A subset of Woolseyism; named for a video game translator, it's only natural that there'd be a whole lot of examples!
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One for the series as a whole: The knightly job class noted for wielding Blades On Sticks, doing a lot of jumping, and having a prominent dragon motif is named in Japanese 竜騎士, Ryuukishi lit. Dragon Knight. This, however, does violence to the character limit, and thus translators opted for the Punny Name of Dragoon (real military dragoons were light cavalry who made extensive use of firearms and didn't come into play until long after the armoured lancers depicted by Final Fantasy Dragoons were obsolete).
The Hero of Final Fantasy II is one フリオニール, lit. Furioniiru and usually romanized as "Frioniel". However, he has always been localized as "Firion", which has the twin benefits of fitting within the game's character limits and not sounding bizarre, awkward, and unwieldy to an Anglophone.
Final Fantasy IV's original English translation is usually remembered as being something of a fiasco (contrary to popular belief, Ted Woolsey was not involved with the game and was in fact hired by Square because of the shoddy translation). However, this translation did have a diamond in the rough that actually became a series mainstay: in the Japanese version, the recurring enemy/summon of the Magus Sisters were named Dog, Mag, and Rag. This was changed to Sandy, Cindy, and Mindy for the English version.
Replacing Tellah's angsty question, "What is there to understand?!" the famously terrible insult, "You spoony bard!" was, in fact, a Woolseyism. It just wasn't a very good one. But exactly for that reason, it became one of the most memorable and beloved lines in the series.
In Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, the way they handled the name of Cecil's son and Cecil's brother's real name probably counts. Despite what some fans think, the name is actually not the same in Japanese—Golbez's is rendered as セオドール, Seodooru, and Ceodore's as セオドア, Seodoa. Neither of these map to the "standard" Japanese rendering of Theodore, which is シオドール, Shiodooru though Golbez's is the closest. Golbez's name was rendered as "Theodor," whereas Ceodore's was "Theodore."
Final Fantasy V Advance has a fairly ridiculous English translation, fitting the lighthearted tone of the game (and being a massive improvement of the previous translation), with things such as Gilgamesh saying "Inconceivable!" after being defeated, or Bartz commenting that a defeated enemy crab has been served.
The most famous example of Woolsey's handiwork is probably Final Fantasy VI, from which this subpage takes its image. It's also his most effective example. Unlike the GBA re-releases of Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy V, Square Enix chose not to redo the English script from the ground up, but rather expand upon Woolsey's work.
Terra Branford was originally named "Tina" in the Japanese version. While "Tina" no doubt sounds sufficiently exotic to Japanese speakers, it's not very evocative to English speakers, so Woolsey changed it. The earth connotations of her new name also unintentionally created a parallel between the other heroine, Celes.
The game's antagonist, Kefka, was given dozens of new lines, many of which were absolutely hilarious and excellently established his character as a misanthropic nutcase. Recurring comic relief Ultros got a similar treatment.
The Final Fantasy VI Advance remake for the game, released twelve years later, contains an NPCwho takes a shot at a Fan Translation of the game which was far more literal — and not nearly as entertaining. It also changed a lot of Kefka's lines, such as (among others), Kefka's line in the picture on Woolseyism to "son of a sandworm". Both work in the context, but there are no submarines in the game. There's also Kefka's "HATE HATE HATE" speech, which oddly enough, was referenced in the English translation of Dissidia: Final Fantasy several years later, since in the Japanese version he says "dammit dammit dammit" instead of "hate hate hate", making the leap pretty easy.
Perhaps even more well known than the 'Son of a submariner!' quote was Darryl's grave, in the World of Ruin. Viewed backwards, the headstone read, 'The World Is Square,' which was Square's advertising slogan at the time.
The Woolseyisms to Kefka's dialogue made his lines, in addition to more hilarious, also a lot more horrifying and creepy. For instance, in the scene where he kills General Leo, due to obvious restrictions at the time, Kefka remarks that, when reporting to Gestahl about the success, he'll also mention that he merely had to "exterminate a traitor", making the delivery a lot more creepy than simply saying dispose. Similarly, when the Esper reinforcements arrive at Thalmasa shortly thereafter, Kefka remarks when they arrive "I'd say you're all charged up, boys and girls...or whatever... Say, remind me to show you my Magicite collection someday! You might see a few familiar faces!!!", which makes what he does to the rest of the Espers shortly thereafter enter horror territory, as he's basically telling them that after killing them that he'll show them the other Espers that he also killed. In the original script, as well as the Advanced Remake's script, Kefka merely reacts to their arrival in a similar fashion to a young child's reaction to a surprise birthday party.
The name of "Espers" for the summoned beasts was another Woolseyism—in Japanese, they were called genjū (幻獣), which roughly means "phantom beast"note ("phantom" as in "imaginary" or "a figment"), a term used in many other games in the series. You wouldn't generally find this word in a Japanese dictionary, even though it is used in several other fantasy/sci-fi contexts; it may have itself been a Woolseyism coined for Jorge Luis Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings. Though the actual reason for the name change was to get around the six-character limit (five for menus), the new name was appreciated for being unique. Later FF localizations have similarly deviated from the Japanese term to great effect on the script (Eidolon in particular) and Final Fantasy XII re-used it as a homage.
Similar to the Tina/Terra case, there's an urban legend that the two principal characters in Final Fantasy VII were originally named "Kuroudu" and "Arisu" - somewhat incorrect supposed Japanizations of the English names "Claude" and "Alice". As the story goes, the translation team re-Anglicized the Japanese names to arrive at "Cloud" and "Aeris" so they would sound less prosaic in English. Of course, they were meant to be Cloud and Aeris/Aerith all along; the developers wanted to evoke the English words "cloud" and "earth". But the fact that the rumour still survives makes it a strong example of the original Woolseyisms' impact on later games and their fans. In-game, Cloud's ultimate attack was called "Chōkyūbushinhazan" which translates as "Super-Ultimate War God Supreme Slash". This sounds absurd in English and murders the character limit, so it became "Omnislash".
Also, the English version added in animation to accompany Safer-Sephiroth's Supernova attack that utilized an equation about the mass of an object and time for it to impact involving a comet that demolishes many of the planets and then sends the Sun into a Supernova. Originally, the attack simply showed the damaging portion of the Supernova attack.
Interestingly, "Omnislash" may have been referenced in Dissidia, as before he executes the attack Cloud yells out "Subete o tatsukiru!", literally meaning "Slash through everything!"
Final Fantasy IX localized the protagonist's name from Jitan to Zidane. The origins of the name are unclear (it was most likely supposed to be "Gitan", French for gypsy, and with his last name Tribal it would have been a Punny Name).
Incidentally, his name became Djidane in France to avoid the confusion. Probably because djinns are not far from gypsies in the French imagination.
The Spanish translation also changed it to "Yitán". If we keep in mind that Zinedine Zidane was playing in Spain during the time the game was released in Europe, Eduardo López (the game's Spanish translator) probably thought it was better not to distract the players imagination.
The Italian translation of the game changed his name to "Gidan" for the same reason, as Zinedine Zidane played for several years for Juventus FC
Final Fantasy X localized the protagonist's name from Tida to Tidus. Tida is Okinawan for "sun", contrasting with Yuna, which means "night" in the same language. But "Tida" doesn't sound masculine to the Western ear, (let's face it, the kid needs all the help he can get,) and the ocean connotations of "Tidus" are hardly inappropriate. The English version had many other changes made to fit the lip-movement of the characters — thanks to that, "shibito" (corpse — though in context, more along the lines of "zombie" or "ghoul"; the Siren series uses the word in the same manner) became "unsent" (which is a very good word given the setting of the game), "inorigo" (Child of Prayer) became "fayth" and "shokanju" (summon beasts) became "aeons", among others. The words chosen by the English version were very well accepted though. The lip problem also led to many sentences ending with "You know?" in the english 'dub', among other small line changes. In the game's finale, originally Yuna just thanks Tidus (for protecting her), while in the dub she says she loves him (since "I love you" fits the lip movements for "Arigatou" better than "Thank you").
Amusingly, the lip movement for "Thank You" is virtually identical to the Japanese "I love you", Aishiteru.
