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Character Name Limits

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"This is great...and all I've done is enter my name! 'Thrillhouse.'"

"Though the villain shames us, we'll pwn all his dark abettors
Funny how our names all contain less than seven letters"

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.

As computing tech marched on, most newer examples are done intentionally, either for Retraux flavor or for parody's sake.

Compare Serendipity Writes the Plot, for 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.




  • Arcade games usually only allowed players to input three initials, which led to:
    • ACE for players showing off the skills they'd just used.
    • Use of abbreviations for company names, like changing "SNK" to "CAP" in Capcom arcade games.
    • TAS for tool assisted runs on emulators.
    • 'ASS', for the more dirty-minded people. Although this might be banned on many modern cabinetsnote . Other profanities or hate terms (FCK, FUC, SHT, KKK, CUM, etc.) are often banned as well. "AUM" in most Japanese games is banned because of its connection to the subway-gassing cult.
  • In Ryu Jin this led to A Winner Is You: the "s!" in "Congratulations!" couldn't fit on the 14-character wide screen.


  • Most game show ports to microcomputers and early consoles allowed eight characters for a player's name.
    • The NES version of The Hollywood Squares limited players' and panelists' names to four letters.
    • Advertisement:
    • The Game Boy ports of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! had five-letter limits.


  • Pokémon was full of this, until later games expanded the character limit:
    • Among Pokémon species, we have 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 remain.
    • In the beta versions of the original games, Gyarados was called "Skulkraken" due to the same problem.
    • Moves were often abbreviated this way thanks to a 12-character limit (for example, ThunderPunch and ExtremeSpeed). X and Y expanded the limit to 16, so many moves abbreviated this way were expanded up to take advantage of this (e.g. Thunder Punch and Extreme Speed).
    • For human characters, the name limit was seven until Pokemon X and Y, where it was increased to eight.
    • In the English version of Pokémon Stadium, Giovanni's name is spelled "Giovani" due to Trainer names being limited to seven characters.
    • This is why the feather items introduced in Pokémon Black and White are called "Wings" in English and Paralyze Heal is called "Parlyz Heal". Both were lengthened in later games.
    • The notorious bootleg Pokémon Vietnamese Crystal is made even more nonsensical by retaining character limits obviously not designed for a Western language.
    • "Pokémon" is sometimes shortened to "Pkmn" within the early games. To drive the point even further home, the P and K were often combined into one special character, while the M and N were combined into another.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy 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, and for a boss, KARY was now Marilith).
    • Final Fantasy II changes several characters' names due to space limits. Frionel became Firion, Leonhart became Leon, and Richard Highwind (eventually) became Ricard Highwind.
    • 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 and the Playstation port. In the same releases, 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, Gilbart was renamed Edward. On the status screen, a ten-character limit caused Kain's class to be changed from "Dragon Knight" to "Dragoon," which has stuck as The Artifact for other spear-using knights in the series.
    • In Final Fantasy VI:
      • Strago drops the "s" from the end of his Japanese name. Cyan is similarly a simplified version of his Japanese name, Cayenne. 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 and PS1 releases; later releases restore Poltrgeist's name to the Japanese name, Demon, and AtmaWeapon reverted to Ultima Weapon. Also of note in this context is the restoration of the Dummied Out boss CzarDragon as Kaiser Dragon.
      • 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.
    • In 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.
  • While it is the first time you name your captain in Granblue Fantasy, you can spell their names as however long as you want (due to it being based on your Mobage account username), However, subsequent renames are limited to six characters without the use of a glitch.
  • Chrono Trigger has the protagonist named "Crono" as there's a limit to five letters to character names.
  • In Super Mario RPG, the mini-boss Belome creates clones of party members which are called "X Clone," except for Princess Toadstool (now known as Peach), whose clone is called "Toadstool 2."
  • One of the reasons Trials of Mana for the SNES was never localized was due to the game's technical problems, including a nasty issue with the game's code where increasing the character limit broke the game in several ways, and would've needed too much time to fix on time for an already late entry in the console's lifespan. The Fan Translation worked around this by renaming Charlotte to Carlie and shortening Hawkeye to Hawk.
  • 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.
  • 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 exempt, either.
    • Breath of Fire II is even worse, as it not only suffers the exact same problem as the first, the Translation Trainwreck 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).
  • In the Lufia series, "Selene" was shortened to "Selan" and "Heidecker" became "Dekar". Lufia: The Legend Returns averted this by allowing other party members' names to be longer than five characters (The Hero is limited to five, but his canon name merely went from "Wein" to "Wain").
  • In Robopon Sun Version for the Game Boy, the player's name was limited to four characters. The character length in the sequel for the Game Boy Advance was an improvement—five characters.
  • In Secret of the Stars, item names are limited to eight characters.
  • 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 memorynote . This leads to Navis named FlamMan (FlameMan), the American football-themed FootMan/GridMan and JapanMan (originally YamatoMan.)
  • 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.
  • Undertale CamelCases item names in encounter screens and scrunches them down to eight or nine letters, for no apparent reason other than Retraux flavor. For example, butterscotch pie becomes the less appetizing ButtsPie. When you use a SpidrDont (Spider Donut) in battle, it says, "Don't worry, the spider didn't." Certain boss fights remove jokes in the abbreviations; for instance, SpidrDont becomes SpdrDonut. The name you input at the beginning of the game is also limited to six letters.
  • The English version of EarthBound Beginnings often removes letters and spaces in enemy, object and PSI names because of this, which is why we get things like "SuprHealing" instead of "Super Healing," "Def.Down" instead of "Defense Down," and "G.G.F's Diary" instead of "Great-Grandfather's Diary."
  • Parodied in Cthulhu Saves the World's bonus campaign Cthulhu's Angels when Elonalina tries to join October on a quest but can't because her name wouldn't fit in a status box, so she shortens it to "Elona" and joins without trouble.
  • Most games in The Elder Scrolls series have 15 character limits for names. The Elder Scrolls Online ups it to 25.
  • Persona Q has six characters for the main character you choose to use. While this fits the canon names of the characters (Makoto for Persona 3 and Yu for Persona 4), it's still tiny for a 3DS game.
  • Likewise, Story of Seasons also has six characters per name, at least in the 3DS games. This is far less understandable, given that you'll end up naming a number of farm animals and will likely want to give them less restrictive names.
  • Crystal Story II: The Hello, [Insert Name Here] feature applies to all main party members in the second game, but names are limited to 8 characters in length.
  • Cute Knight series: Multiple:
    • For both games, Cute Knight and Cute Knight Kingdom, the protagonist's name is limited to being 8 characters long.
    • Cute Knight Kingdom: The save names are limited to being 15 characters long, although, if the names are altered outside of the game, they will still display, but just not properly.
  • Card City Nights 2: The protagonist's name is limited to 14 characters.
  • Artifact Adventure: Party members have a 5-character name limit.
  • Chinese Parents: There's a 7 character limit for its save file names.
  • Little King Story: The titular protagonist's name is limited to 7 characters.


