early days.
    • Breath of Fire I has to change or truncate most of the main character's names due to a 4-letter limit, such as changing Gilliam into Bo, Builder into Ox or rendering "Zorgon" and "Carla" as "Zog" and "Cerl". Every single item name was also struck with this, often ending up with confusing names ("A.Ptn" for Agility Potion, "Antdt" for Antidote) or heavily compressed ones with two uppercase letters to indicate type (BronzSD=Bronze Sword, SilverDR=Silver Dagger, etc.). Enemy and town names are not excempt, either.
    • Breath of Fire II is even worse, as it not only suffers the exact same problem as the first, the Translation Trainwreck and general lack of care from the translators turned up heavily compressed and at times almost incomprehensible names. Some beauties include "Bleu/Deis's Room=BlueRm", "Circlet"="SokletAR", "Undead Thief" = "Sheef", "Dark Crusader=D.Crsdr", "Mind Blast"="Mindstr" and "Multi-Attack"="Eggbetr".
    • Breath of Fire III increased the character limit for everything (probably due to being the first one on a 32-bit console), but it still couldn't save two of its main characters, as "Garland" and "Pecoros" got truncated into "Garr" and "Peco". A few enemies were also affected, such as the ZombieDr (Zombie Doctor) and Berserkr (Berserker), too.
  • In Terranigma, an eight-character limit resulted in such obviously mangled place names as "Evegreen," "Sanctuar" and "Grecliff" (which was originally Great Cliff). Crystalholm was truncated to "Crysta," obscuring its connection with the only other town whose name ends in -holm (or -olm, since it loses the H for the same reason). The names of weapons, armors, rings and pins (but not other items) also are limited to eight characters, many of them being CamelCased and/or abbreviated (e.g. RocSpear, BrnzPike).


  • Forums, online games, and practically anything else requiring a name on the internet usually have a character limit. Most are long enough for most names to fit, but others may have shorter character limits. This is why many people may see user names with two words that are spelled out as one word.
  • A real life example: Canadian producer deadmau5 came up with his name when he opened up his computer tower and found an actual dead mouse inside. He wanted to use "dead mouse" as his screen name on a forum, but the Web site had a limit of eight characters for screen names, forcing him to shorten it to "deadmau5".

  • Conversed when Games Magazine once ran a contest for modern versions of Mother Goose. One of the runners-up ran as follows:
John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
Exceeded the data field
When he does get junk mail
It now says without fail
It says "John Jacob Jingleheim", that's it.

  • Obliquely touched on in MS Paint Masterpieces. The author renamed one of the Robot Masters from Elec Man to Electric Man—because he reasoned/assumed that the character would have been named Electric Man originally if the first Mega Man game hadn't had an eight-character name limit.
  • Parodied in Homestuck with the name of "kind abstracta" (weapon proficiencies) which are limited to 8 characters + "kind", leading to "fncysntakind" if you wield a fancy Santa as a bludgeon.

  • On The Simpsons, Milhouse tries to enter "Thrillhouse" as his name when playing a video game, but it ends up as "THRILLHO" instead. It gets funnier when the viewer realises that "Milhouse" would have fit the character limit.

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