In Final Fantasy XIII, the names for the classes in the Paradigm shift are a described from more of a Gameplay term in Japan. In Japanese, they translate to Attacker, Blaster, Defender, Enhancer, Jammer, and Healer. In English at least, they're translated to appear more like military roles, so they're Commando, Ravager, Sentinel, Synergist, Saboteur, and Medic (respectively). The French version use both literal translation and Woolseyism for the Paradigm : Attaquant(Attacker), Ravageur(Destroyer), Défenseur (Defender), Tacticien (Tactician), Saboteur and Soigneur (Healer). A lot of the character's lines are also Woolseyied in order to make the characters sound closer to each other (dropping a pronoun, using a French pun or expression...). German translators decided to do.... something completely different! You get to choose a 'Brecher' (Breaker), 'Verheerer' (Devastator), 'Verteidiger' (Defender), 'Heiler' (Healer, both close to the original for once), 'Augmentor' (something nobody ever uses, comes from the english "augment", germans love english) and 'Manipulator' (means pretty much what the English word means). Oh and for the record, the thing with Orphan being a... well, orphan? The translators made him Orphanus because germans hate speaking names.
A Kefka-related woolseyism also occurred in Dissidia: Final Fantasy. After Zidane beats Kefka and demands to know where Bartz is, he originally states in the Japanese version that "the mouse [Bartz] is in the... [face closeup] PAWS [face zoom back] ...of the enemy!" The dub makes the line a lot more hilarious by having Kefka say "I'm afraid the mouse is [face closeup] SMACK! [face zoom back] ...dab-in-the-middle-of-enemy-territory!"
The manual for the NES version of Metal Gear calls the Big Bad Colonel Vermon Cataffy (a Take That at Moammar Gadaffi), and the wind-cheating suit is called the "Bomb Blast Suit". Of course, most people were quite put off with it, along with most of the other stuff about changing most of the story. For instance, the Commanding Officer for Snake was called Commander South (presumably as a Shout-Out to Oliver North), among other things. (You can thank Konami USA's localization team for all of this; as noted under They Just Didn't Care, whoever was in charge of punching up instruction manual copies for all of Konami's NES titles thought himself much funnier than he actually was.)
Mei Ling, a character responsible for saving the game, would read out a Chinese proverb, and then read out the same characters with a coherent Japanese reading to relate to Snake's current situation. Since it was completely untranslatable, the localiser Jeremy Blaustein rewrote Mei Ling's dialogue from whole cloth, with the result that her sphere broadened—she now quoted Western literature and various thinkers as well as Chinese proverbs.
Another change was that of Psycho Mantis's dying words: "It feels very nostalgic." Since the nostalgia could only be explained by a thought process Hideo Kojima would have to explain in supplemental material which would be very unlikely to be released in the West, Blaustein changed it to the more internally consistent "It feels kind of nice," which gave the character a Psychopathic Manchild feel, making him more sympathetic. This change was reverted in the Video Game Remake, and even after explanation, few fans regarded it as an improvement.
Revolver Ocelot merely says "Hiding won't help you!" in the original script for Metal Gear Solid. He follows it up with the added line, "I understand the bullets, you see...I make them go where I want to!" in reference to his uncanny talent with ricochets.
In Metal Gear Solid 2, Rose recalls mistakenly saying that the building that King Kong climbed was the Twin Towers, mixing it up with The Towering Inferno. The game was mastered literally days after September 11th, 2001, so in the English translation it was changed to the Chrysler Building, mixing it up with the building in the American Godzilla (1998). This is somewhat more appropriate, first because Godzilla and King Kong are both giant monster movies (rather than a giant monster movie and a disaster movie like in the original), and secondly because Hideo Kojima compared Raiden and Snake to King Kong (a romantic monster who came from nature and gets to return there) and Godzilla (a noble monster created by humans) respectively in Word of God.
There's a Double Entendre one during the Kaz date in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, which is a Gay Option with a character who's supposed to be a massive The Casanova towards women. When interrogating him in the Japanese version, he'll say something along the lines of "I'm not hiding anything!" - but in the English version, he says "No skeletons in my... closet." Tee hee.
Similarly, because of the various Real Life products being removed for copyright issues in the North American versions, most of the model viewer descriptions were changed, with Narc Soda and the Les Enfants Terribles children making cameos as a result, and it also added in that Curry was Kazuhira Miller's favorite dish, and it also referred to Drebin's drink in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (as they gave Pepsi Nex's replacement, zero-calorie soda, the design of Narc Soda).
The Goldfish Poop Gang in Chrono Trigger were named after condiments (Vinegar, Soy Sauce, and Mayonnaise) in the original Japanese. This was not very intimidating, so they were changed to rock stars (Ozzie, Slash, and Flea) instead. However, the name scheme is quite common to the character's creator, Akira Toriyama, who apparently finds naming characters after objects and/or foods to be absolutely hilarious, and whose work was still obscure in the U.S. at the time; fans argue over whether this was actually a good change or whether the names would have been left alone had Dragon Ball been more popular at the time.
This created something of a problem when the Japanese version of Chrono Cross actually included a main character named Slash that was supposed to be a rock star, which could have been handwaved if they hadn't also included an optional boss fight with the aforementioned Goldfish Poop Gang in the same game. This led to his name being changed Nikki, a reference to Nikki Sixx, in the English version.
The Chrono Cross team deserves a medal for how well they handled translating some incredibly long names in the face of space constraints. "Snakebone Master Jakotu", for one example, was changed to the similar "Lord Viper" (just "Viper" on the character menu).
Chrono Cross gets another medal for making an on-the-fly accent and dialect generator. Instead of writing generic dialog seven times, they wrote it once and ran it through the generator.
The way Frog speaketh. In the original, he spoke in normal Japanese, and in a rather blunt manner. In the DS version, he lost his accent, but remained quite polite. It was quite baffling that no one else in 600A.D. talked like this, and that he used to speak normally before his transformation. However, many old school fans mourned the loss of the accent.
The DS version corrects one of the less enjoyable "Woolseyisms" - the conversion of "Kamaitachi" to "Slash", mucking up the solution to the Puzzle Boss Masamune/Granleon (the move interrupts its charge, because it's the wind, whoosh!). This was quietly retranslated to "Wind Slash".
"Masamune," indeed. Which brings up the peculiar notion of a famous Japanese swordsmith crafting a distinctly European broadsword. The change of the sword's name from "Grandleon" mystifies to this day.
The sequel establishes that the Masamune is such a powerful weapon of destiny that it's in fact a Swiss-Army Weapon that adepts itself to the style of its chosen user, hence why the "Mastermune" is such a radically different kind of weapon from the original Masamune/Grandleon.
According to Chrono Cross translator Richard Honeywood, several lines of expository dialogue in Japanese created plot holes (not entirely surprising for a game with an insanely complicated plot and tons of dialogue), and so were changed for the English version with direct input from writer/director Masato Kato.
The translator of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, Nob Ogasawara (a member of the Something Awful forums), edited much of the the NPC speech in the game to include Internet slang. The player character is repeatedly called a "noob" by other trainers, "for the win" is used at least once, one Galactic Grunt threatens to hit the player's weak pointfor massivedamage, and a clown even exclaims "a winner is you!". This is appropriate, as D/P was the first game to use Nintendo's Wi-Fi Service, and most friend codes are traded via the Internet. They also have a few Shout Outs to the Something Awful forums ("My Pokemon is fight!").
And a Shout-Out to a Something Awful forum member as well. A goon did a Let's Play of Pokémon Crystal, starring a character named Roxy, whose main Pokémon was a Wooper. On Thursdays, you can go to the TV station and fight an interviewer/cameraman pair in a double battle. The interviewer uses a Wooper, and the interviewer's name is Roxy. It kind of helps that both the interviewer and the female PC from Crystal both have blue hair.
Ironically, half the memes that made it into the games will probably get you probated or banned if you actually attempt to use them on the forums themselves.
The same bloke, in a Let's Horribly Break Pokémon Blue thread, said that translating mori no yōkannote yōkan is a jellied dessert, and also a homophone for the Japanese word for "Manor" to "Old Chateau"/"Old Gateau" was his doing, and, that if he was localizing Gold/Silver/Crystal, he'd call the RageCandyBar (literal translation) "Cake of Rage" (the latter being mentioned after about half a page of making fun of said item, calling it the "angersnack")note the RageCandyBar is linked to the Lake of Rage, making it a rhyming pun.