  • In FTL: Faster Than Light, with certain preparations you can defeat a legendary thief KazaaakplethKilik and get him to join your crew as... Kazaaak. A crewmate's name can be longer than that, but the limit is still not enough for the thief's full name.
  • The Princess Maker series: 8 characters for the family name of the protagonist and the daughter's name:
  • Plague Inc.: The plague's name is limited to 20 characters.


  • In Arc Style: Baseball!! 3D, your custom characters can have a 9-letter name; but pre-created teams have names longer than that, like Rivertorrent (12 letters).



  • 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.
  • In an Archie Comics strip, Archie once asked Jughead to buy him a Vanity License Plate that read SUPERDUDE. It turned out that only the first eight letters would fit on the plate.


  • 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 Mega Man 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.



  • The Looney Tunes Show: In "To Bowl or Not to Bowl", Daffy is typing in nicknames for his bowling team: The Porkinator, The Peteinator, and The Marvinator. However, due to the scoreboard's character limits, everyone's name shows up as "THE". When he names himself (the fourth player) "Poobah the Grand", the name comes up as "POO". Daffy then decides Porky will be player four instead of him.
  • 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 realizes that "Milhouse" would have fit the character limit.


  • People with vanity plates often run into this.
  • In the old days of computing, file names were often limited to eight characters, plus an extension.
  • When computers started getting used for school records in The '80s, there were limits of ten characters for first names. One problem: one of the most common American boys' names of The '70s, Christopher, had 11 letters, so teachers often had several CHRISTOPHEs in their class rolls.
  • This trope is enforced in horse racing. Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds (the latter used in harness racing) can have no more than 18 characters in their registered names, at least in English-speaking countries. This count includes spaces and punctuation. The US allows apostrophes in names, but the UK doesn't. American Quarter Horses can have 20 characters, again including spaces, but punctuation marks are not allowed. For example, "Unbridled's Song" is a legitimate Thoroughbred name in the US (and was used for a successful, though not all-time great, American horse), but would not be allowed for a UK Thoroughbred or a quarter horse. There are other restrictions that we won't go into here.


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