In Pokémon Red and Blue, it is possible to purchase medicines for your Pokémon to improve their stats. In the Japanese version, the medicines were compounds like taurine (an antioxidant used in treating blood pressure disorders) and bromhexine (a chemical used in some cough medicines to dispel mucus). These names had no relationship to the statistical benefits of using the medicines (for instance, how would taking indometacin, an anti-inflammatory medicine, improve your monster's Speed?). In the English version, the translator decided to change them to vitamin and mineral supplements, which, as they permanently increase stats, seems more sensible. It also meant the medicines could be renamed to things that made sense with what their effect on the Pokémon was, even if only in terms of association - Protein (which builds muscle) for Attack, Iron (which is a strong-sounding metal used in protein synthesis) for Defense, Calcium (which is needed to build strong bones and teeth) for Special Attack, Zinc (used in homeostasis) for Special Defense, and Carbos ("carbohydrates", energy-giving compounds) for Speed.
And again with Diamond/Pearl/Platinum, there is the case of Fantina/Melissa. Once again, like the Final Fantasy VI example above, is a textbook case of Appeal Dissonance (Westerner's names sounding exotic to Easterner's ears). It's stated that Fantina is not from the Sinnoh region, or for that matter, whatever country the Pokémon games are set in. So, in the original Japanese, she's given a Western sounding name: Melissa, and uses Gratuitous English in her speech. When localized, they kept the "foreigner" aspect of her personality, but changed it so that she now drops French phrases and expressions in her speech (e.g. "Trčs bien!" and "___ how you say, "___").
Also among the characters of the Sinnoh games, the villain Akagi is changed in most translations to a sun-themed name, usually a sun god, to keep with the celestial theme-naming of Team Galactic. In the English and Spanish versions, his Good Counterpart, the Champion Shirona, is changed to a moon goddess to reflect their duality.
There's also the case of Looker's name. In the original Japanese, his name is the English word, "Handsome". In the English versions, his name still keeps the meaning of Handsome, but also has to do with the fact that he's a detective.
The names of about 3/4 the Pokémon themselves are Woolseyisms, translated to all sorts of punny names in every language that the games are released in. The exceptions are most legendaries (who the creators try to fit as many languages as possible), and other Pokémon with multilingual puns (such as Pikachu). Another good example is Rhydon, who was named Saidon in Japan: "Sai" means rhinoceros, and "don" is a Latin word (meaning "tooth") most widely known for its use as a suffix in dinosaurs' species names. Therefore, the translators could make a name with the same vowel sounds and pun.
The legendary birds, Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres. Their Japanese names are rather boring English words: Fire, Thunder, and Freezer (they clearly didn't do the research on that last one). In fact, a large portion of Generation I Mons have simple English words for Japanese names, which were changed in English and other languages ("Lizard" to Charmeleon, "Ghost" to Haunter, "Strike" to Scyther, etc.) Also, "Zenigame", the water starter, has a name that simply means "river turtle" in Japanese; you may know it better as "Squirtle".
Articuno and Zapdos' French names are "Artikodin" and "Electhor", as in the Norse gods, and Moltres' is "Sulfura" as in the Egyptian god; the other part of their names referring more obviously to their element.
In most languages, Noivern's name is simply a combination of the respective words for "noise" and "wyvern" (including in English). The German translation is quite a bit more creative by naming it "UHaFnir", a bizarrely-capitalized combination of "UHF" and "Fafnir" (the dragon from Norse Mythology), which is quite a similar choice to the legendary birds' French names.
As of Pokémon Black and White, there is a similar example - the Dark/Dragon line of Pokémon are called Deino, Zweilous, and Hydreigon, this time counting in German.
In Pokémon Black and White, the Pokémon Audino is derived from "audio" (it uses its earlobes as stethoscopes) as well as "I dunno". This is pretty much the same thing in its Japanese name, Tabunne — "Tabun ne" means "maybe", but is also derived from "tabun", meaning "many are heard" (or "mimitabu", meaning "earlobe"). Other translations use similar wordplay, based on an expression along the lines of "maybe" (or in German, "Oh, yes!"; in French, "no but yes", a common expression too) while containing a hearing-related pun.
A couple more examples: Ononokusu became Haxorus in the English version, which retains ax- and dinosaur-related puns while inserting Leet Lingo. And in the French version, Desumasu/Yamask was translated as "Tutafeh", which not only contains "Tut-" as in Tutankhamun but is also a play on "tout ŕ fait", which means "indeed". Its evolution, "Tutankafer" (Cofagrigus), managed to keep the same syllables and add another pun: Tutankhamun + "tant qu'ŕ faire", a colloquial expression meaning something along the lines of "might as well".
The French translators of Black and White seem to have had a field day with some of the Punny Names, which basically mash two words together into a brand-new pun, all related to the Pokémon in some way.
The oh-so-popular Stunfisk became "Limonde" in French: "limace" (slug) + "onde" (wave), combined in a way that sounds similar to "limonade" (lemonade), possibly referring to the color of Stunfisk's fins, and "l'immonde", meaning "the disgusting one".
Excadrill had a similar clever translation with "Minotaupe": "mine" + "taupe" (mole), one letter off "minotaure" (minotaur).
Finally, Bouffalant was translated as "Frison": "frisé" (curly) + "bison", and one letter off "frisson" (shiver/shudder in fear, since, y'know, a big angry buffalo with an Afro is scary).
Even the English translators got in on the act for Pokémon X and Y: the Grass starter's final stage is called "Chesnaught", which combines "chest" and "juggernaut"/"dreadnought"/"Argonaut"note as in the football team and sounds like "chestnut".
And as a Shout-Out to the French-Canadian soap opera/téléroman Le Cďż˝ur a ses raisons: all the nurses and the doctors in the French translation of "Pokémon Black and White" are named after characters from this show: Infirmičre Ashley, Infirmičre Drucilla, Docteur Brett... As most of the names are usually random, this is particularly enjoyable, and may have been a nod to French-Canadian fans due to Black and White being the second-ever set of French Pokémon games released in Quebec as well as France/Belgium.note This didn't help endear the French translationto many of them, though, since it wasn't enough to make up for the stink of names like the above "Tadmorv".
In Pokémon X and Y, Xerneas and Yveltal's signature moves are called "Geo Control" and "Death Wing" in Japanese. The English translation changes these to the more poetic- and powerful-sounding "Geomancy" and "Oblivion Wing"; special mention goes to the latter, which may have also been an enforced application of Never Say "Die" and still came out sounding cooler.
In "Pokémon Black and White", Opelucid City is known for having two completely different appearances depending on the version: in Black, it's futuristic and is said to be "a city of rapid change"; in White it's steeped in the past and honors history and traditions. Probably the best name one could give this city in reference to these two aspects is its French name: Janusia. Janus being the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, usually depicted with two faces: one facing the past, the other facing the future.
The characters in the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series all had their names Americanized in the localization, but the writers took great care to retain the subtle wordplay and puns of the original. "Kamen Mask", for example, was translated as "Mask* DeMasque", since kamen is Japanese for mask. The English version's references to pop culture and Internet memes also easily replace similar jokes in the Japanese script while endearing the games to the fanbase.
The main character's name needs to be mentioned too. In Japanese, his surname is Naruhodō, a pun on the phrase "naruhodo", meaning "I see" (as in "I understand"). In the English version, his surname is Wright, which sounds like "right".
In a truly mind-bending example from the third-game, the Judge protests that he's "no spoonybard." This may be the first example of a recursive Woolseyism.
On the other hand, the translators' ambitions to disguise the distinctly Japanese setting as "Los Angeles" were doomed from the very beginning and became especially blatant with Kurain village, which is about as Japanese as you can get. Although the fact that it's only "loosely set in Los Angeles", and that the creators are now (now that the series is popular in many countries) trying to keep the location as "unambiguous" as possible by including various reasons in the script for Japanese culture being everywhere, is the main reason why this isn't really a problem.
This can be seen in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, which was the first one made from the ground up for both Japanese and Western audiences. The Kitaki family have an incredibly Japanese air to them, right down to Wocky Kitaki having his hair modelled after a Kitsu. In the Western translation, they explain this by saying that they have a Japanese heritage and maintain that culture.
Then in Dual Destinies, the very Japanese looking Nine-Tales Vale, which has a youkai theme throughout it, was stated to have founded by Japanese immigrants in the English translation.
In the third game, instructions given to Pearl Fey tell her to "gravely roast the master in the fires of Hades", which is basically asking to send Misty and Maya Fey to hell. The receiver obviously doesn't understand what this means, and so ends up throwing gravy from a roast dinner over a hanging scroll. In the Japanese version, the instructions said to "Give "Misty Fey magnificent burial rites" in kanji. Pearl, not being able to read kanji that well, mistakes magnificent for "curry", with them being read and spoken almost identically, and throws that over a hanging scroll. Both of which would end up looking a sort of "brownish slob" obscuring the the scroll's picture, thus having the scroll's brown slob obstruction explained believably in both versions.
In Dual Destinies, the culprit of episode one uses a bloody message left by the victim; which was actually said culprit's "ID number", to point to the defendant's guilt, by adding a few lines to it, to make it look like their name. The defendant in the Englsih version is called Juniper Woods, and the message that the culprit changed to match their name was "L1001 5R" . In the Japanese version however, the defendant is called Shinobu Morizumi, and the message left was "511103 UR".
In the Japanese version, Blackquill simply calls Fulbright a rather disrespectful word for "old man", whereas he twists the detective's name into "Fool Bright" in the English version. This is a welcome pun on Bobby's name in addition to subtle foreshadowing to the fact that the person referred to as such fooled everybody into thinking he was 'Bright. Calling the Judge "your baldness" could be seen as this, too.
In the games since 1991, the original 大魔王 クッパ Daimaō Kuppa ("great demon king Koopa") has been rendered Bowser in most Western localizations, while Kuppa or a variation on the name has been kept as Bowser's only name in Japan and Korea. Whereas Kuppa is the Japanese word for 국밥 gukbap (a Korean soup with rice—Shigeru Miyamoto wanted specifically to name him after a Korean dish), the name Bowser (which doesn't really mean anything in common English) has no real relation to kuppa or gukbap in sound or meaning. (Interestingly, Bowser's only name in Korean isn't the original Gukbap, but 쿠파 Kupa, a phonetic round-trip translation from Japanese.) Kuppa isn't abandoned though, as it has been refashioned as the name of the Koopa race and as Bowser's surname Koopa. Though Bowser is never used in Japanese, it has become unthinkable that Bowser's name in English should be anything less than Bowser, making this one of the most enduring (and endearing) Woolseyisms in video games.
Every name coined by translators has been retained once Nintendo started paying more attention to what their Western branches were doing, with the exception of Princess Toadstool, whose name was changed back to Peach in Yoshi's Safari. The name is changed back to "Toadstool" in Super Mario RPG, which may indicate that the name change in Yoshi's Safari was simply a translation error. In every game released after Super Mario 64, she took the name "Peach" and stuck with it. (she signed her letter in Super Mario 64 formally as "Princess Toadstool" and familiarly as "Peach", finally laying the name issue to rest).
"Bowser" has been given a nod once in the Japanese games: in Mario Kart Wii, one of the motorcycles, shaped like Bowser's head, is called the Super Bowser (changed to Bowser Bike or Flame Runner for other regions).
At end of Super Mario Bros. 3 English translation Princess Toadstool says "Thank you, but our princess is in another castle! ... Just kidding!", an obvious reference to Toad's infamous line from the first game. In the Japanese version and later ports of the game she has a more typical line. Nintendo of America also gave Koopalings names based on U.S. popular culture, though they weren't even named in Japan until Super Mario World.note Even then, the player had to stick around to the very end of the end credits to find them
In regards of Super Mario World, the flavor texts that listed their names, any implied character traits and apparently their demise was pretty much heavily modified by the English localizers. Originally, the flavor texts simply congratulated the player for defeating a Koopaling.
Secret of Mana is rarely mentioned as a case against Woolsey's overall quality, because it was a pretty bad job. Not even the Sprite's gender was kept straight.
Even so, if The Other Wiki is to be trusted, it's hard not to love meeting a robotic enemy named "Kilroy". In Woolsey's words, "that game nearly killed me", largely because he was given exactly thirty days to get the script from initial translation to completion. Not just, like, drafting, but inserted.
The Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi games frequently use Woolseyisms, to the point of tossing out large portions of the original script. (The pianta Yakuza gang in The Thousand-Year Door becoming Goodfellas-style mobsters, for example.) Despite this (or perhaps because of it), the games have some of the best localizations out there.
And who could forget the hilarious Internet speak employed by the mind-controlled Hammer Brothers in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time? After you free them from spouting off phrases like "PREPARE 4 TOTAL PWNAGE. WOOT! WOOT! WOOT! WOOT!", one of them wonders who talks like that. (In case you were wondering, they were speaking just in katakana in the Japanese version, which definitely originated nowhere near the Internet. Though, it is worth noting that katakana are often used in Japanese for spelling out foreign words and Japanese words spoken in a foreign accent; also, early computers used katakana exclusively due to memory limitations, so there is a certain degree of similarity.)
In case you're wondering about other localizations of the brainwashed Hammer Bros.: The Spanish script has them talking in Robo Speak, the Korean script has erratic spacing in their sentences and the German script gives them a broken speech pattern. The French and Italian localizations retain the Net-speak of the English script.
In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, there is a character called Broque Monsieur (whose name is a pun on "block monster" and "croque monsieur", a type of French grilled sandwich) who speaks with a strong French accent and uses lots of Gratuitous French. In the Japanese version, his name was Brirock (a combination of "brick" and "rock") and he spoke Gratuitous English (with lines such as "Oh my dog! What's happen?")
In the same game, the Japanese names of Hemogurobin, Enajī and Shinapun (Hemoglobin, Energy and a play on Shinapusu (Synapse) respectively) were changed to the much more clever-sounding Emoglobin, PEP and Napse. Changing "Metakoro Byou" (literally "Very Rolling Disease") to "The Blorbs" is a good example too... okay, let's just say there are millions of examples in this game and be done with it.
The parrot underneath Creepy Steeple in TTYD says "Good morning, good morning", "Good day, good day", and "Go away, go away!" in Japanese. In English, it says "Good day! Good day!", "Pretty bird! Pretty bird!", and "Shine get! Shine get!".
In the French version of Mario Kart 8, the Crazy 8 item was named "Grand 8" ("Great 8"), which is also a French expression to name a rollercoaster.
Working Designs's work with Thunder Force V involved taking the on-screen boss descriptions, which were already in Gratuitous English in the Japanese version, and rewriting them to read more smoothly. The boss of Stage 2, IronMaiden, for instance:
Japanese version: "It was dead, but alive at the same time." North American version: "Alive but dead, it fears nothing and decimates all." (Your ship's computer still reads the Japanese version text, however.)
One excellent Woolseyism occurs in the first two Shadow Hearts games, where, for the US and EU releases, the Half-Japanese, Half-Russian male lead's name is changed from pseudo-Russian Foreign Sounding Gibberish (the awkward-as-hell "Urmnauf") to "Yuri", a name that's authentically both Russian and Japanese...even if it's normally used for differing genders in the countries (male in Russia, female in Japan).
Planet names in the European version of Meteos were heavily Woolseyised compared to their American counterparts (often straight transliterations from the Japanese planet names), giving them a more Greek or Latin feel. Example substitutions include "Gigantis" for "Yooj", "Aetheria" for "Brabbit" and "Insomnis" for "Dawndus".
An early, minor Woolseyism took place in the translation of Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, as the main character "Ralph C. Belmondo" became "Trevor Belmont". Curse of Darkness gives the impression that the Japanese adapted the name "Trevor" in the Japanese canon when one chooses to hear the Japanese voice track. In truth, he is still called Ralph in Japan. They simply rerecorded the Japanese dialogue so that the Japanese actor says Trevor instead of Ralph (confusing, isn't it).
In the Sorrow games, native Japanese student "Souma Kurusu" became a foreign transfer student named "Soma Cruz".
"Johnny Morris" from Castlevania: Bloodlines had his name changed to the non-diminutive form "John Morris" in the English versions.
Many enemy names have this treatment in later Castlevania titles. For example: A skeleton enemy that kicks its own head around as an attack, introduced in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, is given the incredibly unimaginative name "Soccer Boy" in the original Japanese game, while in the English translation is instead cleverly called "Yorick".
Despite the terrible translations of Mega Man Battle Network 4 and 5, there were some gems in the first few games. In the first game, shopkeepers and at least one boss used basic AIM-speak. Many of the new names were also more obvious puns in English or simply more recognizable (the puns in the Japanese version are just as blatant). And at least one pun was made on the proper French pronunciation of a character's name (Eugene Chaud), which was more respect than Mega Man NT Warrior gave him (they pronounced it "Chodd").
A Woolseyism appears in the Mega Man Zero series with the name Dr. Weil. In Japan, he is known as Dr. Vile, which is awfully close to the name ofanother character, so they changed it to Weil. If pronounced using German phoenetics, it would be heard as 'vile.' In addition, his name also referred to Dr. Ray Kurzweil, a futurist who, besides giving the idea of Singularity, also talked about cybernetics a lot. Considering what Dr. Weil turned out to be by Mega Man Zero 4 (as well as implied to be the case in Mega Man Zero 3), the name actually fits. Note that in the Japanese version of Mega Man X, Vile is called VAVA, making Dr. Vile not a violation of the One Steve Limit.
The Mega Man X series has a Woolseyism in the naming of its antagonists as "Mavericks", as opposed to "Irregulars". "Maverick" is a fitting name, being synonymous with "nonconformist" and "irregular", referring to how the bosses and enemies in the series were rebelling against their programming and against society.
Mega Man 7 included a Woolseyism in its ending: When Mega Man defeated Dr. Wily, he mentions that he intends to kill Dr. Wily as he has had enough of his trying to beg for mercy and tricking him. Wily attempts to remind Mega Man that he is a robot and robots aren't supposed to kill humans. Mega Man then tells Wily that he's "more than a robot" and to prepare to die before Bass saves Dr. Wily. Actually, Mega Man saying that he was "more than a robot" was only in the English version. In the Japanese version, Mega Man went visibly silent after Wily's comment. It also as a result gave a What the Hell, Hero? moment for Mega Man to Western players, as it made it seem as though Mega Man was actually going to go through with killing Wily in cold blood, when in the original Japanese version, he had an internal debate as to whether he should kill Wily or not.
There's still a visual artifact of the original Japanese script remaining in the localization: During the conversation, Mega Man was charging his Mega Buster in front of Wily's face until Wily invokes the law of robotics. Notice how Mega Man drops his charge for no apparent reason when he tells Wily to prepare to die, which is quite inexplicable compared to him simultaneously going "..." and dropping his charge...
Several Woolseyisms in Valkyrie Profile. Most notable was the change of "Ahly"'s name to "Hrist", as the latter is a valkyrie in Norse mythology.
Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume actually translated the original, modern Japanese into dated English. The result was that the localized version had a very great deal more immersion and atmosphere than the original.
Some of the Woolseyisms in Valkyrie Profile were actually correcting a few mistakes. Such as switching Freya and Frey around (Even though Frey was based off of Freyr and was obviously male but no way to fix that) and changing a few enemies names. Such as Azuratosa to Akhetamen, which sounds a little more Egyptian, and Jdwallace to Genevieve, the latter of which actually means something.
For those who are curious, Genevieve is the patron saint of Paris in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Still not quite...accurate (Genevieve is a vampire seductress in the game) But it at least beats Jdwallace.
The head of the Mother 3Fan Translation, Clyde "Tomato" Mandelin, has a position at Funimation, so it only figures that said fan translation would have a few examples of Woolseyisms. For just one example, at one point in the original Japanese, a sunbaked pig says that the name of a famous Japanese ham company came to him in a dream; in the translation, he says that the words "Oscar" and "Mayer" appeared instead.
A lot of the enemy names were made into puns, in keeping with the comedic feel of the Mother series. A short list: Einswine (a brain-augmented pig), Navy SQUEAL (an aquatic Pigmask), and the Squawking Boomstick (an exploding chicken head on a stick)
As well, his choice to change Yokuba, a rather major villain figure in the game, to Fassad, is considered by many to be a Woolseyism. Yokuba came from yokubari, meaning greed, something most players wouldn't get. Fassad comes from facade and fits remarkably well with the character.
In the US version of the SNES ports of Final Fight and Street Fighter Alpha 2, the character Sodom has his name changed to Katana. Considering that his character is a Japan-ophile, the As Long as It Sounds Foreign sword certainly seems more appropriate than the Biblical reference. As well, in the same port of Final Fight, the metalhead thug Damnd has his name changed to Thrasher, which many fans felt was more appropriate. These changes were most likely made due to Nintendo of America's policies regarding religious references and offensive material in games, rather than any sort of desire to punch up the translation, however.
Woolseyisms could also be seen as the reason for the boss name shift in Street Fighter II (and the rest of the series). The names Balrog, Vega and M. Bison were shifted around (what with the whole "Mike Tyson might sue us!" mentality at the time) so that the boxer was named Balrog, the claw-wielder was named Vega, and the final boss/"dictator" became M. Bison. (There is a subtle touch here: Vega the character is Spanish, and 'Vega' is a common Spanish surname.)
The Advance Wars series has had a long history of doing this: For instance, the villain of the first two games was called "Herr Böse" — meaning "Mr. Evil/Angry/Nasty" in German — in the Japanese game. While undoubtedly exotic to the Japanese ear, it was slightly less impressive to the American/European markets and the villain was renamed "Sturm" (meaning "storm/tempest" in German) in the English script. Many of the other CO names were similarly reworked.
The biggest difference between COs happened in Dual Strike. In Japan, the main character is John, a no-nonsense do-gooder who's always wearing huge headphones for communication purposes. He's pretty heroic, but also pretty bland. The translation process turned him into Jake, a Totally Radical everyman who really likes his music and his hip young-people lingo, culminating in a scene where he gives a heartfelt motivational speech, then mutters "...word" at the end. Considering the tone of the rest of the game,this version of the character fits in much better with the rest of the cast. "Get the plates, 'cuz you just got served!" indeed.
The latest installment in the series was translated independently by Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Europe, creating two translations — the American Days of Ruin and the European Dark Conflict. While the European version is more true to the original Japanese script, including the names, the American one contained a good deal of woolseyisms, including making Lin into more of a Deadpan Snarker and giving Ax-CrazyCreepy Child Penny (Lili in Dark Conflict) some extremely hilarious dialogue involving her stuffed bear. And that's not even counting that whacked-out IDS agent in mission 24. In Dark Conflict, IDS Agent = Boring and Bland. In Days of Ruin: well, it can be summed up with "Screw this, I'm getting a parachute."
So many American and European Sonic the Hedgehog fans still prefer "Robotnik" over the Japanese "Eggman", even after the name Eggman got transplanted into the Western continuity in Sonic Adventure (just look around the site!). So many of them don't bother. It doesn't help that the first name was extremely well established because of the spin-off media—it would be like renaming "Mega Man" back to "Rockman" after 10 years. So much so that as of Sonic Adventure 2, Robotnik is his official name worldwide (though he's still only referred to as Eggman).
In most games, he is now refered to as Dr. Eggman, but there are a few references here and there. In Sonic Adventure, he refers to himself as Robotnik, but gets called Eggman by everyone else, same thing happens in Sonic Chronicles. Also in Sonic Adventure 2, while he's delivering his speech, the name Dr. Robotnik can be seen on the scrolling text on the screen along with Dr. Eggman. Furthermore to this, his grandfather and cousin were called Gerald Robotnik and Maria Robotnik respectively, so while nobody ever refers to him as Dr. Robotnik, instead choosing to adopt the moniker Dr. Eggman. In addition to all this, the manufacturing company Eggman uses in Sonic Riders is Robotnik Corp. Due to all this, the bad doc is now known officially as Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik, Ivo Robotnik is his legal name, and Dr. Eggman is his pseudonym that he and everyone else calls him. This is eventually given another nod in Sonic Generations.
Also in Sonic the Hedgehog, Fang the Sniper's name was toned down to Nack the Weasel in America and Europe. However, the American and European versions of Sonic Gems Collection refers to him as Fang in all games that included him, and in Sonic Generations, there is a Wanted poster of him that refers to him by both names.
In Persona 3: FES, the two game modes, called "Episode Yourself" and "Episode Aegis" was changed respectively to "The Journey" and "The Answer" in the localized version. Considering the theme of the story, this a much welcomed change compared to the rather Engrish names the original version used. Furthermore, the ultimate Persona, Orpheus Kai, which means "Reborn" or "Custom", was changed to Orpheus Telos. Telos is the Greek word for "goal" or "purpose." Similarly, Lucifel, the Angelic form of the demon Lucifer, had his name changed to "Helel" (the Hebrew name of the fallen angel) out of necessity to differentiate it from the demonic form of Lucifer.
Additionally, in the original game, the period of time during which the team fought the Shadows was originally called "Shadow Time" in the Japanese release. The American localization changed this to the much more ominous-sounding "Dark Hour."
One of the social links is related to playing an MMO. In the Japanese version, the MMO was based off the original two Megami Tensei games for the Famicom, which were never released outside Japan. In the English version, all of these references were changed to refer to the earlier Persona games (or in one case, Nocturne), all but one of which were released in America.
The soft drinks in vending machines. What was a Japanese-only drink turns into Starvicks (An unusual blend of coffee and cough syrup), 1up, Fountain Dew (an unusually yellow drink), Dr. Salt, Etc.
Don't forget the BauerBar, which lets you keep going for 24 hours!
Apparently this sentiment is echoed in Japan as well—he was asked to provide the English lyrics for the two vocal songs on The Skies Above, the second album by Nobuo Uematsu's band The Black Mages.
A special case for Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan: an entire sequel, Elitebeat Agents, was made that transplanted the gameplay concepts to a setting (and soundtrack) that could be appreciated outside of Japan while still retaining the quirky appeal of the game that spawned it.
And interestingly, the result was also a success in Japan.
The English translation patch of La-Mulana renames a few MSX ROMs (not the ones you download, the ones you collect in-game). Vampire Killer, which has officially been released under only one other name, Akumajou Dracula, gets renamed to Castlevania, Uranai Sensation gets renamed to Diviner Sensation, and Hai no Majutsushi gets renamed to Mahjong Wizard.
The World Ends with You probably has way more than these few examples, but these are the obvious ones—all the characters use modern American teenage slang properly (i.e. "Totally Radical" is avoided except in one intentional case); Beat goes even farther with a stereotypical "gangsta" speaking style, whereas in Japanese his speech is simply rather rough and impolite.
Impolite speech in Japanese is very hard to translate into English, because the polite and impolite versions literally mean the same thing; however, using the impolite version in an appropriate setting connotes familiarity or intimate friendship (depending on how impolite you go), while in an inappropriate setting, it connotes disrespect, disgust, or hatred. Thus, "gangsta" speech is actually a really good analogue.
The entire game was saturated with slang, which may or may not be a good thing for you. Even a certain button labeled simply "run from battle" in Japanese was edited to say "Gotta bounce!"
Xion's attack at the end of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days had one line which relied on Japanese Pronouns. In the Japanese version, Xion, despite looking like Sora, uses "Atashi" confirming that she thought of herself as female. In the English version, the line was restructured into the third person "Now it's time for this puppet to play her part.", not only keeping the gender implications but indicating the isolation she felt from what she wanted to what role she had to play.
In regards of Kingdom Hearts, the original Japanese version of the first game had the battle with Chernabog set to the same music all the other Disney boss battles were set to. In the West? Take a wild guess.
As the creator of Katamari Damacy decided to leave the project when Me and My Katamari was being made, the Japanese script was therefore very dry and empty. The American translator was given the task to ghost-write the script entirely from scratch, and did so brilliantly. The King's dialogue was full of obscure literary and cultural allusions and his campness was played up to new, hilarious heights.
In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, if you've lost so many units that you don't have enough left to deploy for the next map, you'll be given generic units. In the PAL version, they have normal names. However, in the NTSC version, some of their names are insulting puns directed at the player like Owend, Lucer, and Auffle. Some of them had numerically inspired names (Unil, Dua, Trim), and the rest had vaguely Roman sounding names, like Augustus, Antony, and Julius. Some of the names were also completely changed in translation to mixed reviews by the fandom. Maji and Saji to Cord and Bord is generally accepted, while Sheeda/Shiida is generally preferred to Caeda.
Genealogy of the Holy War and its midquel Thracia 776 named most of the major characters after figures in Celtic or Nordic mythology, which were rendered into Japanese. Many of these characters were made available as DLC in Awakening, and are usually given the original myth names. (Diadora, for example, returned to Deirdre). On the other hand, some of them got even weirder than they were before—Rackesis, which is probably from the Greek Lachesis, got turned into "Raquesis."
Another example from Genealogy (though this is from fan translations) is Sigurd's "You dastard!" line when Arvis betrays him at Bahara. Less knowledgeable players might have thought he was supposed to say "bastard," but the former is actually a real word (it's the root of the word "dastardly"), and in medieval cultures it meant pretty much the same thing that "bastard" means now, minus the paternity implications. Later games, like Awakening, alternate between the two as something of a Mythology Gag.
In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, the Black Knight's survival replaces a Phlebotinum BreakdownHand Wave with Ike being allowed to win for reasons that mesh well with the existing story. In the original, the Black Knight's warp powder malfunctions, teleporting only his spirit and leaving his body behind, meaning he was weakened in his fight with Ike, and he regains his true power when his spirit returns after the defeat. In the English version, during the climactic battle, Ike reveals that his father's sword arm was crippled years before (this detail always existed), a fact that the Black Knight didn't know. Since the Black Knight's true goal was to surpass his teacher (Ike's father, Greil), this revelation makes the Black Knight realize that his victory was hollow — he was fighting a weakened man, and never got to experience Greil's true ability. He allows Ike to win in the hope that Ike will someday become as powerful and skilled as his father, and become a substitute he can test his skills against.
Persona 4 continues the tradition of P3's translation by retaining important Japanese honorifics and certain cultural concepts (though the manual includes a handy glossary), while taking their own spin on certain other things that aren't as essential to plot or characterization, such as:
Again, the soft drinks are all reminiscent of American beverages, though there's less variety this time around. Sadly, "Cylon tea" didn't return.
The cartoony mascot bear character was called "Kuma" ("bear") in the original. The English translation changed his name to "Teddie," as befitting a cute, cuddly bear. In addition, he originally had a Verbal Tic of ending his sentences with "-kuma," while in the translation, he resorts to un-"bear"-able puns, to the same effect.
"Sensei! That was senseitional!"
Mr. Morooka, the hated homeroom teacher, is known to his students as "King Moron." Apparently, the nickname he bore in the original Japanese was "Morokin", a play on his full name, Kinshiro Morooka.
Finally, your character can benefit from some Woolsefying of his own when he takes a part-time job as a translator. Occasionally, you'll be given a choice when you run into something culture-specific, like children's dialogue or humor, and have the choice of creatively fudging the translation to retain the intended effect, or just do a "Blind Idiot" Translation. You get a chance to be paid much, much better if you do the former...though there's also a random chance of failing and getting paid much less.
A sidequest of reading novels added a Take That to Twilight.
There's a scene where Chie compares Naoto's family to the Kuzunoha clan, who play a prominent role in the Devil Summoner games as well as Persona 2. In the original Japanese release, the comparison was actually to the Kindaichifamily. Nevertheless, this off-the-cuff Woolseyism has given fruit to a lot of Epileptic Trees.
In another Atlus example, the Japanese version of Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, set in the 1920s, had most of the characters speaking modern Japanese (aside from some characters, like Raidou's ancestors, who used very archaic language). The English translation, however, has them using slang appropriate to the time period. Of course, it's English slang. Try not to think about it too hard.
Disgaea has a few. Most obvious to are their handling of the terms "Makai" and "Tenkai." Their literal translations are the awkward-sounding "Demon World" and "Heavenly World" and they don't have very good equivalents in English — Hell and Heaven aren't quite the same thing. So they translated Makai as "The Netherworld" — although not even close to a literal translation, this does a good job of evoking the appropriate imagery. Similarly, they made up the term Celestia for Tenkai, for the same reason.
Another example is translating Maou as Overlord. Overlord is much closer to the connotations carried by Maou than the literal translation, "Demon King", and is a much more familiar and less awkward term in English.
The battle cries used during certain attacks. The best example is probably Laharl shouting "Bite the dust!" before finishing his "Overlord's Wrath" attack.
Also, Champloo becoming essentially Emeril in the dub, or the Mexican Orcs.
How could you forget the Prinnies, dood? The original version had them ending the last word of each sentence with a "su" sound, but for some reason Atlus decided that mispelling "dude" would be funnier. NISA tried a similar stunt when they changed Yukimaru's "desu" to "zam" in the sequel, but it never really caught on.
In the original Japanese, Laharl's father's death was attributed to choking on a Dark Manjuu. In the English version, the food was changed to a Dark Pretzel, likely attempting to invoke Hilarious in Hindsight with then-President George W. Bush's choking on a pretzel and briefly passing out.
The second Art of Fighting game had a very peculiar English translation. All of the endings were altered in some way, resulting often in comical twists that are more fun to watch/read than both the originals and the more faithful translations to other languages.
Jeremy Blaustein's localisation of Snatcher tightened up some of the more egregious plot-holes, and contained the most delicious Woolseyism ever - Neo Kobe Pizza. A comedy sequence in the game involved Gillian attempting to buy a dumpling-based food from a vendor, but Blaustein changed it to a dish consisting of a pizza dropped into soup. Fans, naturally, tried doing this with their own pizza, to universally tasty results. A recipe even got onto Kotaku.
The "form" Wii Remote poses in WarioWare: Smooth Moves get changed into more familiar-sounding names, similar to what Nintendo also did with Elite Beat Agents. For example, the "Tengu" pose which involves holding the remote up to your nose is changed to "The Elephant". Since one of the first games using this pose involves helping an elephant gather apples, this works well. The pictures and dialogue during the narrator's speeches are changed accordingly. They're hilarious.
The The Wonderful Wizard of Oz RPG for the DS, RIZ-ZOAWD, was licensed by XSEED under the much more pronouncable The Wizard of Oz: Beyond The Yellow Brick Road.
In Ristar, one of the bosses was changed from a cat into a snowman thing. In Japan, a nekojita (猫舌, lit. cat tongue) is someone who can't eat hot or spicy foods. This would be lost on the average American, who wouldn't quite understand why a (blue, somewhat robotic) cat needs to be fed spicy stuff to be defeated, so they changed him into an ice creature to convey that same logic overseas.
Syphon Filter: The manual spells Anton Girdeux's last name "Girdeaux".
Dragon Quest VIII has quite a number of lovely Woolseyisms. For instance, there is a type of enemy called the "One Knight Stand" and a bar in one town entitled the "Cock and Bull".
Hero's boomerang skill increased! Hero is now a baby boomer!
The DS translation of Dragon Quest V featured this in spades, with such monster gems as the spear wielding "Pokesperson," the genie "High Djinnks," the goat demon "Moosifer," and the similar boss "Bjorn the Behemoose." The apparently gratuitous name-changes for actual human characters have gotten rather mixed reviews, though, as this was something American audiences thought we'd long since gotten past.
An in-universe example can be found in EVE Online, in the backstory of the voice of the ship's computer, which is the voice of a poet who adapted a wholly religious poem for a wholly secular society so perfectly that the original writer declared that he would consider any attempted censorship against her translation to be an attack on the original work as well.
At one point in Ōkami, you have to sneak into the Emperor's palace by using the Lucky Mallet to shrink yourself to Mouse World size. They translated the "Are you sure you want to do this?" warning as "Ready to get hammered?"
In Riviera: The Promised Land, a number of character and item names were changed by Atlus to reflect the game's overarching Norse influences; for example, main character "Ecthel" was changed to "Ein", and his sword "Excellion" was changed to "Einherjar".
Cave Story: It's probably too early to declare either of translation objectively better, but there is a vocal portion of the fanbase that prefers AGTP's Fan Translation over the more literal translation from Nicalis (which had Studio Pixel's approval) for the Wiiware and Steam versions. In particular, AGTP's translation of Balrog's Battle Cry ("Doryaa!") as "Huzzah!" gained memetic status; Nicalis' translation of the line as "Oh yeah!" drew cries of They Changed It, Now It Sucks.
In-universe example with Freespace; when first-contact between Terrans and Vasudans leads to war, the Terrans classify Vasudan ships with an Egyptian theme. Later, after hostilities cool, the Vasudans decide that being compared to Ancient Egypt is flattering and officially adopt the Egyptian names for their gear as the proper-noun equivilents when translated. Some Vasudans even adopt Egyptian names for themselves, including the Emperor (who takes the name "Khonsu").
The same thing happens in Mass Effect, where translators are constantly kept updated to reflect changing linguistic patterns and many languages are impossible for some species to actually speak unassisted. The obvious example are the Spectres, which functions as an acronym that makes perfect sense in English, which would mean someone working on the translations put effort into figuring out a proper equivalent based on the meaning the actual, alien word carries in its own culture.
Another example is Omega: It's mentioned that every species calls it by a name that reflects their cultural attitude towards the place: the asari name for it translates as "the heart of evil", the salarian name as "the place of secrets", the turian name as "the world without law", and the krogan name it as the "land of opportunity". The human name is of course no different—Omega is essentially "the end", which accurately describes how most humans view it.
While we're on the subject of Mass Effect, the Russian version calls medi-gel "panatselin", a portmanteau of "penicillin" and "panacea" that invokes the Russian verb "tselit'", an archaic word for "to heal".
Another in-universe example with Iji, where the scientists tried not to translate the names of Tasen and Komato weapons, but gave them names so that Iji could get the gist of them. It's not perfect, but it largely works. Sometimes, with weapons that don't have an Earth equivalent, they gave the guns menacing-sounding names; one of the BFGs, a fusion-powered coilgun that fires thousands of rounds per second, is called the "Velocithor".
The English versions of BlazBlue are filled with references to memes. Considering the nature of BlazBlue, it's definitely for the better.
Taokaka: "Get in mah belly!"
Kokonoe: "I love the smell of explosions in the morning!"
Ganondorf and Ganon's full names in the Manual, Ganondorf Dragmire and Mandrag Ganon, were actually added into the English translation: In the original Japanese version, he was identified simply as Ganondorf and Ganon.
In the game itself, the contents of the Book of Mudora were itself the result of Woolseyism (in the Japanese version, it was treated more like an instruction booklet than a book containing various lore).
In the English version of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Midna's dialogue to Link right before she breaks the Mirror of Twilight is "Link, I...see you later." Some translations of the Japanese imply that the drifting "I..." wasn't in the original version. Considering that a lot of fans have interpreted the evocative statement to mean she was going to say or confess something very emotional and heartwarming (the most obvious being "I love you" or something similar), it can mildly alter a player's view of Midna and her relationship to Link. With or without the change, the scene is one of the most emotionally charged in the game, though. Also, in Japanese, Midna just says "bye" before breaking the mirror. In English, it's turned into a Meaningful Echo of her Catch Phrase.
Recettear became a surprise hit and sold over a hundred thousand copies in America (the translators were expecting ten thousand at best) partially due to the high quality of the translation, which was filled to the brim with shout outs while still keeping original game's feel — cute but not cloying — intact. This is pretty much Carpe Fulgur's MO, according to their FAQ. They aim to work closely with the creators to capture the feeling and humor of the games. It also has a rather high rate of people that played the demo deciding to purchase the game. The normal conversion rate is around 10%. Recettear's was over 50%.
The second game translated by them, Chantelise, contains the same translation style. One of the most noteworthy things they changed was the name of a character, who in Japanese was "Mirai", a Japenese word for "future." The name wound up being heavily symbolic since she had concocted a plan to break the Vicious Cycle of sacrifices and ultimately finish off the Big Bad, but only long after her own death, and it had originally even been the name of the climactic chapter, it wound up being changed to "Fortuna" and the chapter's name to "Fortuna Favors the Bold". They did not make this decision lightly.
Translation: "Guess the rubber doll doesn't shoot back, huh?!"
Maplestory: At least in the European version, this trope is present with a heavy helping of They Just Didn't Care, particularly in the newer releases, the translations range from strange, to gibberish, to downright odd: with instances of characters keeping having (presumeably) their Korean names in cutscenes before switching to a new set in game. (IE: Claudine being Sigmund in the Xenon tutorial). Bonus points, sometimes these is mixed up in a particularly silly way, with characters alternating names from text screen to text screen, and even having tags say one thing and the dialouge giving them different names entirely.
The NES version of Double Dragon III underwent a complete script rewrite from its Japanese Famicom counterpart. The MacGuffins of the game, the Rosetta Stones, were renamed into the Sacred Stones (since the real life Rosetta Stone was something else entirely) and the plot now involves saving Marian (err Marion) again, giving the Lee brothers some incentive for helping out Hiruko search for the Sacred Stones (as opposed to helping her out for the hell of it). Moreover, the sub-plot with Machine Gun Willy's brother Jim (the first stage's boss) as the new leader of the Black Warriors was left out completely, as it was quickly forgotten after the first stage, and the identity of Brett's murderer was changed into someone else (namely Hiruko). The identity of the final boss is changed from a revived Cleopatra to Queen Noiram, who is really Marion possessed by an evil spirit. Unfortunately, the localization team made no changes to the game's presentation and Marion is mysteriously absent after the final boss battle, even though the ending assures us she's fine. Here's a script comparison between the Famicom and NES versions.
In Shockman for the TurboGrafx-16, the dialogue calls both Arnold and Sonya the game title. Wouldn't the latter be "Shockgirl"?
The Fan Translations of the Touhou games toss a few out here and there. Most notably, in Imperishable Night's Extra Stage, a lot of wordplay is based on two Japanese terms meaning "liver" and "test of courage", which sound similar. The translation kept most of it by referring to the "test of courage" as "Trial of Guts".
They even threw in some Breaking the Fourth Wall in Perfect Cherry Blossom, where Reimu refers to Chen as "just a Stage 2 boss."
Mountain of Faith has a great example when Marisa says she could recite all the digits of pi before reaching the mountain. In the Japanese, she recites a mnemonic which sounds like "Three one four one five nine (etc)." In the translation, she recites a Touhou-themed version of a famous English mnemonic, where counting the letters in each word gives the digits of pi:
Marisa: "How I like a drink, alcoholic of course, after the light skirmish involving danmaku exchanges."
In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, the villains have Theme Naming based on playing cards (Spade, Heart, and Ace) in the Japanese version. In Western translations, this wasn't exotic enough, so the villains are instead named after the Tarot (Blade, Chalice, and the Arcana). This caused a second set of renames, as one of the heroes was named "Crown" in the Japanese version, and Crowns are a name for the Tarot suit of Coins, causing potential confusion. Crown's name was changed to Rief, and his sister Noble became Nowell. This created Hidden Depths for one character: Tyrell, who's usually seen as unintelligent, can see the obvious connection between Heart and Spade. In the American version, he suddenly reveals his knowledge of tarot cards to point out the connection between Blados and Chalice. The european version removes this by simply having him comment that their names sound similarly odd.
Not as much of a change, but the main character of Space Channel 5 is named "Ulala". It is the official pronunciation for the name "Urara", which is a common name in Japan, but in English, most characters pronounce it as "Ooh-La-La"...which is often what people say about attractive women. Conveniently enough, that's quite a part of the game, too! Fridge Brilliance on the part of the developers?
The meaning of Urara is "beautiful girl". It might well be deliberate.
The translations of later Dynasty Warriors games as well as the Samurai Warriors series give each character their own unique lines upon defeating enemy officers, whereas in Japanese they all simply shout variations of "Enemy Officer Defeated".
Mortal Kombat Deception was renamed Mystification in France because the word "deception" is spelled and sounds like the French word for "disappointment", which isn't a great PR move. On top of that, "mystification" is actually a perfectly good translation of "deception", so it works.
In the French dub of the Team Fortress 2 short Meet the Soldier, the line "Unless it's a farm!" was translated as "Farms don't count!"
In the Spanish translation of TF2, Jarate (jar + karate) is called "Fraskungfu" ("frasco" is Spanish for "jar").
The Russian translation of TF2 makes The Heavy speak much more fluently than his usual broken english, now that's he's speaking in his native language.
Aroduc, the translator of Duel Savior Destiny, noted various places in his translation where things either did not translate or were really lame jokes based on weird puns. Also, the literal translation of a few things were rather unimpressive considering the stature they were viewed with and thus got renamed. For example, the correct translation of Aether Relic is merely Summoned Weapon.
The title of the sequel to Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors,Virtue's Last Reward, is itself a Woolseyism. In Japanese, the title of the game is written in kanji, and thus can be read two ways: "Good People Die" and "I Want To Be a Good Person." The English title was thus changed to a combination of the idioms "virtue is its own reward" and "gone to his last reward."
There were quite a bit within the game's text itself as well. The original Japanese release contained many Japanese pop-cultural references which would most likely be lost on Western players. The English version contains references to Monty Python, Lord of the Rings, and even Tenacious D. These references all work within the context of the dialogue and make it really entertaining.
In Kirbys Return To Dreamland, the final theme for the very final boss is named C-R-O-W-N-E-D, which all are the first letters of each world. However, in the Spanish version, each world's first letter spells out as C-O-R-O-N-A-R, which "Coronar" which is the verb form of "Crown". Referring to the final boss to "crown" himself.
A good example comes from The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages. The name of the character who fixes the broken Tuni Nut (itself an example, having to be renamed from "Minomu Nut" to keep the whole palindrome theme of Symmetry Village going) is Repair, in Gratuitous English, in the Japanese version. This sounds pretty silly in English, so for the English version of the game his name was changed to Patch, which has the same meaning and is a legitimate English name to boot.
The Tokagejin ("Lizard Folk") were renamed the Tokay (like the gecko) in translation. They also originally had a Pokémon SpeakVerbal Tic of "toka" in their speech, which was removed because Western audiences don't find it quite as endearing... but retained as a sound effect whenever they speak.
Another example is in the counterpart game Oracle of Seasons: the Uura ("Hidden") race and kingdom was renamed Subrosia, from the Latin sub rosa, referring to the archaic use of a rose to mark a secret society's meeting place. A secondary rename was given to a character from that race: the Uura Urara ("Beauty") was renamed to Rosa the Subrosian, preserving the pun of a hidden place and a pretty girl.
Dragon's Crown has a fair few references to American memes such as Arrested Development (I've made a huge mistake) and Skyrim (arrow to the knee) in the quotes given off by dead bodies. Also debatable whether this counts as a Woolseyism, but one of the bosses is a full reference to the killer rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, referencing one of John Cleese's many costumes, the knights, and even the holy hand grenade.
In the Japanese versions of Monster Hunter, a subspecies of monster is called "-monster name- Subspecies". The English translation adds Colorful Theme Naming as most of the time Subspecies are simply color pallete swaps visually, making them more unique from their normal species and helps a lot when diffrentiating between the subspecies of a monster that has more than one. They range from the simple Purple Ludroth to the more unique Stygian Zinogre. Nargacuga, one of the monsters with more than one, has Green Nargacuga and Lucent Nargacuga in relation, though the original Japanese just uses "Nargacuga subspecies" and "Nargacuga rare species".
NieR employs Woolseyisms pretty liberally. A few examples:
The main enemies of the game are shadowy black and yellow monsters, called "Mamono" (demons) in the original japanese. The localization calls them "Shades" instead, which sounds a lot more unique. Fittingly, the Shades' leader in the original japanese is called "Maou" (demon king), and rendered as "Shadowlord" in the localization.
One of the characters in the game is a magical talking book. In the original japanese he is simply called "Hon Shiro" ("white book"). The localization opts for the much more personal and mysterious-sounding Grimoire Weiss (which means the same thing, "weiss" is just german for white). This also led them to having to change a joke; in the original, the book dislikes being called "Shiro" because it is a common dog's name in Japan. The translation instead makes his insistence on being called by his full name a part of his arrogance and self-important attitude.
The Brazilian translation of the LucasArts heaven\hell sim Afterlife is just as hilarious as the original, as well as translating well some English figures of speech. For instance, the Heaven reward "Humble Pie" becomes the local idiom "Bread Baked By The Devil", "St. Quentin Scareatino" is "Carandiruim", and the descriptions of Hell-enhancing structures made by an Ungrateful Bastard reference local things such as Coffin Joe and "a crowded camp in Ubatuba during a rainy holiday".
In Dangan Ronpa, Fukawa Touko's personality is called 'Genocider Syo'. When the game is localized, because Syo is a rather common, Japanese name, it is changed into 'Genocide Jack'. But because it's also a butch name, she occasionally switches into 'Genocide Jill'
Celestia's nickname, "Celes", which is latin for "conceal", was changed into "Celeste", most probably because the characters rarely referred to Celes without a honorific (so she would be called Celes-san) in Japanese.
The English translation of Tales of Xillia created a big woosleyism in the Final Boss's plans. In the original Japanese, he tried to destroy an entire world (admittedly to save his own) and came off looking like a truly massive Karma Houdini when the only consequence was a beatdown from the player. The English version changed his plan to annihilating the other world's dangerous technology regardless of who gets in his way or the suffering that will result in its absence. The final conflict was subsequently turned into a more legitimate case of Both Sides Have a Point that also nicely expanded on his Not So Different relationship with the heroine.